Rare view of William Emerson Strong with Corps Badge and Sword by Brady. "Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. Born in New York State, he was a lawyer in Racine, Wisconsin when the Civil War began in April 1861. He helped raise an infantry company, which became Company F of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Commissioned Captain on April 23, 1861, he and his men participated in the July 1861 First Bull Run Campaign, and fought in the field at the July 21 battle. On September 7, 1861 he was transferred to the 12th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and was promoted to Major. He served in this duty for the next year before being assigned as Inspector General on the staff of Brigadier General Thomas J. McKean, who commanded the XI Division of the Army of the Tennessee. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on February 10, 1863, he was then assigned as Assistant Inspector General on the staff of Army of the Tennessee commander Major General James B. McPherson. When the Union forces laying siege to Vicksburg, Mississippi compelled that Confederate stronghold to capitulate on July 4, 1863, Colonel Strong was the officer detailed to raise the United States Flag over the courthouse – the first raise in the city after it’s surrender. When General McPherson was killed in action on July, 22, 1864 during the Battle of Atlanta, William E. Strong was one of the officers who helped remove the General’s body from where he fell to an ambulance wagon. Major General Oliver O. Howard took over command of the Army of the Tennessee after General McPherson’s death, and Colonel Strong continued on his staff as Army Inspector General, as well as serving as acting Chief of Staff. He continued through the end of the war, and served in post-war occupation duty until he was honorably mustered out on September 1, 1866, spending the last year and a half of his service as acting Inspector general for the newly established Freedmans Bureau. On March 21, 1865 he was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers for “gallant and efficient services during the campaign in South Carolina”. After the war he resided in Chicago, Illinois, where he rose to the presidency of a lumber company, and assisted in the organizing of the Illinois National Guard. He accompanied General Philip Sheridan on a number of expeditions to the American West in the post-war years, and published a book about the trips in 1876. He was elected as one of the Board of Directors for the World Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893. He was in Florence, Italy on business concerning the upcoming Exposition when he died in April 1891.
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