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Peter Burwell Starke
Personal Information
Born: 1815
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: July 13, 1888 (aged 72–73)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Confederate States Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: Army of Tennessee
Commands: Starke's Cavalry Brigade
Battles: American Civil War
Awards: {{{awards}}}
Relations: William Edwin Starke, brother
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Peter Burwell Starke (1815 – July 13, 1888) was a Mississippi politician and sheriff, and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was active in several important campaigns and battles in the Western Theater, including the Vicksburg, Atlanta, and Franklin-Nashville campaigns. He commanded a brigade of veteran cavalry in many of these operations.[1]

Early life and career[]

Starke was born in Brunswick County, Virginia. His older brother William Edwin Starke also became a general in the Confederate army. Prior to the Civil War, the brothers worked in the family's stagecoach business that operated between Lawrenceville and Petersburg, Virginia. In early 1840, Peter Starke moved to the South, settling in Bolivar County, Mississippi, where he became active in local politics.

In 1846, while his brother was in the United States Army during the Mexican War, Starke run for a seat in the United States Congress as a member of the Whig Party to replace Jefferson Davis (who had resigned to lead a Mississippi regiment). However, Starke was defeated in the general election by Democrat Henry T. Ellett. Four years later, he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. In 1856, he was elected to the Mississippi State Senate.[2]

Civil War[]

Starke remained active in state politics after Mississippi passed its ordinance of secession, and was a commissioner to Virginia to help encourage the leaders of that state to join Mississippi in seceding from the Union. He helped recruit and equip a company of cavalry in mid-1861 while still a state senator. In late February 1862, he received a commission as the colonel of the 28th Mississippi Cavalry, a new regiment raised in Bolivar County that mustered into service in May.[3]

He took an active role in military operations in central and northern Mississippi, leading his men on a series of scouting missions and raids. He was assigned to the cavalry division of Brig. Gen. William H. Jackson as the commander of the 1st Brigade (still with the rank of colonel) and served in the Vicksburg Campaign. Five companies of Starke's regiment reinforced Brig. Gen. Martin L. Smith at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and were posted to watch the flanks along the Yazoo River. During the campaign, Union troops burned Starke's mansion along Lake Bolivar.[4] From December until February, he was in temporary command of the brigade.[3]

In February 1864, Colonel Starke served under Stephen D. Lee in the forces that opposed Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's advance on Meridian, Mississippi, and he fought in the ensuing Battle of Meridian. Later that year, Starke returned to his role as the commander of the 28th Mississippi Cavalry during the Atlanta Campaign, serving under Frank C. Armstrong, and saw action in several small cavalry engagements throughout the summer. He was promoted to brigadier general on November 4, 1864, and assigned command of a cavalry brigade in the forces of Maj. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest. He was involved in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.

When Forrest reorganized his command structure, Starke was initially without a field command, although he maintained his rank as a brigadier general. He spent the last few months of the war serving in Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers' division in Alabama.

Postbellum career[]

When the war ended later in 1865, Starke returned to Bolivar County, Mississippi. He subsequently held several public appointments. He served on the board of Mississippi levee commissioners and was the sheriff of Bolivar County for a term. In 1872, he retired to his farm near Lawrenceville, Virginia.[5]

P. B. Starke died on his farm on July 13, 1888, from what was described as "debility." He was buried in a previously unmarked grave near Lawrenceville in the Percival Family Cemetery on what formerly had been the farm of his second wife's family.[5][6]


  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Evans, Clement A., Confederate Military History, Volume III, Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Company, 1899.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-0823-5.
  • Welsh, Jack D., Medical Histories of Confederate Generals, Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0873388535.


  1. Confederate generals website Retrieved 2008-09-11
  2. Warner, p. 288.
  3. 3.0 3.1 28th Mississippi Cavalry webpage Retrieved 2008-09-11
  4. History of Bolivar County, MS Retrieved 2008-09-11
  5. 5.0 5.1 Welsh, p. 204.
  6. Find A Grave Retrieved 2008-09-11