Pemberton, born in Philadelphia of a Quaker family, graduated from West Point and became a career soldier. He served with distinction in the war with Mexico, wounded twice and lauded for bravery. Friendship with Southerners and marriage to a woman from Virginia combined with a firm belief in states' rights to confirm him as a Confederate. Rejecting pleas and promises from Winfield Scott, Pemberton resigned from the U.S. Army in April 1861, even as two brothers remained in Federal service.
Made a brigadier in the Confederate army, the Pennsylvanian soon found himself defending the southeastern coast and, in early 1862, raised to major general. Promotion to lieutenant general was followed by command at Vicksburg, where Pemberton would be forced to surrender his besieged and starving troops on July 4, 1863. Criticized across the South for the defeat, some grumbled about the general's northern birth and a few questioned his loyalty.
In disgrace, Pemberton resigned his commission as lieutenant general. A lesser man might have been tempted to retreat into bitterness or engage in finger-pointing. Pemberton chose instead to continue to give his all for the Confederate cause. Cheerfully accepting a commission as lieutenant colonel of artillery, a full four steps down in rank, Pemberton served ably in that capacity for the duration of the war.
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." Philippians 2:3
South Carolina League of the South