James Deshler

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James Deshler
James Deshler.jpg
Born(1833-02-18)February 18, 1833
Tuscumbia, Alabama
DiedSeptember 20, 1863(1863-09-20) (aged 30)
Chickamauga, Georgia
Place of burial
Oakwood Cemetery, Tuscumbia
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Service/branch United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service1854–61 (USA)
1861–63 (CSA)
RankUnion army 1st lt rank insignia.jpg First Lieutenant (USA)
Confederate States of America Colonel.png Colonel (CSA)
Confederate States of America General-collar.svg Brigadier General (CSA), unconfirmed.[1]
Battles/warsUtah War
American Civil War

James Deshler (February 18, 1833 – September 20, 1863) was a career United States Army officer and a graduate of West Point. He was appointed a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War but died on the field of battle with his promotion remaining unconfirmed.[1][2]

Early life and career[edit]

James Deshler was born in February 18, 1833 in Tuscumbia, Alabama to David Deshler 1798-1872) and Eleanor Taylor (1808-1854).[3] Deshler went to West Point and graduated in 1854. He graduated ranking above James Ewell Brown Stuart, William Dorsey Pender and Stephen Dill Lee.[4][5] After graduating, James was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. His first military experience was an assignment to California after graduation.[6] He was then transferred and promoted to first lieutenant United States Army in 1858 and joined a regiment to fight in the Utah War expedition. After the expedition Deshler was assigned to Fort Wise, where he remained until 1861. In 1861 Deshler resigned his post and joined the Confederate States Army.[1][6]

Civil War service[edit]

After his resignation from the army, Deshler enlisted as a captain in the artillery. In September 1861 he was an assistant to Brigadier General Henry R. Jackson during the Battle of Cheat Mountain.[7] Deshler was wounded at the Battle of Allegheny Mountain when he was shot through the thighs.[7] After his recovery from his wounds he was promoted to colonel and assigned to the staff of Maj. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes.[6] In 1862 he was given his first command, which consisted of four regiments of Texas infantry and cavalry, the Tenth Texas Infantry regiment, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Texas Dismounted Cavalry regiments. On January 11, 1863, Deshler was captured when the Confederates surrendered at the Battle of Fort Hindman. After being exchanged he was promoted to brigadier general on July 28, 1863.[6]

Death and burial[edit]

On the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20, 1863, while inspecting his brigade before an attack, Deshler was killed instantly by a Union artillery shell when it exploded in front of him, tearing his heart from his body.[2] Command of his brigade was taken over by the future Senator Roger Mills, and the Confederacy won the battle. After the fighting ended, a family friend buried Deshler's body on the battlefield. Later the friend brought Deshler's father to the gravesite. They disinterred Deshler and subsequently reburied him in Oakwood Cemetery in his hometown of Tuscumbia, Alabama.[6]

Mills remarked after Deshler's death:

I may pause here and pay a passing tribute to the memory of our fallen chief. He was brave, generous and kind, even to a fault. Ever watchful and careful for the safety of any member of his command, he was ever ready to peril his own...He poured out his own blood upon the spot watered by the best blood of the brigade. Amongst the host of brave hearts that were offered the altar of sacrifice for their country on that beautiful Sabath, there perished not one, noble, braver, or better than his. He lived beloved, and fell lamented and mourned by every officer and man of his command.[7]


Deshler's father founded the Deshler Female Institute in memory of his son. To further honor General Deshler, Tuscumbia's Deshler High School was named for him.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1. p. 594.
  2. ^ a b USWD War., pg. 188.
  3. ^ Father and mother named in ancestry.com - profiles and historical records.
  4. ^ The Gallant Dead, p. 193.
  5. ^ Full names of classmates from Heitman, Fracis Bernard. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army from 1789 to 1903, volume 1
  6. ^ a b c d e f Civil War Tales, pp. 169-70.
  7. ^ a b c Conf. Milt. Hist., pp. 403-05.


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Evans, Clement Anselm, ed., Wheeler, Joseph, author. Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History volume 7, Alabama (1899) pp. 403–405.
  • Heart Of Dixie Publishing and William Lindsey McDonalds' Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley (2003) pp. 169–170
  • Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.


  • Smith, Derek The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War (2005) pg. 193
  • United States War Dept, Robert Nicholson Scott, George Breckenridge Davis, Leslie J. Perry, United States War Records Office, Joseph William Kirkley, United States Record and Pension Office, and John Sheldon Moodeys' The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1890) pg. 188
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-5229-4

External links[edit]