(1840 - 1913)
Home State: South Carolina
Education: Oglethorpe University, Class of 1861
Branch of Service: Infantry
From Darlington County, he enlisted as Private, Company F, 8th South Carolina Infantry on 30 May 1861 at Darlington Courthouse, two days after graduating from college. He was promoted to 4th Corporal on 6 June 1861 and was appointed First (Orderly) Sergeant on 13 May 1862 at the reorganization of the regiment.
On the Campaign
He was wounded by a piece of shell to his hand in action at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862.
The rest of the War
He was disabled for about 6 weeks before he was able to return to duty. He was commissioned 3rd Lieutenant by the end of February 1863 and was 2nd Lieutenant by May. He was in action at Gettysburg and promoted to First Lieutenant to date from 8 October. He was wounded in the thigh at Bean's Station, TN on 14 December 1863 and again, in the lower leg at Spotsylvania, VA on 8 May 1864. He was captured while on picket near Winchester, VA on 13 September 1864 and held at Johnson's Island, OH. He was released on 16 June 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance.
After the War
By 1870 he was a farmer in Darlington County, and he was still farming there, at the home he called "Palmetto Hall", in 1900. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th South Carolina Regiment, State Militia in 1884, was promoted to Brigadier General in 1888, and retired from that service in 1894. He retired from farming by 1910, was elected to the State General Assembly in 1910, and died while in that office at age 73 in 1913.
References & notes
His service information from the Rolls,1 Brasington's Roster,2 and his Consolidated Service Records extracted by Charles Watson. Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census for 1870-1910. His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his picture, from a photograph of unknown provenance contributed by Bob Jones.
His older brother Robert Ervin James (b. 1834) was also in Company E, but died at Richmond, VA on 10 May 1862; William returned his body home.
He married Helen Sweet (or Smith) Kendall (1841-1919) of Richmond, VA in March 1863 and they had 5 children.
More on the Web
He wrote of his capture and prison experience and other wartime events in a series of essays in the UDC's Treasured Reminiscences (1911), online from Google Books (see pgs. 24, 54, 67, 83). Thanks to Charles Watson for the pointer to that work.
Bob Jones also posted another photograph of James, in his 2nd Lieutenant's uniform, on Facebook in 2018.
The Darlington County Historical Commission published a different photo in 2016 in observance of his presence at Chickamauga in September 1863. This one in a First Lieutenant's uniform, with the same head as the picture above (which may be a paste-up of that head over a stock body).
01/15/1840; Darlington, SC
03/15/1913 Darlington, SC; burial in Grove Hill Cemetery, Darlington, SC
1 Thomas, John P., and and previous SC Historians of the Confederate Records, Confederate Rolls of South Carolina, Columbia: Historian of Confederate Records, 1898, Roll of Company E, 8th Reg't Inf, South Carolina Vols. [AotW citation 24310]
2 Brasington, William Albert "Bil", 8th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (Rosters), Published 2014, first accessed 27 January 2018, <http://www.sciway3.net/sc-csa/carolinas-campaign/8scvi.html>, Source page: /8scvicof.html [AotW citation 24311]