William Henry Chase Whiting

William Henry Chase Whiting

Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi, USA
Death 10 Mar 1865 (aged 40)
Governors Island, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 10062 · View Source
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Civil War Confederate Major General. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Levi Whiting received a local education and then entered the United States Military Academy to study engineering. His brilliance was well known around the West Point campus and it surprised no one that he graduated 1st in the class of 1845, with the highest scholastic record ever attained by a cadet until that time. As a rising young Captain in the Corps of Engineers, he was engaged in river and harbor improvements until he resigned February 20, 1861. Joining the Confederate Army in early 1861 as chief engineer with Joseph E. Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah, he held the rank of Major. This was the beginning of a military career that showed him to be an excellent engineer but a disappointment as a field commander. The latter was largely because of his pessimistic nature and his inability to get along with certain fellow officers. His soldiers called him "Little Billy" due to his diminutive height. In August 1861, after he had arranged the transfer of Johnston's army to Manassas, Virginia, he so impressed Jefferson Davis that he was promoted three grades to Brigadier General. He commanded a division on the Manassas lines and was the center of an argument between Johnston and Davis. The Confederate President wanted him to command a brigade of Mississippi troops, however Johnston felt that to move troops many miles in the face of the enemy was simply suicidal. He later served in the Yorktown, Seven Pines and Seven Days' Campaigns. It was during this time that he moved in to reinforce Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. He personally took a dislike to Jackson for no other reason than simple petty jealousy. He became ill and was granted some time to rest. Robert E. Lee, who had succeeded Johnston, recognized his faults but realized that he was a good engineer. To avoid trouble in the field, and to make room for John B. Hood, Lee had him transferred to command of the military district at Wilmington, North Carolina. There he put to good use his engineering abilities by erecting Fort Fisher, the South's strongest bastion. He was promoted to Major General on April 22, 1863. In May 1864 he was assigned to help General Pierre G. T. Beauregard stop Union troops besieging Richmond from the east. His failure to do so led to charges that at the time he was either drunk or under the influence of narcotics. He personally requested his transfer back to Wilmington. In the successful Union attack on Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865, he was wounded twice. Later captured, he was imprisoned on Governor's Island in New York harbor, where he gradually strengthened and his wounds were healing well. Suddenly, within days, he came down with diarrhea and dysentery, too weak to even sign a letter. He would die 12 days short of his 41st birthday and only a few miles from his beloved West Point, where it would be decades before his academic achievements were surpassed.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 20 Jun 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 10062
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Henry Chase Whiting (22 Mar 1824–10 Mar 1865), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10062, citing Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .