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Our Confederate Generals


Major-General John Pegram was born in Virginia, January 24, 1832. He was appointed a cadet from Virginia in the United States military academy, and was graduated in 1854, with promotion to brevet second lieutenant of dragoons.

He served on frontier duty, first at Fort Tejou, Cal., and afterward at Fort Riley, Kan., where he was commissioned second lieutenant of dragoons, and at Forts Lookout and Randall, Dakota territory.

His duties in the west were relieved for a time in 1857, by assignment as assistant instructor of cavalry. Promoted first lieutenant of the Second dragoons, he became adjutant of that regiment, and resumed his frontier service until 1858, when he was given leave of absence for two years for a tour of Europe.


On his return he continued in the United States army until May 10, 1861, when he resigned.

He was commissioned captain, corps of cavalry, C. S. A., and was promoted rapidly to higher grades. As lieutenant-colonel he participated in the operations of General Garnett's command about Beverly, W. Va., in the summer of 1861, and when confronted by the Federal forces in overwhelming numbers under McClellan and Rosecrans, Pegram was intrusted by Garnett with the command of one of the two bodies in which he divided his forces.

A rear attack by Rosecrans compelled him to withdraw after a gallant fight, from Rich mountain, and two days later he was compelled to surrender with half his command.

After his return to the army he was assigned to the staff of General Bragg at Tupelo, Miss., as chief of engineers, July, 1862, and later became chief of staff of Gen. E. Kirby Smith, in command in east Tennessee. In that capacity he participated in the Kentucky campaign and the battle of Richmond, where his services were gratefully recognized in the report of the general commanding.

In November he was promoted brigadier-general and assigned to the command of a cavalry brigade of Tennesseeans in Smith's army. With his brigade he participated in the battle of Murfreesboro, and subsequently was upon outpost duty and various active operations until the battle of Chickamauga, where he commanded a division of Forrest's cavalry corps.
Subsequently he was transferred to the army of Northern Virginia and the infantry service, being given command of a brigade in Early's division of the Second corps, composed of the Thirteenth, Thirty-first, Forty-ninth, Fifty second and Fifty-eighth Virginia regiments.

With this gallant body of veterans he was in the campaign from the Rapidan to the James, and was particularly distinguished during the second day of the fight in the Wilderness, when his brigade repelled the persistent assaults of the Federals, determined to turn the flank of Ewell's corps.

In command of Early's division he took part in the campaign against Sheridan in the Shenandoah valley in the fall of 1864, and after the return of these forces to the Petersburg lines he was promoted major-general and continued in command of the division, a part of Gordon's corps, throughout the winter.

On February 6, 1865, he moved from camp to reconnoiter and was attacked by the enemy in heavy force on Hatcher's run. His men were pressed back in spite of a brave resistance until reinforced by the division of C. A. Evans, when the enemy was in turn forced to retire.

After meeting a second check the Confederates reformed and charged again, driving the Federals, and in this moment of success General Pegram fell mortally wounded. His death occurred on the same day.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. IV, p. 648

Brigadier-General William E. Starke went to the assistance of Gen. R. S. Garnett at Laurel hill, early in July, 1861, as colonel, and served as his aide-de-camp in the disastrous retreat on the Cheat river.

His coolness and judgment in the midst of the confusion that followed the death of General Garnett were highly commended by Colonel Taliaferro, who succeeded to command. Subsequently he was put in command of the Sixtieth Virginia regiment, and sent to Lewisburg, to the support of General Floyd, whence, in December, he was ordered to accompany General Donelson's brigade to Bowling Green, Ky.

It appears, however, that he was instead, attached to General Wise's command, stationed at Goldsboro, N. C. During the Seven Days' campaign in Virginia he commanded his regiment in Field's brigade, and was commended for gallantry, and his promotion to brigadier-general followed early in August, 1862.

Reporting for duty to General Jackson, he was assigned to command of the Second Louisiana brigade and marched with it to Manassas. In that campaign he took command of the Stonewall division, after General Taliaferro was wounded on the 28th.

He was with Jackson at the capture of Harper's Ferry, and at Sharpsburg was called on again to take command of the division, after the fall of J. R. Jones. Soon afterward he himself fell mortally wounded, pierced by three minie balls, and survived but an hour.

Gen. Bradley T. Johnson, in reporting the battle of Second Manassas, said: "I cannot forbear doing but scant justice to a gallant soldier now no more. It was my fortune during the two days of battle,
during which he commanded the division, to be thrown constantly in contact with Brigadier-General Starke.

The buoyant dash with which he led his brigade into the most withering fire on Friday, though then in command of the division; the force he showed in the handling of this command; the coolness and judgment which distinguished him in action, made him to me a marked man, and I regretted his early death as a great loss to the army and the cause."

His name deserves lasting remembrance in association with the Stonewall division.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. IV, p. 663

Brigadier-General Peter B. Starke, a distinguished cavalry commander, became colonel of the Twenty-eighth Mississippi cavalry regiment by commission dated February 24, 1862. His regiment was attached to the command of Gen. M. L. Smith, for the defense of Vicksburg, and in September was nearly 700 strong.

Stationed at Panola in November, he gave notice of the advance of Hovey's expedition from Arkansas, and during that fruitless movement by the enemy his regiment was engaged in various skirmishes. From this time during the long-continued efforts for the reduction of Vicksburg the Confederate cavalry was busily engaged in watching the movements of the enemy.

At the organization of forces outside Vicksburg by General Johnston he and his regiment were assigned to the cavalry brigade of Gen. W. H. Jackson, first composed of the regiments of Pinson, Harris, Starke, and Adams, and Steede's battalion. In March, 1863, he participated in the victory at Thompson's station, Tenn., under General Van Dorn.

When Jackson became commander of cavalry division, under Gen. Stephen D. Lee, Colonel Starkewas assigned to command of the brigade, which in February, 1864, in. eluded the regiments of Pinson, Starkeand Ballentine, Webb's Louisiana company, and the Columbus, Georgia, light artillery.

He was stationed before Vicksburg when Sherman started out on the Meridian expedition. He resisted the advance of one corps of the enemy on February 4th, and on the 24th attacked Sherman's retreating column at Sharon, inflicting considerable loss on the enemy.

His conduct in this campaign was warmly commended by General Jackson, and General Lee said: "Colonel Starke, commanding brigade, showed skill and gallantry on every occasion, and won my confidence." During the Atlanta campaign his brigade was commanded by Gen. Frank C. Armstrong, and he was for a part of the time in command of his regiment. Commissioned brigadier-general November 4, 1864, he took part in the cavalry operations during Hood's Tennessee campaign.

On February, 1865, he was assigned to command, near Columbus, of one of the three brigades into which General Chalmers divided the Mississippi cavalry, and the following regiments were ordered to report to him: Wilbourn's Fourth, Wade's Sixth Mississippi and Eighth Confederate, White's Eighth Mississippi, Twenty-eighth, Eighteenth battalion, and part of the Fifth regiment.

His command was included in the surrender of General Taylor's army.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. IX, p. 270


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