General Joseph Kershaw

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General Joseph Kershaw

General Joseph Kershaw
Compiled Military Service Record

Joseph Brevard Kershaw  (Confederate)

Biographical data and notes:
- Born Jan 5 1822 in Camden, SC
- Pre-enlistment occupation: Lawyer
- Last known address: Camden, SC
- Joseph Brevard Kershaw died on Apr 13 1894 at Camden, SC

- Residing in Camden, SC at time of enlistment
- 39 years of age at time of enlistment
- Enlisted on May 22 1861 as Colonel

Mustering information:
- Commissioned into Field and Staff, 2nd Infantry (South Carolina)
on May 22 1861
- Discharged due to promotion from 2nd Infantry (South Carolina)
on Feb 13 1862
- Commissioned into Gen Staff (Confederate States)
on Feb 13 1862

- Promoted to Brig-Gen (Full, Vol) (date not indicated)
- Promoted to Colonel (Full, Vol) (date not indicated) (2nd SC Inf)
- Promoted to Major-Gen (Full, Vol) (date not indicated)
- Promoted to Brig-Gen (Full, Vol) on Feb 13 1862
- Promoted to Major-Gen (Full, Vol) on May 18 1864

Listed as:
- POW on Apr 6 1865 at Sailor's Creek, VA
- Confined on Apr 10 1865 at Fort Warren, MA (Estimated day)
- Oath Allegiance on Aug 12 1865 at Fort Warren, MA (Released)


Colonel, Second South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, May 22, 1861.
Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., February 13, 1862.
Major general, P. A. C. S., May 18, 1864.

Brigade composed of the Second, Third, Seventh, Eighth,
Fifteenth and Twentieth South Carolina Regiments Infantry,
McLaw's Division, Longstreet's Corps, Army of Northern
Virginia. Division composed of the brigades of Conner,
Wofford, Humphreys and Bryan, Army of Tennessee.

Died at Camden, South Carolina, April 13, 1894.

Joseph Brevard Kershaw Biography
General Kershaw History

KERSHAW, Joseph Brevard

Major-General Joseph Brevard Kershaw was born at Camden, S.
C., January 5, 1822, son of John Kershaw, member of Congress
in 1812-14, whose wife was Harriet, daughter of Isaac Du Bose,
an aide-de-camp of General Marion. His line of the Kershaw
family in
South Carolina was founded by Joseph Kershaw, a
native of Yorkshire, who immigrated in 1750, and served as a
colonel in the war of the revolution.

General Kershaw was educated for the legal profession and
began practice in 1844 at Camden. He was a member of the
governor's staff in 1843, and served one year in the Mexican
war as first lieutenant of Company C, Palmetto regiment. From
1852 to 1856 he was a representative
in the legislature, and
in 1860 participated in the convention which enacted the
ordinance of secession.

In February, 1861, he was commissioned colonel of the Second
South Carolina regiment, with which he served at Sullivan's
island, and in April went to Virginia. He commanded his
regiment, in the brigade of General Bonham, at the Blackburn's
Ford engagement and the battle of First Manassas, and in
February, 1862, was promoted brigadier-general, to succeed
General Bonham.

In this rank, he participated in the Yorktown campaign, and in
McLaws' division fought through the Seven Days campaign
before Richmond, commanded the troops which captured Maryland
heights, and had a gallant part in the fighting at Sharpsburg.
At Fredericksburg his brigade was sent into the fight at
Marye's hill, where Kershaw was in command after General Cobb
was wounded; at Chancellorsville he was an active participant,
and at Gettysburg he and his brigade were conspicuous in the
defeat of Sickles at the peach orchard.

Reaching the field of Chickamauga in time for the fighting of
September 20th, he was in the grand line of veterans with
which Longstreet overwhelmed the Federals, commanding McLaws'
division, and in the last grand assault on George H. Thomas
also commanding McNair's, Gracie's, Kelly's and Anderson's

He drove the enemy into their lines at Chattanooga, and
subsequently participated in the Knoxville campaign, at Bean's
Station and other engagements commanding the division.

