James Craig was born on February 28, 1817, in Washington County, Pennsylvania. His parents moved first to Mansfield, Ohio, and then to New Philadelphia, Ohio, where Craig was admitted to the bar in 1839. In 1844 he went to St. Joseph, Missouri, his home for the rest of his life. As a captain of the Missouri Mounted Volunteers, he took part in the Mexican War and was honorably mustered out on November 8, 1848. Thereafter he served as state attorney for his district from 1852 until 1856, as a state senator, and as a Democratic Congressman from 1857 until March 3, 1861. Having been defeated for renomi-nation in 1860, he resumed his law practice until Abraham Lincoln appointed him a brigadier general of United States volunteers to rank from March 21, 1862. The appointment was openly political, designed to retain Craig's Missouri Democratic admirers within the Union fold. In April, Craig was sent west with a detachment to protect the route of the Overland Mail and in November was assigned to the command of the District of Nebraska. In May, 1863, he resigned his Federal commission, but in May, 1864, was appointed a brigadier in the Missouri State Militia, a post he resigned in January, 1865. General Craig had been instrumental while in the state senate in securing a charter for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, the first constructed west of the Mississippi, and he was its president from 1861 to 1872, except for two brief intervals. He built the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs Railroad and was its first president; he was also president of the St. Joseph & Denver Railroad, now the Grand Island branch of the Union Pacific. Toward the end of his life he served for two years as comptroller of the city of St. Joseph. He died there, October 21, 1888, and was buried in Mount Mora Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.