William H. T. Walker

William H. T. Walker

Overview
William Henry Talbot Walker (November 26, 1816 – July 22, 1864) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 soldier. He was a career United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 officer who fought with distinction during the Mexican-American War, and also served as a Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 general during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Walker was severely wounded many times in combat, and was killed in action during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

.

William Henry Talbot Walker (often styled as William H.T.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'William H. T. Walker'
Start a new discussion about 'William H. T. Walker'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
William Henry Talbot Walker (November 26, 1816 – July 22, 1864) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 soldier. He was a career United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 officer who fought with distinction during the Mexican-American War, and also served as a Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 general during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Walker was severely wounded many times in combat, and was killed in action during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

.

Early life and career


William Henry Talbot Walker (often styled as William H.T. or W.H.T. Walker to distinguish him from the other two William Walkers in the Confederate Army) was born in Augusta
Augusta, Georgia
Augusta is a consolidated city in the U.S. state of Georgia, located along the Savannah River. As of the 2010 census, the Augusta–Richmond County population was 195,844 not counting the unconsolidated cities of Hephzibah and Blythe.Augusta is the principal city of the Augusta-Richmond County...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 in 1816. He was a son of Freeman Walker
Freeman Walker
Freeman Walker was a United States Senator from Georgia. Born in Charles City, Virginia, he attended the common schools and, in 1797, moved to Augusta, Georgia. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1803, commencing practice in Augusta...

 (a U.S. Senator and Augusta mayor) and his wife Mary Garlington Creswell; however his father died in 1827 when he was eleven years old. Walker then received his early education at Augusta's Richmond Academy. He would have four children with his wife Mary Townsend, two sons and two daughters.

Walker entered the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 at West Point
West Point, New York
West Point is a federal military reservation established by President of the United States Thomas Jefferson in 1802. It is a census-designated place located in Town of Highlands in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 7,138 at the 2000 census...

 in 1832, and graduated four years later, standing 46th out of 59 cadets. Walker was appointed a brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 second lieutenant on July 1, 1837, and assigned to the 6th U.S. Infantry. On July 31 he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. That winter he was serving in Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee , locally referred to as The Lake or The Big O, is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida. It is the seventh largest freshwater lake in the United States and the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, where he was seriously wounded on December 25 in the neck, shoulder, chest, left arm, and also his leg. Walker was appointed a brevet first lieutenant to rank from that day as well. He was promoted to first lieutenant on February 1, 1838, and would resign his commission on October 31 of that year.

Walker was reinstated in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant on November 18, 1840, to rank from his last promotion in early 1838. He was again assigned to the 6th U.S. Infantry, and was promoted to captain on November 7, 1845.

During the Mexican-American War, he fought at the Battle of Contreras
Battle of Contreras
The Battle of Contreras, also known as the Battle of Padierna, took place during August 19–20, 1847, in the final encounters of the Mexican-American War. In the Battle of Churubusco, fighting continued the following day.-Background:...

 and the Battle of Churubusco
Battle of Churubusco
The Battle of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Contreras during the Mexican-American War. After defeating the Mexican army at Churubusco, the U.S. Army was only 5 miles away from Mexico City, the capital of the nation...

, both in August 1847. While engaged at Churubusco he was again wounded, and his performance there combined with his actions at Contreras won him brevet to the rank of major
Major (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, major is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel...

 on August 20. Walker then participated in the Battle of Molino del Rey
Battle of Molino del Rey
The Battle of Molino del Rey was one of the bloodiest engagements of the Mexican-American War. It was fought in September 1847 between Mexican forces under General Antonio Léon against an American force under General Winfield Scott at a hill called El Molino del Rey near Mexico City.-Background:On...

 in early September and was once more wounded, this time in the back. For his actions there he was made a brevet lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.The pay...

 on September 8.

