John Pegram
General John Pegram

John Pegram was born in Virginia on January 24, 1832. He graduated tenth in a class of 46 from the United States Military Academy in 1854 and served mainly in the west, including a brief stint as an assistant instructor of cavalry at West Point in 1857. He eventually became adjutant of the Second Dragoons and returned to the frontier. In 1858, he was given leave of absence for two years to travel in Europe.

Pegram returned from abroad and continued in the United States Army until May 10, 1861, when he resigned and was commissioned a captain of Confederate cavalry. Promotions came quickly to Pegram, who found himself a lieutenant colonel by the summer of 1861. He was captured following the Battle of Rich Mountain, along with with half his command, but was later exchanged.

After his return to duty in July of 1862, Pegram joined was assigned to the staff of General Braxton Bragg in Mississippi as chief of engineers and later became chief of staff of General Edmund Kirby Smith, who was in command in eastern Tennessee. In November he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of a cavalry brigade. During the Battle of Chickamauga, he commanded a division of Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry corps.

Pegram was finally transferred to Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, where he was given command of an infantry brigade in Jubal Early's division of the Second Corps. He was seriously wounded in the Wilderness but recovered and returned to take part in Early's subsequent disastrous campaign against Union General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley in the fall of 1864.

In December 1864, Pegram's division was sent to the lines around Petersburg under John B. Gordon. The young general took advantage of his proximity to Richmond to wed his fiancee Hetty Cary, who was living in Richmond. The wedding took place at St. Paul's Church on January 19, 1865. Three weeks later, Pegram would return to St. Paul's -- but this time in a casket; he was killed instantly at Hatcher's Run on Fenruary 6 as he tried to rally his troops. The same minister who had married him read his funeral service and oversaw his burial in Hollywood Cemetery.

This poem was found in Confederate Scrap Book, kept by Ms. Lizzie Cary Daniel and published by J.L. Hill Printing Company in 1893 for the benefit of the Memorial Bazaar, held in Richmond, April 11, 1893.

"John Pegram"

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Last modified 16-April-2001