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Dearing, James - Brig. Gen.
Brigadier-General James Dearing, of Virginia, was born in Campbell county, April 25, 1840. He was a great-grandson of Col. Charles Lynch, of revolutionary fame, who, through his summary way of treating the Tories, gave his name what is now known as "lynch law. " He was educated at Hanover academy, Virginia, and was appointed a cadet in the United States military academy. He resigned as soon as the adherence of Virginia to the Confederacy was determined upon, and entered the Confederate army. He chose the artillery service at the outset, becoming a lieutenant of the Washington artillery, of New Orleans, a fine organization which created much enthusiasm on its arrival in Virginia. His brilliant service in the artillery led to his promotion to captain of a battery attached to Pickett's division. As lieutenant and captain he participated in the principal battles of the army of Northern Virginia until after Chancellorsville, when he was promoted major, and put in command of a battalion of eighteen guns in the reserve artillery of Longstreet's corps. He reached the battlefield of Gettysburg with Pickett's division, and took part in the tremendous artillery duel which followed on the third day. In the winter of 1863-64, Pickett, having been assigned with the remnant of his division to the district of North Carolina, with headquarters at Petersburg, Va., found himself in need of cavalry, and collecting various companies of mounted men, he wrote to the secretary of war, "I shall assign them to the command of Major Dearing, and ask that he may be ordered to the command of these troops, with the temporary rank of colonel. He is a young officer of daring and coolness combined, the very man for the service upon which he is going, a good disciplinarian, and at the same time generally beloved by his men. I am not saying too much in his absence in assuring you that General Longstreet would strongly endorse his claims to promotion had he the opportunity. "Dearing was at once given this command, though Lee wrote a few days later, in ordering the New Bern expedition, "I propose Major Dearing for the command of the artillery of this expedition. " The appreciation of his service in the artillery was still further shown on April 5, 1864, when Lieutenant-Colonel Dearing was ordered to report to General Lee for assignment to command of the horse artillery of the army of Northern Virginia. Dearing's service, however, was from the beginning of 1864 in the cavalry. The regiment collected for him by Pickett was called Dearing's Confederate cavalry, and other cavalry commands were put in his charge during the New Bern expedition, in which he was distinguished, and was promoted brigadier-general. Early in May he was called to the Petersburg lines, on account of the opening of Grant's campaign. At first stationed on the Weldon railroad, and in command of a brigade consisting of his regiment, a Georgia regiment and two other North Carolina regiments of cavalry, a Virginia battalion and Graham's light artillery, he was soon called to the line of Swift's creek and Drewry's bluff, to meet the advance of Butler. On June 8th his command engaged Grant's cavalry at Reservoir hill, and drove the enemy from the field by an impetuous charge. On the 15th of June, Grant's whole army now being south of the James, Dearing's regiment made a gallant stand against the advance, which Beauregard reported as of incalculable advantage to his command. Subsequently he commanded a brigade of W. H. F. Lee's cavalry division, and shared the duties of that command throughout the remainder of the war. During the retreat in April, 1865, he was mortally wounded in a remarkable encounter with Brig. Gen. Theodore Read, of the United States army. The two generals met on the 5th of April at High Bridge on the Appomattox, at the head of their forces, and a duel with pistols ensued. General Read was instantly killed, but General Dearing lingered for a few days after the surrender of General Lee, when he died in the old City hotel at Lynchburg.
Confederate Military History, Vol. III.