{⋆★⋆} MG Preston, William

William Preston

Major General Preston.jpg

Born: October 16, 1816

Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky

Father: William Preston Sr. 1770 – 1821
(Buried: Preston Cemetery at Smithfield Plantation, Blacksburg, Virginia)​

Mother: Caroline Hancock 1785 – 1847
(Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky)​

Wife: Margaret Wickliffe 1819 – 1898
(Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky)​


Mary Owen Preston Brown 1841 – 1898​
(Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky)​
Caroline Hancock Preston Thornton 1843 – 1917​
(Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky)​
Robert Wickliffe Preston 1850 – 1914​
(Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky)​
Susan Christie Preston Draper 1853 – 1919​
(Buried: Hopedale Village Cemetery, Hopedale, Massachusetts)​
Jessie Fremont Preston Draper 1855 – 1917​
(Buried: Hopedale Village Cemetery, Hopedale, Massachusetts)​


Graduated from St. Joseph's College​
1835: Attended Yale College​
1838: Graduated from Harvard University law school​

Occupation before War:

Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky​
1847 – 1848: Served in the Mexican War rising to Lt. Colonel​
1849: Delegate to Kentucky State Constitution Convention​
1850: Kentucky State Representative​
1851 – 1853: Kentucky State Senator​
1852 – 1855: United States Congressman from Kentucky
1858 – 1861: United States Minister to Spain​

Civil War Career:

1862: Volunteer Aide and Colonel to General Albert Sidney Johnston​
1862 – 1865: Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army​
1864: Confederate States Minister to Mexico​
1865: Major General of Confederate States Army​

Occupation after War:

1865 - 1887: Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky​
1868 – 1869: Kentucky State Representative​

September 21, 1887

Place of Death: Louisville, Kentucky

Age at time of Death: 70 years old

Burial Place: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky
Last edited by a moderator:


Feb 20, 2005
Here is some interesting correspondence at war's end that mention Preston's involvement and the subsequent flight to Mexico and then England via Cuba. The bulk of the material comes from the Confederate Records housed at the National Archives. [Note: Much of these records are being slowly digitized.]

4/27/65 Magruder to Shreveport-Gen Preston has not arrived here
1/7 Gen Wm. Preston is relieved of the command of the Abingdon Dist [Southwest Virginia] & will proceed without delay to Shreveport, reporting to Gen Kirby Smith, cdg, for assignment to special duty
4/27 Gen Preston just arrived-will deliver the message
4/28 Preston to K Smith-your message through Gen Magruder rec'd & I will leave here by the first opportunity

4/28 Magruder to K Smith… I have communicated very freely with Gen Preston upon this & all subject connected with our situation, & am happy to have had my own views confirmed by his right & enlightened judgment. I have requested him to communicate to you all that I have said. His opinions on public matters will doubtless commend themselves to your favorable considerations, as they have done to mine.

5/9/65 Gen Smith from Shreveport asked the governors of La, Texas, Ark, & Missouri to meet in a conference [at Marshall] to decide their future policy. The governors met & on 5/13 drew up terms of surrender which they advised Smith to accept.
At the same time & place a number of officers met in a private house to consider the dilemma they were in. Among the proposals made by them were: Smith should turn over his command to Gen Buckner; the Confederates should continue to fight to the Rio Grande &, in the event everything else should fail, Buckner "was to take service with one or the other contending factions in Mexico & establish either an empire or a republic. Gen Shelby was to tell Buckner of the results of the meeting & then inform Smith
Gen Buckner is said to have agreed to accept the above proposition of the officers & keep on fighting. As a result of this agreement, all the officers that drew up the proposals to continue the fight called upon Gen Smith & asked him to resign in favor of Buckner, & give Gen William Preston gold enough to pay his expenses to Mexico to learn how affairs were between the warring factions.
This exhibition of lack of confidence in him expressed by the committee of officers is said to have "affected Gen Smith to tears."
Smith denied that he was considering surrender & asked for sympathy & support. However, he now turned to Buckner, who as his chief of staff, was present with him when the above round robin was brought in by the dis-satisfied officers, & asked him to issue the orders to concentrate upon the Brazos River. He also gave instructions for Preston to proceed in his Mexican mission.

5/10/65 Magruder to Gen Preston % Gen Buckner-I want you to be present at the meeting between Gen Smith & the Governors

5/20/65 Magruder to Buckner-The army is dissolving. Permit me to give honorable discharges to those who remain & I think it can be stopped. Gen Preston recommends it

6/12/65 San Antonio-Gen J G Walker determined to leave earlier than planned for Mexico as he had found a group including Gen Preston, Col Luckett, Gen Bee & others had formed a party of 40 armed men. As the party was a pleasant one [including Bee?], he joined up with them. Forest got sick & could not finish the trip.

6/18/65 Gen Walker's party arrived in San Antonio & checked into the Menger Hotel. This now-famous landmark was the point of rendezvous for those Confederates wishing to journey across the border. Governors Thomas O. Moore & Henry Watkins Allen of La, Edward Clark & Pendleton Murrah of Tex, Trusten Polk & Thomas C. Reynolds of Mo & Charles S. Morehead of Ky went there, as did Gen'ls Kirby Smith, Sterling Price, Jo Shelby, Cadmus M. Wilcox, Hamilton P. Bee, James M. Hawes, Thomas C. Hindman, Magruder, Danville Leadbetter, William P Hardeman, William Preston, John B. Clark & many of their devout followers. Some had been bitter military rivals during the war, yet these men set their grievances aside, planned the Mexican venture, serenaded one another, & spent many delightful hours exchanging reminiscences while sampling the fine wares kept behind William A. Menger's Honduran mahogany bar.

6/27/65 Leaving Pedro's Negros on 6/27, we were joined by Gov Allen, Gov Moore, Col Dennis, Maj__Capt__Capt __ who travelled with us to Monterey. We were joined by Col Mitchell & Col Wood with their families…I met Preston, Walker, Bee & many others who were detained in Monterey from the dangers of travel on the Matamoras road…
From: Kirby Smith Papers [regarding the flight to Mexico after the surrender]

7/28/65 Arrived Havana on the 28th​-ref to Maj Minter, Capt Beauregard … ref to Benjamin, Helm, & Breckinridge who left for South Hampton

8/7/65 K Smith writes: Preston, Walker & Gov Moore arrived by the Vera Cruz steamers on the 7th​. Preston & Walker left for South Hampton on the next day