Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Garnett, James Mercer

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GARNETT, James Mercer, agriculturist, and politician, b. in Essex county, Va., 8 June, 1770; d. there in May, 1843. He was a founder and the first president of the U. S. agricultural society, and wrote extensively on rural economy. He was also interested in educational progress, maintained a female seminary in his own house for twelve years, and was active in introducing into Virginia improved methods of instruction. He acted with the Democratic party, and engaged in a controversy with Matthew Carey, the protectionist. He was an intimate friend of his colleague in congress, John Randolph, of Roanoke. After serving for several years in the Virginia legislature he was twice elected to the National house of representatives, and served from 2 Dec., 1805, to 3 March, 1809. In 1829 he was a member of the Virginia constitutional convention. — His youngest brother, Robert Selden, b. in Essex county, Va., was educated at Princeton, studied law, began practice at Lloyds, and was elected as a Democrat to congress, and four times re-elected, serving from 1 Dec., 1817, to 3 March, 1827. On the question of recognizing the South American republics he voted alone. He was a political supporter and personal friend of Andrew Jackson. — His nephew, Richard Brooke, soldier, b. in Virginia in 1819; d. near Gettysburg, Pa.. 3 July, 1863, was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1841, entered the army as lieutenant of infantry, served in the Florida war and on the Texas frontier, became a captain on 9 May, 1855, was engaged in Kansas in 1856-'7, and in the Utah expedition of 1858, and resigned on 17 May, 1861, to join the Confederate army. He was engaged in many of the battles in Virginia, was afterward attached to Gen. Lee's army, with the rank of brigadier-general, and fell in the battle of Gettysburg. — Another nephew, Robert Selden, son of Robert S., soldier, b. in Essex county, Va., 16 Dec., 1819; d. at Carrick's Ford, Va., 13 July, 1861. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1841, appointed 2d lieutenant of artillery, and from July, 1843, to October, 1844, was assistant instructor of infantry tactics at the military academy. He was aide-de-camp to Gen. Wool in 1845, distinguished himself in the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, was promoted 1st lieutenant in 1846, was aide-de-camp to Gen. Taylor through the Mexican war, and was brevetted captain and major for gallant and meritorious conduct at Monterey and Buena Vista. He was transferred to the infantry in 1848, and promoted captain in 1851. From 1852 till 1854 he was commandant of the corps of cadets and instructor in infantry tactics at West Point. He was commissioned as major on 27 March, 1855, was the commander in the operations against the Indians on Puget's sound, Washington territory, in 1856, and commanded the Yakima expedition in 1858. At the beginning of the civil war he returned from Europe, where he had been travelling on sick leave, resigned his commission in the U. S. army on 30 April, 1861, and was appointed adjutant-general, with the rank of colonel, to organize the Virginia troops. On 6 June, 1861, he was commissioned as brigadier-general in the Confederate army, and sent to command the forces in the western part of the state. He found himself confronted by Gen. McClellan with a much superior force, consisting of U. S. regulars and Indiana riflemen. After Gen. Pegram, with a part of his command, had been surrounded, he attempted to retreat with the remainder on Beverly. When the National troops overtook him at Carrick's Ford, on Cheat river, he took command of the detachment with which he attempted to cover the retreat. His army was routed, and he was killed in the engagement. — Another nephew, Alexander Yelverton Peyton, physician, b. in Essex county, Va., 20 Sept., 1820; d. in Rehoboth Beach, Del., 11 July, 1888, was graduated in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1841, then entered the U.S. navy, was promoted surgeon in 1848, and resigned on 21 Oct., 1850, to accept the professorship of clinical medicine in the National medical college at Washington, D. C. He married in 1848 the eldest daughter of Henry A. Wise. In 1861 he left Washington, and became a member of the examining board of surgeons for the Confederate army, and afterward surgeon in charge of the two military hospitals in Richmond. He was the family physician of Jefferson Davis and of all his cabinet officers, and accompanied Mr. Davis after the evacuation of Richmond. Afterward he returned to Washington, and was again elected a professor in the medical college in 1867, but resigned in 1870, and was made an emeritus professor. He was elected a vice-president of the American medical association in 1885. He contributed to medical literature papers on the claims of “Condurango as a Cure for Cancer,” “The Potomac Marshes and their Influence as a Pathogenic Agent,” “Epidemic Jaundice among Children,” “The Sorghum Vulgare or Broom-Corn, Seed in Cystitis,” “Nelaton's Probe in Gunshot Wounds,” and “Coloproctitis treated by Hot-Water Douche and Dilatation or Division of the Sphincters.” — James Mercer's grandson, Muscoe Russell Hunter, politician, b. in Essex county, Va.; d. in Virginia about 1863, was graduated at the University of Virginia, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practised at Loretto, Va. He was a delegate to the State convention for revising the constitution in 1850, and a member of the Virginia house of delegates from 1853 till 1856. He was a delegate to the Democratic national conventions of 1852 and 1856. and elected to congress to serve out an unexpired term, and twice re-elected, serving from 1 Dec., 1856, to 3 March, 1861. After the formation of the southern confederacy he was elected to the 1st congress at Richmond.