Nov 17, 2022 • 14M

This new website honors forgotten hero

Major General James B. McPherson, who died in Atlanta on July 22, 1864

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Major General James Birdseye McPherson died in East Atlanta on July 22, 1864, during the Battle of Atlanta. He was the second-highest ranking Union officer killed during the Civil War. Just 35 years old, McPherson was regarded as one of the nation's most promising military leaders. He was revered by soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Many believe that McPherson would have become a President of the United States had he survived. This website was created to honor the General and to raise awareness about who he was as a civilian and a soldier.

General William T. Sherman said in an address at the dedication of a monument to General McPherson at Clyde, Ohio…

I have endeavored on many occasions by words spoken and by letters written to bear testimony to the noble character of General James Birdseye McPherson. I have heard others describe his personal traits and eulogize his many virtues, conspicuously so Generals Logan, Strong and Hickenlooper, his comrades and warm friends. My mind rapidly runs back, and I see McPherson plainly on his black charger, bright, cheery, strong and hopeful; one of the best types of knightly grace united to mental strength and genial humor of all my acquaintances.

In 1857 I met McPherson in New York and was attracted to him because of his intelligence and his manly bearing - also because he was from Ohio and had graduated at the head of the class at West Point. There it was my first acquaintance began, and it continued without interruption until I saw him last alive, Howard House, near Atlanta, Ga., whence I sent his body to his home at Clyde for burial. From New York, late in 1857, he was ordered to California, and when the Civil War broke out in 1861 he came back, and again we met in St. Louis, where he was an aide-de-camp to General Halleck, before the battle of Shiloh. He was with General Grant at Henry and Donelson, and afterwards was sent with me up the Tennessee River, as a staff officer, to represent, first, General C. F. Smith and later, General Grant, in the attempt to reach the Charleston Railroad at Burnsville, and then to assist at Pittsburgh Landing, preliminary to the great campaign there to begin. McPherson was still at that time technically an aide-de-camp of General Halleck, who remained at St. Louis, but he had wisely permitted this young, enterprising and gallant engineer officer to go ahead, as he always wanted to go, with the advance of the leading column.

McPherson, however, was not content to remain in the capacity of a staff officer, but sought for command. To do acts and not merely to advise. His natural place was as a leader of men, the highest sphere in military life. This he attained at Corinth, and thence forward as a Brigadier General and Major General at Corinth, Oxford, Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Atlanta, he performed deeds which are fully recorded, and place his name honorably and worthily in the catalog of the great generals of the world.

Events followed each other in such quick succession that at this distance of time all seem projected into one grand result, but the years 1863 and 1864 were big with events which will influence the destiny of America for centuries to come. Days were as months' and months as years of ordinary limit. McPherson, a youth, grew from a lieutenant of engineers to be a corps commander, an army commander, promotion as rapid as ever marked the progress of the mighty men in the days of Napoleon, but, like a brilliant meteor, 'Loved of the Gods,' his young life went out before we had achieved the full measure of the work demanded of us by the times.