Kentucky’s Civil War leaders ...
CSA Gen. Hawes chose military career
rather than family’s political service
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 38th in a series about Kentucky’s officers and battle leaders during the Civil War.)
Lexington-born Confederate officer James Morrison Hawes came from a politically prominent family.
His father, Richard, uncle Albert, great-uncle Aylett and cousin Aylett Hawes Buckner all served in the U.S. House of Representatives. But James Hawes saw his career developing in another direction.
Instead, he enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy in July 1841 and was graduated with the rank of 2nd lieutenant of dragoons. He then was assigned to assist with the occupation of Texas. He soon was involved in the Mexican War and his outstanding service earned him a brevet to 1st lieutenant.
Following the Mexican War, he became an assistant instructor at West Point and taught infantry and cavalry tactics and mathematics. He later studied advanced tactics at the Cavalry School of Saumur, France, and, in 1852, was stationed on the Texas frontier. In that post, he helped put down disturbances on the Kansas border.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Hawes joined the Confederacy and was commissioned a captain in the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry. He soon was promoted to major and colonel. In 1862, he was commissioned a brigadier general and became the cavalry commander of the Confederate Western Department.
Following the Battle of Shiloh (April 1862), his father, Richard, was chosen to succeed Kentucky Confederate Gov. George W. Johnson, who was killed during the conflict.
James helped defend the bridge at Green River near Bowling Green in September 1861, and transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Division to lead the Texas Cavalry Brigade near Little Rock, Ark. He commanded his brigade during the Vicksburg siege in 1863 and, in 1864, commanded troops and fortifications at Galveston, Texas.
Gen. Hawes was married to Maria Southgate and he and his wife had 10 children. Following the war, the couple relocated in Covington where Hawes became a hardware merchant. He died at his home in 1889 at the age of 65.