On this day in 1865, Confederate General John Pegram, age 33,is killed at the Battle of Dabney’s Mill (also called Hatcher’s Run), Virginia.
Pegram graduated from West Point in 1854, and served in various posts in the West before resigning his commission at the start of the Civil War. Pegram then received an appointment as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. Sent to fight in western Virginia during the summer of 1861, he was captured by General George McClellan’s men at the Battle of Rich Mountain. Pegram was exchanged in April 1862 and sent to serve with General Pierre G. T. Beauregard in Mississippi.
He fought in Tennessee and Kentucky and earned a promotion to brigadier general. After the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Pegram was transferred to General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. He was wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, but recovered to fight with General Jubal Early during the Shenandoah Valley campaign in the summer of 1864. That fall, he was sent to defend his native city of Petersburg, Virginia.
On January 19, 1865, Pegram married Hetty Cary, a prominent Richmond socialite.Even in the gloom of the ongoing siege, the ceremony was a grand affair attended by nearly all of the high-ranking Confederates, including President Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina. One onlooker said of the bride that the “happy gleam of her beautiful brown eyes seemed to defy all sorrow.” Just three weeks later, Pegram’s body was returned to the same church, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and his young widow knelt beside his coffin as the minister who married them presided over the general’s funeral.