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James Holt Clanton
[[Image:File:J H Clanton BGen CSA ACW.jpg|center|200px|border]]Brigadier General James Holt Clanton, CSA
photo taken between 1863 and 1865
Personal Information
Born: January 8, 1827(1827-01-08)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: August 27, 1871 (aged 44)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Private (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: Mexican–American War

American Civil War

Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

James Holt Clanton (January 8, 1827 – September 27, 1871) was an American soldier, lawyer, and legislator. He enlisted in the United States Army for service during the Mexican–American War, and later was a Confederate Army general during the American Civil War. Following the war he returned to practicing law and later was murdered in a private feud in Tennessee.

Early life and career[]

Clanton was born in 1827 in Columbia County, Georgia,[1] a son of Nathaniel Holt Clanton. In 1835 the family relocated to Macon County, Alabama, where Clanton was raised and educated. Later he attended the University of Alabama located in Tuscaloosa, but he did not graduate. Clanton choose instead to join the U.S. Army and participate in the war with Mexico.[2]

In 1846 Clanton first enlisted for six months as a private in the company of Capt. Rush Elmore, which belonged to Col. Bailie Peyton's regiment. When that term expired, Clanton joined the company of Capt. Preston Brooks of the Palmetto Regiment. Clanton and his regiment reached Mexico City following the September 1847 battle and after the occupation there had ended, and he returned home to Alabama.[2]

After the war Clanton resumed studying law and in 1850 was admitted to Alabama's bar association, settling in Montgomery. Later Clanton served in the state's legislature, and in 1860 he served as an elector on the U.S. Presidential ticket of John Bell and Edward Everett.[3]

American Civil War service[]

Although Clanton personally was opposed to secession, he chose to follow his home state and the Confederate cause in 1861. He first served along the Florida coast until the fall, when he was appointed a captain in the Alabama Cavalry on November 12. Soon after Clanton was given command of the 1st Alabama Cavalry regiment and was promoted to the rank of colonel on December 3.[4]

Clanton's first major action was during the Battle of Shiloh on April 6–7, 1862, in which he was part of the leading Confederate units on the battle's first day. Clanton next fought in the battle near Farmington, Mississippi, on May 9, and then lead a brigade during the Battle of Booneville on July 1, where he "drove the enemy from the field."[3] Sometime in 1862 Clanton resigned from the army, but was later reappointed a colonel in the Confederate service. His next assignment was as an aide-de-camp to Alabama governor John G. Shorter, and later in the same capacity to Gen. Braxton Bragg. During the spring of 1863 Clanton raised three additional regiments of infantry. Beginning that September he was given command of the 2nd Brigade in the Confederate Gulf District, holding this post into early 1864.[5]

File:Atlanta campaign.svg

1864 Atlanta Campaign

Clanton was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on November 16, 1863.[6] From February to June 1864 he served as aide-de-camp to Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk, and then he led the cavalry brigade of the North District in the Confederate Department of Alabama and Eastern Mississippi, a unit often styled as "Clanton's Cavalry Brigade."[5] Clanton fought during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, notably in the engagement on July 14 at the Ten Island Ford of the Coosa River against Union Maj. Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau. In this battle Clanton reportedly "lost his entire staff" and "His bravery made him well known by the generals of the Army of Tennessee."[2]

On September 23, 1864, Clanton's command was shifted to the District of Central Alabama in the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and Eastern Louisiana until that November. In January 1865 Clanton was appointed to command the Cavalry Brigade of the District of the Gulf within the same department. On March 25 he was badly wounded in the fighting at Bluff Spring in Florida. Clanton was hit in his abdomen and his back, and was captured there by Union soldiers. Clanton was paroled from Mobile, Alabama, on May 25 and allowed to go home to Alabama.[5]

Postbellum career and murder[]

Following his release, Clanton applied for and was granted a pardon by the U.S. Government effective November 4, 1865.[5] In 1866 he resumed his career as a lawyer, and also was very active in Democratic politics in his state. On September 27, 1871, Clanton was confronted by David M. Nelson (a political rival and son of T.A.R. Nelson, then a Tennessee supreme court justice) who was carrying a double-barreled shotgun. Nelson fired at least 15 times at Clanton, killing him in the process. Military biographer Ezra J. Warner attributed a drunken Nelson's motive in picking a quarrel with Clanton to the "bitter sentiment which divided Tennessee during the war..."[7] Clanton's remains were brought back to Alabama, and he was buried in Montgomery's Oakhill Cemetery.[5]

See also[]



  1. Wright, General Officers of the Confederate Army, p. 115.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Find A Grave site biography of Clanton". Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Warner, Generals in Gray, p. 50; Find A Grave site biography of Clanton.
  4. Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p. 173; Warner, Generals in Gray, p. 50; Find A Grave site biography of Clanton.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p. 173.
  6. Wright, General Officers of the Confederate Army, p. 115. Appointed from Alabama on November 18, 1863, to rank from November 16, and confirmed by the Confederate Congress on February 17, 1864.
  7. Warner, Generals in Gray, pp. 50, 369-70.

Further reading[]

  • Going, Allen J., Publications, East Tennessee Historical Society, 1955.

External links[]