Jacob Hunter Sharp, a lawyer, Confederate general, newspaper publisher, and politician, was born in Pickens County, Alabama, on 6 February 1833. He moved to Lowndes County, Mississippi, as a young child, attending various private schools before enrolling at the University of Alabama in 1850–51. He then read law in Columbus and opened a practice with his brother.
Sharp joined the Confederate Army as a private in the Tombigbee Rangers in 1861 and was later elected captain of the company. His unit was part of Blythe’s Mississippi Regiment before becoming Company A of the 44th Mississippi Infantry as part of Gen. J. R. Chalmers’s High Pressure Brigade. Sharp was cited for bravery at Shiloh and promoted to colonel shortly thereafter. At his next engagement, the Battle of Munfordville, he again won distinction.
He was placed in temporary command of his brigade at both Chickamauga and Chattanooga after Chalmers was wounded, and Sharp also temporarily commanded the unit at the Battle of Resaca when Gen. William F. Tucker was wounded. Sharp was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in July 1864 for his efforts at the Battle of Atlanta; less than a week later, at the Battle of Ezra Church, he was yet again cited for bravery.
Sharp led his brigade through the campaigns of the Army of Tennessee that followed the fall of Atlanta, taking part in the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. At Franklin, Sharp’s troops participated in the fierce fighting at the Locust Grove, capturing three stands of Union colors. Following the destruction of the Confederate Army at Nashville, Sharp and the remnants of his command made their way back to Mississippi. They were ordered to report to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina in the spring of 1865, arriving just in time to be included in Johnston’s surrender to Union forces in April.
Sharp returned to Lowndes County after the war and resumed the practice of law. He soon became involved in fighting federal Reconstruction policy and helped organize and lead the Lowndes County chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1879 Sharp became the owner and editor of the Columbus Independent, and his success in that capacity later won him the presidency of the Mississippi Press Association.
He was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1886 and served until 1892, holding the post of Speaker from 1886 to 1888. He again served in the legislature from 1900 to 1902. Sharp died in Columbus on 17 September 1907.
- Biographical Memoranda in Reference to General Jacob Hunter Sharp, Vertical File, Mississippi Department of Archives and History
- Brigadier General Jacob Hunter Sharp, Vertical File, Mississippi Department of Archives and History
- Dunbar Rowland, Military History of Mississippi, 1803–1898 (1908)