Union Captain retires as a Confederate Brigadier Genera

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Jan 6, 2013
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Union Captain retires as a Confederate Brigadier General

Gen. William Stephen Walker, CSA (April 13, 1822 – June 7, 1899) was a Confederate States Army brigadier general during the American Civil War (Civil War). He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but was raised by an uncle - Mississippi Senator Robert J. Walker, who also was President Polk’s Secretary of the Treasury. He received an education at Georgetown University. As a first lieutenant in the Mexican War, he won brevet status to captain for “gallant and meritorious conduct” at Chapultepec. He was honorable mustered out of service Aug. 31, 1848, but was back in uniform when the Army expanded in 1855 as a captain of the First Cavalry.

He resigned May 1, 1861, to join the Regular Confederate Army. Walker served as a first lieutenant in the United States Army during the Mexican-American War from 1847 to 1848. He was discharged in 1848. Walker rejoined the army as captain in the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment on March 3, 1855 and served until he resigned on May 1, 1861. Walker was wounded in the left arm and lost his left foot during the Battle of Ware Bottom Church during the Overland Campaign. After the war, he lived at Atlanta, Georgia.

William Stephen Walker was born April 13, 1822 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but was raised in Mississippi and Washington, D.C. by his uncle, Secretary of the Treasury (under President James K. Polk and Senator Robert J. Walker, who also was originally from Pennsylvania. He attended a private school in Georgetown, D.C.

Walker volunteered for U.S. Army service in the Mexican-American War and was appointed first lieutenant in the infantry on February 27, 1847. On April 9, 1847, he was assigned to the 1st U.S. Regiment of Voltiguers and Foot Riflemen, a light infantry regiment. He was regimental adjutant between May 1, 1847 and June 15, 1847. Walker was appointed a brevet captain for his role in the Battle of Chapultepec, September 13, 1847. With the disbanding of the Voltiguer regiment at the end of the war, Walker was discharged on August 31, 1848.

Walker returned to the U.S. Army as a captain of the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment on March 3, 1855 when the army was expanded during that year.

William S. Walker resigned from the U.S. Army on May 1, 1861. He had already been appointed a captain in the infantry of the Army of the Confederate States (the regular army of the Confederate States) on March 16, 1861 appointed as from Florida. Early in the war, he served as a mustering officer. Walker served as an aide-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee from November 5, 1861 to December 1861.

Walker served as assistant inspector general, Department of South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida, December 1861 to March 14, 1862. He was promoted to colonel and assistant inspector general on March 22, 1862. On May 29, 1862, Walker was in immediate command of a force which drove off a Union Army force at the First Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina as they tried to expand their bridgehead from Port Royal, South Carolina gained at the Battle of Port Royal, on November 7, 1861. Walker was promoted to brigadier general on October 22, 1862. He was alternately twice in charge of the Third Subdistrict and Fourth Subdistrict of the District of South Carolina. He was in command at Kinston, North Carolina, where he had just gone on April 29, 1864, when he was called to help General P.G.T. Beauregard defend Petersburg, Virginia during the Overland Campaign on May 17, 1864.

On May 20, 1864, William Stephen Walker was severely wounded and captured at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. He was wounded in the left arm and lost his left leg after he led a charge into the Union line and was subjected to a rifle volley after refusing to surrender and then captured. Walker thought he was mortally wounded but was saved by Union surgeon John J. Craven at Fort Monroe, who amputated his leg/foot. He was exchanged on October 29, 1864. Walker served at Weldon, North Carolina from October 29, 1864 to May 1, 1865 and was in command in North Carolina at the end of the war when he surrendered his troops. He was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina on May 1, 1865.

After the Civil War, Walker moved to Georgia. William Stephen Walker died at Atlanta Georgia on June 7, 1899. He is buried in Historic Oakland Cemetery at Atlanta, GA.
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