In the same command, he went into the Wilderness campaign of
May, 1864, checked the Federal success on May 6th with his
veterans, sweeping the enemy from his front and capturing his
works. He was riding with Longstreet and Jenkins when these
two generals were wounded, and fortunately escaped injury.

It was his division which reached Spottsylvania Court House in
time to support Stuart's cavalry and thwart the flank movement
of Grant, and by an attack on Sheridan opened the bloody
struggle at Cold Harbor, where the heaviest Federal loss was
before Kershaw's position.

He was promoted major-general, and after participating in the
Petersburg battles was ordered to the support of Early in the
Shenandoah valley. In September he was ordered back to
Richmond, and while on the way Early was defeated at

Then returning to the valley he opened the attack at Cedar
Creek, with great success. After this, until the fall of
Richmond, he served before that city, north of the James. His
last battle was Sailor's Creek, where he was captured with
General Ewell and the greater part of the remnant of his

As a prisoner of war, he was held at Fort Warren, Boston, until
August 12, 1865.

On his return to South Carolina, he again took up the practice
of law, and in the same year was elected to the State senate
and made president of that body. In 1874, he was the
Democratic candidate for Congress in his district, and three
years later was elected to the position of judge of the Fifth

He served upon the bench until 1893, when he resigned on
account of failing health and resumed practice as an attorney
at Camden. In February, 1894, he was commissioned postmaster
at that city, but he died on the 12th of April following.

His wife, Lucretia Douglas, to whom he was married in 1844,
four daughters and a son survive him. The latter is rector of
St. Michael's church, Charleston.

Sources: Confederate Military History, vol. VI, p. 409; General Officers of the Confederate States of America

Recommended Reading: Kershaw's Brigade - volume 1 - South Carolina's Regiments in the American Civil War - Manassas, Seven Pines, Sharpsburg (Antietam), Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville…Chattanooga, Fort Sanders & Bean Station. Description: Kershaw's Brigade - Volume one is the fascinating and compelling story of the several South Carolina regiments that comprised Kershaw’s Brigade and fought in the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Consequently, it is essentially the story of the overall conflict itself; since the state's forces were engaged from the very beginning at Fort Sumter to the eventual surrender of Gen. Lee at Appomattox. Continued below...

Published in two volumes  (Volume two is listed below) by Leonaur, this substantial work graphically describes the brigade as it engages in many major battles of the war. It is carefully and meticulously drawn from soldiers’ recollections, memoirs and diaries, anecdotes, incidents, drama and even humor. Since regimental rosters, muster rolls, transfers, promotions and casualties, abound together with biographies of principle figures and officers, Kershaw's (South Carolina) Brigade will also be an invaluable source for anyone interested in tracing their genealogy, history and heritage.

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Related Reading:

Recommended Reading: Kershaw's Brigade - volume 2 - South Carolina's Regiments in the American Civil War - at the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, The Shenandoah Valley & Cedar Creek. Description: Kershaw's Brigade - volume 2 begins with Kershaw's Brigade during its brief respite in winter quarters. The battle-hardened brigade had already fought in several major battles, which included the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Chickamauga (covered in volume 1). Continued below...

Now, the tried and bloodied brigade advances and clashes at The Wilderness, Cold Harbor, the trenches of Petersburg, the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns, and concludes at Appomattox. It is a must have book for individuals interested in the War Between the States, as well as American and South Carolina history.

Recommended Reading: History of Kershaw's Brigade (716 pages) (2008). Description: The name of Kershaw's Brigade of South Carolinians is familiar to all who wore the gray and saw hard fighting on the fields of Virginia in the swamps of Carolina and the mountains of Tennessee.' (Excerpt from Chapter 1). Continued below...

The Kershaw Brigade history with complete roll of companies, biographical sketches, battles and campaigns, incidents, and anecdotes.


