Civil War Confederate Brigadier General, US Congressman. Born in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, he was the grandson of a British naval officer who settled in the Carolinas in the early 19th century. In his youth he moved with his widowed mother to Tennessee, graduating from Franklin College in 1853 and from Lebanon College Law School two years later. Admitted to the bar, he practiced in Nashville before returning to his native state to run a plantation. A militant secessionist, he raised a volunteer company before war broke out. When his state joined the Confederacy, he was appointed Major of the 2nd North Carolina Infantry and was sent to Virginia. During the Peninsula Campaign, he fought at Mechanicsville and Malvern Hill, displaying a boldness and courage that endangered his life. At Chancellorsville, May 1863, he was wounded 5 times and lost three-quarters of his regiment in just fifteen minutes of fighting. He was lost to his army for many months. He was not again conspicuous in battle until May 1864, when he led his regiment at Spotsylvania. There, on the 12th, he guarded the right center of Major General Stephen D. Ramseur's brigade, driving 2 lines of Union infantry into retreat, despite an enfilading fire that cost his men dearly. Early the next month, shortly after Cold Harbor, he received Ramseur's command and the rank of Brigadier General. In late summer 1864 he followed Ramseur to the Shenandoah Valley, where he commanded 6 North Carolina regiments during Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early's campaign against Major General Philip H. Sheridan. He returned to the main fighting front in time to accompany General Robert E. Lee on the road to Appomattox. Near the courthouse village on the morning of April 9, 1865, he led the last organized attack launched by the Army of Northern Virginia. Within hours of its failure, Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. Though almost disabled by his 11 wounds, he led a varied and successful postwar life in North Carolina as a lawyer, railroad president, district solicitor, chairman of the state Democratic party, superior court judge, and university trustee. He also served in the United States House of Representatives from March 4, 1881 to March 3, 1887. He failed to received the renomination in 1886. President Grover Cleveland rewarded his fallen ally's support with the offer of a position in the Interior Department's General Land Office. Although he declined the offer, he came to appreciate Cleveland's good will six years later when Senate Democrats sought a loyal and experienced candidate for the post of Senate Secretary. On January 31, 1900, now nearly 70-years-old, he retired as Secretary and returned to his Edgecombe County plantation. He lived for nearly 20 more years, during which time he served as president of his state's agricultural society and established the North Carolina Journal of Education. Just prior to his death in Richmond, he earned a final Civil War related distinction as one of the last surviving general officers of the Confederate army.
Bio by: Ugaalltheway