William Willis Blackford(1831 - 1905)
Home State: Virginia
Command Billet: Staff Officer
Branch of Service: Engineer
Unit: Stuart's Cavalry Division
Before the Antietam Campaign:
From a prominent Virginia family, he had attended the University of Virginia, studied engineering, and married Mary, daughter of former Virginia Governor (1836-37) Wyndham Robertson. Before the War he worked in his father-in-law's plaster of paris mining business, and was assistant engineer on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad.
He entered service as Lieutenant in the 1st Virginia Cavalry in May 1861, Colonel J.E.B. Stuart, commanding. He was appointed Captain, CS Engineers, in May 1862, and joined MGen Stuart's staff as Chief Engineer. He was cited by Stuart several times during the war for particular bravery, notably at 1st and 2nd Manassas.1
In the Antietam Campaign:
He served on MGen Stuart's staff on the Maryland Campaign.
The remainder of the War:
He was on Stuart's staff until May 1864 - after Stuart was killed at Yellow Tavern, Va - when he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 1st Regiment, CS Engineer Troops. He was noted, particularly, for his work on the fortifications at Petersburg. He remained in that job until surrendering at Appomattox 9 April 1865.
After the War:
He resumed his engineering work as Chief Engineer with the Lynchburg & Danville Railroad, then operated a Louisiana sugar plantation. He was Professor of Mechanics and Drawing and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Virginia Tech) 1880-81. He was then with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad til 1890, when he "engaged in oyster planting experiments" on Lynhaven Bay to his death in 1905.
Sometime in the latter part of his life he wrote his memoirs, published later under the sponsorship of Dr. Douglas Southall Freeman, as War Years with Jeb Stuart.2
References, Sources, and other notes:
Biographical and service details from Virginia Tech3 and McElfresh.4 The photograph above is from the frontpiece of War Years.2
A picture of his gravestone is online from the Virginia Tech Libraries.
Blackford was also a skilled cartographer. Several of his maps are online in the Library of Congress collection:
|Birth Date: 3/23/1831 Place of Birth: Fredericksburg, VA |
College: U of Virginia
Death Date: 5/1/1905 Death Place: Lynnhaven Bay, VA Burial Place: Robertson family plot, Abingdon, VA
1 US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, various citations [AotW citation 481]
2 Blackford, William W., Lt. Col CSA, War Years with Jeb Stuart, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1945 [AotW citation 482]
3 Kennelly, Tamara, University Archivist, and Oladunni Akinpelu and Katie Bondroff, The University Archives of Virginia Tech, Published c. 1996, first accessed 15 December 2005, <http://spec.lib.vt.edu/archives/>, Source page: /archives/125th/confeds/confeds.htm [AotW citation 483]
4 McElfresh, Earl B., Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999 [AotW citation 484]
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