Brig. Gen. John Dunovant (b. 1825, d. 1864) It took two tries in Confederate service for John Dunovant to reach the grade of brigadier general in Confederate service. Dunovant was born in Chester, South Carolina, March 5, 1825. His first military action came as a sergeant in the Palmetto Regiment during the Mexican War. In 1855, he was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a captain in the 10th Infantry. He held this post until a few days after the secession of South Carolina. He entered state service as a militia major and then was named colonel of the 1st South Carolina Infantry. He led this unit within the 2nd Military District, Department of South Carolina and Georgia. His unit was based on Sullivan’s Island and James Island. By June of 1862, Dunovant’s drinking caught up to him and he was dismissed from duty, a move which received endorsement from President Jefferson Davis. After working to clean up his reputation, Dunovant was back later that year as colonel of the 5th South Carolina Cavalry, appointed by Gov. Francis Pickens. In March of 1864, this regiment was ordered to Virginia. At the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, May 16, the regiment fought dismounted to stave off a Federal threat to Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s left flank. Dunovant’s men stood out at Cold Harbor, Trevilian Station and in the early part of the Petersburg Campaign. He was able to change the mind of President Davis, who appointed him brigadier general with temporary rank Aug. 22, 1864. After losing a fight with Federal cavalry Oct. 1, 1864, Dunovant sought permission to attack the Federal left near the Vaughan Road south of the James River. It was a dangerous attack which was finally approved by Maj. Gen. M.C. Butler. Dunovant was killed at the head of his troops when they attacked Federal dismounted cavalry Oct. 2, 1864. He was buried in the family ground near Chester, South Carolina.
Brig. Gen. Johnson K. Duncan (b. 1827, d. 1862 ) If one word could be used to sum up the Confederate career of Johnson Kelly Duncan, it would be misfortune. Duncan was born in York, Pennsylvania, March 19, 1827. He attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating 5th in the Class of 1849. His first action was against the Seminoles in Florida. He later went to the northwest to explore routes for the Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1855, Duncan resigned his commission to take a job as superintendent of government construction in New Orleans. In 1861, he became chief engineer for the Louisiana Board of Public Works. When Louisiana seceded, Duncan decided to go with his neighbors in defense of the south. He received a commission as colonel of artillery and was assigned to the defense of Forts Jackson and St. Philip below New Orleans. He was promoted to brigadier general Jan. 7, 1862. He had about 500 men and 80 guns when the Federal fleet under Capt. David Farragut attacked the forts. By Duncan’s estimation, nearly 3,000 shells were fired at Fort Jackson in 10 hours April 18, 1862, the first day of the siege. The fort held until April 24, when Farragut’s ships successfully slipped past the fort and landed troops. Taken prisoner, Duncan was exchanged later in the year and made chief of staff for Gen. Braxton Bragg. Duncan took ill and died of fever in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dec. 18, 1862. He was buried in McGavock Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee.
Brig. Gen. Dudley M. DuBose (b. 1834, d. 1883) A lawyer by profession, Dudley McIver DuBose rose through the ranks in his father-in-law’s (Brig. Gen. Robert Toombs) command to eventually command his own brigade. DuBose was born in Shelby County, Tennessee, Oct. 28, 1834. He attended the University of Mississippi and then graduated from the Lebanon (Tennessee) Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1857. A resident of Augusta, Georgia, at the start of the Civil War, DuBose went into Confederate service as a lieutenant with the 15th Georgia Infantry. This regiment was placed in the brigade of his father-in-law and went to Virginia. DuBose fought in the Seven Days Campaign (June 25-July 1, 1862) as Gen. Robert Lee drove Federal forces under Maj. Gen. George McClellan away from Richmond, Second Manassas (Bull Run) Aug. 29-30, 1862, and Sharpsburg (Antietam) Sept. 17, 1862. DuBose advanced to colonel of the 15th Georgia in January of 1863. As part of Brig. Gen. Henry Benning’s brigade of Maj. Gen. John Hood’s division, the regiment moved north in the Gettysburg Campaign. There, the regiment saw extensive action while charging the Federal III Corps, fighting at Devil’s Den and then at Little Round Top as the Confederates tried to secure the high ground. After the Confederates retreated, DuBose was back in Georgia as part of Lt. Gen. Longstreet’s corps sent south to help the Army of Tennessee. In the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chickamauga (Sept. 19-20, 1863), DuBose was wounded. He was back with the First Corps in May of 1864, in time to participate in the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-7, 1864). Late in the year, DuBose was rewarded with a promotion to brigadier general to rank from Nov. 16, 1864. He commanded a brigade in Maj. Gen. Joseph Kershaw’s division through fighting in the Petersburg and Appomattox campaigns. In the retreat from Richmond, DuBose was one of many generals captured at the crushing defeat at Sayler’s Creek, April 6, 1865. He was held at Fort Warren until July, finally securing his parole. He returned to Georgia, settling in Washington, Georgia. There, he resumed his law practice and held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for one term (1871-73). He died in Washington, Georgia, March 2, 1883, and was buried in the Rest Haven Cemetery there.
