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Brigadier General James Ronald Chalmers

James R. Chalmers was born January 11, 1831 in Halifax county, Virginia. His father, Joseph W. Charlmers, settled at Holly Springs, Mississippi when James was a small boy. James graduated from the South Carolina College at Columbia and studied law at Holly Springs and was admitted to the bar in 1853. Before the war he was a district attorney and a delegate to the secession convention. He entered the Confederate army as a Colonel of the Ninth Mississippi Infantry in 1861 and was sent to Pensacola, Florida. He was promoted to Brigadier General in Febuary 1862 and commanded the second brigade of Withers' division at the battle of Shiloh. It was at Shiloh that he first encountered Nathan Bedford Forrest. At this time Chalmers was a Brigadier General and Forrest was a Colonel but Chalmers attained most of his fame and glory serving under Major General (and then Lieutinent General) Forrest. After Shiloh he served with General Bragg in his operations in Mississippi and Kentucky.

In April 1863 General Chalmers was placed in command of the military district of Mississippi and Louisiana and in 1864 he was assigned to the command of the cavalry brigades of Jeffrey Forrest and McCullock, forming the First division of Forrest's cavalry. He played a conspicuous part in all the brilliant campaigns of Forrest in North Mississippi, West Tennessee and Kentucky and was highly praised by Forrest.

After the war Chalmers was prominent in the politics of Mississippi. He was elected to the state senate in 1875 and 1876 and as a U.S. representative in the Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth Congress. He died at his home in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1898.


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