A Civil War Biography

William Stephen Walker

Walker was born 13 April 1822 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was raised in Mississippi by his uncle, Robert J. Walker, who was a US Senator and Secretary of the Treasury in the Polk administration. The younger Walker was educated in Washington DC. He joined the regular army during the war with Mexico serving as a 1st lieutenant and adjunct of the Regiment of Voltiguers and Foot Riflemen. He mustered out of the army in 1848 having been brevetted a captain for gallant and meritorious service. In March 1855 when the regular army was expanded he was commissioned a captain and assigned command of company G, 1st US Cavalry.

With the formation of the Confederate States Walker was commissioned a lieutenant in the Confederate army. Although the commission, some sources have it as a captain's commission, was granted on 16 March 1861, he did not officially resign from the US army until 1 May. His early Confederate military career was performing administrative duties. He was assigned mustering and inspection duties in the Department of South Carolina and Georgia. He commanded the 4th and 5th military districts in South Carolina 6-28 May 1862. He was promoted to colonel and assigned command of the 3rd South Carolina military district on 28 May. Promoted to brigadier general on 30 October, he remained in command of the 3rd district until May 1864 when he was ordered, with a brigade he commanded, to reinforce PT Beauregard in southern Virginia. Walker arrived in Virginia and threatened Benjamin Butler's line at Bermuda Hundred, 12 miles below Richmond. On 20 May 1864 Walker saw his first action leading an attack against Butler's right. Walker, on horseback, got in advance of his troops, and while attempting to rejoin his command having blundered into enemy lines was fired upon by the 67th Ohio. His horse was killed and he was hit in the left arm. His right leg was shattered above the ankle. He was captured and carried to the hospital at Fort Monroe, expecting to die. He even dictated deathbed letters to his wife and others. John J. Craven, the medical director of Butler's X Corps, amputated Walker's right foot and Walker survived. He was exchanged in October and returned to duty being assigned garrison duty in Weldon, North Carolina where he remained until the war ended.

Following the war Walker settled in Georgia. He died 7 June 1899 in Atlanta.

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