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First Name: James

Last Name: Irvine

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Militia - Revolutionary War

Date of Birth: 04 August 1735

Date of Death: 28 April 1819


Years Served:
James Irvine

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)


James Irvine
Major General, Pennsylvania Militia

James Irvine was born on 4 August 1735 in Philadelphia, PA, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Trained as a hatter in his youth, he joined the British/American Army in 1760 after the French and Indian war had been raging for a few years. He was assigned to the Battalion commanded by Captain Samuel John Atlee.

Serving in the northern frontiers of Pennsylvania, he was promoted to Captain in 1763, and participated in Colonel Henry Bouquet's 1763 Punitive Expedition into the Ohio Valley to quell the uprising by Ottawa Indian Chief Pontiac. An ardent supporter of colonial independence, he was one of the first to openly advocate severing ties with the British. After the conflict began, he was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Battalion on 25 November 1775.

After participating in the failed Invasion of Canada in 1776, he was commissioned as Colonel of the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in October 1776, but held that command only briefly before being transferred to lead the 2nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. He held that command through the winter of 1777 and its encampment near Morristown, NJ, until 1 June 1777. Feeling slighted by being passed over for promotion he felt he earned, he resigned his Continental Army commission that day, and returned to Philadelphia.

On 26 August 1777, he was appointed as a Brigadier General of Pennsylvania Militia, and was assigned to command the State's 2nd Militia Brigade. He led his men in the October 1777 Battle of Germantown, where it held the extreme right of the Army. On 5 December 1777, during a skirmish near Chestnut Hill outside of Philadelphia, he was wounded and captured by British forces. He would spend the next four years in British captivity, not being exchanged until 1 June 1781. Despite his long imprisonment, he returned to active duty immediately, and was one of the planners of the defenses of Philadelphia in the fall of 1781 when it was perceived that the British would make another attempt to occupy the city.

He was placed in command of Fort Pitt (in what is today Pittsburgh, PA) in October 1781, and was commissioned as a Major General of Pennsylvania Militia, a rank he held from 1782-93.

After the war he served in the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and was the body's Vice President from 1784-85. He later served in the Pennsylvania State Senate and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania before he died in Philadelphia in 1818.

Death and Burial

Major General James Irvine died on 28 April 1819 in Philadelphia, PA. He is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.

Honoree ID: 2669   Created by: MHOH




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