Maj. Gen. Daniel S. Donelson (b. 1801, d. 1863) Daniel Smith Donelson was a major general in the Confederate army. But he never knew that. Donelson died of natural causes in Montvale Springs, Tennessee, April 17, 1863, while commanding the Confederate Department of East Tennessee. Not informed of his death, the Confederate War Department promoted him to major general April 22, to rank from Jan. 17. Donelson was a prominent Tennessean. Born in Sumner County, Tennessee, June 23, 1801, Donelson was a nephew of Andrew Jackson. He received a military education at the U.S. Military Academy, graduating fifth in the Class of 1825. Within a year, he had resigned to become a planter in his home county. Active in the militia, Donelson also entered politics, where he was speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives at the start of the Civil War. As a brigadier general of state troops, Donelson was asked to find sites for forts on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in northern Tennessee. He did not find any outstanding sites, but the two selected were built up. One was named for Tennessee Sen. Gustavus Henry. The other was named for Donelson. Donelson was brought into Confederate service just after his 60th birthday, July 9, 1861, as a brigadier general. Donelson bounced around with commands in western Virginia and in South Carolina before returning to Tennessee with Gen. Braxton Bragg prior to the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 2, 1863. Donelson commanded a brigade in the fight and found success against Federals in the “Round Forest” following the repulse of Brig. Gen. James Chalmers. Donelson’s brigade captured 1,100 Federals and 11 cannon before being driven back. While commanding a department, Donelson died April 17, 1863. He was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Dockery (b. 1833, d. 1898) Establishing an early reputation for doing the right thing at the right time in the heat of battle, Thomas Pleasant Dockery eventually rose to brigadier general in the service of the Confederacy. Born in North Carolina, Dec. 18, 1833, the son of Col. John Dockery, Thomas grew up in Arkansas on a large plantation in Columbia County. Thomas became colonel of the 5th Arkansas State Troops and at the time of his first fight, he was colonel of the 19th Arkansas Infantry. At the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Aug. 10, 1861. In the brigade of Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch, Dockery was credited by Col. Thomas Churchill with turning the Federal flank and driving the Federals from their final position on the field. After that, Dockery spent time on both sides of the Mississippi River. He had command of troops at the Battle of Corinth (Oct. 3-4, 1862). He led a subdistrict in Arkansas and was back in Mississippi for the siege of Vicksburg. He commanded the 2nd Brigade of Maj. Gen. John Bowen’s division there and surrendered with his troops, who were commended by Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee for their “cool and bravery” in the fight. After being paroled, Dockery was promoted to brigadier general Aug. 10, 1863. Back in Arkansas, Dockery’s primary conflicts were against Federal Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele and his Camden Expedition. Dockery and his men were commended for their conduct at Marks’ Mills and Jenkins’ Ferry during that campaign. After the war, Dockery became a civil engineer as his property holdings were lost in the war. For many years, he resided in Houston. He died in New York City Feb. 27, 1898, and was buried in Natchez, Mississippi, where his two daughters resided.
Brig. Gen. George G. Dibrell (b. 1822, d. 1888) One of the last Confederate generals to surrender in the Eastern theater, George Gibbs Dibrell was in charge of the Confederate archives after the government fled from Richmond. Dibrell was born in Sparta, Tennessee, April 12, 1822. Without the benefit of much education, he became a successful merchant and farmer in his hometown. In 1861, he was elected as a Whig to the state convention. Dibrell then enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army. With the 25th Tennessee Infantry, he saw action at the Battle of Mill Springs and at Farmington, Mississippi, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the Battle of Corinth, Dibrell lost his rank in reorganization. In 1862, he recruited the 8th Tennessee Cavalry, which was to be a partisan unit. However, it became a major part of the forces of Brig. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest. After fighting at Murfreesboro (Stones River), Tullahoma and Florence, Alabama, Dibrell continued in regimental command until July 1, when he assumed command of Forrest’s former brigade. In May of 1864, Dibrell was sent to Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s corps. During the Atlanta Campaign, Dibrell’s command stopped a Federal attack at Varnell’s Station and started a stampede at Rocky Face Gap. He continued with Wheeler throughout the Carolinas Campaign and finally received promotion to brigadier general Jan. 28, 1865, to rank from July 26, 1864. Wheeler referred to Dibrell as “a most excellent officer upon the field. You can hardly find a better or more reliable man.” Dibrell was in charge of a division when he joined the escort of President Jefferson Davis. Dibrell was paroled at Washington, Georgia, May 9, 1865. After the war, he was a member of Congress from 1874-84. He continued as a merchant and became president of the Southwestern Railroad and developer of the Bon Air coal mines. He died in his hometown, Sparta, Tennessee, May 9, 1888, and was buried there.
