J. Johnston Pettigrew has come up a couple of times on the podcast and had been mentioned here on the forum as well. I was aware of his battles, but never really took a look at his service as a whole. There are a couple of older biographies out there about him, but I do not have access to any of them. So I took a look through a handful of different sources I have to see what I could dig up about him in case anyone else is interested.
Pettigrew was born in 1818 in NC. John Gibbon was a cousin. He grew up wealthy and was very intelligent, mastered at least six languages, attended the University of North Carolina at age 14 and graduated valedictorian. President Polk invited Pettigrew to be professor of astronomy at the National Observatory. Growing bored with this role he later travelled extensively in Europe, eventually writing two books, Notes on Spain and the Spaniards in the Summer of 1859 and With a Glance at Sardinia. After completing legal studies he worked for his uncle in South Carolina a prominent Charleston attorney James L. Petigru and was also a state legislator. Petigru was against South Carolina secession and once remarked, "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum." While in the state legislature Pettigrew would speak out against the re-opening of the foreign slave trade, although this action appears to have been less about slavery specifically than it was an attempt to not further divide the north from the south with secession on the horizon.
Beginning of the War
Pettigrew was present at Fort Sumter as a member of the South Carolina militia. Despite a lack of military experience he was well regarded and given command of the 12th NC. Jefferson Davis urged a promotion to Brigadier General which he initially declined based on a lack of experience in the field. Following reorganization after Manassas he was promoted on February 26 1862 and sent to the Peninsula in command of a brigade. His promotion to brigadier was before a number of other generals who would go on to prominence including Hood, Cleburne, and Wade Hampton.
To the Peninsula
On the first day of the battle of Seven Pines Pettigrew's brigade became seriously engaged operating next to Hatton's and Hampton's brigades under the command of W.H.C. Whiting. The division was sent into the woods in an attempted flanking movement, but ran into reinforcements from John Sedgwick that had arrived on the field after crossing the rain swollen river. During the engagement Hatton was killed and Pettigrew was severely wounded, the shot being described as having "passed along the front of his throat and into the shoulder, cutting the nerves and muscles of the right arm." Pettigrew was left on the field unconscious, taken prisoner, and exchanged 2 months later.
Home to North Carolina
After exchange Pettigrew received a new brigade and was assigned to D.H. Hill's command in the southern Virginia/North Carolina area. His brigade served primarily in North Carolina through May of 1863. During this time the brigade was engaged in operations to take New Bern, as well as an attempted siege of Washington, NC.