About James Keith "Jimmy" Marshall
James Keith "Jimmy" Marshall (April 17, 1839 – July 3, 1863) was a Confederate Army officer during the American Civil War. Marshall commanded the wounded J. Johnston Pettigrew's brigade during Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was killed during the assault.
Marshall was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, to Edward Carrington Marshall and Rebecca Courtenay Peyton Marshall. He was a grandson of Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall. He was related through blood or marriage to Thomas Jefferson, George E. Pickett, and Robert E. Lee. His great-grandfather had attended school with George Washington and was commander of the 3rd Virginia Infantry during the American Revolutionary War. He was also a first cousin of Col. Thomas A. Marshall and second cousin of General Lee's aide, Col. Charles Marshall.
James K. Marshall graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1860. He was chosen as the final orator for graduation ceremonies by the Society of Cadets. He also served as first lieutenant of a cadet company. When the Civil War broke out, Marshall was serving as a teacher in Edenton, North Carolina.
Marshall became a captain of Company M of the 1st North Carolina "Bethel Regiment" of Col. Daniel Harvey Hill in the spring of 1861. He did not take part in the Battle of Big Bethel. He was made colonel of the 52nd North Carolina on April 23, 1862 under the command of Brig. Gen J. Johnston Pettigrew, despite having no combat experience. Marshall was initially elected to the post of lieutenant colonel and Zebulon Vance was elected colonel, however, Vance declined the position so Marshall took the spot instead. Marshall spent much of this period defending the Blackwater River. Pettigrew's Brigade joined the Army of Northern Virginia in late May 1863, for the Gettysburg Campaign.
Pettigrew's Brigade saw intense fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 1, 1863, Marshall's regiment initially encountered two companies from the 80th New York Infantry at the Harmon farm. A detachment of this regiment burned down the house, and barn, sending Amelia Harmon and her aunt, who were still inside, running westward away from the danger. After dispersing these men, a portion of the 52nd North Carolina fought part of the 8th New York Cavalry at Meal's Orchard. The 52nd crossed Willoughby Run and faced resistance from more cavalry units around Fairfield Road. After crossing Fairfield Road, Marshall's men slammed into the flank of the 121st Pennsylvania of Lt. Col. Alexander Biddle, routing them from the field and sending them running toward Seminary Ridge. Marshall's men next attacked the 80th New York of Col. Theodore Gates and forced them to retreat. Soon after this attack, Maj. Gen. Henry Heth was wounded and Pettigrew was elevated to divisional command. Due to the high casualty rate in Pettigrew's Brigade command structure, Marshall was given charge of it. The brigade suffered 1,100 casualties out of 2,584 engaged, however Marshall's 52nd North Carolina suffered only 26 casualties.
The brigade was not involved in any fighting on July 2, 1863. Marshall had the brigade's Moravian band perform for the men to heighten their morale after the first day's carnage.
Leading the decimated brigade during Pickett's Charge, Marshall's men crossed the field around the Bliss Farm and Stevens' Run and then crossed the Emmitsburg Rd, coming under withering fire at the fence line. While crossing the Emmitsburg Road, Marshall turned to Capt. Stockton Heath (son of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth) and said "We do not know which of us will be next to fall." Just minutes later, as Marshall neared the stonewall on Cemetery Ridge he was struck in the forehead and killed instantly by two bullets while cheering his men on.
Marshall's family did not know what had happened to him until several months later when they received a letter from Marshall's cousin F. Lewis Marshall informing them of James K. Marshall's death at Gettysburg. The family had heard conflicting reports of Marshall's fate, and thought that he was a prisoner of war.
Marshall's remains were buried on the field at Gettysburg. It is assumed, but not known for sure, whether he was re-interred at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.