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Civil War Streets: James Birdseye McPherson

By Mark Pearson

Originally Published on December 5th, 2018.

After General Whipple, the next street that we cross is McPherson, named after James Birdseye McPherson. He was born on November 14, 1828, in Clyde, Ohio. He also attended West Point and was the top of his class. Those who graduated with him also became some of the most well-known commanders on both sides during the Civil War. He was placed in the Corps of Engineers and, as part of his service, he worked on the defenses on Alcatraz Island. While stationed in San Francisco, California he met a girl from Baltimore, Maryland by the name of Emily Hoffman. After being recalled back east, he worked on designing and building fortifications and harbor defenses in New York State.

When the war started, he was transferred to the western theater where he was promoted to Major General of volunteers. He served under General Grant and ended up as commander of the Army of Tennessee. At this time, he was engaged to marry Emily and was granted leave to go home and marry her. General Sherman revoked his leave because he felt that James was needed in the upcoming campaign against Atlanta, Georgia. He never got the chance to marry Miss Hoffman as he was killed outside of Atlanta. At this point he was the second highest ranking general to perish during the war, General Sedgwick being the highest. (Remember him?)

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Emily Hoffman never got over her General, never married, and lived out her life in lonely seclusion. She died in 1891, the same year as General Sherman. General McPherson’s house still stands and several streets are named after him, as well as schools and parks. Cemeteries, including the one that he is buried in, have been named after him and he also was pictured on the 2 dollar bill printed in 1890.

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Mark E. Pearson was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo.  In 1970 he moved to Michigan where he met and married the girl of his dreams, Mary Lou Davis, together they have two sons.  He attended Briercrest Bible Institute in Saskatchewan, Canada, and later received his associate’s degree in business from St. Clair Community College.  He was a bookkeeper and worked in retail sales for 30 years and has spent the last fifteen years as a Jeweler at Coughlin’s Jewelers in St Clair, MI.  He is a voracious reader of history and as a result of being an avid reader he began to write short stories and articles for editorial columns and magazines on current events and comparing and relating past events to current happenings.  

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