Ran across an extremely interesting 250 page Doctorate Dissertation on the Life of McPherson. Produced in 2016 this work by Eric Dudley sheds light on West Point Graduate McPherson that many of us either take for granted, or ignore. Some highlights:
Born in 1828 Jimmy McPherson just “made the cut” before becoming too old for admission to the U.S. Military Academy.
Graduating in 1853, Lieutenant McPherson was 24 years old and ranked Number One in his West Point Class.
Initially assigned to Instructor duty at West Point, McPherson put his Engineer training to use at Fort Delaware (south of Philadelphia) improving that facility; then went to San Francisco in 1857 to complete the fort on Alcatraz Island.
Still a Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers during most of his stay in California, McPherson followed with interest the deterioration of the Nation taking place “Back East” via slow mail from New York – Panama – San Francisco (six weeks delayed.)
With initiation of the Pony Express the delay in receiving news diminished to 8 – 12 days (with no telegraph to San Francisco during McPherson's stay.)
Captain McPherson did not depart California (via steamer to Panama; then steamer to New York) until last week of July/ first week of August 1861.
During McPherson's stay in California, he would have met Henry Halleck; become re-acquainted with William Tecumseh Sherman; and served under Albert Sidney Johnston.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c6a4/98c03e2ee2cc70f6fe249be693588b0bb37a.pdf The Memory & Memorialization of James B. McPherson (2016)