William Preston
(1816-1887)

Brigadier General

Monument: Find-a-Grave

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Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.  http://www.archives.alabama.gov/conoffalb/index.html

William Preston was born near Louisville, Kentucky, on October 16, 1816. He was educated in Kentucky and at Harvard, from which he received a law degree in 1838. He commenced practice in Louisville. At the beginning of the Mexican War he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 4th Kentucky, with which he saw active service. Subsequently he was elected to both houses of the state legislature. In 1852 he went to Congress, and was defeated for re-election to a third term by General Humphrey Marshall. Appointed minister to Spain by President Buchanan in 1858, Preston was prominently engaged three years later in inducing his state to join the Confederacy. He served on the staff of his brother-in-law, General A. S. Johnston, with rank of colonel, until the latter's death at Shiloh. Appointed brigadier general from April 14, 1862, he took part in the battles of Corinth, Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga. In 1864 he was appointed Confederate minister to the Imperial Mexican government, but he was unsuccessful in reaching Maximilian's court, and spent the last months of the war in the Trans-Mississippi Department. It is sometimes stated that Preston attained the rank of major general in 1865; however, no record of such promotion is in existence.  He went to Mexico after the close of hostilities, and traveled to England and then to Canada before returning to Kentucky in 1866. A member of the lower house of the state legislature in 1868 and 1869, he attended the Democratic conventions of 1868 and 1880 as a delegate from his state. General Preston died in Lexington on September 21, 1887, and is buried in Louisville.

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