Major-General Edward Cary Walthall Biography
 
Major-General Edward Cary Walthall
 
 
Listen To Civil War Music
 
Born:  Monday, April 4, 1831 Richmond Virginia
Died:  Thursday, April 21, 1898 Washington District of Columbia
Age:  67
Buried:  Hillcrest Cemetery Holly Springs Mississippi
 
Pre War:  Court clerk, lawyer, district attorney.
 
War Service:  1861 Lt. in Yalobusha Rifles (later part of 15th Mississippi), Lt. Col., commanded at Mill Springs, April 1862 Col. of 29th Mississippi, Kentucky campaign, Munfordville, April 1863 Brig. Gen., commanded Walthall’s Bde/W H T Walker’s Divn at Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge (w), Atlanta campaign, July 1864 Maj. Gen., commanded Walthall’s Divn/Stewart’s Corps in Franklin and Nashville campaign, Carolinas campaign.
 
Post War:  Lawyer, US senator.
 
 
Confederate officer and politician Edward Cary Walthall successfully weathered Mississippi’s difficult transition from the antebellum to the postbellum period. An up-and-coming lawyer before the Civil War, Walthall entered Confederate service in 1861 as a lieutenant, and by 1865 he had risen to the rank of major general. After the war, he returned to Mississippi a hero. He reestablished his law practice representing railroads and other corporate interests, and he parlayed his wealth and military notoriety into a successful political career. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the former Confederate general was one of Miississippi’s most influential political figures. He served the state’s Democratic Party in various capacities, culminating in his appointment as a U.S. senator.

Walthall was born in Richmond, Virginia, on 4 April 1831 and as a child moved with his family to Holly Springs, in Marshall County, Mississippi. He received his education at St. Thomas Hall military school in Holly Springs and afterward studied law in the office of his brother-in-law, George R. Freeman. Walthall was admitted to the bar in 1852, at which time he moved to Coffeeville, Yalobusha County, Mississippi, and established his own practice. In 1856 he won election as district attorney for the 10th Judicial District of Mississippi and was reelected in 1859.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Walthall resigned his civil post and enlisted in the Yalobusha Rifles, a volunteer company raised in Coffeeville. His prominence in the community led to his election to lieutenant. As Mississippi organized for war in late May 1861, the Yalobusha Rifles became Company H of the 15th Mississippi Infantry. A few weeks after the organization of the 15th Mississippi, Walthall won election as the regiment’s lieutenant colonel and was second in command under Colonel Walter Scott Statham.

By late 1861, the 15th Mississippi was part of Brigadier General Felix Kirk Zollicoffer’s brigade under Major General George Bibb Crittenden in eastern Kentucky. With Statham absent on a medical furlough, Walthall led the regiment during its first major engagement at Mill Springs, Kentucky, in January 1862. The result was a major Confederate defeat. Despite the setback, Crittenden’s report of the battle praised the 15th Mississippi for its conduct under fire and Walthall in particular for his leadership. The report circulated widely in Confederate command circles, and Walthall received permission to raise his own regiment. In April of 1862 he organized the 29th Mississippi Infantry and took command as the regiment’s colonel.

Walthall led the 29th Mississippi during the siege of Corinth in May 1862. Later that year the regiment moved to Chattanooga and into Kentucky as part of General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Mississippi. The regiment became part of the newly organized Army of Tennessee in December. On Bragg’s recommendation, Walthall received a brigade command with promotion to brigadier general. During 1863 he led a brigade during the Tullahoma campaign and at Chickamauga. He helped defend Lookout Mountain at Chattanooga and on 25 November was wounded at Missionary Ridge. After his recovery he led a brigade during the Atlanta campaign, during which his men were heavily engaged at Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, and Ezra Church. During the campaign he was elevated to division commander with a promotion to major general. After the surrender of Atlanta, Walthall accompanied John Bell Hood on his ill-fated invasion of Tennessee. He commanded a division during the army’s disastrous charge at Franklin, where two horses were shot out from under him, and during the battle of Nashville. Walthall’s career as a Confederate soldier ended in North Carolina, where he commanded a division under General Joseph Eggleston Johnston. He was among the troops surrendered by Johnston at Durham Station, North Carolina, on 26 April 1865.

At the war’s conclusion, Walthall returned to Coffeeville and reestablished his law practice. In 1871 he moved to Grenada, Mississippi, where he became one of the state’s most successful corporate lawyers. His reputation enhanced by his status as an ex- Confederate general, he was heavily involved in the state’s Democratic Party as one of the self-styled "Redeemers" who helped broker the end of Reconstruction. Walthall served as chairman of the Mississippi delegation to the Democratic National Conventions of 1868, 1876, 1880, and 1884. When Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1885 to become secretary of the interior under President Grover Cleveland, Mississippi governor Robert Lowry appointed Walthall to fill the vacancy. He subsequently was elected in his own right by the legislature and held the office at the time of his death in Washington, D.C., on 21 April 1898.
 
My Source:  Encyclopedia of the American Civil War - Ben Wynne