Monday, October 24, 2011

The Little Gamecock

Confederate General James Jay Archer died October 24th 1864 from an illness he developed while a Prisoner of War.

James Jay Archer was born December 19th 1817 near Havre de Grace, Maryland the son of John and Ann [Stump] Archer.  He attended Princeton University; where he picked up the nickname “Sally” do to his small stature.  Archer graduated in 1835 and attending Bacon College in Georgetown, Kentucky he went on to study law at the University of Maryland.  He had a successful law practice going when the Mexican American War broke out.  Archer volunteered for service and was cited for bravery at Chapultepec, receiving a brevet to Major.  He moved to Texas following the war in 1848 were he was wounded in a duel.  Archer returned to law in Maryland, but decided in 1855 to join the United States Army as a Captain in 9th US Infantry.  He served mostly in the Pacific Northwest.

When the Civil War started Archer was at Fort Walla Walla in Washington Territory.  He resigned March 14th 1861, and shortly after was a member of the Confederate Army.  Archer was made a Colonel in the 5th Texas Infantry, and served with excellence at the Battle of Eltham’s Landing and Seven Pines.  On June 3rd 1862 he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of three Tennessee regiments.  They fought as part of Major General A P Hill’s “Light Division” at Cedar Mountain and Second Bull Run, where he had a horse shot from under him.  His men called him “The Little Gamecock”.  Archer was to sick to ride a horse during the Maryland Campaign of September 1862, and led them from an ambulance.  His men contributed to the victories at the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.  By the summer of 1863 Archer’s brigade was part of Major General Henry Heth’s Division, A P Hill’s Corps.
On July 1st 1863 Archer was taken prisoner at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Union Private Patrick Maloney of the 2nd Wisconsin captured him, making Archer the first general to be captured in the Confederate army since General Robert E Lee took command.  Archer was sent to Johnson’s Island on Lake Erie where the Ohio winter cause his health to decline.  After a year at the Fort Johnson prisoner of war camp, Archer was sent with 600 other Confederate officers to Charleston Harbor.  He was exchanged late in the summer of 1864.  He rejoined the Confederate army on August 9th 1864 as part of the Army of Tennessee, but due to his poor health was order to Petersburg, Virginia.  He collapsed following the Battle of Peebles’ Farm.  Archer died October 24th 1864 in Richmond, Virginia and is buried Hollywood Cemetery.

No comments: