James H. Trapier
|James Heyward Trapier|
James Heyward Trapier
November 24, 1815|
Georgetown County, South Carolina
|Died||December 21, 1865
Georgetown, South Carolina
|Buried at||Prince George Winyah Churchyard, Georgetown, South Carolina|
|Allegiance|| United States of America
Confederate States of America
|Service/branch|| United States Army
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||1838–48 (USA)
|Rank|| First Lieutenant (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
American Civil War
James Heyward Trapier (November 24, 1815 – December 21, 1865) was a career United States Army officer who fought during the Mexican–American War. He also served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, dying shortly after its conclusion.
Early life and career
Trapier was born in 1815 at a plantation called "Windsor" located along the Black River near the city of Georgetown, South Carolina. In 1834 he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduated four years later standing third out of 45 cadets. P.G.T. Beauregard, whom Trapier would serve under later in life, placed second in this same class. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery on July 1, 1838. Six days later Trapier transferred to the Engineer Corps, and he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant on July 1, 1839.
In his work for the Engineers, Trapier helped in the construction of defenses on the coastline of the United States. He also served in the Mexican–American War from 1846–1848, and he would resign his commission on February 28, 1848. After tendering his resignation, Trapier moved back to his plantation in South Carolina and became a planter. He also was active in the South Carolina State Militia, rising to the rank of colonel and serving as the militia's aide-de-camp. As the chief of ordnance of South Carolina, Trapier "ensured that the state was well-armed."
Civil War service
At the start of the American Civil War in 1861, Trapier chose to follow his home state and the Confederate cause. He entered the Confederate Army in January, assigned as a captain in the Engineers as well as aide-de-camp to South Carolina's Governor Francis W. Pickens. He then began his service under Brig. Gen. Beauregard, becoming part of his staff in April and Chief Engineer of the newly formed Department of South Carolina until November. While there he aided Beauregard in the construction of artillery batteries within Charleston Harbor, and on June 19 he was promoted to major and was assigned assistant quartermaster.
Trapier was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on October 21, 1861. He was given command the District of Middle and Eastern Florida from November 5 until March 14 of the following year. He then was ordered to the Western Theater and Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston's Army of the Mississippi, with Brig. Gen. Joseph Finegan taking over his district command in April. Trapier was assigned to lead the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Division in Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg's II Corps in March. Gen. Beauregard assumed command of the Army of the Mississippi upon Johnston's death at Shiloh and led it during the First Battle of Corinth in late April.
Trapier was then temporarily given command the 1st Division of the I Corps on April 14 when it's commander, Charles Clark, fell ill. When Clark recovered, Trapier was then given temporary command of the 2nd Division of Bragg's II Corps, and led it in this capacity during the Battle of Farmington. Trapier's performance during the Union siege at Corinth was highly criticized and Bragg, now the army commander, ordered him relieved of command and sent him home for duty in South Carolina. Trapier was one of the many army officers whose career was badly damaged by the harsh and unfair criticisms of Bragg.
In November 1862, Trapier was given command of the Forth Military District of South Carolina, headquartered in Georgetown. This district encompassed the area from the North Carolina line to the Santee River. Trapier strengthened the defense of this district by placing troops in coastal fortifications, notably Battery White, which guarded Winyah Bay.
In April 1863, Trapier was called by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, who at this time commanded at Charleston, to command the garrison located on Sullivans Island during Union Admiral Samuel DuPonts' naval assault on the city. DuPont's attack failed and with Charleston safe, Trapier reported back to Georgetown.
After April 1863, Trapier performed well in the command of the district although constantly plagued by a lack of supplies and troops. Trapier asked the Confederate government repeatedly for extra troops to defend this district; however, the government allocated what extra troops it had to more active theaters.
Trapier's district was unmolested until February 25, 1865 when Union Admiral John Dahlgren's fleet sailed into Georgetown's harbor and captured the town. Trapier evacuated the town and its outlying fortifications previous to its occupation in concurrence with the surrender of Charleston. Admiral Dahlgren's flagship, Harvest Moon, struck a torpedo March 1, 1865 in Winyah Bay placed there under orders from Gen. Trapier. The admiral was uninjured but the Harvest Moon sank.
There is no record showing Gen. Trapier was ever captured or paroled. Trapier was not with Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph Johnston in North Carolina at the time of surrender.
Postbellum and death
After the end of the war, Trapier returned to farming in South Carolina. He died at the age of 50 during the winter of 1865 at the home of a friend in Georgetown. He was buried there in the cemetery of Prince George Winyah Churchyard.
- Eicher, p. 535.
- "Sunsite biography of Trapier". sunsite.utk.edu. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
- Wright, p. 64: Appointed from South Carolina on October 21, 1861, to rank from that date, and confirmed by Confederate Congress on December 13.
- Smith, p. 34.
- Smith, p. 39.
- Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
- Smith, Timothy B., Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, Occupation, University Press of Kansas, 2012, ISBN 978-0-70006-1852-1.* Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: The Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-3150-4.
- Wright, Marcus J., General Officers of the Confederate Army, J. M. Carroll & Co., 1983, ISBN 0-8488-0009-5.