William Mahone


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William Mahone, the son of a tavern-keeper, was born in Southhampton County, Virginia, December 1, 1826, and was graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1847. Studying engineering while a teacher at Rappahannock Military Academy, he was successively engineer of several Virginia railroads, and in 1861 was president and superintendent of the Norfolk & Petersburg. He was early appointed colonel of the 6th Virginia Infantry. He took part in the capture of the Norfolk Navy Yard and commanded the Norfolk District until its evacuation. After aiding in the erection of the defenses at Drewry's Bluff, Mahone was continuously with the Army of Northern Virginia from Seven Pines to Appomattox Court House, except while recuperating from a severe wound received at Second Manassas. He was promoted brigadier general on November 16, 1861, and major general for his part in the battle of the Crater, to rank from July 30, 1864. He had declined a previous temporary appointment to major general, and seems to have grown with his responsibilities. After the war General Lee is said to have remarked that of the surviving younger men in the army Mahone made the largest contribution to organization and command. Returning to his railroad after the surrender, General Mahone soon created what is now the Norfolk & Western system. At the same time he built for himself a strong political machine, and although several times defeated in his aspirations, was elected to the United States Senate in 1880 on the "Readjuster" ticket, which was in effect the Republican party of Virginia, and which he dominated absolutely. He died at Washington on October 8, 1895, and is buried in Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia.

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