Walter Chiles Whitaker

Walter Chiles Whitaker was born on August 8, 1823, in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He was educated at Bethany College, (West) Virginia, and had begun to study law when hostilities with Mexico caused his enlistment in the 3rd Kentucky Infantry with which he served as second lieutenant. After the war he practiced criminal law in Shelbyville, operated a large farm, and, like virtually all lawyers of the day, engaged in politics. As a member of the state senate in 1861, he offered the resolution which put the state on the side of the Federal government and terminated Kentucky's posture of "neutrality" between North and South. In December, 1861, he entered the Union army as colonel of the 6th Kentucky (Union) Infantry and fought at Shiloh the following spring as a part of D. C. Buell's Army of the Ohio, which arrived in time to turn the tide of battle in favor of the Union on the second day. Whitaker and his regiment were not present at Perryville, but at Murfreesboro in December, 1862, were heavily engaged. He was advanced to brigadier general of volunteers on June 25, 1863, and at the battle of Chickamauga commanded the 1st Brigade of Steedman's division of Granger's Reserve Corps, which by marching to the sound of the guns preserved a large part of W. S. Rosecrans' forces from destruction. He continued in command of a brigade at Chattanooga and during the Atlanta campaign in Stanley's division of the IV Corps. Whitaker was wounded at Chattanooga and, after John B. Hood's repulse in the battles around Atlanta and withdrawal toward Tennessee, his command accompanied G. H. Thomas northwestward. Whitaker fought at Franklin and Nashville, commanding a brigade of the IV Corps, and in August, 1865, was mustered out of service, meantime having been brevetted major general of volunteers for services in the Atlanta campaign to rank from March 13, 1865. At the end of the war he resumed the practice of law in Louisville and was connected with a number of criminal trials which added little to his legal reputation. He seems to have been a "man of ardent spirit" who also sought solace in "ardent spirits." During some of his postbellum years he was confined to a mental institution. However, he is said to have died in full possession of his faculties in Lyndon, Kentucky, on July 9, 1887, and was buried in Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.