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12098 CSA General James L. Kemper DS Noted for leading his brigade
in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg where he was severely wounded, This
double signed document is filled out in Kemper's hand as Captain during
the Mexican War June 2, 1848 Buena Vista, Mexico. $850
After the start of the Civil War, Kemper served as a brigadier general in
the Provisional Army of Virginia, and then a colonel in the Confederate
States Army, becoming head of the 7th Virginia Infantry. At First Bull
Run, Kemper led the regiment as part of Jubal Early's brigade. His
regiment was later assigned to Brig. Gen. A.P. Hill's brigade in Maj. Gen.
James Longstreet's division of the Confederate Army of the Potomac from
June 1861 to March 1862. On May 26, A.P. Hill was promoted to division
command and Kemper got the brigade. After a gallant performance at
the Battle of Seven Pines during the Peninsula Campaign, Kemper was
promoted to brigadier general on June 3, 1862. Leading the brigade
through the Seven Days Battles, he then became a division commander
after Robert E. Lee reorganized the army (commanding half of James
Longstreet's old division).
At the Second Battle of Bull Run, Kemper's division took part in
Longstreet's surprise attack against the Union left flank, almost
destroying Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia. Afterwards, his
division was merged into General David R. Jones's command and Kemper
reverted to brigade command. At the Battle of Antietam he was south of
the town of Sharpsburg, defending against Maj. Gen. Ambrose E.
Burnside's assault in the afternoon of September 17, 1862. He withdrew
his brigade in the face of the Union advance, exposing the Confederate
right flank, and the line was saved only by the hasty arrival of A.P. Hill's
division from Harpers Ferry.
When George Pickett returned to duty after Antietam, he took command
of the troops Kemper had led at Second Bull Run. In 1863, the brigade
was assigned to Pickett's Division in Longstreet's Corps, which meant
that he was absent from the Battle of Chancellorsville, while the corps
was assigned to Suffolk, Virginia. However, the corps returned to the
army in time for the Gettysburg Campaign.
At the Battle of Gettysburg, Kemper arrived with Pickett's Division late
on the second day of battle, July 2, 1863. His brigade was one of the main
assault units in Pickett's Charge, advancing on the right flank of Pickett's
line. After crossing the Emmitsburg Road, his brigade was hit by flanking
fire from two Vermont regiments, driving it to the left and disrupting the
cohesion of the assault. Kemper rose on his stirrups to urge his men
forward, shouting "There are the guns, boys, go for them!"
This bravado made him a more visible target and he was wounded by a
bullet in the abdomen and thigh and captured by Union troops. He was
rescued by Sgt. Leigh Blanton of the 1st Virginia and was carried back
to Confederate lines on Seminary Ridge. General Robert E. Lee
encountered Kemper being carried on a stretcher and inquired about the
seriousness of his wound, which Kemper said he thought was mortal. He
requested that Lee "do full justice to this division for its work today."
During the Confederate Army's retreat from Gettysburg, Kemper was
again captured by Union forces. He was exchanged (for Charles K.
Graham) on September 19, 1863. For the rest of the war he was too ill
for combat, and commanded the Reserve Forces of Virginia. He was
promoted to major general on September 19, 1864.
It had not been possible to remove the bullet that had wounded Kemper
at Gettysburg, and he suffered from groin pain for the rest of his life.
After the war he worked as a lawyer and served as the first Governor of
Virginia after Reconstruction from January 1, 1874, to January 1, 1878.
Jones (1972) argues that Kemper and like-minded Conservatives
implemented racial policies which were less anti-Negro and which gave
fuller recognition than historians have conceded. The Virginia Redeemers
attempted to shape race relations to conform to what C. Vann Woodward
has defined as the Conservative philosophy. Jones concludes that Kemper
and the Virginia Redeemers deserve to rank in history alongside the
Wade Hamptons and other proponents of the Conservative philosophy.
Kemper died in Walnut Hills, Orange County, Virginia, where he is