Born in Mecca Township, Trumball County, Ohio, McCleery attended Oberlin (Ohio) College in 1859 and 1860. He served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He received a commission as second lieutenant of Company A, Forty-first Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in 1861, and was wounded in the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, as a result losing his right arm. Yet he was promoted through the ranks to major in 1865. He entered the Regular Army as captain in the Forty-fifth Infantry in 1866 and subsequently received the brevets of major and brigadier general of Volunteers. He retired December 15, 1870, having settled in Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana, where he purchased a plantation and went into the practice of law. He was connected with the Freedmen's Bureau not only in Louisiana but also in North Carolina. He soon moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he was appointed superintendent of public education for the fourth division.
McCleery was elected as a Republican from Louisiana's 4th congressional district to the Forty-second Congress and served from March 4, 1871, until his death while on a visit in New York City on November 5, 1871.
- JAMES MCCLEERY
- BRIG GEN
- 41 OHIO INF
- Born December 2, 1837
- Died November 5, 1871
- Cortland history site (accessed 2009 September 4).
- The McCleery name is prominent in the history of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (with which the Cortland Christian Church is associated) in northeastern Ohio. See, e.g., the Rootsweb site of the Sharon Christian Church (accessed 2009 September 4).
- Information supplied via e-mail to Richard David Ramsey by Sandy Hare of the Cortland Christian Church on 2009 August 19.
! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives
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|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Joseph P. Newsham |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|United States Representative for the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana
1871 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Alexander Boarman |- |} Template:LARepresentatives
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