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About Robert Enoch Withers
Robert Enoch Withers (September 18, 1821 – September 21, 1907) was an American physician, military officer, newspaperman, politician and diplomat. He represented Virginia in the United States Senate and served as U.S. Consul in Hong Kong.
Withers was born near Lynchburg, Virginia. He attended private schools and then graduated from the medical department of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1841. He commenced practice in Campbell County. In 1858, Withers moved to Danville, Virginia.
During the American Civil War, he entered the Confederate Army in early 1861 as the major of the 18th Virginia Infantry. He was subsequently promoted to colonel of the regiment, which he commanded until retired because of numerous disabling wounds. He was then appointed to command the Confederate military post at Danville, an administrative position he held until the close of the war.
Following the Civil War, Withers moved back to Lynchburg in 1866 and established the Lynchburg News, a daily paper devoted to the interests of the Conservative Party. He was nominated for governor of Virginia by that party, but withdrew from the race. He was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1872. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1873. He was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1875, to March 4, 1881. He served as the chairman of the Committee on Pensions in the Forty-sixth Congress. Withers was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1881, losing to former Civil War general William Mahone of the Readjuster Party.
He was appointed by President Grover Cleveland as the United States consul at Hong Kong, China, from 1885–89, when he resigned. He returned to the United States and retired to Wytheville, Virginia.
Withers died at the "Ingleside" plantation in Wytheville on September 21, 1907. He was buried in the East End Cemetery