Edmund Winston Pettus (1821 - 1907)

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Brig. Gen. Edmund Pettus (CSA), U.S. Senator's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Limestone, Alabama, United States
Death: Died in Hot Springs, NC
Managed by: Martin Severin Eriksen
Last Updated:

About Edmund Winston Pettus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Pettus

Edmund Winston Pettus (July 6, 1821 – July 27, 1907), was an American lawyer, soldier, and legislator. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, during which he was captured three times, as well as a U.S. Senator after the war.

Pettus has been described by military historian Ezra J. Warner as "a fearless and dogged fighter and distinguished himself on many fields in the western theater of war." and after his promotion to a general officer "he followed with conspicuous bravery every forlorn hope which the Confederacy offered..." Likewise historian Jon L. Wakelyn summed up his military career by saying "..he volunteered for service in the Confederate Army and distinguished himself in the western command."

The Edmund Pettus Bridge, spanning over the Alabama River and after 1965 a civil rights landmark, was named in his honor.

Early life and career

Edmund W. Pettus was born in 1821 in Limestone County, Alabama. He was a son of John Pettus and Alice Taylor Winston, brother of John J. Pettus, and a distant cousin of Jefferson Davis. Pettus was educated in local public schools, and later graduated from Clinton College located in Smith County, Tennessee.

Pettus then studied law in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and was admitted to the state's bar association in 1842. Shortly afterward he settled in Gainesville and began practicing as a lawyer. On June 27, 1844, Pettus married Mary L. Chapman, with which he would have three children. Also that year he was elected solicitor for the seventh Judicial Circuit of Alabama.

During the Mexican–American War in 1847–49, Pettus served as a lieutenant with the Alabama Volunteers, and after hostilities he moved to California. By 1853 he had returned to Alabama, serving again in the seventh circuit as solicitor. He was appointed a judge in that circuit in 1855 until resigning in 1858. Pettus then relocated to the now extinct town of Cahaba in Dallas County, Alabama, where he again took up work as a lawyer.

Civil War service

In 1861 Pettus chose to follow the Confederate cause. He was chosen as a delegate to the secession convention in Mississippi, where his brother John was serving as governor. Pettus then help organize the 20th Alabama Infantry, and was elected as one of its first officers. On September 9 he was made the regiment's major, and on October 8 he became its lieutenant colonel.

From then on Pettus served in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. During the Stones River Campaign, he was captured by Union soldiers on December 29, 1862. He was exchanged a short time later, and was captured again on May 1, 1863. At the time Pettus was part of the surrendered garrison that had been defending Port Gibson in Mississippi, however he managed to escape and return to his own lines. He was promoted to colonel on May 28, and given command of the 20th Alabama.

During the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, Pettus and his regiment was part of the force defending Confederate control of the Mississippi River. When the garrison was surrendered on July 4, Pettus was again captured, and would be a prisoner until his exchange on September 12. Six days later he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, and on November 3 he was given brigade command in the Army of Tennessee. Pettus and his brigade participated in the Chattanooga Campaign, posted on the extreme southern slope of Missionary Ridge on November 24, and fought during the action the following day.

Pettus and his command took part in the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, fighting in the battles of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, Atlanta on July 22, and Jonesborough from August 31 to September 1. Beginning on December 17, he temporarily led a division in the Army of Tennessee. Afterward during the 1865 Carolinas Campaign, Pettus was sent to defend Columbia, South Carolina, and participated in the Battle of Bentonville from March 19–21. Pettus was wounded in this fight, hit in his right leg during the battle's first day. On May 2 he was paroled from Salisbury, North Carolina, and was pardoned by the U.S. Government on October 20.

Postbellum career and legacy

After the war, Pettus returned to Alabama and resumed his law practice in Selma. On March 4, 1897, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and was re-elected in 1903. Pettus was serving this term when he died at Hot Springs, North Carolina, in the summer of 1907. His body was brought back to Alabama and was buried in Live Oak Cemetery located in Selma.

As a U.S. Senator, Pettus was "the last of the Confederate brigadiers to sit in the upper house of the national Congress."

The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma became a civil rights landmark when on March 7, 1965, a band of civil rights marchers on their way to Montgomery crossed the bridge, only to be attacked by state troopers on the other side. This event has since been called Bloody Sunday.

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Brig. Gen. Edmund Pettus (CSA), U.S. Senator's Timeline

1821
July 8, 1821
Limestone, Alabama, United States
1844
June 27, 1844
Age 22
1847
1847
Age 25
Alabama
1849
1849
Age 27
Alabama
1852
1852
Age 30
Alabama
1858
1858
Age 36
Alabama
1907
July 27, 1907
Age 86
Hot Springs, NC
????
Selma, Dallas, Alabama, United States