William Bartee Wade
William Bartee Wade was born in
Bedford County, Virginia, on October 9, 1823, the son of Paschall B. and Frances
Barton (Alexander) Wade. The Wades were a prosperous slave owning Bedford County
family descended from Isaac Wade, a Revolutionary War veteran. In 1835 Wade's
father moved to Columbus in Lowndes County, Mississippi. During the Mexican War
Wade enlisted in the 1st Mississippi Regiment, rising to lieutenant of Company K
and distinguishing himself at the Battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista.
Returning to Lowndes County, he married and became a prosperous planter. A Whig,
Wade was elected state representative in 1854, serving one term. Wade was also
captain of the local militia company.
Upon the secession of Mississippi Wade raised a company, the "Lowndes Southrons," which was sent along with six other companies to Pensacola, Florida.
On January 17, 1861, Wade was
elected lieutenant colonel of the regiment organized from these companies. The
regiment was mustered out in February, 1861, and Wade reverted to captain of the
"Southrons," re-designated Company D, 10th Mississippi Infantry. The 10th served
at Pensacola in 1861 and at the Battle of Shiloh. Upon the May, 1862,
reorganization of the army Wade was not reelected captain. On July 17, 1862, he
was elected colonel of the 8th Confederate Cavalry, formed by the consolidation
of three battalions of Alabama and Mississippi cavalry. Wade led the 8th in the
fight at Booneville, Mississippi, on July 1, 1862. Later the regiment was
transfened to the Army of Tennessee and participated in the Kentucky campaign
and the Tennessee campaigns of 1862 and 1863. Wade usually commanded a cavalry
brigade in Tennessee in the latter year. Perhaps his most notable exploit was
the capture, on January 13, 1863, of three steamers and a gunboat on the
Cumberland River. One week after this raid Wade (now commander, as senior
colonel, of a cavalry brigade) received a letter informing him that his wife was
dangerously ill. He applied for immediate leave to return home, and leave was
granted with the proviso that when it expired (in fifteen days) he was to report
to the Army of Tennessee's conscript bureau. For the next three months Wade
headed the East Mississippi sub-department of that bureau. When Wade returned to
the army, his division commander brought him before a board of examination and,
when Wade flunked the exam, suspended him from command. However, the division
commander failed to follow proper procedure for the suspension, and Wade won re-instatment
to command. He led a brigade in Kelly's division after the Battle of
Chickamauga. His career with the cavalry corps of the Army of Tennessee came to
an abrupt end in October, 1863, when Major General Joseph Wheeler, who commanded
the cavalry corps, arrested Wade for being intoxicated while facing the enemy.
Pending trial, Wade was ordered by Wheeler (who admired him as "a gallant though
intemperate officer") to the rear on sick leave. Wade never rejoined his
regiment. In 1864 Wade, now in Virginia, led a mixed home guard/reserve force
guarding bridges on the strategic South Side Railroad. Wade was then transferred
to Mississippi and given command of a brigade of Chalmers' Division in Fonest's
cavalry corps. He won universal praise as a "very brave and determined officer,"
who was "always distinguished for gallantry and good conduct in action."4 On
December 27, 1864, during the Tennessee campaign, Wade was again wounded.
Reverting to regimental command, Wade led the 8th in Mississippi in 1865. He was
paroled at Columbus, Mississippi, as a colonel on May 17, 1865.
After the war was over Wade returned to Columbus. In 1866 he got into an altercation with the Union occupying forces who were bothering the local belles. According to family sources, Wade shot seven Yankee soldiers before a northern bullet shattered his right arm. The townspeople carried Wade to the Gilmer Hotel where, three days later, vengeful Union soldiers took him from his sickbed and threw him out the window, killing him instantly. It was said of Wade that "after going through two wars, he died a martyr's death defending the womanhood of his home town." Wade is buried in Friendship Cemetery in Columbus.
Wade is called general in SHSP and CV. He led, as colonel, a brigade of cavalry during the last year of the war. He was briefly a general in the state militia before the war, which rank perhaps caused the confusion.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.