William Anderson Pile

William Anderson Pile was born near Indianapolis, Indiana, on February 11, 1829, but his parents moved to Missouri when he was a small child, ultimately settling in St. Louis. After preparatory studies he became a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a member of that denomination's Missouri conference. At the beginning of the Civil War he enlisted in the Union army as chaplain of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery and was commissioned on June 12, 1861. In the course of the next eleven months Chaplain Pile became Captain Pile, for on July 31, 1862, he was in command of Battery I of the 1st Missouri near Corinth, Mississippi. A month later he became lieutenant colonel of the 33rd Missouri Infantry, a command known as the "Merchants' Regiment" because it had been enlisted under the auspices of the Union Merchants' Exchange of St. Louis. Pile became its colonel December 23, 1862, and moved with it into Arkansas. The regiment was chiefly occupied with garrison duty, but did take part in the expedition which sought to discover a back door to Vicksburg via the Yazoo River in March, 1863. It was then in garrison at Helena until January, 1864. Meantime Pile, who had been made a brigadier general of volunteers on December 26, 1863, was assigned to the command of a brigade of Negro troops at Benton Barracks, St. Louis. His most significant contribution to the war effort was in the campaign against Mobile, where, in command of the 1st Brigade of John P. Hawkins' Negro division, he was brevetted major general "for gallant and meritorious services in the siege and capture of Fort Blakely, Alabama" in April, 1865. General Pile was mustered out of service in August and the next year was elected to Congress as a Republican. He was declared to be "thoroughly radical in politics," advocating "death to all supporters of the South, past or present."  Defeated for reelection to Congress in 1868, he was made territorial governor of New Mexico by President Grant; he served in this position until 1871, when he became Minister Resident to Venezuela. After 1876 General Pile operated in Philadelphia as an agent of the Venezuelan government. Later he moved to Monrovia, California, near Los Angeles, where he died July 7, 1889, and was buried in Live Oak Cemetery.

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