A Civil War Biography

John Adams

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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