John Dunovant was born 1825 in Chester, South Carolina the son of John and Margaret (Sloan Quay) Dunovant. During the Mexican American War he was a Sergeant in a volunteer regiment and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec. He joined the United State Army as a Captain in the 10th Infantry March 1855.
Dunovant resigned on December 29th 1860 and offered his service to the South Carolina militia. He was present at Fort Moultrie during the bombardment of Fort Sumter. He was stationed there when he became the Colonel of the 1st South Carolina Infantry July 1861. Dunovant was cashiered November 1862 for being drunk, but was back commanding July 28th 1863 this time with the 5th South Carolina Cavalry. In May 1864 the 5th with Dunovant was placed in Confederate Major General Wade Hampton’s Division a part of Jeb Stuart’s Cavalry. They saw action at numerous engagements including the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, the Battle of Cold Harbor and many of the encounters against Union General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. Dunovant was wounded at the Battle of Haw’s Shop May 28th 1864. He was appointed to Brigadier General August 22nd 1864 and given command of a brigade.
On October 1st 1864; while fighting north of the James River, in a part of the Battle of Peebles’ Farm known as the Battle of Vaughan Road, Dunovant was shot and killed while leading his men in a charge. After he fell in the frontal attack his troops retreated. General Robert E Lee said of Dunovant to Hampton, “I grieve with you at the loss of General Dunovant and Dr. Fontaine, two officers whom it will be difficult to replace." His body was taken back to Chester, South Carolina where he was buried in a family cemetery.