Edward Asbury O'Neal

Reference: Find-a-Grave

Edward Asbury O'Neal, a lifelong resident of Alabama, was born in Madison County, September 20, 1818. After graduating from LaGrange College in 1836, he was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Florence. He was soon chosen by the legislature as solicitor of the fourth circuit. Defeated for Congress in 1848, he became one of North Alabama's leading advocates of secession, and in 1861 enlisted in the 9th Alabama Infantry, of which he was elected major and subsequently lieutenant colonel. In 1862, as colonel of the 26th Alabama, he led his regiment in the Peninsular campaign, and was wounded at Seven Pines. He was again wounded at Boonsboro in the Maryland campaign, and commanded Rodes' brigade with unquestioned courage at Chancellorsville and was at Gettysburg. Immediately before the latter battle General Lee had recommended O'Neal for promotion to brigadier and permanent command of the brigade. A commission at that grade was evidently issued and forwarded to Lee's headquarters, bearing the date of June 6, 1863. The document, however, was not delivered to O'Neal, and Lee subsequently recalled his recommendation, which was returned to Richmond and cancelled by order of the President. In 1864 the 26th Alabama was sent home to recruit. It later served in Cantey's brigade (which O'Neal commanded for a time) in the Atlanta campaign. O'Neal was relieved before the Tennessee expedition, and was at the end of the war arresting deserters in North Alabama. Resuming his law practice in Florence, he became the Democratic leader of his section of the state, and was elected governor in 1882 and 1884. He died at Florence, November 7, 1890, and is buried there.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.

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