Recommended Reading: Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836. Review: When William Freehling's Prelude to Civil War first appeared in 1965 it was immediately hailed as a brilliant and incisive study of the origins of the Civil War. Book Week called it "fresh, exciting, and convincing," while The Virginia Quarterly Review praised it as, quite simply, "history at its best." It was equally well-received by historical societies, garnering the Allan Nevins History Prize as well as a Bancroft Prize, the most prestigious history award of all. Now once again available, Prelude to Civil War is still the definitive work on the subject, and one of the most important in antebellum studies. Continued below.

It tells the story of the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, describing how from 1816 to 1836 aristocratic planters of the Palmetto State tumbled from a contented and prosperous life of elegant balls and fine Madeira wines to a world rife with economic distress, guilt over slavery, and apprehension of slave rebellion. It shows in compelling detail how this reversal of fortune led the political leaders of South Carolina down the path to ever more radical states rights doctrines: in 1832 they were seeking to nullify federal law by refusing to obey it; four years later some of them were considering secession. As the story unfolds, we meet a colorful and skillfully drawn cast of characters, among them John C. Calhoun, who hoped that nullification would save both his highest priority, slavery, and his next priority, union; President Andrew Jackson, who threatened to hang Calhoun and lead federal troops into South Carolina; Denmark Vesey, who organized and nearly brought off a slave conspiracy; and Martin Van Buren, the "Little Magician," who plotted craftily to replace Calhoun in Jackson's esteem. These and other important figures come to life in these pages, and help to tell a tale--often in their own words--central to an understanding of the war which eventually engulfed the United States. Demonstrating how a profound sensitivity to the still-shadowy slavery issue--not serious economic problems alone--led to the Nullification Controversy, Freehling revises many theories previously held by historians. He describes how fear of abolitionists and their lobbying power in Congress prompted South Carolina's leaders to ban virtually any public discussion of the South's "peculiar institution," and shows that while the Civil War had many beginnings, none was more significant than this single, passionate controversy. Written in a lively and eminently readable style, Prelude to Civil War is must reading for anyone trying to discover the roots of the conflict that soon would tear the Union apart.


Recommended Reading: One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution. Description: Is secession legal under the United States Constitution? "One Nation, Indivisible?" takes a fresh look at this old question by evaluating the key arguments of such anti-secession men as Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln, in light of reason, historical fact, the language of the Constitution, and the words of America's Founding Fathers. Modern anti-secession arguments are also examined, as are the questions of why Americans are becoming interested in secession once again, whether secession can be avoided, and how an American state might peacefully secede from the Union. Continued below.

"The federal government's growth of power at the expense of individuals and natural human communities has been the trend so long now that it has seemed inevitable. But thoughtful people of late have been rediscovering the true decentralist origins of the United States. Robert Hawes states the case beautifully for the forgotten decentralist tradition - which may be our only hope for the preservation of freedom."

Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray Lives: of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below.

The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. RATED 5 STARS!

Recommended Reading: A Constitutional History of Secession (Hardcover). Review: The Constitutional History of Secession is the history of the legal practice of secession in the Anglo-American world. The learned jurist John Remington Graham is possessed of a profound expertise on American, British and Canadian constitutional law. He has written a compelling defense of the right of secession. Secession, the right of self-determination, and the principle of "rule by consent of the governed" were among the foremost principles animating the American War for Independence of Seventeen-Seventy-Six. Yet the consolidationist sophists malign and deny these tried and true principles of free government. Graham, however, traces British and American constitutional history and developments with great clarity and buoys the case for secession. He offers an amazing exposition of seventeenth century British constitutional developments, which culminated in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which the Crown peacefully passed from James II to William and Mary without armed conflict. Continued below.

The accession of William of Orange to the throne was met with popular support, as the usurpations of William II were not amenable to the populace. This so called revolution set a standard for peaceful political separation, and it was exactly what the American Continental Congress sought from Great Britain. Likewise, peaceful separation was what the southern states that formed the Southern Confederacy wanted when those eleven states formally separated from the United States. Secession does not have to mean war and violence, but war was thrust upon American colonials and southern confederates when their previous government refused to acknowledge their right of self-determination. As the Declaration of Independence proclaims, "...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." As Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed, "All we ask is to be left alone." The Glorious Revolution forms the foundation of Graham's treatise as he advances his thesis and makes the case for secession. As Donald Livingston proclaims in the preface, "The central focus of this work will be revolution, not as an armed overthrow of an established government, but as a rational and orderly process, specifically allowed by fundamental law."

