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James Chalmers
Chalmers
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Confederate States, 1861-1865
Date of Birth: 1831
Date of Death: 1898
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Occupation: Lawyer, Soldier
Military Branch: Confederate States Army, 1861-1865
Political Party: Democratic Party
Turtledove Appearances:
Fort Pillow
Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct


James Ronald Chalmers (January 11, 1831 - April 9, 1898) was an American politician and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. A lawyer in civilian life, Chalmers enlisted in 1861, and reached the rank of general by 1864. During the initial attack on Battle of Fort Pillow, he was placed in overall command by his superior, Nathan Bedford Forrest. After the war, Chalmers represented the state of Mississippi in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While Forrest thought much of Chalmers' skill as a cavalry commander, he was frustrated by Chalmers' lack of respect for his superiors (a trait Chalmers shared with Forrest).

Chalmers was a little disappointed when Forrest decided to attend the attack himself. He did present Forrest with W.J. Shaw, a former prisoner of the fort who agreed to guide Forrest and his men. Chalmers then set out, arriving at the fort in matter of hours. Chalmers set out the initial attack, first pushing all skirmishers back into the fort, then flanking the fort, and finally taking the additional step of having sharpshooters target Union officers.

Forrest arrived a little while after the battle had started. Chalmers shared his strategy up to that point. Pleased, Forrest ordered Chalmers to keep to that course of action, and insisted that Chalmers step it up. He then began to reconniter on horseback, much to Chalmers chagrin, when a stray bullet fatally injured his horse. The horse fell, and Forrest's leg was injured. Despite Chalmer's continued protests, Forrest mounted another horse and finished his reconiter. This second horse was also shot and wounded, exasperating Chalmers and Forrest's own aid, Charles W. Anderson.

In the afternoon, Forrest used one of Chalmers' aids, Captain Walter Goodman to attempt to negotiate the surrender of the fort. The fort refused Forrest's demand. Forrest quickly marshalled his forces, and Chalmers confirmed his men were ready. Chalmers was surprised that Forrest himself would not be leading the attack from the front. When Chalmers pressed the matter, Forrest angrily refused to give a reason.

Chalmers was critical to the overall success of the battle and the fall of the fort. The following day, Forrest decided to bury the hatchet with Chalmers by informing him that he did a "mite fine job".[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Fort Pillow, pg. 267.

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