John Clifford Pemberton

John Clifford Pemberton
Born Aug. 10, 1814
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died July 13, 1881 (at age 66)
Penllyn, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States of America
Confederate States of America
Years 1837–61 (USA)
1861–65 (CSA)
Rank Brev. Major (USA)
Lieutenant General (CSA)
Battles/wars Seminole Wars
Mexican–American War
American Civil War

John Clifford Pemberton was a U.S. Army official who was born on August 10, 1814 in Philadelphia. He was involved in Seminole wars and played a great role in the Mexican-American War. Pemberton was the second born of John Pemberton and Rebecca Clifford. The younger Pemberton would go on to become prototypical yet a contentious player in the Confederate leadership. Initially, he wanted to pursue a career as an engineer and thought that the best way to achieve that was to study at U.S. Military Academy. He entered the Academy in 1833, and graduated after four years.

Role in Mexican War

After his graduation, Pemberton was commissioned to the level of 2nd lieutenant in the 4th Artillery on July 1, 1837. He served in many duty stations including: New York, New Jersey, and Michigan, before being promoted to 1st lieutenant on 19 March, 1842, after serving in Buffalo. From 1845 to 1846, the 4th were included in U.S. Military Occupation of Texas. Later on, they were sent to Mexico just at the onset of the Mexican-American-War. Here, his first assignment was the Battle of Palo Alto on 8th May 1846, and then the Battle-of-Resaca-de-la-Palma the following day. At the fall, his troops fought at the Battle of Monterrey and got appointed as Brevet Captain on September 23. Pemberton was also involved in several other battles including the famous Molino del Rey Battle. Here, he got appointed to Brevet Major.

Service in the Civil War

When the Mexican war ended , Pemberton fought in a few battles, before his 4th Artillery went back to Louisiana in 1850, where he got endorsed to captain position on September 16, 1850. When the Civil War started in 1861, Pemberton decided to quit his position and join the Confederacy despite his two brothers fighting for the Union. His decision to resign was influenced by his Virginia-born wife as well as long service in the southern states. Here, Pemberton was allotted to Lieutenant colonel on March 28,1861, and then to Adjutant General, commanding the troops in and around Richmond, Virginia.

Pemberton’s performance got him to the rank of colonel on May 8,1861 and to lieutenant colonel the following day after being dispensed to Virginia Provisional Army Artillery. He then got promoted to Major on June 15, 1861, in the Artillery and then to Brigadier General two days afterwards. Pemberton would then be achieve Major General in January, 1862. He was to lead the Confederate-Department of Georgia and South Carolina in an assignment that lasted between March 14 to August 29, 1862. Later on, he was sent to West by President Jefferson after admitting publicly that he would rather abandon Charleston, than risk a defeat of his outnumbered troops. Pemberton was then endorsed to the position of Lieutenant General on October 10, 1862, and got an assignment to defend Vicksburg, Mississippi and Mississippi River. At Vicksburg, he faced his former colleague in Mexican War: General Ulysses Grant during the Vicksburg campaign.


Pemberton resigned on May 9, 1864, but President Jefferson offered him a lieutenant colonel position of the artillery after 3 days, which he accepted. He held this rank until January 9, 1865; after being appointed to inspector general position of the artillery earlier on January 7. After the Civil War, John Pemberton moved to his farm in Virginia in 1866, and then to Pennsylvania in 1876. He died five years later in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.