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Brigadier General John Randolph Chambliss, P.A.C.S.


Brigadier General John Randolph Chambliss was born at Hicksford, Greensville county, Va., January 23, 1833; was graduated at the United States military academy in 1853, and being promoted to brevet second lieutenant, 1853, and being promoted to brevet second lieutenant, mounted riflemen, served at the cavalry school at Carlisle, Pa., until the following spring, when he resigned. He then returned home to his home at Hicksford, where his father was a wealthy planter, and was engaged in agriculture until the spring of 1861. Meanwhile his military education was called into service by the State, and he held the position of aide-de-camp to the governor, with the rank of major 1856-61; also commanded as colonel a regiment of Virginia militia, 1858-61, and was brigade inspector for the State two years. His father was a delegate to the convention in 1861, and he himself manifested hearty allegiance to Virginia throughout that momentous period. He was commissioned colonel of the Thirteenth Virginia cavalry regiment in July 1861, and until the fall of 1862 was under the orders of Gen. D. H. Hill, in the department south of the James river. During the Maryland campaign he was put in command of the forces on the Rappahannock, between Warrenton and Fredericksburg, with his own regiment, the Second North Carolina cavalry, and the Sixty-first Virginia infantry. He performed his duties with such vigilance and activity as to receive the warm commendation of Gen. R. E. Lee. In November he was assigned with his regiment to W. H. F. Lee's cavalry brigade, with the gallant record of which he was identified, as one of the bravest and ablest of its officers, until he gave his life for the cause which he had served with entire fidelity and self-sacrificing devotion. In April, 1864, when the cavalry corps of the Federal army proposed to cross the Rappahannock and cut off Lee's communications with Richmond, Chambliss was particularly prominent in the defeat of the movement by Lee's brigade. At Beverly ford with 50 men he drove two Federal squadrons into the river, capturing a number of prisoners. He and his men were commended both by Generals Lee and Stuart as deserving the highest praise for distinguished bravery. In the famous battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, after W. H. F. Lee was wounded and Col. Sol. Williams killed, Chambliss took command of the brigade, and served in that capacity during the fighting about Aldie and Middleburg. Then riding with Stuart into Pennsylvania, he made a brilliant attack upon Kilpatrick at Hanover, driving him through the town and capturing his ambulances and a number of prisoners. His brigade and Fitz Lee's reached Gettysburg late on July 2d, and on the 3d he engaged in the fierce cavalry fight on the left of the Confederate line, between York pike and Hanover road. Upon the retirement of the army, he aided efficiently in the protection of the Confederate trains. During the Bristoe campaign, still in command of the brigade, he reinforced [Lunsford] Lomax at Morton's ford and defeated the enemy; and at Brandy Station the same two brigades fought with the utmost gallantry under their intrepid leaders, Chambliss winning anew the commendation of Stuart. Promoted brigadier-general in December, 1864, he continued in command of the brigade which he had led so long, through the cavalry fighting from the Rapidan to the James, gaining fresh laurels in the defeat of the enemy at Stony Creek. Finally, in a cavalry battle on the Charles City road, on the north side of the James, he was killed while leading his men, August 16, 1864. His body was buried with honor by the enemy, and soon afterward delivered to his friends. General Lee wrote that "the loss sustained by the cavalry in the fall of General Chambliss will be felt throughout the army, in which, by his courage, energy and skill, he had won for himself an honorable name."

Source: Evans, Clement, Confederate Military History, Volume III, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899.

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