1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/McPherson, James Birdseye

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McPHERSON, JAMES BIRDSEYE (1828-1864), American soldier, was born at Sandusky, Ohio, on the 14th of November 1828. He entered West Point at the age of twenty-one, and graduated (1853) at the head of his class, which included Sheridan, Schofield and Hood. He was employed at the military academy as instructor of practical military engineering (1853). A year later he was sent to engineer duty at New York, and in 1857, after constructing Fort Delaware, he was sent as superintending engineer to San Francisco, becoming 1st lieutenant in 1858. He was promoted captain during the first year of the Civil War, and towards the close of 1861 became lieutenant-colonel and aide-de-camp to General Halleck, who in the spring of 1862 sent him to General Grant as chief engineer. He remained with Grant during the Shiloh campaign, and acted as engineer adviser to Halleck during the siege operations against Corinth in the summer of 1862. In October he distinguished himself in command of an infantry brigade at the battle of Corinth, and on the 8th of this month was made major-general of volunteers and commander of a division. In the second advance on Vicksburg (1863) McPherson commanded the XVII. corps, fought at Port Gibson, Raymond and Jackson, and after the fall of Vicksburg was strongly recommended by Grant for the rank of brigadier-general in the regular army, to which he was promoted on the 1st of August 1863. He commanded at Vicksburg until the following spring. He was about to go on leave of absence in order to be married in Baltimore when he received his nomination to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, Grant's and Sherman's old army, which was to take part under Sherman's supreme command in the campaign against Atlanta (1864). This nomination was made by Sherman and entirely approved by Grant, who had the highest opinion of McPherson's military and personal qualities. He was in command of his army at the actions of Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain and the battles about Atlanta. On the 22nd of July, when the Confederates under his old classmate Hood made a sudden and violent attack on the lines held by the Army of the Tennessee, McPherson rode up, in the woods, to the enemy's firing line and was killed. He was one of the most heroic figures of the American Civil War, and Grant is reported to have said when he heard of McPherson's death, “The country has lost one of its best soldiers, and I have lost my best friend.”