After the war with Mexico concluded, Walker was on recruiting duty for the U.S. Army from 1849 to 1852. Walker served as commandant of the cadets at West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 from July 31, 1854, to May 22, 1856. Also during his time at West Point he taught military tactics and was promoted to major in the 10th U.S. Infantry on March 3, 1855. His nickname of "Shot Pouch" was due to his multiple woundings.

Civil War service


With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Walker chose to follow his home state of Georgia and the Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 cause. He resigned his commission on December 20, 1860, and was appointed a colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 in the Georgia State Militia on February 1, 1861. He would hold this position until March 13, when he was appointed a major general in the 1st Division, Georgia Militia, until May.

Walker transferred to the Confederate Army infantry as a colonel on April 25. He was promoted to brigadier general on May 25 and assigned the 1st brigade, 4th Division of the Potomac District of the Department of Northern Virginia on October 22. Seven days later he resigned his commission, either due to his health or from being dissatisfied with his assignments for the Confederacy. Almost immediately after resigning, Walker served in the Georgia militia again as a brigadier general from November 1861 to January 1863, when he resigned to re-enter the Confederate States Army.

Walker resumed his brigadier general rank in the Confederate Army on February 9, 1863, and in May was assigned to brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 command to the Confederate Department of the West. On May 21 he was given divisional
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 command in the same department, and he was promoted to major general on May 23. This promotion was strongly endorsed by the department's commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

, who considered Walker "the only officer in his command competent to lead a division." Walker then participated in the Vicksburg Campaign
Vicksburg Campaign
The Vicksburg Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in the Western Theater of the American Civil War directed against Vicksburg, Mississippi, a fortress city that dominated the last Confederate-controlled section of the Mississippi River. The Union Army of the Tennessee under Maj. Gen....

 that summer in Johnston's command. Walker and his division were transferred to the Department of Mississippi & Eastern Louisiana in July and served there until August 23, when his command was added to the Reserve Corps of the Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 until November 4. During this time Walker fought in the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

 in Georgia that September as commander of that corps.

Death
In December 1863, Walker and his division were made part of Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee
William J. Hardee
William Joseph Hardee was a career U.S. Army officer, serving during the Second Seminole War and fighting in the Mexican-American War...

's First Corps of the Army of Tennessee. He would command it up to his death in combat on July 22, 1864 at the Battle of Atlanta
Battle of Atlanta
The Battle of Atlanta was a battle of the Atlanta Campaign fought during the American Civil War on July 22, 1864, just southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Continuing their summer campaign to seize the important rail and supply center of Atlanta, Union forces commanded by William T. Sherman overwhelmed...

, when he was shot from his horse by a Federal picket, killing him instantly, and Brig. Gen. Hugh W. Mercer
Hugh W. Mercer
Hugh Weedon Mercer was an officer in the United States Army and then a Confederate general during the American Civil War.-Biography:...

 took over the division. Walker is buried in the Walker Cemetery, located at Augusta College in Georgia.

In memory


An upturned cannon waymark in the Glenwood Triangle of Atlanta currently marks the place where Walker was killed. Its front description plate reads: " In memory of Maj.Gen. William H.T. Walker, C.S.A." and the rear plate reads: "Born November 26, 1816; killed on this spot July 22, 1864." A bronze bust of Walker was dedicated in 1916, made by American sculptor Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson
Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson
Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson , also known as Tho. A. R. Kitson, was an American sculptor.Kitson was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. As a young child she displayed artistic talent, but when her mother attempted to enroll her in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, she was informed that she...

, and is located at Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, waged from May 18 to July 4, 1863. The park, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Delta, Louisiana, also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign, which preceded the battle. Reconstructed forts and...

.

Fort Walker
Fort Walker
Fort Walker was a Civil War redoubt located on what is now the southeastern corner of Grant Park in Atlanta, Georgia.-History:The redoubt was built by Confederate forces in 1863....

, also in Atlanta, is named in his honor.

See also


  • List of American Civil War generals

Further reading

  • Brown, Russell K. To the Manner Born: The Life of General William H. T. Walker. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8655-4944-3.