James Edgar



  • Newport Patrolman
  • Congressional Gold Medal for Valor
  • Killed while attempting to arrest multiple armed burglars


James was born between 1843 and 1846 in Ireland to John and Margaret (Hastings) Edgar. He enlisted in the United States Army on November 11, 1861 at the age of 15 as a Musician (Drummer) and served in Company K of the 71st Ohio Regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh, the 71st was attached to the 2nd Brigade of the Army of Tennessee. A third of Company K was killed and Private Edgar and others were captured. Private Edgar escaped.

On April 7, 1864, he was promoted to Corporal. Also in 1864, Corporal Edgar was awarded a medal by Congress (we do not know if it was the Silver Medal or the Gold) for bravery at the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg. The 71st participated in the siege of Atlanta, Battle at Jonesboro, and operations against General Hood in Georgia and Alabama, including battles at Franklin and Nashville. In all, Corporal Edgar’s regiment had lost about 20% of its complement when he was mustered out on November 30, 1865.

After the war, Corporal Edgar continued his military affiliations with the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an association of Union veterans and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Association. On January 9, 1880, James was elected to the Board of Administration of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Association.

He worked for years as a Teamster. One night during 1878, while in his night clothes, he chased a would-be burglar down the street. He cried for help, but none appeared, and the burglar escaped. Perhaps the memory of this event led him to join the Newport Police Department in January of 1884.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on November 13, 1884 Patrolmen Edgar and John McCloud were making their rounds. When they arrived at Monmouth and Ringgold (now 8th) Streets they heard a strange noise coming from John B. Lock’s (the Chief’s brother) grocery store on the northeast corner. As Patrolman McCloud looked in the window, he spied three burglars.

The burglars also saw McCloud and ran to the rear door of the store. The officers ran around the building to the rear and found their way blocked by a tall fence. The burglars scaled another portion of the fence and that abutted a vacant lot. Patrolman McCloud ran toward Dayton Street. He was able to fire at one of them and was certain that the shot took effect, but at least two of the burglars somehow made it to Dayton Street where all five, the burglars and two officers, met and engaged in a firefight across the street. Apparently, none of those shots took effect.

One of the burglars ran up Ringgold Street and Patrolman Edgar pursued. McCloud ran after the other two down Dayton Street. Both were now involved in separate running gun battles. From the rear of the store to the end of the pursuits, Patrolmen Edgar fired five shots. Patrolman McCloud responded back to Dayton Street where he found Patrolman Edgar leaning against a tree box. He asked him if he had hit any of the thieves and Patrolman Edgar responded, “No, Jack. I am afraid they got me. I am shot.” He died of his wounds on November 16, 1884.

See more details of his life, death, and resulting investigations at his Line of Duty Death page.


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