Brigadier General James Lawson Kemper


James Kemper
James Kemper commanded a brigade in George Pickett's division of James Longstreet's I Corps. Kemper's brigade arrived at Gettysburg after the Second Day's fighting, resting near the Chambersburg Pike. On 3 July, Kemper's brigade took up positions near Pitzer's Run a few hundred yards (meters) behind the main Confederate line. During the artillery barrage before Pickett's assault, Kemper's men were in a swale in front of Spangler's Woods.

During Longstreet's assault, Kemper's brigade was assigned to the front right of Pickett's division, with their right flank unsupported. Upon reaching the Emmitsburg Road, his troops performed a left oblique, aiming directly for the Copse of Trees, their point of aim on Cemetery Ridge.

As the assault neared Cemetery Ridge, George Stannard's 13th and 16th Vermont from I Corps left their positions on Cemetery Ridge and formed to fire on Kemper's exposed right flank. The survivors of Kemper's brigade moved to their left, crowding Richard Garnett's brigade, helping to break up the cohesion of the Confederate attack. Kemper, rising in his spurs to urge his men forward, was hit by a miniť ball in the inside of his left thigh, near the femoral artery. The bullet glanced off his femur, went through his lower body cavity, and finally lodged near the base of his spine. After the repulse of the assault, he was carried from the field by four of his men. Too critically injured--the wound was thought to be mortal--he was left behind as Lee retreated and ultimately was captured by Union troops.

After the War, Kemper returned to politics, and was elected Governor of Virginia in 1874.


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