Major-General Alpheus Starkey Williams Biography
 
Major-General Alpheus Starkey Williams
 
 
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Born:  Saturday, September 29, 1810 Saybrook Connecticut
Died:  Saturday, December 21, 1878 Washington District of Columbia
Age:  68
Buried:  Elmwood Cemetery Detroit, Wayne County Michigan
Plot:  Section B, Lot 94
 
Pre War:  Lawyer, probate judge, newspaper owner, Mexican war, Detroit postmaster, president of the state military board and Brig. Gen. of state volunteers.
 
War Service:  May 1861 appointed Brig. Gen. of Volunteers, commanded 1st Divn/V Corps in Shenandoah Valley campaign, commanded 1st Divn/II Corps at Cedar Mountain, commanded 1st Divn/XII Corps at South Mountain, commanded XII Corps at Antietam, commanded 1st Divn/XII Corps at Chancellorsville, commanded XII Corps at Gettsyburg, commanded 1st Divn/XII Corps at Chickamauga, commanded 1st Divn/XX Corps in Atlanta campaign, March to the Sea, Carolinas campaign.
 
Brevet Promotion(s):  Maj. Gen. U.S.V. 12 January 1865.
 
Post War:  US minister to the Republic of Salvador, US congressman.
 
 
Alphesus S. Williams was born in Deer River, Connecticut, on 20 September 1810. His father died when Alphesus was eight years old, so the boy was raised by relatives. Williams attended Yale College and graduated from the school in 1831. After traveling in Europe, Williams went to New York for legal studies in 1836. Williams moved to Detroit, Michigan, which would become his home for the rest of his life. He entered into a law practice and married Jane Pierson in 1839. During the period 1840-1847, Williams was involved in several business ventures and was elected a county probate judge.

During the Mexican-American War, Williams found a position in the 1st Michigan Volunteers. He was appointed lieutenant colonel, but his unit arrived on the scene too late to see any major combat. Instead, it guarded supply lines from guerrillas. In 1848 Williamsís regiment returned home. Soon thereafter Williamsís wife died in Detroit. As before the war, Williams again became involved in several business ventures, such as the Michigan Oil Company. In addition, Williams served in several elected positions within Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan. His military experience led to his attainment of the rank of major of the Detroit Light Guard and the appointment as president of the State Military Board.

In August 1861 President Abraham Lincoln appointed Williams brigadier general of volunteers. He was sent to Washington, D.C., in October 1861 and was assigned a brigade. General Williams was soon given command of a division in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He performed creditable service as a divisional commander during the Shenandoah campaign of 1862, especially at the battle of Winchester, Virginia, on 25 May 1862. Later, on 9 August 1862, during the battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia, Williamsís division routed the Stonewall Brigade. By the time of the Second Bull Run campaign, Williamsís division had become a part of II Corps, Major General John Popeís Army of the Rappahannock. When this army was disbanded, Williamsís division found itself assigned to XII Corps commanded by Major General J. K. F. Mansfield.

During the Antietam campaign, it was General Williamsís troops who found the famous Lost Order. During the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland, on 17 September 1862, Mansfield was killed, and Williams moved up to corps commander, holding that position until Major General Henry Slocum replaced him. Missing the fighting at Fredericksburg, Williams and his division performed excellent service at the battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 by stopping Lieutenant General Thomas "Stonewall" Jacksonís flank attack. Later, at the battle of Gettysburg, General Williams (as acting corps commander) was responsible for the excellent defense of Culpís Hill and for securing the Federal right flank.

With the transfer of XI and XII Corps to the West, Williams and his division spent the next six months guarding the supply lines of the Army of the Cumberland. Soon Williamsís division became a part of XX Corps, which was created by consolidation of both eastern corps. Williams and his division drew the lionís share of the fighting during the early stages of the Atlanta campaign starting in May 1864. By the fall of Atlanta in September 1864, Williams had been elevated to command of the corps due to Major General Henry Slocumís promotion. Williams led this corps through the Savannah campaign (the March to the Sea) and the Carolinas campaign. At the battles of Averasboro (16 March 1865) and Bentonville (19-21 March 1865), Williamsís corps performed excellent service in defeating deployed Confederate brigades at Averasboro and in beating back Confederate assaults at Bentonville. Unfortunately, Williams was soon relieved of command by Major General Joseph Mower and was returned to divisional command. He finally received a brevet promotion to major general on 12 January 1866, before being mustered out of service.

In 1866 Williams was appointed to a three-year term as minister to San Salvador. After returning to the United States, he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan. However, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1874 and again in 1876. In 1873 Williams married Martha Tillman, the widow of James Tillman. Williams died on 21 December 1878, while serving in the U.S. Congress. He was laid to rest in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.
 
My Source:  Encyclopedia of the American Civil War - William H. Brown