Maj. James Breathed was born near present-day Berkeley Springs, W. Va., on December 15, 1838, and moved while young with his family to Washington Co., Md. He attended St. James School in Lydia, where his father John Breathed was headmaster. At age 21, he graduated from the University of Maryland Medical School. The son of John William Breathed and Ann McGill Williams.
When the conflict started, he was practicing medicine in Saint Joseph, Missouri, he was compelled to enlist in the Army of Northern Virginia. Enlisted April 19,1861, at Martinsburg, (West) Virgina as a Private in Company B, 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment. Transfered to General J.E.B. Stuart's Horse Artillery, November 20, 1861. Promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Pelham's Battery, March 23, 1862. Promoted to Captain August 9, 1862. Promoted to Major of Artillery, February 27, 1864. Commanded the Battalion of Stuart's Horse Artillery until wounded in action at Yellow Tavern, Viginia May 11, 1864. Wounded in action a second time June 24 1864. Paroled in Winchester, Virginia, April 24, 1865. He fought at the forefront in 15 battles, was considered by many to be the hardest artillery fighter in the Army of Northern Virginia. At the conclusion of the war, Doctor Breathed lived with his sister, Priscilla Williams Breathed Bridges and spent his remaining days, practicing medicine at Hancock, Washington County, Maryland. The epitaph of his tombstone reads,"Major James Breathed of Stuart's Horse Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia, the hardest Artillery fighter the war produced."
Major James Breathed was awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor posthumously in October 2013. He was 1 out only 48 Confederate soldiers who earned this award.
Priscilla Williams Breathed Bridges
Francis Wilbur Breathed
Elizabeth R. Breathed Carter
Edward McGill Breathed