John Stuart Williams

Brigadier General

Headstone: Find-a-Grave

Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.

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John Stuart "Cerro Gordo" Williams was born near Mount Sterling, Kentucky, July 10, 1818, and graduated from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, in 1839. Admitted to the bar the following year, he commenced practice in Paris. Kentucky. During the Mexican War he served first as captain of an independent company attached to the 6th U. S. Infantry, and later as colonel of the 4th Kentucky Volunteers. His dashing conduct won for him the sobriquet by which he was afterwards known. A member of the Kentucky legislature in 1851 and 1853, Williams was originally an anti-secessionist. However, he disliked the idea of coercion on the part of the national government, and he ultimately entered the Confederate Army as colonel of the 5th Kentucky Infantry on November 16, 1861. Promoted brigadier general to rank from April 16, 1862, he served under Humphrey Marshall in Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia. After Marshall's resignation Williams commanded the Department of East Tennessee in the fall of 1863, opposing the advance of Burnside to Knoxville. He was relieved in November at his own request, but he continued to operate in the area, and aided in defeating a Federal attack on the salt works at Abingdon, Virginia. During 1864 he was attached to the Army of Tennessee in Wheeler's Cavalry Corps. However, his brigade became separated from the main command during the raid into Tennessee in August 1864; and Williams was again employed in Southwestern Virginia until the end of the war. Becoming a farmer at Winchester, Kentucky, he was returned to the legislature in 1873 and 1875. He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in the latter year. In 1878 he was elected to the United States Senate, but was defeated for re-election six years later, and resumed farming. He died at Mount Sterling, July 17, 1898, and is buried in Winchester.

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