James Simons

James Simons, a brigadier general of South Carolina militia, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 9, 1813, the son of Major James Simons and his third wife, Sarah Harris. The Simons were an old Huguenot family long resident in South Carolina; his father was a merchant, Revolutionary War officer, and state representative. The younger Simons attended Pendleton Academy, the College of Charleston, and was an honor graduate of the University of South Carolina in 1833. He became a prominent Charleston lawyer and politician. He represented St. Philip and St. Michael parishes in the state house for nineteen years (from 1842 to 1861), being speaker of the house from 1850 to 1861. As both a lawyer and a representative Simons gained statewide respect for his "prompt and just" rulings and was "acknowledged to have been the best presiding officer the State has seen." Simons, a militia officer since 1833, by 1858 had attained the rank of brigadier general of the 4th (Charleston) Brigade of the South Carolina Militia.


In January, 1861, General Simons departed for Columbia in order to resume his duties as speaker of the house. Governor Pickens, in a move of questionable legality, turned command of the 4th Brigade over to the state's adjutant general. Later that month Simons returned to Charleston and resumed command of the brigade. Simons' first war service was as a brigadier general of militia commanding on Morris Island during the Fort Sumter bombardment. Appointed to command Morris Island on April 11, he was relieved of that command by Governor Pickens on April 29. Although Pickens and Simons were political opponents, there may have been more substantive reasons for Simons' relief. Governor Pickens had grounds to believe that Simons was more devoted to politics than war. In addition, rumor had it that Simons earned the nickname "Hospital Jimmy " during the Fort Sumter bombardment with his penchant for avoiding hostile fire. On May 27, 1861, Pickens ordered Simons to keep his militia brigade in readiness for active duty. Simons complained, and the two elderly politicians wrangled for months. Claiming that "his honor had been impugned and that he had not been given command and authority commensurate with his rank," Simons "resigned his commission in a huff on July 10, 1861, and took no further active part in the war." Simons carried on an ill-disguised vendetta with the governor for months afterward. He volunteered as a private in an artillery unit and remained there until failing health compelled his retirement. In February, 1862, President Davis authorized Simons to raise a legion. Throughout that spring and summer Simons attempted to organize his legion from companies being recruited in the Charleston area, but the project fizzled out. He spent the rest of the war concentrating on his law practice.

After the war Simons continued his lucrative Charleston law practice in partnership with his son. He served as a trustee of the University of South Carolina from 1863 to 1869 and was active in several civic organizations. General Simons died in Charleston on April 26, 1879, and is buried in a family plot in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

General Simons' command of a brigade of militia that served in a campaign qualifies him to be considered a Confederate general.

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Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.