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  • Confederate General James Lawson Kemper / Sold

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    Confederate General James Lawson Kemper - Inventory Number: AUT 051 / Sold

    Wonderful yellow envelope ink inscribed as the recipient is: “Genl. Jas. L. Kemper / Madison CH / VA.”.  Kemper was shot at the Battle of Gettysburg after raising in his saddle and exalting: ”There are the guns boys, go for them!”. The sender of the correspondence was George C. Wedderburn of Richmond, VA., a prominent Virginian.

    Colonel, Seventh Virginia Infantry, May 2, 1861.

    Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., June 3, 1862.

    Major general, P. A. C. S., September 19, 1864.

    Died in Virginia, April 7, 1895.


    Brigade composed of the First, Seventh, Eleventh, Seventeenth and Twenty-fourth Virginia Regiments Infantry.

    Subsequently the Seventeenth Virginia Regiment was transferred to Corse's Brigade, and the Third Virginia was substituted for it.

    As major general commanding the reserve forces of Virginia.

    Kemper, James Lawson, born in Virginia, appointed from Virginia captain and acting quartermaster of volunteers, January 30, 1847. Honorably discharged August 3, 1848.

    Major-General James Lawson Kemper was born in Madison county, Va., June 11, 1823, of a family descended from John Kemper, of Oldenburg, who settled in Virginia in 1714, in the "Palatinate Colony. "

    He was educated at the Virginia military institute and Washington college, where he took the degree of master of arts, and his subsequent study of the law was pursued at Charleston, Kanawha county.  In 1847 he was commissioned captain in the volunteer army by President Polk, and he joined General Taylor's army after the battle of Buena Vista.

    Subsequently he became prominent in the political life of the State, and served ten years as a member of the house of delegates, two years as speaker, and for a number of years as chairman of the committee on military affairs.  He was also president of the board of visitors of the Virginia military institute.

    On May 2, 1861, he was commissioned colonel of Virginia volunteers and assigned to the command of the Seventh regiment of infantry.  Joining his regiment at Manassas he rendered efficient special service to General Beauregard in procuring him 200 wagons.  He was in battle at Blackburn's ford, and on July 21st, assigned to the brigade commanded by Col. Jubal A. Early, he aided in striking the final blow on the extreme left of the Federal line, which immediately preceded the rout of McDowell's forces.

    Three days after this battle his regiment was assigned to the brigade commanded by General Longstreet, and subsequently by A. P. Hill, under whom Colonel Kemper, with the Seventh regiment, was in the hottest of the fight at Williamsburg.  Immediately after this he was given command of the brigade which had been successively under Longstreet, Ewell and A. P. Hill, and he fought his regiments with distinguished skill and courage during the first day at Seven Pines and throughout the Seven Days' fighting before Richmond.

    At Frayser's he made a gallant advance over difficult ground, broke the enemy's line and captured a battery.  With Longstreet's corps he reached the scene of battle at Manassas, August 29, 1862, and in the subsequent fighting served in command of a division consisting of his own, Jenkins', Pickett's and N. G. Evans' brigades.  At South mountain he commanded his brigade, and in conjunction with Garnett, the two commands not exceeding 800 men, met Hatch's force of 3,500 before Turner's Gap.  This little force of Confederates performed prodigies of valor, causing General Doubleday to report that he had engaged 4,000 or 5,000 men under the immediate command of Pickett, and Hooker reported that Hatch, after a "violent and protracted struggle" in which he was "outnumbered and sorely pressed," was reinforced by Christian's brigade, in spite of which the resistance of the enemy was continued until after dark.

    It was by such self-sacrificing bravery that McClellan's army was delayed until Lee could concentrate at Sharpsburg.  In the latter battle he commanded his brigade, also at Fredericksburg, his brigade meanwhile having been assigned to Pickett's division of Virginians.

    Before the battle of Chancellorsville he was detailed to operate near New Bern, N. C., where he rendered efficient service but fought no important battles.  He rejoined Pickett before Suffolk, and marched with him into Pennsylvania.

    On the third day of the fighting at Gettysburg he led his brigade in the heroic charge upon Cemetery hill.  As the division concentrated in making the final assault, Kemper fell desperately wounded, his brother brigadiers, Garnett and Armistead, being killed a few moments later.

    He was brought off the field, but subsequently fell into the hands of the Federals.  After three months' imprisonment and when it seemed unlikely that he would recover, he was exchanged for General Graham, of the United States army.

    His injuries prevented further service in the field, but his gallant deeds were rewarded by promotion to major-general, and he was given command of the reserve forces of Virginia, until the close of the war.

    He then returned to Madison county, cultivated his land and resumed the practice of law, also taking an active part in the political movement which resulted in the formation of the Conservative party in Virginia, which he earnestly aided by voice and pen.

    In this work he was so conspicuous as to be a candidate for elector-at-large for the State in 1872, and in the following year he was nominated and elected governor.  He served in this honored position for four years from January 1, 1874.

    Inventory Number: AUT 051 / Sold