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James Holt Clanton
Confederate Field Officer and General


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Brigadier-General James Holt Clanton was born in Columbia county, Ga., January 8, 1827. His mother was a relative of Gen. H. D. Clayton, of Barbour county, Ala., himself a native of Georgia. His father was Nathaniel Holt Clanton, who represented Macon county at one time in the lower, and at another in the upper house of the Alabama legislature. It was in 1835, when James Holt was eight years old, that the Clantons moved from their Georgia home and settled in Macon county, Ala. It was here that young Clanton grew up to manhood. His education ended with his admission to the college at Tuscaloosa; for his youthful ardor led him then to enlist as a private in Capt. Rush Elmore's company of Col. Bailie Peyton's regiment. Serving out his six months' enlistment he soon after enlisted in the Palmetto regiment of South Carolina, for which Capt. Preston S. Brooks had come back to recruit. He reached Mexico just after the occupation of the city by the American forces. Returning home he began the study of law, in Tuskegee, with Hon. David Clopton, and then attended the law school of Judge Chilton. Being admitted to the bar in 1850 he opened his office in Montgomery. In 1855 he was a representative of that county in the Alabama legislature, and in 1860 he was an elector on the Bell and Everett ticket. He opposed secession, but when his adopted State decided upon that policy, he obeyed her voice and did all in his power to make her cause succeed. Having had experience in Mexico he was elected captain of a mounted company, and served on the Florida coast until the fall of 1861, when he increased his command to a regiment, of which he was chosen colonel. This command, known as the First Alabama cavalry, he led to Tennessee. He opened the battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862, and was also engaged in the second day's fight. At Farmington he acted as aid to General Bragg. At Booneville he led a brigade, consisting of his own and a Mississippi regiment and Maj. S. J. Murphy's battalion, and drove the enemy from the field. In the spring of 1863 Colonel Clanton raised three more regiments, the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Alabama cavalry, and on November 13th of that year was commissioned as brigadier-general in the provisional army of the Confederate States. In 1864 he had a fierce fight with General Rousseau at "Ten Islands," on the Coosa river. In this affair he lost his entire staff, Capt. Robert Abercrombie, of Florida, and Lieutenant Judkins, of Montgomery, being killed, and Captain Smith, of Dallas, and Lieutenant Hyer, of Florida, being wounded. Being ordered to Dalton, he reached there ahead of his command, and acted as aid to General Polk, at Resaca, Adairsville and Cassville. For his services in getting the artillery and stores safely across the Etowah, on the retreat from Cassville, he received the thanks of the generals of the army of Tennessee. He was subsequently placed on duty with his brigade in the department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana. Early in 1865 he relieved General Baker at Pollard, and soon afterward defeated a raiding party of the enemy. In March he was dangerously wounded and captured at Bluff Spring, Fla. From 1866 he resumed his law practice, and was the great leader of the Democratic party in his State until his death at Knoxville, Tenn., September 25, 1871, where he was shot down on the street by the son of Hon. T. A. R. Nelson, an ex-Union officer. His remains were carried to Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, where they lay in state, and were followed to the grave by the whole population. The demonstrations of grief and respect that came from every part of the State, showed the high esteem in which Alabama held this gallant soldier and honored citizen.
Confederate Military History
Side Confederate
State Alabama
Born January 8, 1827
Columbia County, Georgia
Died September 27, 1871
Knoxville, Tennessee
Buried Oakwood Cemetery
Montgomery, Alabama

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