James McQueen McIntosh was born in Florida in 1828. An 1849 graduate of the United States Military Academy, McIntosh was first placed in the infantry but joined the cavalry in 1855.
On May 7, 1861, Captain McIntosh resigned from the United States Army and offered his services to the Confederate cavalry that same month. On July 29, 1861, McIntosh was commissioned colonel of the 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles in Benjamin McCulloch’s Division. On January 24, 1862, McIntosh was commissioned brigadier general of the Confederate Army and placed in command of the Cavalry Brigade, McCulloch’s Division of the Army of the West.
After Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn arrived in Arkansas to take command of the Army of the West, which was the combined forces of Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard and McCulloch’s Confederate Army in Arkansas, this southern army towards the Federals encamped near Pea Ridge. After Van Dorn’s decision to divide his army in two with the goal of attacking the Federals from behind, McIntosh went with McCulloch’s Division on the Ford Road route. While attempting to cut across the Ford Road and rejoin Van Dorn around the Elkhorn Tavern, McCulloch’s Confederates were attacked by Federals under Peter Osterhaus and forced to make a stand. Using McIntosh’s Cavalry Brigade, the Confederates were initially successful in pushing the Federals back towards Oberson’s Field to the south. During an attempt to scout the Federal position from the woods north of Oberson’s Field, Brigadier General James McQueen McIntosh was killed by Federal skirmishers and is buried in the government cemetery at Fort Smith, Arkansas.