Biography of Gen. James S. Jackson

A lawyer, soldier and politician, was Gen. Jackson. He was born September 24, 1823, in Fayette County, Ky., and was the son of David Jackson, a farmer, and Juliet Streshley of Woodford County, Ky. He was thoroughly educated, and graduated in letters at Jefferson College. He studied law, and graduated from the Law Department of Transylvania University in 1845. When the war with Mexico began, he volunteered and served for a time as a Lieutenant; but having had an ” affair of honor ” with Thomas F. Marshall, who belonged to the same regiment, and fearing court-martial, he resigned and returned. home. He soon after located in Greenup County, and in 1849 was a candidate for election to the last Constitutional Convention, but was defeated. He subsequently removed to Christian County, and in 1859 was candidate for Congress on the Know-Nothing ticket, but was again defeated. While residing at Hopkinsville, in 1861 he was elected to the Thirty-seventh Congress from the Second District. While serving in Congress, President Lincoln tendered him the command of a regiment, and, accordingly, October 1, 1861, he took command of the Third Kentucky Cavalry, and his regiment was mustered into service December 13, in the same year. Immediately after organization his regiment was used on scout duty in Southwestern Kentucky, a section of the State then under the control .of the Confederates. He was subsequently assigned to the division of Gen. T. L. Crittenden; was engaged with his regiment on the field of Shiloh; was at Corinth and Iuka, Miss.; at Florence and Athens, Ala.; and at the latter place his regiment passed into the command of Col. Eli H. Murray, the present Governor of Utah Territory, and himself promoted Brigadier-General August 13, 1862. From Decherd, Tenn., at the head of his brigade he commenced the pursuit of Bragg, who was then advancing into Kentucky. At New Haven, Ky., he assisted in the capture of the Third Georgia Cavalry; and fell, valiantly fighting, at the head of his brigade in the battle of Perryville, October 4, 1862. This was the first engagement of importance in which he had participated after his promotion, and he was thus cut off in the beginning of a career that promised unusual brilliancy. Gen. Jackson was a man of many peculiar, marked and admirable traits. He was distinguished for his graceful form and almost feminine beauty of countenance. He had the manners of a Chesterfield, and was one of the most knightly soldiers who ever drew a sword on the battlefield. Of his death Col. Forney wrote: ” To die such a death and for such a cause was the highest ambition of a man like James S. Jackson. He was the highest type of the Kentucky gentleman. To a commanding person he added an exquisite grace and suavity of manner, and a character that seemed to embody the purest and noblest chivalry. He was a Union man for the sake of the Union; and now, with his heart’s blood he has sealed his devotion to the flag. He leaves a multitude of friends who will honor his courage and patriotism, and mourn his untimely and gallant end.”

From his earliest days Gen. Jackson was a politician; and although undoubtedly possessed of great ambition to rise to eminence, his great love of justice and his warm nature led him to espouse a cause for its own merits; and his love of country led him to buckle on the sword in a cause for which he sacrificed his life. He began his political career in the ranks of the Whig party, and, passing through the Know-Nothing excitement in his State, in the final division of party ranged himself with the National Republicans. He was brave, and his warm impulses may have led him into rashness; yet he never sought personal difficulty. In 1846 he was led to fight a duel with Samuel Patterson; but this, like his affair in Mexico, terminated harmlessly. His remains were deposited in the cemetery at Hopkinsville, March 24, 1863, after having lain in a vault in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, since October 8, 1862. Gen. Jackson was married February 22, 1847, to Miss Patty Buford, who, with their four children, survives him.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top