Micah Jenkins was born on 1 December 1835 the third son of Captain John Jenkins and his wife Elizabeth, a wealthy cotton grower of Edisto Island, located between Charleston and Beaufort, South Carolina. At the aged of 15 he entered the Citadel Military Academy, South Carolina, in 1851. Graduating in 1854 top of his class.
In January 1855 he, with the co-operation of his classmate and friend Asbury Coward, founded the Kings Mountain Military School, Yorkville, South Carolina.
At 20 he was confirmed at Yorkville Episcopal Church, being deeply religious, and remaining so all his life. He took his bible and prayer book with him, and at any quite moments on the battlefield was to be found reading it.
Shortly before the war, in 1859 in the aftermath of John Browns raid on Harpers Ferry, he raised a volunteer militia company at Yorkville the Jasper Guards or Jasper Rifle Guards, and was elected Captain. In 1860 they were to became the Jasper Light Infantry. With the company, in 1861, forming the nucleus of the 5th South Carolina Volunteers with the rest raised largely from the Piedmont districts of York, Union and Spartanburg. Jenkins was elected Colonel of the regiment which was some 1,200 strong.
In 1861 he was with the 5th S.C.V. as part of D. R. Jones Brigade in Virginia. Taking part in the 1st Manassas (Bull Run), 31 July 1861. In the later part of 1861 he took command of the Brigade, and had the confidence of his Divisional commander General J. Longstreet.
With the re-organization of the army in 1862 he oversaw the organization of the Palmetto Sharpshooters over whom he was made Colonel, the unit is formed with approximately 1,100 men.
While still Colonel he commanded R. H. Anderson's Brigade at Williamsburg (Fort Magruder), 5 May 1862, and Seven Pines (1st Fair Oaks), 31 April-1 May, where he sustained a knee wound. At Seven Pines (Captain W.B Smith, 'Co,G' Palmetto Sharpshooters) 'After we had driven back four fresh lines of battle General Jenkins drew his lines back a short way and formed a new line, someone said to him 'just look at them coming at the double quick.' Jenkins replied: 'We shall meet them at the double quick.' 'He straightened himself up in his stirrups and gave the command to charge front on twelth company at the double quick, and I never saw on parade a prettier maneuver, General Jenkins was magic. He could come nearer to making his men work like machinery than any other man I saw. That was the last charge at Seven Pines at which ended the battle. We fought five fresh lines that evening and whipped every one. Jenkins was on his horse all through the battle.'
At Gaines Mill (1st Cold Harbor, Chickahominy), 27 June, Jenkins led a sweep around the Federal flanks as dusk fell here he engaged the 16th Michigan decimated the Regimen and captured their colours along with a large body of men. For this feat Jenkins was given consent by the Secretary of War to retain the regimental standard of the 16th Michigan for presentation to the Governor of South Carolina.
Ordered to silence some guns at Frayser's (or Fraizer's) Farm (White Oak Swamp, Glendale, Charles City Cross Roads, Nelson's Farm, Turkey Bend/Bridge, New Market Cross Roads, Willis Church, Riddell's Shop), 30 June 1862, by Longstreet he led forward his Brigade so bringing on the battle. While doing this he had his personnel aid shot down by his side and 'Jenkins own survival was regarded as miraculous; his horse hit twice, his bridle reigns cut in two, his saddle pack and blanket riddled, his sword hit three times, and himself nicked in three places by shell fragments' (North and South Vol 5 No 1). In a letter dated 6 July 1862 he states 'I have not fully recovered the use of my right arm, the muscle seems deadened by the blow of the grape, but I suppose in a week or ten days it will be all right.'
Promoted to Brigadier General on 22 July 1862 he again led his Brigade at the 2nd Manassas (Bull Run), 30 August 1862, this time he was severely wounded in the left abdomen and was out of action for two months.
Back on duty, this time with his Divisional commander General Picket, he was at the Fredericksburg, 14 December 1862, but the Brigade was only partially engaged.
