James B. McIntyre was born in Tennessee on August 14, 1833. His family moved to Texas during his childhood, near the town of Brenham in Washington County. In 1849, he and Horace Randal became the first two appointees to the United States Military Academy from the state of Texas. Randal was later a cavalry officer and brigadier general in the Confederate Army. James graduated the academy on July 1, 1853, near the bottom of a class that included future cavalrymen Philip Sheridan, John Chambliss and Nelson Sweitzer. He received an appointment as a brevet second lieutenant in the 7th Infantry, as there were no open second lieutenant vacancies.
Upon joining the regiment at Fort Brown, Texas, he was initially assigned to Company A. His commander was Robert S. Garnett, later the first general officer killed during the Civil War and cousin of the general killed at Gettysburg. The first lieutenant of the company was Edmund Kirby Smith. Although only a brevet officer, he performed well, and served in command of Company I within a year of graduation from the academy.
On October 17, 1854, James McIntyre married Jane A. Selkirk in Austin, Texas. They had three children over the next four years: Hugh on October 9, 1855, Mary Bell on October 1, 1857 and William James D. in October 1859.
On March 3, 1855, McIntyre finally received his appointment as a second lieutenant, but in a different service. He received an original appointment to the newly authorized 1st U.S. Cavalry, and joined his new regiment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He spent the next several years on frontier duty skirmishing with the Cheyenne, Sioux and Comanche Indians. He was promoted to first lieutenant in the regiment on January 16, 1857. He was one of four lieutenants present when J.E.B. Stuart was wounded in an action at Solomon’s Fork of the Kansas River on July 29, 1857. The other two were Lunsford Lomax and David S. Stanley.
McIntyre served as the regimental quartermaster from April 15, 1858 to April 30, 1860. He was part of the force under Major John Sedgwick dispatched toward Utah in May 1858. They marched as far as the Colorado Territory before a peace settlement was reached, and they returned to Fort Leavenworth. He assisted with the construction of Fort Wise (later Fort Lyon), Colorado, and served there and at Fort Riley, Kansas until 1860.
McIntyre was on a leave of absence with his family when the war broke out. He was promoted to captain and command of Company E on May 3, 1861, and soon joined his company at Washington, D.C. As the senior officer present, he commanded the only squadron of the 4th U.S. Cavalry in the eastern theater for the next year and a half.
Although kept very busy, the squadron saw little combat, serving as escort for Major General McClellan through the Peninsula, Antietam and Fredericksburg campaigns. After a brief period of detached service in Washington, D.C. from December 1862 to March 1863, he rejoined his company in Tennessee. He commanded the company during operations in Tennessee and Alabama during the spring of 1863. Captain McIntyre received a brevet promotion to major for gallant and meritorious service during the battle of Franklin, Tennessee on May 10, 1863, and assumed command of the regiment the following month.
Captain McIntyre commanded the regiment for the rest of the year. He earned a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious conduct in his leadership of the regiment in the battle of Chickamauga on September 25, 1863. After a brief leave of absence during the winter, he resumed command of the regiment in March and led it through all of the campaigns of 1864 as well.
In his report on Kilpatrick’s Raid during August 1864, Captain McIntyre made the following statement on his regiment’s performance near Lovejoy’s Station:
“But it was in the charge, when cavalry fought in the legitimate way, the cool, dismounted lieutenant, sergeants and soldiers became the cavalryman, and where all were heroes it would be invidious to make distinction.”
After another brief leave of absence during the winter of 1864, McIntyre again commanded the regiment at Gravelly Spring, Alabama from January to March 1865. Ironically, after commanding the regiment for nearly two years, he missed its last major action of the war, Wilson’s Raid and the battle of Selma. He was detached from the regiment for recruiting duty at Baltimore, Maryland on March 1, 1865 and served there for the remainder of the year.
On November 15, 1865, his wife Jane died, and their three children went to live with his father, Hugh, in Brenham, Texas. His father later received his pension.
In 1866, former Army of the Cumberland commander major General George H. Thomas recommended McIntyre for a brevet to full colonel for his services during the war. In his recommendation, General Thomas noted, “Capt. McIntyre has been an industrious and zealous officer and has performed the duties of every position he has held with ability, and with great credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his commanding officers.”
Following the war, he returned to the frontier with his regiment, once again in command of his Company E in Texas. He commanded Fort Brown, his first assignment as a brevet second lieutenant in 1853, from May 1866 to January 1867. He then moved with his company to Fort Riley, Kansas. Although he was promoted to major in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry on July 28, 1866, the news took months to reach him, and he never joined his new regiment.
Major McIntyre set out from Fort Riley on April 16, 1867. He had been ill with consumption since January with symptoms of consumption and “also suffering from excessive indulgence in alcoholic liquors,” according to the post surgeon. He arrived at Fort Larned on May 1st, but his condition had worsened, and he was too sick to continue his journey.
James B. McIntyre died of consumption at Fort Larned, Kansas on May 10, 1867, but his story doesn’t end there. He was buried in grave #9 in the post cemetery. A very popular officer while he commanded the post, the garrison constructed a brown obelisk in his honor that still stands today. Though weathered and difficult to read, one can still make out the inscription:
“J.B. MacIntyre, Col. USA Died at Fort Larned Kansas, May 9 1867. Was one of the officers, of Extra Duty, Maintained the Honor of his Country Gallantly during the Days of the Recent Rebellion.”
When the post was closed in 1888, the cemetery contents were moved to the cemetery at Fort Leavenworth. In an oversight, the contents of the cemetery were not cataloged. They were interred in new graves in their own section of the Fort Leavenworth cemetery, surrounded by a short wooden fence. Captain John McIntyre rests with 62 of his comrades from Fort Larned, in a grave marked “Unknown US Soldier.”
Cullum, George W. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, Volume II. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1891. Pages 569-570.
Fort Larned NHP website (http://www.nps.gov/fols/planyourvisit/upload/Cemetery.pdf) accessed December 8, 2014.
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903. Page 437.
National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, 1861-1870.
National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Commission Branch, 1863-1870.
National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 4th U.S. Cavalry.
Tom Jones, “Randal, Horace,” Handbook of texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fm28) accessed December 8, 2014.
Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.