Brig. Gen. William Giles Harding, (CSA)

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Brig. Gen. William Giles Harding, (CSA)'s Geni Profile

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Brig. Gen. William Giles Harding, (CSA)

Birthdate: (78)
Birthplace: Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, United States
Death: Died
Place of Burial: Davidson County, Tennessee, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Gen. John Harding and Susannah Harding
Husband of Mary Selene Harding and Elizabeth Irwin Harding
Father of John Harding; Selene Jackson and Mary Elizabeth Jackson
Brother of Amanda P. McGavock and Elizabeth V. Clay

Occupation: Confederate officer, heir, planter, horse breeder
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Brig. Gen. William Giles Harding, (CSA)

William Giles Harding (1808–1886) was an American heir, Southern planter, horse breeder and Confederate Brigadier General.

William G. Harding, a college-educated general in the state militia, managed Belle Meade from 1839 until 1883. By the 1850s he was one of Tennessee's wealthiest men and larger landowners. In 1854 William Harding greatly enlarged his home into a Greek Revival showplace. During the Civil War Federal authorities arrested Harding, a Confederate supporter, and imprisoned him for six months. During his incarceration his wife, Elizabeth McGavock Harding, managed Belle Meade and looked after her "family of 150 persons," mostly slaves.

Belle Meade's greatest fame came after the Civil War, when it developed into one of the best-known thoroughbred breeding farms in the world. Iroquois and Bonnie Scotland were the stud's most famous stallions. Credit for the postwar renaissance goes both to Harding and his colorful son-in-law, ex-Confederate Brigadier General William Hicks Jackson.

John’s son William Giles Harding was living on the McSpadden’s Bend property and worked with his father training horses. By the time William Giles assumed management of the Belle Meade plantation, he was keenly interested in all aspects of breeding and racing. He was active in several local jockey clubs and raced at all the area tracks including Clover Bottom, Gallatin, and Nashville.

William Giles Harding was born the second of three surviving children to John and Susannah Harding, the couple’s only surviving son. He was born September 15th 1808. He began working on the family farm at Belle Meade at a very young age, and in turn farming the land became one of his true passions. As a teenager he enrolled at Captain Partridge’s American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy in New England, where he graduated in 1828. November 19th 1829, William married Mary Selena McNairy. From their marriage five children would be born, only one surviving into adulthood. Mary Selena died March 29th 1837. In 1839 William took control of his father’s Plantation at Belle Meade. A year following in 1840 William married Elizabeth Irwin McGavock, January 2nd 1840. Harding and his second wife would have nine children, two surviving into adulthood. By 1853, the married couple renovated the original Federal style house to the Greek Revival Structure. During the Civil War, after Nashville had fallen to the Union in 1862, William was imprisoned in Michigan for refusing to pledge his oath of allegiance to the Federal Government. Following imprisonment a few short months later, William was released to be with his family and farm, September 25th 1862. By 1867 William was widowed again after the loss of his second wife, Elizabeth. In 1883, Williams health was failing after suffering a stroke, at which pointed he executed his last will and testament by 1884. His estate was divided among his three children, John Harding II, Mary Harding Jackson and her husband Howell E. Jackson, and the largest portion of properties going to his daughter Selene Harding Jackson and her husband General William Hicks Jackson. William Giles Harding died at the age of 78, December 15th 1886.


Renowned Thoroughbred horse breeder of Belle Meade. Leading Tennessee agriculturist and nationally acclaimed stock breeder educated at the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Middletown, Connecticut. Two years after his first wife, Mary Selena McNairy, died in 1837, he assumed full responsibility for managing Belle Meade, his father's twelve-hundred-acre plantation on the "Old Natchez Road." In 1853-54 Harding transformed the Federal-style house his father had built in 1820 into the Greek Revival mansion that stands today. He also raced horses, won premiums for his thoroughbreds, and established Belle Meade as a nationally recognized horse nursery. Early in the Civil War, Harding headed the Military and Financial Board of Tennessee, which spent five million dollars arming and equipping soldiers for the defense of the South. In 1862, as the result of his activities, Harding was imprisoned by Federal authorities for six months. During his absence, his wife managed the plantation under dire circumstances and looked after "a family of 150 people," mostly slaves. Following the war, Harding and his son-in-law, W. H. Jackson, developed Belle Meade into one of the world's greatest horse-breeding establishments. When he died in 1886, the Chattanooga Times called Harding "a monarch in his own domain."

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Brig. Gen. William Giles Harding, (CSA)'s Timeline

Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, United States
Age 21
Davidson Co., TN
Age 38
Age 42
Age 78
Davidson County, Tennessee, United States