Col. James F. Pressley died in a clinic on Bush Street in San Francisco, on February 13, 1876, his health having never recovered from the wounds he received in the Battle of Atlanta, July 22, 1864. Following his death, his second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel C. I. Walker, penned the following tribute, eventually published in The History of the South Carolina Military Academy by John Peyre Thomas, Walker, Evans, and Cogswell, Charleston, SC, 1893, reprinted 1991 by Palmetto Bookworks, Columbia, SC.( Colonel Pressley had graduated from the Citadel in 1855.)
Referring to your recent request that I write you a few words concerning my late friend and our fellow graduate, Col. James F. Pressley, I take pleasure in complying with your wishes and offering a feeble tribute to one whom I loved and esteemed most highly and whom it was an honor to so love and esteem.
Having graduated some years before I entered the Citadel, I first met Pressley in the camp of the 10th S. C. Regiment, near Georgetown, S. C., in July, 1861, of which Regiment he was Lieut.-Col., and I, Adjutant. A warm friendship sprung up between us and continued until his death. From our first meeting, we were together almost every day, until July 22nd, 1864, when he was carried, then Colonel, wounded from his Regiment, he having been seriously shot on the breastworks of the enemy in front of Atlanta, Ga.
Six days afterward, July 28th, in the morning, I heard from him, with word he was in comfortable quarters at the Vineville Hospital near Macon, and that if I were wounded, I must join him. Before night, I was on my way to join him and in a few days, after a most painful journey, I slept quietly in his hospital tent.
During our long intimacy I always found him the noble, generous friend, the high toned gentleman, the brave soldier, the brilliant leader, the true Christian, which he exemplified in every act of his life. Always bright, happy and cheerful, he extended his genial spirits to all around him, cheering the oft times weary and depressed soldier, and doing all that man could do, to make the burdens of war as light as possible.
He had a most firm, cherishing and sustaining Christian faith. When danger threatened, a few moments were always found for communing with his God, and then he was the bravest of the brave.
Under fire, his energy was unflagging and his courage unexcelled. I do not know that I ever saw a braver man. He was not content with the mere discharge of duty, but was foremost where danger threatened or the highest courage could call him.
So severely wounded was he that he was never able to return to the Regiment, or again draw his sword for the cause he loved.
After the war, not satisfied with the condition of affairs in Williamsburg County..., he, with others of his family and friends emigrated to California, where after a life of usefulness, but in the prime of manhood, he succumbed to death, which he had so frequently and fearlessly faced on the field of battle.
I sincerely trust, my dear Colonel, that this brief sketch will be of use to you, in your valuable publication, and that you will present the facts I have given, in choicer words, to perpetuate the fame of one of the bravest and kindliest and most brilliant of our graduates.