Brig. Gen. James Deshler (b. 1833, d. 1863) At Arkansas Post in January 1863, James Deshler was not ready to surrender. And he wasn’t afraid to tell that to the man who would later blaze a swath through the heart of the Confederacy, either. As his commanders at the post, Col. Robert Garland and Brig. Gen. Thomas Churchill, argued over the surrender as Federals entered the fort. In front of Federal Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, Deshler said he was not ready to surrender. Sherman pointed out that Deshler’s men already had been disarmed and Deshler became a prisoner. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Feb. 18, 1833, Deshler graduated seventh in the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 1854. He was on duty with cavalry in the west when he took a leave from a tour in Colorado during the spring of 1861. He never returned and was subsequently dropped from the army rolls in July of 1861. He next surfaced as a Confederate artillery captain As adjutant for Brig. Gen. Henry Jackson, Deshler was shot through both thighs during a skirmish at Alleghany Summit, Dec. 13, 1861. After his recovery, he was made an artillery colonel and assigned to the staff of Maj. Gen. Theophilus Holmes. He was with this command through the Seven Days Campaign, but when Holmes performed poorly at the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862, he was sent west to the Trans-Mississippi Department. Holmes ended up in Little Rock. Deshler ended up in went to Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post. After his capture, Deshler was exchanged. He was promoted to brigadier general July 28, 1863, and sent to the Army of the Tennessee. Commanding a brigade under Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, Deshler was inspecting his men at Chickamauga Sept. 20, 1863, as they readied for an attack. While conducting his preparations, Dibrell was struck by an artillery round and instantly killed. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
Brig. Gen. James Dearing (b. 1840, d. 1865) Mortally wounded in a duel with Federal Lt. Col. Theodore Read (who was killed in the exchange), James Dearing had the unfortunate title of being the last Confederate general to die of wounds received in battle, succumbing April 23, 1865, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Dearing, who made his Confederate rank in cavalry and artillery, actually was paroled on his deathbed by a former U.S. Military Academy classmate Federal Brig. Gen. Ranald MacKenzie. Dearing was born at “Otterburne” in Campbell County, Virginia, April 25, 1840. A graduate of Hanover Academy, he received a West Point appointment in 1858. He resigned April 22, 1861, to become a Confederate lieutenant in the Washington Artillery. After about a year with that unit, Dearing was promoted to captain and assigned to command a batter attached to the brigade of Brig. Gen. George Pickett. Fighting through the Peninsular Campaign, at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Dearing then was promoted to major in command of the reserve artillery of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s First Corps. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Dearing added cavalry to his resume. He commanded Pickett’s cavalry in North Carolina in the winter of 1863-64 and then was put in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia’s Horse Artillery in April of 1864 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Dearing was promoted to brigadier general April 29, 1864, and assigned to command a cavalry brigade in a campaign against New Bern, North Carolina. Going back to Virginia, Dearing’s brigade fought in the Petersburg Campaign as part of the division of Maj. Gen. W.H.F Lee. He was leading his troops at High Bridge over the Appomattox River April 6 when he engaged the Federal cavalry commander, suffering his fatal wound. Dearing was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg.
Brig. Gen. Julius A. de Lagnel (b. 1827, d. 1912) Not many men would pass up a promotion to brigadier general. But Julius Adolph de Lagnel was one of those men. Born near Newark, New Jersey, July 24, 1827, de Lagnel received a commission into the U.S. Army in 1847 as a second lieutenant of artillery. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1849. Somewhere along the line, de Lagnel had moved to Virginia. In 1861, he resigned his U.S. Army commission to take a commission as a Confederate captain. On the staff of Brig. Gen. Robert Garnett, de Lagnel was chief of artillery in defense of the crest of Rich Mountain, July 11, 1861. There, he led the defense with just a few companies of infantry and one cannon against four Federal infantry regiments and one cavalry regiment led by Brig. Gen. William Rosecrans. He was the last man operating the artillery piece when he was wounded. Hiding in a thicket, de Lagnel escaped capture and recovered in a nearby residence. He later was captured while disguised as a herder while trying to return to the Confederate lines. After about a year in Federal captivity, de Lagnel was exchanged. He received a promotion to brigadier general to rank from April 15, 1862, but turned down the commission. He then took a post in the Ordnance Bureau in Richmond. He did accept a promotion to lieutenant colonel. Operating as second in command to Brig. Gen. Josiah Gorgas, de Lagnel spent the rest of the war in this role. He also inspected arsenals around the Confederacy. After the war, he was a businessman engaged in the Pacific steamship service. He died in Washington, D.C., June 3, 1912, and was buried in Alexandria, Virginia.
