James Nagle, colonel of four different Pennsylvania regiments and twice a brigadier general, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, April 5, 1822. After receiving the rudiments of an education in the Reading schools, he moved with his parents to Pottsville in 1835. Here he followed his father's trade of painter and paperhanger, at the same time participating in the state militia. In 1842 he organized the "Washington Artillery," which he led to the Mexican War as a captain of the 1st Pennsylvania. He served with Winfield Scott's army from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, was mustered out in 1848, and upon his return home was presented with a sword by the citizens of Schuylkill County. Early in 1861 Nagle became colonel of the 6th Pennsylvania Volunteers, a regiment not mustered into Federal service but which took part in Robert Patterson's unfortunate campaign in the Shenandoah. After his muster-out following the battle of First Manassas, he recruited and organized the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. At the battle of Groveton on August 29, 1862, Nagle commanded a brigade of three regiments, including his own, in Reno's detachment of the IX Corps; he lost 531 men killed, wounded, and missing. He was appointed brigadier general on September 10 and fought at South Mountain and Sharpsburg. At the latter battle his brigade, increased to four regiments, took part in the assault on Burnside's Bridge. At Fredericksburg the brigade, now counting six regiments, lost 522 of 2,700 effectives. Nagle's appointment as brigadier expired on March 4, 1863, for want of Senate confirmation; he was reappointed, however, on March 23 to rank from March 13. He served with his brigade in Kentucky until failing health compelled his resignation on May 9, 1863. During the Gettysburg campaign he organized a regiment of ninety-day Pennsylvania militia, named the 39th Pennsylvania Infantry, which served from July 4 until August 2, 1863; then in 1864 he organized another regiment of hundred-day militia, the 194th Pennsylvania, which guarded the approaches to Baltimore during Jubal Early's raid on Washington; he was mustered out for the last time on November 5, 1864. Less than two years later, August 22, 1866, General Nagle died in Pottsville at the age of forty-four. He was buried there in Presbyterian Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.