A Civil War Biography
Adams was born 1 July 1825 in Nashville,
Tennessee. His parents settled in Nashville after emigrating from
Ireland in 1814. He entered West Point in 1841 and graduated 25th in
the class of 1846. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the 1st
Dragoons and served under the command of future Union major general,
then captain, Philip Kearny during the war with Mexico. Adams was
brevetted for gallantry at the battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales.
Following the Mexican war he served on the frontier in Minnesota,
California, and the Southwest. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in
1851 then captain in 1856. He was assigned to recruiting duty from
1856 until 1858 then was assigned to Fort Crook, California.
After Tennessee joined the Confederacy Adams resigned from the US
army on 31 May 1861and offered his services to his home state. He
was appointed captain of cavalry in the Confederate army on 27 May
1861 and placed in command of Memphis, Tennessee. He was promoted to
colonel in May 1862 then commissioned a brigadier general to rank
from 29 December 1862. He took over Lloyd Tilghman's brigade of
Mississippi regiments after Tilghman was killed at Champion's Hill
on 16 May 1863. Adams, and his new brigade, were part Joseph E.
Johnston's command during the campaign to relieve Vicksburg. Adams
then joined the command of Leonidas Polk in Mississippi which in
turn joined the Army of Tennessee at Resaca, Georgia. Adams and his
brigade fought with distinction during the Atlanta campaign and then
accompanied John B. Hood as Hood moved into Tennessee, attempting to
disrupt Union supply lines. On 30 November 1864, after already being
wounded in the right arm but refusing to leave the field, Adams led
his brigade against Union positions at Franklin, Tennessee. As he
jumped his horse over the Union breastworks he was riddled with
enemy bullets and killed instantly.
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