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James Dearing

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James Dearing

James Dearing
Born (1840-04-25)April 25, 1840
Campbell County, Virginia
Died April 22, 1865(1865-04-22) (aged 24)
Lynchburg, Virginia
Place of burial Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg
Allegiance  Confederate States of America
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank Brigadier General
            (not confirmed)
    Colonel
Commands held Dearing's (Lynchburg) Battery
38th Virginia Light Artillery Battalion
8th Confederate Cavalry Regiment
Dearings Brigade
Battles/wars

American Civil War

James Dearing (April 25, 1840 – April 22, 1865) was a Confederate States Army officer during the American Civil War who served in the artillery and cavalry. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of High Bridge during the Appomattox Campaign, making him one of the last officers to die in the war.

Early life

Dearing was born in Campbell County, Virginia. He was a great-grandson of Colonel Charles Lynch, a famous revolutionary war veteran who probably gave his name to what is now known as "lynching". A graduate of Hanover Academy he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in 1858, where he was described as “a reckless, handsome boy” who introduced the tune “Dixie” to the academy, earning him the reputation of a secessionist and demerits from his superiors. Nonetheless he was ranked first in his class of 1861. When his home state seceded he resigned, just short of his graduation, on April 22, 1861.

Civil War

Dearing traveled to Peninsular Campaign, where Dearing was highly praised by Lieutenant General James Longstreet, and in the Second Battle of Bull Run.[2] When Pickett was elevated to division command in Longstreet's First Corps in September Dearing's battery was assigned to the division and fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Captain Dearing was promoted to Major in early 1863, and was appointed Chief of Artillery in Pickett's Division. In April his battalion - made up of the batteries of Captains Siege of Suffolk.[3]

At the 2nd Vermont Brigade, wounding the later.[5]

Afterwards of Gettysburg Pickett was assigned to command the Department of Southern Virginia and North Carolina; and Dearing went with him. When Pickett needed a mounted force for his operations he selected Major Dearing to command it, and Dearing gathered some 200 men for a provisional battalion.[6] On January 12, 1864 a new cavalry regiment was proposed for service with Pickett, and he recommended Dearing as the commanding officer. Secretary of war James A. Seddon approved it the next day and Dearing, officially a Lieutenant Colonel of artillery, was promoted to provisional Colonel of cavalry. His regiment, known as 8th Confederate (or simply "Dearing´s Confederate") Cavalry, was composed of the former 12th North Carolina Cavalry Battalion and several other companies, as well as a battery of light artillery.[7][8]

In April 1864, while Dearing participated in the operations again New Bern and Plymouth, he was ordered back to the Army of Northern Virginia with his official rank of Lieutenant Colonel; to take command of its horse artillery.[9] Virtually at the same time the opening phases of the Siege of Petersburg changed Colonel Dearing's service branch again. On April 29, 1864 he was slated for promotion to brigadier general; and though his promotion was not approved by the Congress of the Confederate States he served with that rank as commander of a cavalry brigade. Still in the Department of Southern Virginia and North Carolina, now under command of P.G.T. Beauregard, Dearing and his confederate brigade (with its own artillery) served as scout and fire brigade.[10]

In July Dearing was given a command in the ANV again, serving in the cavalry division of Major General [11] He was falsely reported to be killed in the Battle of Boydton Plank Road.[12] When Beauregard gained command of the Department of the West in winter 1864 he recommended Dearing for a division command, but his recommendation was not followed.[13]

During the Appomattox Campaign Dearing was given another brigade in the division of his old friend and West Point classmate Major General Thomas L. Rosser, composed of the 7th, 11th and 12 Virginia Cavalry regiments and the 35th Virginia Battalion.[14] At the Battle of High Bridge on April 6, 1865, Dearing and his cavalry clashed with a union force of infantry and cavalry. He fought a close range pistol duel with the union commanders, Colonels Theodore Read and Francis Washburn. Read was killed on the spot, supposedly by Dearing. While Washburn was mortally wounded by a bullet through the mouth Dearing was mortally wounded himself when he was shot through the lungs, and he was taken prisoner. Brought to Lynchburg's old city hotel (christened "Ladies´ Relief Hospital"), on April 13 he was visited and paroled by his old West Point classmate, Brigadier General Ranald S. Mackenzie, then commanding in Lynchburg.[15] Dearing died on April 22 (like Colonel Washburn), and is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery.

Notes

  1. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-IX, pp. 515
  2. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XI-1, pp. 939
  3. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XVIII, p. 995
  4. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XXVII-2, pp. 429
  5. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XXVII-2, pp. 387
  6. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-LI-2, p. 799
  7. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XLV, pp. 895
  8. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XLV, p. 1083
  9. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XLV, pp. 1265
  10. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XLVIII
  11. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XL-3, p. 763
  12. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XLII-1, p. 23
  13. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-XLIV, p. 979
  14. ^ The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies I-LVI-1, pp. 1267
  15. ^ Warner, p. 70

References

  • War Department; The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies., Series I; Washington, D.C.; 1881-1901
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Krick, Robert K. "James Dearing." In The Confederate General, vol. 2, edited by William C. Davis and Julie Hoffman. Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1991. ISBN 0-918678-64-1.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 0-8071-0823-5.

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