Brig. Gen. William G.M. Davis (b. 1812, d. 1898) With a naval background, William George Mackey Davis enjoyed a short career as a Confederate cavalry brigadier general. Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, May 9, 1812, Davis was the son of a naval officer. Davis ran away from home at the age of 17 for a career at sea. When he returned to land, he settled in Eufaula, Alabama, where he learned the basics of journalism. After editing a local newspaper, he moved to Apalachicola, Florida, where he studied law and speculated on cotton. Moving around in Florida, Davis was a judge and resided in Leon County when the war drew close. A Whig, he represented his county at the Florida secession convention and voted to leave the Union. At the outbreak of the war, he donated $50,000 to the Confederate treasury and then recruited and equipped the 1st Florida Cavalry. Colonel of that unit, he was elected to the Confederate Congress, but stayed with his unit. He operated against Federals in Jacksonville and then ensured Union supporters were not victimized when his men occupied that city. In 1862, the 1st Florida Cavalry was sent to Tennessee despite the protests of Gov. John Milton and the poor condition of the unit’s horses. Davis was promoted to brigadier general to rank from Nov. 4, 1862. For a time, he commanded the Department of East Tennessee. Davis resigned his commission May 6, 1863, a few days short of his 51st birthday. He moved to Richmond. A friend of President Jefferson Davis, he later went to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he operated a fleet of blockade runners on the Wilmington-to-Nassau route. After the war, Davis moved to Washington, D.C., and practiced law. He died in Alexandria, Virginia, March 11, 1898, and was buried in Remington, Virginia.
Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Davis (b. 1825, d. 1899) Nephew to the Confederate president, Joseph Robert Davis led a Mississippi brigade through some of the toughest fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia. Davis was born Jan. 12, 1825, in Woodville, Mississippi. After education in Nashville and at Miami (Ohio) University, Davis began a law practice in Madison County, Mississippi. He was elected to the Mississippi state senate in 1860. In 1861, he went into Confederate service as a captain of a Madison County company which became part of the 10th Mississippi Infantry. He was elected lieutenant colonel of this regiment. At the end of August, he was promoted to colonel and named to his uncle’s staff. After a year there, Davis was promoted to brigadier general to rank from Sept. 15, 1862. This came after his nomination had been rejected once and charges of nepotism were discussed. Davis received command of a Mississippi Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. In the division of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, Davis took his troops to Gettysburg. Two of his regiments were captured in a railroad cut at Gettysburg. The rest of his command supported Pickett’s Charge July 3. After becoming ill, Davis was relieved of his command temporarily. Davis was back for the fighting in 1864 and 1865, leading his men at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor and Appomattox. He was with his command when it surrendered April 9, 1865. After the war, Davis returned to Mississippi, practicing law. He lived most of the rest of his live in Biloxi. He died there Sept. 15, 1896, and was buried in Biloxi Cemetery.
Brig. Gen. Henry B. Davidson (b. 1831, d. 1899) Henry Brevard Davidson earned his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy through service in the Mexican War. Born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, Jan. 28, 1831, Davidson enlisted in the 1st Tennessee Volunteers at the age of 15. As a private, Davidson was decorated for gallantry and promoted to sergeant. He also was sent to West Point, where he graduated 33rd in the Class of 1853. He was assigned to dragoon duty, seeing action against Indians in the west. In 1858, Davidson switched over to the quartermaster department. In July of 1861, he left his command and went to join the Confederate forces. Starting as a major in the Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General’s Department, Davidson was a staff officer for many different generals and was promoted to colonel in April of 1862. Staffs he served on included those of Generals Floyd, Buckner, A.S. Johnston and Mackall. He was on Mackall’s staff when both were captured at Island No. 10 in April of 1862. Released, he was promoted to brigadier general Aug. 18, 1863, and assigned to command a cavalry brigade under Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler. At the Battle of Chickamauga, Sept. 19-20, 1863, Davidson struggled. In May of 1864, he successfully defended an infantry force at Rome, Georgia. During Wheeler’s foray into Tennessee’s Sequachie Valley and forced the surrender of the Federal base at McMinnville, Tennessee. On the other side of the ledger, his troops were beaten badly while retiring from McMinnville. Receiving a second chance in Virginia, Davidson commanded in Brig. Gen. Lunsford Lomax’s force in the Shenandoah Valley. He ended the war with the troops of Gen. Joseph Johnston in North Carolina. After the war, Davidson settled in New Orleans and was a deputy sheriff. He later moved to California, where he was state inspector of public works from 1878-86. He also served many years as deputy secretary of state and later was an agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Danville, California. He died near Livermore, California, March 4, 1899, and was buried in Oakland, California.