William Ward Orme

William Ward Orme was born in Washington, D. C, February 17, 1832, and was educated at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmittsburg, Maryland. He went west in 1849 and after a short stay in Chicago, where he worked as a bank messenger, he moved to Bloomington, Illinois. At the age of twenty Orme was admitted to the bar and in 1853 became a partner of Leonard Swett, one of Lincoln's intimates. (By virtue of this partnership he became a favorite of Lincoln, who is said to have regarded him as the most promising young lawyer in the state.) In 1861 he was a delegate to the Illinois constitutional convention, and when the 94th Illinois Infantry was organized at Bloomington on August 20, 1862, Orme was elected its colonel. His first fight was at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in December, where he led a brigade of Herron's division and was extolled by his superior for being "in the thickest of the fight, performing his duties with great gallantry." On March 13, 1863, he was promoted brigadier general to rank from November 29, 1862, and with his command joined U. S. Grant's army in front of Vicksburg on June 11, 1863, along with the other brigade of Herron's division. In this unhealthy clime he contracted the tubercular condition which would ultimately cause his death. In November, General Orme was detailed to the inspection of various prison camps in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and the following month was assigned to command of the post of Chicago, which carried with it supervision of Camp Douglas and its thousands of Confederate prisoners-of-war. A steady decline in his physical condition finally compelled his resignation from the army on April 20, 1864. At this juncture Lincoln arranged for Orme's appointment as supervising special agent of the Treasury Department at Memphis, a post which he held until his resignation in November, 1865. He went home to Bloomington, and after lingering for ten months, died on September 13, 1866. He was buried in Bloomington Cemetery.

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