James Dearing was born in Campbell County, Virginia April 25th 1840. He received his early education at Hanover Academy, before receiving an appointment in 1858 to the United State Military Academy. Dearing was first in his class at West Point and nearing graduation when Virginia seceded. He resigned April 22nd 1861 and accepted a commission of Lieutenant in the Virginia Artillery.
Dearing fought with the Washington Artillery of New Orleans at First Manassas. He was with Confederate General George E Pickett at Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines and Fredericksburg. He was promoted to Captain in late 1862. By Gettysburg Dearing had been promoted to Major. He commanded a battalion of artillery in the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, taken part in the artillery leading up to Pickett’s Charge. Dearing was appointed Brigadier General April 29th 1864. He served with the cavalry under Confederate Major General William H F Rooney Lee during the Siege of Petersburg.
Dearing shot and killed Union Colonel Theodore Read during the retreat to Appomattox at close range with a pistol at the Battle of High Bridge April 6th 1865. Dearing was then mortally wounded by another Union soldier. Dearing died from his wound 17 days later on April 23rd 1865 at the Ladies’ Aid Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. Dearing may be the last Confederate officer to in the war.