James Deshler was born at Tuscumbia, Alabama, February 18, 1833, the son of Pennsylvania parents, and was graduated from West Point in the class of 1854. He served in California; at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; against the Sioux; in the Utah expedition; and in 1861 was stationed at Fort Wise, Colorado. He appears not to have formally resigned from the old army in 1861, but was dropped on July 15 for overstaying leave. Appointed a captain of artillery in the Regular Confederate service, Deshler went to Western Virginia in the command of General Henry R. Jackson, acting as brigade adjutant during the Cheat Mountain campaign. At the skirmish of Alleghany Summit, December 13, 1861, he was shot through both thighs. Having recovered, he was promoted colonel of artillery and assigned to the staff of General T. H. Holmes in North Carolina. He was Holmes' chief of artillery in the Seven Days battles, and later accompanied him to the Trans-Mississippi. Captured while in command of a brigade at Arkansas Post in January 1863, upon his exchange Deshler was appointed brigadier general on July 28 and assigned a brigade in General P. R. Cleburne's division of the Army of Tennessee. At the battle of Chickamauga, on September 20, 1863, he was instantly killed by a shell while examining the cartridge boxes of his men preparatory to an assault. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Tuscumbia.
Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.