John Adams, the son of Irish parents who emigrated to the United States in 1814, was born on July 1, 1825, in Nashville, Tennessee. Entering West Point in 1841, he was graduated five years later and was commissioned in the 1st Dragoons, with which he served during the Mexican War, receiving a brevet for gallantry at the battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales. Thereafter, and until the outbreak of the Civil War, he did frontier duty in Minnesota, California, and the Southwest; and from 1856 to 1858 was on recruiting service. He resigned his captain's commission on May 31, 1861, and was at once appointed a captain of cavalry in the Regular Confederate Army and placed in command at Memphis. Attaining the grade of colonel in May 1862, he was commissioned brigadier general to rank from December 29 of that year and given General Lloyd Tilghman's old brigade of Mississippi regiments. He led this brigade under General Joseph E. Johnston during the Vicksburg campaign, and under Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk in Mississippi. With the latter he joined the Army of Tennessee at Resaca, Georgia, and fought with distinction throughout the Atlanta campaign. Afterwards he accompanied General Hood to Tennessee. On November 30, 1864, in the holocaust at Franklin, Adams was severely wounded in the right arm. Refusing to leave the field, he led his men to the Union breastworks over which he attempted to jump his horse. Here he fell riddled with bullets, in the forefront of the Confederate assault. He is buried at Pulaski, Tennessee.
Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.