In making the case for secession, Graham substantiates the compact nature of the Union as well, which correspondingly legitimizes interposition, nullification, and secession. Two early constitutional commentaries including St. George Tucker's View of the Constitution of the United States (1801) and Pennsylvania Federalist William Rawle's A View of the Constitution (1829) both affirm a right of secession.

John Remington Graham further traces American constitutional developments, and in doing so he substantiates the compact nature of the Union, and makes a profound case for the Constitution as a compact, which in effect legitimizes the right of secession. He further explains all of these episodes in constitutional history with amazing detail and clarity:

**The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions which were in continuity with the colonial-revolutionary tradition of State remonstrance, protest, interposition and nullification of unconstitutional acts of central government authorities.

**The Hartford Convention and the anti-war, anti-embargo northern secessionist movement which emerged after the unwelcomed War of 1812 with the British.

**The Webster-Hayne Debates on the nature of the Union is explained in detail. Likewise, Daniel Webster's case of foot-in-mouth disease is made manifest as Hayne hearkens back to his deeds at the Hartford Convention.

**The Missouri Compromise and constitutional question of slavery and the sectional strife over the spread of slavery into the territories is explained.

**The secession of the eleven southern states from the Union and the circumstances leading to their separation are explained in detail. Likewise, the birth of the Southern Confederacy and the north's violent refusal to accept their separation is painstakingly documented.

**The unlawful and violent conquest of the South, the unconstitutional political repression in north and south, the illegal suspension of the writ of habeas corpus throughout the whole nation and the oppressive Reconstruction Acts are explained with amazing clarity and detail.

**Graham fast forwards to the twentieth-century. In our time, Quebec has asserted the legal right of secession as a viable political alternative if its relationship with the central government of the Canadian Confederation does not prove to be more mutually-beneficial and less detrimental to the interests of Quebec's citizenry in coming years. With a distinctive francophone culture and nearly half of the populace voting for secession in the last popular referendum, we may well witness the peaceful separation of Quebec from Canada in our lifetime.

All things considered, John Remington Graham has done a remarkable job at making the case for secession and has made a lasting contribution to constitutional scholarship. His book is well-documented and awash in powerful quotations from British and American statesmen. There is a preponderance of evidence in the Anglo-American constitutional heritage which makes secession a lawful exercise. Likewise, he is very logical in tracing the deducible nature of State sovereignty. Graham in final application points out that self-determination as expressed in an act of secession emanates from the right of people themselves to self-government. Essentially by presenting the secession of the American colonies and the Southern Confederacy in its proper historical and legal context, Graham has made a valuable contribution to understanding the Anglo-American political tradition. John Graham who presently served as an expert advisor on British constitutional law to the amicus curiae (i.e. friend of the court) for Quebec in the secession state decided in 1998. As Jefferson astutely opined, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes..." Thus, secession is never to be approached lightly, and the act of secession negates the value, benefits and security of the Union.

* * * * * * * * * * *
"Whenever government becomes destructive of these ends (i.e. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government." -Declaration of Independence of the American Colonies, July 4, 1776

"Sovereignty is the highest degree of political power, and the establishment of a form of government, the highest proof which can be given of its existence. The states could have not reserved any rights by articles of their union, if they had not been sovereign, because they could have no rights, unless they flowed from that source. In the creation of the federal government, the states exercised the highest act of sovereignty, and they may, if they please, repeat the proof of their sovereignty, by its annihilation. But the union possesses no innate sovereignty, like the states; it was not self-constituted; it is conventional, and of course subordinate to the sovereignties by which it was formed." -John Taylor of Caroline, New Views of the Constitution, Nov. 19, 1823

"I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo." -Lord Acton in a letter to Robert E. Lee, Nov. 4, 1866.

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