Pittsburgh Icons: James S. Negley

James Negley was a bit of everything He was an educated farmer, railroad investor, politician, war hero, and a genuine Pittsburgh icon. His many careers landed him in the history books numerous times.

Early Life

James Scott Negley was born in East Liberty, an area originally planned by his grandfather, Jacob Negley. He attended the Western University of Pennsylvania (today’s University of Pittsburgh) before serving in the Duquesne Grays during the Mexican War. His service in that war was likely instrumental in his appointment as a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Militia in 1861.

Civil War Service

He went on to eventually command the 7th Brigade in the Department of the Ohio. He lead the raid during the first battle of Chatanooga. When he found the confederates entrenched on the opposite side of the river, he has his artillery open fire on them. While losses were minimal, the strategic win was to demonstrate Union strength in Confederate territory, and the redeployment of troops to defend Chatanooga was likely significant in the capture of the Cumberland Gap. This would earn him the appointment as major general.

Continued Service

From there, James Negley would go on to fight at Stones River and Chikamauga, but in the latter battle, his terrible defeat ended his military career. His career of service would continue in the United States Congress in 1869.After losing in the Forty Fourth Congress, he was re-elected for the Forty-Ninth Congress. That would be his last term in the House of Representatives.

Final Years

During and after his years in congress, he became engaged in the railroad boom of the day. He was president of the New York, Pittsburg amp; Chicago Railway Company. He died in 1901 in Plainfield, NJ and was buried in Allegheny Cemetery. Today, historians debate his courage and his service in Chikamauga, but it is undoubtedly true that he (and his family, who were the original planners of East Liberty) made a mark on Pittsburgh that will continue to go down in history.

Sources:

Congress Biographies: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=N000024

George Thornton Fleming: History of Pittsburgh and Environs Vol 6.

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