Civil War Confederate Brigadier General, Virginia Governor. Born in Drummondtown, Virginia, he enrolled in Washington College, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors in 1825. After attending law school for 2 years, he began a legal practice. Early in his political life, he developed a reputation as an outspoken orator and zealous advocate of Southern rights and the slave trade. His first major political triumph came in 1833 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Jacksonian Democratic party. A vocal member of Congress until 1844, he became the United States Minister to Brazil until 1847. Returning later to the United States, he participated in the Virginia constitutional convention. He served as Governor of Virginia from 1856 to 1860. John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry provided the final, most prominent act of his administration; the execution of Brown. After Virginia seceded from the Union, in which he had served as a delegate to the Virginia secession convention, and with war impending, he, despite his lack of military training, volunteered for military service. On June 5, 1861, he was appointed Brigadier General of the Confederate Army. However, he proved to be an unsuccessful military leader. His troops suffered defeats by Major General Jacob D. Cox in the Kanawha Valley and by Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside at Roanoke Island, North Carolina. In the latter battle he suffered a personal loss, as his son was killed in the fight. For the remainder of the war he served in the coastal defenses of South Carolina and fought in the battles near Richmond, Petersburg, and Appomattox. During the last days before Appomattox he wore what looked like to many as war paint. Actually, he had washed in a muddy stream and his face was streaked. At Appomattox he was met by his brother in law, Union Major General George G. Meade. After the war he reopened his law office, never applying for the pardon that would have restored his United States citizenship. When he died in Richmond, he was considered to be one of the last great Southern individualists. He has two state counties named after him, in Texas and Virginia. Having set the example, his nephew, George Douglas Wise, sons, Richard Alsop Wise and John Sergeant Wise all later served in the United States House of Representatives. He was the son in law of John Sergeant, who served in the House and also was a Vice Presidential candidate in 1832.
Bio by: Ugaalltheway