John Gregg, soldier, son of Nathan and Sarah (Pearsall) Gregg, was born on September 28, 1828, in Lawrence County, Alabama. He attended the "celebrated school" of Professor Tutwiller in La Grange, Georgia, graduated in 1847, and then taught mathematics and languages at the school. In 1851 he started his study of law in the office of a Judge Townes in Tuscumbia, Alabama. The next year he moved to Texas and settled in Fairfield. In 1855, after his first wife, Mollie (Winston), died, he married Mary Frances Garth. He had two children.
Gregg practiced law the next few years and began the first newspaper in Freestone County, the Freestone County Pioneer. His partner in this venture was Morris Reagan, brother of John H. Reagan. He was elected district judge in 1855 and served in that position until 1860, when he also had a farm and substantial property holdings, including four slaves. At that time he became one of the signers and publishers of the call for the state Secession Convention. He was one of six elected by that body to go to the provisional congress of the Confederacy at Montgomery, Alabama. Gregg went with the Congress to Richmond, Virginia. But immediately after the first battle of Manassas (or Bull Run) in July 1861, he resigned and returned to Texas to recruit and organize the Seventh Texas Infantry, of which he was made colonel.
He led the regiment in several battles before being captured at Fort Donelson, Tennessee, in February 1862. After his release, he was promoted to brigadier general on August 29, 1862, and rejoined the army in Mississippi, where he fought in the Vicksburg campaign in 1863. He fought against Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's forces at Raymond and Jackson, Mississippi, and was wounded at the battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. Gregg was then transferred to Virginia and placed in command of the famous Hood's Texas Brigade. He participated in most of the battles of the Army of Northern Virginia and was killed in action during the battle of New Market Road, near Richmond on October 7, 1864.
His widow, Mary, went in person by wagon through battle lines to Virginia to claim her husband's body. Later, she was among the women whose efforts began a Memorial Day observance. Gregg and his wife were buried at Aberdeen, Mississippi. Gregg County, Texas, established in 1873, was named for General Gregg. It is one of eighteen Texas counties named for soldiers and statesmen of the Southern Confederacy.
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Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Freestone County Historical Commission, History of Freestone County, Texas (Fairfield, Texas, 1978). Zachary T. Fulmore, History and Geography of Texas As Told in County Names (Austin: Steck, 1915; facsimile, 1935). Sidney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas, 1907). Jon L. Wakelyn, Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1977).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Douglas R. Shields,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 01, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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