B G William Tatum Wofford

Kinsman of Thomas Benjamin Rhodes, III, LTC USA (Ret.)

William Tatum Wofford (June 28, 1824 – May 22, 1884) was an cavalry officer during the Mexican-American War and a general officer in the Confederate States Army during the War for Southern Independence.

Wofford was born in Habersham County, Georgia, to William H. Wofford and Nancy M. Tatum. His father died when he was only three in Habersham County, Georgia. His mother would go on to raise him and her two daughters in Cass County, Georgia teaching him the noble traits and fine impulses which distinguished his long career. William would graduate high school in Lawrenceville, Georgia at the Gwinnett Manual Labor Institute before studying law in Athens, Georgia. In 1844 he graduated from Franklin College, now part of the University of Georgia.

Wofford first experienced military life in 1847 during the Mexican-American War, where he was a captain in the Georgia Mounted Volunteers. Wofford was mustered out of the volunteer service on July 12, 1848, and afterward worked as a planter, served as a state legislator, and then became a lawyer. In 1852 he was editor of the Cassville Standard newspaper.

He was a delegate to the Southern convention of 1858, and a member of the secession convention of 1861. Even though he had previously voted against secession, but offered his services to his state and the Confederate Army. He was appointed a colonel in the Georgia State Militia, then a captain in the 18th Georgia Infantry in April 1861. On April 25 Wofford was promoted to colonel, and served in North Carolina and Virginia before being assigned to Brig. Gen. John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade. He saw action at Yorktown, Eltham's Landing, and Seven Pines during the Peninsula Campaign. Wofford and the 18th also fought at Second Bull Run and Antietam, where he commanded the Texas Brigade.

In November 1862, Wofford and the 18th Georgia were transferred to the Georgia Brigade of Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb. They fought under Cobb at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, defending the famous stone wall at the base of Marye's Heights. Brigadier General Cobb was mortally wounded in the battle, and Wofford assumed command of his brigade (Cobb’s Legion) and was promoted to brigadier general on January 17, 1863. The Brigade embraced the Sixteenth, Eighteenth and Twenty-fourth Georgia regiments, Cobb's Georgia legion, Phillips' Georgia legion, and the Third battalion of Georgia sharpshooters. He led the brigade, now referred to as Wofford's Brigade, at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, where he followed William Barksdale's Mississippi brigade in the assault through the Peach Orchard late in the afternoon of July 2. There Wofford's men drove Union troops out of the Wheatfield but had to stop short of the new Union line near Little Round Top.

Traveling to Georgia with Longstreet's First Corps to reinforce the Army of Tennessee, Wofford arrived on the field too late to participate in the Battle of Chickamauga. His whereabouts are unknown during Longstreet's siege of Knoxville, Tennessee. Wofford fought in the Overland Campaign at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, and was wounded in both battles.

He left the Army of Northern Virginia before the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign and assumed command of the Subdistrict of Northern Georgia, of the District of Georgia, Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida on January 20, 1865. This part of the State was at that time in a deplorable condition. Outside the protection of either government, its helpless and impoverished people were the prey of strolling bands of deserters and robbers. General Wofford went to work vigorously. He called in and organized over 7,000 men, large numbers of them deserters and stragglers; obtained corn and distributed it among the starving people in his own lines, and in a personal conference with General Judah, the Federal commander in North Georgia, obtained that officer's consent to distribute food to the starving people within his lines.   

He held that post he held until he surrendered his troops, the last significant organized southern troops ( about 3000 to 4000) east of the Mississippi to surrender, in Kingston, Georgia on May 12, 1865 to Brigadier General Henry M. Judah, commanding northern troops at Dalton, and was paroled at Resaca, Georgia on July 12, 1865. Wofford then negotiated with Judah the disbursement of 30,000 bushels of corn and an unknown amount of bacon to the starving people of North Georgia.

Major Battles: Battle of Yorktown, Battle of Eltham's Landing, Battle of Seven Pines, Second Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of the Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

After the war Wofford was a planter and active in the law, Democratic politics, and education. He was elected to Congress, but was refused his seat by radical Republicans. As a delegate to the Georgia Constitutional Convention of 1877, he argued for the repeal of convict leasing, for Confederate veterans' benefits, and for African-American education. He championed an adequate school system, creation of juvenile reformatory, and protection of black suffrage in Georgia. Many of his ideas appeared in the platform of the Populist Party a decade later. General Wofford died peacefully in his sleep after a lengthy illness in Cass Station, Ga. and is buried in nearby Cassville Cemetery. He was survived by his second wife, Margaret Langdon Wofford, who he married in May, 1884.

Note: He was a 1st Cousin, three generations removed to Benjamin Wofford, the founder of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

(Click on Image to Enlarge)