VMI's Civil War Generals
William Mahone, Class of 1847

VMI Civil War Generals top level  William Mahone photo

Biographical Information
  • Early Life
    William Mahone, born 1826 December 1 at on a farm near Monroe, Southampton Co., Virginia. Parents: Fielding Jordan Mahone, a merchant in Southampton Co., and Martha Drew. Paternal Grandparents: William Mahone (b. Ireland) and Nancy Jordan.
  • VMI record
    Enrolled at VMI on July 20, 1844 at age of 17½; was graduated on July 5, 1847, standing 8th out of 12 graduates. Mahone supposedly told fellow VMI cadet William Pryor (Class of 1848) the following story about his entrance into VMI:
    "Mahone's father ran a tavern in Southampton County and one day a man in great style with a fine pair of horse, carriage and negro servant drove up to the tavern. Soon they began to gamble and Mahone senior lost most of his money. He called his young son, William, and told him to take his hand --he was going to go to sleep. When he returned, young Mahone had won all of the man's money, horses and carriage, and they were gambling then for the servant. The father told his son to give him the money. Young Mahone said: "Here is what you lost. I am going to keep my winnings and educate myself." With these winnings he came to VMI."
  • Marriage
    Married Otelia Butler on February 8, 1855; she was the daughter of Dr. Robert Butler of Smithfield, Isle of Wight Co., Virginia and Otelia Voinard of Petersburg, VA. William and Otelia had 13 children, 3 of whom lived into adulthood (William, Robert, and Otelia).
  • Pre-Civil War
    Teacher at the Rappahonnock Academy, Caroline Co., Virginia, 1848-1849; 1851-1861: civil engineer; Chief Engineer and subsequently President, Chief Engineer and General Superintendent of the Norfolk and Petersburg railroad.
  • Civil War
    Lt. Col. and Colonel of the 6th Virginia Infantry Regiment; promoted to Brigadier General November 1861; during the Peninsular Campaign led his brigade at Seven Pines and Malvern Hill; also fought at 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania; promoted to Major General on July 30, 1864 for his performance at the Battle of the Crater (near Petersburg, VA).
  • Post-war
    Returned to engineering and continued to be instrumental in developing railway system in Virginia; unsuccessful bid for governor in 1877; United States Senator, 1881-1887; died October 8, 1895; buried Blandford Cemetery, near Petersburg, VA.