Memorial Broach Depicting General James Birdseye McPherson - Inventory Number: HAR 142
(November 14, 1828 – July 22, 1864)
General McPherson was a career United States Army officer who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. McPherson was on the General's staff of Henry Halleck and later, of Ulysses S. Grant and was with Grant at the Battle of Shiloh. He was killed at the Battle of Atlanta, facing the army of his old West Point classmate John Bell Hood, who paid a warm tribute to his character. He was the second-highest-ranking Union officer killed in action during the war.
"While McPherson was riding his horse toward his old XVII Corps, a line of Confederate skirmishers appeared, yelling "Halt!" McPherson raised his hand to his head as if to remove his hat, but suddenly wheeled his horse, attempting to escape, The Confederates opened fire and mortally wounded McPherson. When the confederate troops approached and asked his orderly who the downed officer was, the aide replied, "Sir, it is General McPherson. You have killed the best man in our army."
McPherson, James B., major-general, was born in Sandusky county, Ohio, Nov. 14, 1828; entered West Point from his native state, in 1849, and graduated at the head of his class, June 30, 1853, being at once appointed brevet second lieutenant of engineers and assistant instructor of practical engineering at the academy, a compliment never before awarded to so young an officer. He was next appointed assistant engineer on the defenses of New York harbor, and on the improvement of the navigation of the Hudson river, having previously been made full second lieutenant of engineers. In Jan., 1857, he was placed in charge of the construction of Fort Delaware, and subsequently of the erection of fortifications on Alcatraz island, San Francisco bay, Cal., and was also connected with the survey of the Pacific coast. In Dec., 1858, he was promoted to first lieutenant, and in 1861 was ordered from the Pacific coast to take charge of the fortifications of Boston harbor. The same year he was made captain, and upon the appointment of Maj. Gen.- Halleck to the command of the Department of the West in November, he was chosen aide-de-camp to that general, and at the same time was promoted as lieutenant-colonel. In the expeditions against Forts Henry and Donelson he was chief engineer of the Army of the Tennessee, and subsequently was at Shiloh and as colonel on Gen. Halleck's staff held the chief engineering charge of the approaches to Corinth which ended in its evacuation. On May 15, 1862, he was made brigadier-general of volunteers, and appointed general superintendent of military railroads in the district of West Tennessee the following June. In Sept., 1862, Gen. McPherson held a position on the staff of Gen. Grant and for his gallantry at Corinth was promoted to be major-general, dating from Oct. 8, rising to that position in the short space of nine years, and by merit alone. From that time till the close of the siege of Vicksburg, during which he commanded the center of the Federal army, his career was one course of triumph. Upon Grant's recommendation Gen. McPherson was immediately confirmed a brigadier-general in the regular army, dating from Aug. 1, 1863, and soon after conducted a column into Mississippi and repulsed the enemy at Canton. In the memorable expedition to Meridian he was second in command to Gen. Sherman, and during the Atlanta campaign his command was the Department of the Tennessee, including the entire 15th, 16th, and 17th corps. He distinguished himself at Resaca, Dallas, Allatoona, Kolb's farm, and Kennesaw mountain. In superintending the advance of his skirmish line in the battle before Atlanta, on July 22, 1864, he had ridden from left to right, and was returning when he was suddenly confronted by a party of the enemy's skirmishers, and received a shot in the breast, causing almost instant death.
Inventory Number: HAR 142