William Paul Roberts

William Paul Roberts, the youngest general officer in Confederate service,  was born in Gates County, North Carolina, July 11, 1841. At the age of nineteen he enlisted in the 19th North Carolina Volunteers (later the 2nd North Carolina), and was promoted through grades from junior 2nd lieutenant to major. Meantime he made an enviable record in North Carolina, and after the fall of 1862, with the Army of Northern Virginia. Commissioned colonel in June 1864, Roberts fought with great distinction at Reams' Station, where his dismounted regiment made a gallant charge on the Federal rifle pits. On February 23, 1865, he was appointed brigadier general to rank from February 21, and assigned to the command of a brigade in W. H. F. Lee's division. He was virtually overwhelmed at Five Forks, where his slender command was opposed to greatly superior Federal forces. He was paroled at Appomattox Court House and returned home. In 1875 he represented Gates County in the constitutional convention, and the following year, he was elected to the state legislature. From 1880 to 1888 he was state auditor. He died in Norfolk, Virginia, March 28, 1910, and is buried in Gatesville, North Carolina. The story goes that Robert E. Lee presented his own gauntlets to Roberts on the occasion of his being commissioned brigadier.

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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