Brevet Major-General James Gwyn
was born in Ireland, at Londonderry, November 24, 1828 and emigrated to the
United States, selecting Philadelphia for his residence. Here he entered the
employ of Stuart Bros., of which George H. Stuart, famous during the war as
President of the Christian Commission, was senior member.
In April, 1861, he
served as Captain in 23d Pennsylvania Regiment on the Peninsula and in front of
Richmond. July 22, 1862, he resigned to accept commission as Lieutenant-Colonel
of the Corn Exchange. He was mustered into service with this regiment as
Lieutenant-Colonel, August 16, 1862. He participated in its first engagement at
Shepherdstown, Virginia, where the regiment fell into an ambuscade and was
fearfully decimated; he also participated in the battles of Fredericksburg,
Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
At the close of these campaigns he was
promoted to Colonel of the regiment, November 1, 1863, having succeeded Colonel
Charles M. Prevost, who had been seriously wounded at Shepherdstown, September
20, 1862, and resigned, September 30, 1863. May 5, 1864, in the first day’s
fight in the Battle of the Wilderness, he was severely wounded in the right
thigh. He rejoined his regiment in front of Petersburg, Virginia. At Peeble’s
Farm, September 30, 1864, Colonel Gwyn as senior officer commanded the 1st
Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps. He led forward his men with gallantry
and captured two earthworks and a fortified line, and for this meritorious
behavior he was breveted a Brigadier-General. At Five Forks, April 1, 1865, in
the famous charge, General Gwyn’s brigade captured a large number of prisoners
and many battle-flags, and as a reward he was promoted to the rank of Brevet
At the close of the war he was mustered out of service with the
regiment, June 1, 1865. He then returned to mercantile pursuits with his old
employers, Stuart Bros., but after a time, failing in health, he retired.
Brevet Major-General James Gwyn enjoyed the reputation of having been a
patriotic citizen, a gallant soldier, a handsome and accomplished officer, and
a bold and aggressive leader.
Buried at: Woodlands Cemetery - Plot: Section E, Lot 33