James Fleming Fagan was born in Clark County, Kentucky in March of 1828. His family moved to Arkansas in 1838, two years after statehood. During the Mexican war he served as 2nd Lt. in the Arkansas regiment and served in the State legislature as a Whig after that war.
Fagan raised the 1st Arkansas Infantry in may of 1861, he and 900 men were mustered into Confederate service in Lynchburg, Virginia.
His 1st Arkansas fought at Shiloh and served as part of the first wave. He also fought at Famington, Mississippi and Corinth but fell into disfavor with Braxton Bragg and was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi and promoted to Brigadier General. He fought at Cane Hill and Prairie Grove as a cavalry commander in charge of the 1st Arkansas Cavalry.
In 1863 Fagan commanded troops at the Battle of Helena and replaced Sterling Price in command of Price's Division after that battle. Fagan took part in the defense of Little Rock and in the Red River Campaign against General Steele. His attack at Mark's Mill was the deciding factor in General Steele's decision to end his part of the Red River Campaign and retreat to Little Rock. As a result of this campaign General Fagan was promoted to Major General.
In September 1864 General Fagan participated in Price's final invasion of Missouri, taking the center route of the three-pronged invasion and successfully captured Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob, Missouri and continue the invasion until routed by Samuel Curtis's Army of the Border on the Little Blue and at Westport.
Fagan managed to rally and head south where he served until the end of the war as commander of cavalry in the Arkansas District. In April he was the only Major General on duty in Arkansas and was placed in charge of the district. He was paroled in June of 1865 and returned to farming in Arkansas. He became a United States Marshal in 1875 and receiver for the Land Office in 1877. In 1890 he was defeated in a bid for state railroad commissioner.
The General died at Little Rock in September of 1893 and is buried in the beautiful Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.