About Nathaniel Harrison Harris
Brig. Gen. Nathaniel H. Harris (b. 1834, d. 1900) The onetime captain of the Warren Rifles, Nathaniel Harrison Harris rose to command a brigade in the Third Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia by the end of the Civil War.
Born in Natchez, Mississippi, Aug. 22, 1834, Harris graduated in law from the University of Louisiana (now Tulane) and began his practice in Vicksburg. With war coming, he organized the Warren Rifles and that unit was taken into state service May 8, 1861. Less than a month later, the Warren Rifles became Co. C of the 19th Mississippi Infantry Regiment in Confederate service.
Harris started the war as the company’s captain and went with his regiment to Virginia. Early in the war, the unit was stationed in garrison duty on the Virginia peninsula. Harris was promoted to major March 5, 1862. At the unit’s first major action, the Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862, Harris earned praise for his conduct during the fight, a Federal victory. Harris continued to serve as a senior officer of the 19th Mississippi through the Seven Days Campaign (June 25-July 1, 1862), in which Gen. Lee pushed McClellan’s force away from Richmond. He fought at the Confederate victory at Second Manassas (Bull Run) Aug. 29-30, 1862, and the defeat at Sharpsburg (Antietam) Sept. 17, 1862. When the army returned from Maryland, Harris was promoted to lieutenant colonel. On April 2, 1863, Harris was promoted again and became colonel of the 19th Mississippi. He led the regiment in the victory at Chancellorsville, May 1-4, 1863, and the bitter defeat at Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863.
In reorganization of the army, Harris was promoted to brigadier general Jan. 20, 1864, and took charge of a brigade in Gen. William Mahone’s division of the Third Corps. At Spotsylvania Court House, May 12, 1864, Harris delivered a key counterattack at the “Mule Shoe” which halted a Federal breakthrough. In action at Globe Tavern (Weldon Railroad), Aug. 21, 1864, part of the Petersburg Campaign, the brigade lost half of its men in a costly fight. The Federals held and cut the railroad line there. Later in the campaign, Harris was commended in defense of Batteries Gregg and Whitworth.
In March of 1865, Harris was in command of inner defenses of Richmond. He surrendered with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox April 12, 1865.
Following the war, Harris returned to Vicksburg and resumed his law practice. When the Mississippi Valley & Ship Island Railroad reorganized, he became that company’s president. But he didn’t stay in Mississippi. For a time, he was a registrar of the U.S. Land Office in Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 1890, he moved to California, where he became successful in business along with his partner, John Hays Hammond.
While on a business trip, Harris died in Malvern, England, Aug. 23, 1900. A lifelong bachelor, Harris’ remains were cremated with the ashes sent to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.