James Lawson Kemper
(1823-1895)

Brigadier General

Headstone: Find-a-Grave

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Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.  http://www.archives.alabama.gov/conoffalb/index.html

James Lawson Kemper was born in Madison County, Virginia, June 11, 1823. He was graduated from Washington College in 1842, served as captain of Virginia volunteers in the Mexican War, and later practiced law. He served five terms in the Virginia house of delegates, during which time he was speaker of the house, chairman of the committee on military affairs, and president of the board of visitors of Virginia Military Institute. He was commissioned colonel of the 7th Virginia Infantry, and led his regiment from First Manassas to Williamsburg. He was then given a brigade and promoted to brigadier general on June 3, 1862. With this command in Pickett's division he rendered most efficient service until the battle of Gettysburg, where he fell desperately wounded on the third day, within a few rods of the historic stone wall. Captured by the Federals, he was subsequently exchanged, but was unfitted by his wounds for further field service.  Promoted to major general on September 19, 1864, he commanded the reserve forces of Virginia until the close of the war, and was paroled at Danville on May 2, 1865. Returning to his law practice in Madison, General Kemper, who was an orator of renown, was soon back in politics. After canvassing the state for Greeley in 1872, he won the Democratic nomination for governor the following year and was elected, serving from 1874 to 1877. His administration was marked by strife between the "Debt-payers" and "Readjusters" over the question of the state debt incurred during the war. Again returning to private life, he died in Orange County, Virginia, April 7, 1895, where he is buried.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.