Now sent to the Blackwater he was at the Siege of Suffolk, 16 April-3 May 1863, and stayed there, with the brigade, during the Gettysburg campaign under General D. H. Hill.,
Sent to Tennessee in 1863 with Longstreet's Corps he was in command of Hood's Division. Sent into combat against superior numbers at the Lookout Mountain (Wauhatchie, Brown's Ferry), 28 October 1863, he was successfully leading the attack when they were attacked in the rear by greatly superior numbers. Even then he succeeded in withdrawing his troops.
Again with Longstreet he went to East Tennessee playing a conspicuous part in the proceedings, commanding the right wing at the Campbell Station, 16 November 1864, and finally participated in the Siege of Knoxville, 17 November-4 December 1864, and all the hardships this entailed.
Returning with Longstreet to the west, his divisional commander was now Major General Charles W. Field. He was in frail health as 'During the spring, a patch of carbuncles had erupted between his shoulder blades. A close friend attributed the problem to undernourishment, noting that 'healthy, active, young men cannot live on cracker, coffee and a handful of berries''. He was still suffering when the The Wilderness started, 6 May 1864, but insisted on playing his part and was transported to the battlefield by ambulance.
At about 0200 hours on the 6 May 1864 the 'sweet notes' of the band of the Palmetto Sharpshooters was heard playing in the Wilderness. They were playing to Micah Jenkins, assumedly as their old Commanding Officer they were trying to cheer him up.
At around 1100 hours part of Longstreet's Corps, on the Confederate right, had launched a flank attack from an unused railroad cutting onto Hancock's Corps. The Federal troops, and their pursuers, proceeded to flee across the front of the remainder of Longstreet's Corps with the resulting disorganization to both sides.
At about 1300 hours having forsaking his ambulance Jenkins was with his Brigade, which had been in reserve until this time, down the Orange Plank Road for it to spearhead the renewed Confederate attack this time upon the Brock Road trenches. Riding at the head of the column with James Longstreet, and other staff officers, and in discussion with Longstreet saying 'I am happy; I have felt despair of the cause for some months, but am relieved, and feel assured we will put the enemy back across the Rapidan before night' The words were scarcely out of his mouth when they came opposite the Brigades which had just made the successful flank attack, specifically that of William Mahone. The 12th Virginia mistook them for Federal troops and opened fire. When they firing stopped there were dead and wounded men and horses in the road. Among the wounded were Longstreet and Jenkins.
The Jenkins Brigade were wearing new uniforms of a cloth 'so dark a gray as to be almost black.' One of the Brigade was to later say 'that when a staff member, upon Longstreet's order, picked up and unfurled a Union flag that the General spotted on the roadway, approaching Virginians fired upon it.'
Jenkins had been shot in the forehead with the ball lodged in his brain. As he was carried from the field Major John C. Haskell, one of Longstreet's staff, remembers 'he would cheer his men and implore them to sweep the enemy into the river' after a while he became to weak to talk and was taken to an 'infirmary.' With the ball where it was little could be done. Only semi-conscious, and not recognizing those around him, he died about six hours later, at sunset.
Jenkins had married 19 year old Miss Caroline (Carrie) Jamison of Orangeburg, daughter of General D. F. Jamison, one of the founders of the Citadel Military Academy, and left a devoted wife and four young children.
Brigadier-General Micah Jenkins was buried at Summerville, South Carolina, but in 1881 he was moved to Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston. The South Carolina Military Academy erected a monument in his honour. This monument is of granite and is about 12' high and has, in raised letters, the word 'Jenkins' on the front. In front of the monument lie the graves of the General and his wife.
Lieutenant-General Longstreet wrote of him: 'He was one of the most estimable characters of the army. His taste and talent were for military service. He was intelligent, quick, untiring, attentive, zealous in discharge of duty, truly faithful to official obligations, abreast with the foremost in battle, and withal a humble, noble Christian. In a moment of highest earthly hope, he was transported to serenest heavenly joy; to that life beyond that knows no bugle call, beat of drum or clash of steel. May his beautiful spirit, through the mercy of God, rest in peace ! Amen!'
At the Citadel they have named a hall after him, 'Jenkins Hall', this houses the Departments of Aerospace Studies, Military Science, and Naval Science; Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy ROTC offices; the Commandant's Office; an auditorium, classrooms and supply rooms, in addition the Cadet Corps arms room is also housed in the hall.