James Scott Negley

James Scott Negley was born in a hamlet near Pittsburgh on December 22, 1826. He was educated in public schools and at Pitt University, then known as the Western University of Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated in 1846. The same year he went to the Mexican War as a private in Company K, 1st Pennsylvania, serving for more than eighteen months. Soon after he became well known in the field of gardening, meantime maintaining an interest in military affairs by a continuing association with the local militia. He rose to brigadier general of the 18th Division and in 1861 was put in charge of organizing and equipping volunteers in the Pittsburgh area. That summer he served under the unlucky Robert Patterson as a brigadier general of Pennsylvania volunteers, and on February 6, 1862, Negley was appointed a brigadier general of U. S. Volunteers to rank from the preceding October 1. Meanwhile he had been sent to Kentucky and served with D. C. Buell's army until the fall of 1862, when Braxton Bragg invaded Kentucky. Buell marched northward, leaving Negley to defend Nashville. At the battle of Murfreesboro, or Stone's River, Negley commanded a division under G. H. Thomas and was promoted major general for his able services. His capabilities were again demonstrated during W. S. Rosecrans' brilliant maneuvers which drove Bragg's men from the state of Tennessee. At the critical battle of Chickamauga, however, on September 19 and 20, 1863, he became the center of a controversy which would all but end his military career. Negley was bitterly castigated by his fellow division commanders, John M. Brannan of his own corps and Thomas J. Wood of the XXI Corps, for his performance while commanding the 2nd Division of Thomas' XIV Corps. Although he was subsequently cleared by a board of inquiry of the charges of cowardice and desertion of his command leveled against him, he was never again assigned to the direction of troops in the field. After many months of inactivity, he resigned in January, 1865, declaring for the rest of his life that the treatment accorded him sprang from discrimination practiced by West Pointers against civilian officers.

Following his resignation, General Negley returned to Pittsburgh, and in 1868 was elected to Congress on the Republican ticket. In the years which followed he was reelected three times and defeated twice. In the interval he became associated with various utility, traction, and railroad interests in the New York area. He died in Plainfield, New Jersey, August 7, 1901, and was buried in Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.