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Gabriel Colvin Wharton
Gabriel Colvin Wharton
Nickname Gabe
Born (1824-07-23)July 23, 1824
Died May 12, 1906(1906-05-12) (aged 81)
Place of birth Culpeper County, Virginia
Place of death Radford, Virginia
Place of burial Wharton Family Cemetery Radford, Virginia
Allegiance United States United States of America
Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank File:CSAGeneral.png Brigadier General
Battles/wars American Civil War

Gabriel Colvin Wharton (July 23, 1824 – May 12, 1906) was an American civil engineer and soldier who served as a general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. After the war he was a politician and later resumed his engineering work.

Early life and career

Wharton was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, in the summer of 1824. He entered Virginia Military Institute in Lexington on September 1, 1845. Wharton graduated on July 5, 1847, finishing 2nd out of 12 cadets as a "distinguished graduate."[1] After leaving VMI he then became a civil engineer. Later Wharton moved to the Arizona Territory and took up work as a mining engineer.[2]

Civil War service

At the start of the American Civil War in 1861, Wharton chose to follow his home state of Virginia and the Confederate cause, and entered the Confederate Army. He was appointed a major in the 45th Virginia Infantry on July 1, and soon afterward was given command of the 51st Virginia Infantry on July 17, with the rank of colonel.[2]

1864 Battle of New Market

The 51st Virginia was part of Maj. Gen. John B. Floyd's operations in western Virginia, and escaped with Floyd on February 14, 1862, during the Battle of Fort Donelson.[3] Wharton was then sent to the Western Theater, and commanded several brigades in various Confederate departments from February to September 1864. During this time Wharton was promoted to brigadier general, effective July 8, 1863.[2] Also during 1863 he married Nannie Radford, and they would have one child together, a son named William.[1] In the winter of 1863, Wharton served in Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's operations against Knoxville, Tennessee, which were ultimately unsuccessful and ended in the spring of 1864.[3]

Wharton then returned to the Eastern Theater and was given divisional command in the Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.[2] Wharton also took part in the Battle of New Market on May 15.[1] His brigade was part of Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge's force, fighting on the left during the Confederate victory at New Market.

1865 Battle of Waynesboro

In 1864 Wharton participated in the Overland Campaign, fighting in Breckinridge's division during the Confederate victory at Battle of Cold Harbor from May 31 – June 12.[1] His brigade also participated in the Battle of Monocacy on July 9.[4] Wharton was part of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early's operations in his Valley Campaigns, and he participated in the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19. He also fought in the Battle of Waynesboro, Virginia on March 2, 1865, at the end of which his command was largely dispersed and Early's army virtually destroyed.[5] Wharton led what was left of his division until May 2. He was paroled at the end of the war from Lynchburg, Virginia, on June 4.[2]


Postbellum home of Wharton located in Radford, Virginia. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Wharton became a legislator in the Virginia General Assembly and then returned to his pre-war career as a mining engineer.[2] He was also instrumental in building the railroad in Southwest Virginia in New River Valley.[1]

Wharton died in the spring of 1906 at Radford, Virginia, at the age of 81, and was buried in the Wharton Family Cemetery located in Radford.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "VMI Archives biography of Wharton". Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Eicher, p. 562.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Warner, p. 331.
  4. "NPS Monocacy Confederate order of battle". Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  5. Warner, p. 331. "His command was overwhelmed and dispersed at Waynesboro in March 1865."


  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: The Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-3150-4.
  • VMI Archives biography of Wharton
  • U.S. National Park Service Monocacy Confederate order of battle.

External links

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