Major-General James Langford Pearse was commissioned as an Ensign in the Madras Army in February 1844 and two years later commanded a detachment sent in pursuit of insurgents under a rebel leader Nurismah Reddy in the Cuddapah District. When subsequently a Field Force was formed for the suppression of the insurrection, he performed the duties of Staff Officer until it was broken up. Advanced to Lieutenant in November 1846, he joined the 5th Madras N.I. in Burma in December 1852 and remained with the Regiment until May 1853. Pearse was promoted to Captain in the following month and to Major by Brevet in March 1863. He became Major-General, Madras Staff Corps, in November 1879.