Portrait of John C. Pemberton

On July 4, 1863, John C. Pemberton surrendered the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with 2,166 officers and 27,230 soldiers, 172 cannon, and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles to Ulysses S. Grant. [Wikimedia Commons]

John Clifford Pemberton - Facts

August 10, 1814 - July 13, 1881

Key facts about Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton who was vilified by Northerners for leaving the U.S. Army to fight for the South, and by Southerners for surrendering Vicksburg.

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Full Name:

  • John Clifford Pemberton

Birth Date:

  • August 10, 1814

Birth Location:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • John and Rebecca (Clifford) Pemberton

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1837)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Captain (USA)
  • Lieutenant General (CSA)

Spouse:

  • Martha (Pattie) Thompson (m. 1848)

Place of Death:

  • Penllyn, Pennsylvania

Date of Death:

  • July 13, 1881

Place of Burial:

  • Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Significance:

  • John C. Pemberton was the second child of John and Rebecca (Clifford) Pemberton.
  • John C. Pemberton’s classmates at the United States Military Academy included future Civil War generals of note including Braxton Bragg and Jubal A. Early who fought for the Confederacy, and Joseph Hooker, William H. French, and John Sedgwick who served the Union.
  • John C. Pemberton graduated near the middle of his class at the United States Military Academy, standing twenty-seventh out of fifty cadets, on July 1, 1837.
  • On July 1, 1837, the U.S. Army commissioned John C. Pemberton as a second lieutenant with the 4th Artillery Regiment and sent him to Florida to campaign against American Indians during the Second Seminole War (1837–38).
  • During his career as a U.S. military officer, John C. Pemberton served at many posts throughout the nation.
  • During his U.S. Army career, John C. Pemberton campaigned three times against the Seminole Indians in Florida.
  • John C. Pemberton served with General Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation during the initial phases of the Mexican-American War, seeing action at the Battle of Palo Alto (May 8, 1846) and commanding a company during the Battle of Resaca de la Palma (May 9, 1846).
  • On September 23, 1846, the U.S. Army brevetted Pemberton to captain “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct” during the Battle of Monterrey (September 21–24, 1846).
  • Serving with General Winfield Scott’s Army of Invasion, during the Mexican-American War, John C. Pemberton took part in the Siege of Veracruz (Mar 9–29, 1847), the Battle of Cerro Gordo (April 18, 1847), the Skirmish of Amazoque (May 14, 1847), the Capture of San Antonio (August 20, 1847), the Battle of Churubusco (August 20, 1847), the Battle of Molino del Rey (September 8, 1847), the storming of Chapultepec (September 13, 1847), and the occupation of Mexico City (September 13–14, 1847).
  • On September 8, 1847, the U.S. Army brevetted Pemberton to captain for his “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Molino del Rey.”
  • John C. Pemberton married Martha Thompson of Norfolk, Virginia, in January 1848. Their marriage produced three children who survived to adulthood.
  • During his time on frontier duty, John C. Pemberton helped quell the border violence in Bleeding Kansas.
  • John C. Pemberton took part in the nearly bloodless Utah Expedition (1857–58).
  • John C. Pemberton notified the U.S. Army on April 24, 1861, that he was resigning his commission (effective April 29) to join the Southern cause.
  • John C. Pemberton’s decision to leave the U.S. Army made him a traitor to the North and a suspect Yankee in the South.
  • Upon leaving the U.S. Army, Pemberton accepted a commission as a lieutenant colonel of the newly-formed Provisional Army of Virginia (PAV).
  • On May 8, 1861, John C. Pemberton was promoted to colonel in the Provisional Army of Virginia (PAV).
  • When the Confederacy absorbed Virginia forces, John C. Pemberton received a commission as major of artillery in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS) on June 15, 1861.
  • On June 17, 1861, Confederate officials promoted John C. Pemberton to brigadier general, bypassing the intermediate grades of lieutenant colonel and colonel.
  • On November 29, 1861, the Confederate government transferred John C. Pemberton to General Robert E. Lee’s Department of South Carolina and Georgia.
  • On February 14, 1862, the Confederacy promoted John C. Pemberton to the rank of major general, effective January 14, 1862.
  • In less than three-quarters of a year, John C. Pemberton rose from the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Provisional Army of Virginia to major general in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States, without accomplishing anything of major importance for the Rebel cause.
  • On March 4, 1862, John C. Pemberton replaced Robert E. Lee as commander of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia.
  • After John C. Pemberton openly exhibited his preference for protecting his army more than southern soil by evacuating coastal areas, South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens lost confidence in the Yankee general charged with defending his state.
  • On August 28, 1862, President Jefferson Davis replaced John C. Pemberton as commander of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia with P. G. T. Beauregard.
  • On October 1, 1862, President Jefferson Davis appointed John C. Pemberton to command of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, comprising “the state of Mississippi and that part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi River.”
  • On October 13, 1862, President Jefferson Davis promoted John C. Pemberton to the rank of lieutenant general.
  • On May 16, 1863, Union forces defeated John C. Pemberton’s forces at the Battle of Champion Hill.
  • On May 17, 1863, Union forces defeated John C. Pemberton’s forces at the Battle of Big Black River Bridge.
  • On July 4, 1863, John C. Pemberton surrendered the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with 2,166 officers and 27,230 soldiers, 172 cannon, and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles to Ulysses S. Grant.
  • Union officials exchanged John C. Pemberton as a prisoner of war on October 13, 1863.
  • On May 9, 1864, John C. Pemberton resigned his commission as a general officer in the Confederate Army.
  • On May 12, 1864, John C. Pemberton accepted a token assignment from President Jefferson Davis as a lieutenant colonel of artillery in the defenses of Richmond.
  • On January 7, 1865, the Confederacy appointed John C. Pemberton as an inspector general of artillery.
  • Union soldiers captured John C. Pemberton at Salisbury, North Carolina, on April 12, 1865, at the end of the war.
  • After the Civil War, Pemberton lived on a farm named “Harleigh” near Warrenton, Virginia, from 1866 to 1876.
  • After the Civil War, many Southerners, including General Joseph E. Johnston, vilified John C. Pemberton for surrendering Vicksburg.
  • After the Civil War, many Northerners vilified John C. Pemberton for joining the Confederate Army.
  • On June 19, 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the legislation restoring John C. Pemberton’s U.S. citizenship.
  • Toward the end of his life, John C. Pemberton and his wife took up residence in Philadelphia.
  • On July 13, 1881, John C. Pemberton died, at the age of sixty-six, at his summer home in Penllyn, Pennsylvania.
  • Over objections from some Unionist families, the Confederate general was buried in an obscure section of Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title John Clifford Pemberton - Facts
  • Coverage August 10, 1814 - July 13, 1881
  • Author
  • Keywords John Clifford Pemberton
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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