Cadmus M. Wilcox

Last updated
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox
Nickname(s)Billy Fixin'
Born(1824-05-20)May 20, 1824
Wayne County, North Carolina
DiedDecember 2, 1890(1890-12-02) (aged 66)
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance Flag of the United States.svg United States of America
Flag of the Confederate States of America (1865).svg Confederate States of America
Service/branchFlag of the United States Army.svg  United States Army
Battle flag of the Confederate States of America.svg  Confederate States Army
Years of service18461861 (USA)
18611865 (CSA)
Rank Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg Captain (USA)
Confederate States of America General-collar.svg Major General (CSA)
Commands held 9th Alabama Infantry Regiment
Wilcox's Brigade
Wilcox's Division
Battles/wars Mexican–American War
American Civil War
Other workauthor

Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox (May 20, 1824 December 2, 1890) was a career United States Army officer who served in the Mexican–American War and also was a Confederate general during the American Civil War.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Mexican–American War Armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848

The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the Intervención Estadounidense en México, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which was not formally recognized by the Mexican government, who disputed the Treaties of Velasco signed by Mexican caudillo President/General Antonio López de Santa Anna after the Texas Revolution a decade earlier. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk, who saw the annexation of Texas as the first step towards a further expansion of the United States, sent troops to the disputed area and a diplomatic mission to Mexico. After Mexican forces attacked U.S. forces, the United States Congress declared war.

Confederate States Army Southern army in American Civil War

The Confederate States Army was the military land force of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting against the United States forces. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the newly chosen Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Davis was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Mexican–American War. He had also been a United States Senator from Mississippi and U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. On March 1, 1861, on behalf of the Confederate government, Davis assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina, where South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, held by a small U.S. Army garrison. By March 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress expanded the provisional forces and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.


Early life and career

Wilcox was born in Wayne County, North Carolina. One of his brothers, John Allen Wilcox, would later serve in the First Confederate Congress as a representative from Texas. The family moved to Tipton County, Tennessee, when Cadmus was only two years old. He was raised and educated in Tennessee, studying at Cumberland College before being nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point from the Memphis district. He graduated in 1846, standing 54th out of 59 cadets, and was brevetted a second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry on July 1. [1] Among his West Point classmates were future Civil War generals George B. McClellan and Thomas J. Jackson. [2]

Wayne County, North Carolina U.S. county in North Carolina

Wayne County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 122,623. Its county seat is Goldsboro and it is home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

John Allen Wilcox was a politician from Mississippi and Texas who served in the United States House of Representatives in the early 1850s and then in the Confederate Congress during the American Civil War.

Texas U.S. state in the United States

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Wilcox as US Army second lieutenant CMWilcox2ndLt.jpg
Wilcox as US Army second lieutenant

With the Mexican–American War already underway, Wilcox joined the 4th Infantry in the Mexican city of Monterrey in 1847. He was appointed as an aide to Maj. Gen. John A. Quitman, acting as his adjutant at the Battle of Veracruz and the Battle of Cerro Gordo. For gallant conduct at the Battle of Chapultepec, in action at the Belén Gate, and the Battle for Mexico City, Wilcox was appointed a brevet first lieutenant on September 13. [1]

Monterrey City in Nuevo León, Mexico

Monterrey is the capital and largest city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León, Mexico. The city is anchor to the Monterrey metropolitan area, the second most productive in Mexico with a GDP (PPP) of US$ 123 billion and the third largest with an estimated population of 4,689,601 people as of 2015. Monterrey is also considered as the city with the best quality of life in the country (México) and serves as a commercial center of northern Mexico and is the base of many significant international corporations, its purchasing power parity-adjusted GDP per capita is considerably higher than the rest of the country's at around US$35,500 to the country's US$18,800. It is considered a Beta World City, cosmopolitan and competitive. Rich in history and culture, it is one of the most developed cities in Mexico and is often regarded as its most "Americanized".

In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, and is the highest permanent peacetime rank in the uniformed services. Higher ranks are technically temporary and linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.

John A. Quitman United States general

John Anthony Quitman was an American lawyer, politician, and soldier. As President of the Mississippi Senate, he served one month as Acting Governor of Mississippi as a Whig. He was elected Governor in 1850, as a Democrat, and served from January 10, 1850 until his resignation on February 3, 1851, shortly after his arrest for violating U.S. neutrality laws. He was strongly pro-slavery and a leading Fire-Eater.

After the war with Mexico ended, Wilcox was promoted to first lieutenant on August 24, 1851. [1] In the autumn of 1852, Wilcox was ordered back to West Point to serve as assistant instructor of military tactics, a position he held until the summer of 1857, when, on account of failing health, he was sent to Europe on a twelve-month furlough. On his return to West Point, he published a manual on rifles and rifle firing, which became the standard textbook on the subject. Wilcox also translated and published a work on infantry evolution as practiced in the Austrian Army. [2]

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

He was ordered to New Mexico Territory in 1860, and was promoted to the rank of captain in the 4th Infantry on December 20. [1]

New Mexico Territory territory of the United States of America, 1850-1912

The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexico, making it the longest-lived organized incorporated territory of the United States, lasting approximately 62 years.

In the United States uniformed services, captain is a commissioned-officer rank. In keeping with the traditions of the militaries of most nations, the rank varies between the services, being a senior rank in the naval services and a junior rank in the ground and air forces.

Civil War service

While serving in the New Mexico Territory in June 1861, Wilcox learned of the secession of Tennessee. After tendering his resignation from the U.S. Army (accepted on June 8) he traveled to Richmond, Virginia, where he was commissioned a captain of artillery in the Confederate Army on March 16. He was later promoted to colonel and given command of the 9th Alabama Infantry Regiment on July 9. [1]

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

Richmond, Virginia Capital of Virginia

Richmond is the capital city of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Region. Richmond was incorporated in 1742 and has been an independent city since 1871.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

Wilcox joined Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah with his regiment on July 16, and marched to Manassas to reinforce Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard's Army of the Potomac just before the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21.

On October 21, he was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of a brigade comprising the 3rd Alabama, 1st Mississippi, and 1st Virginia infantry regiments along with and an artillery battery. The brigade was assigned to Maj. Gen. James Longstreet's division of the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. During the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, Wilcox played a prominent role at the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5.

At the 1862 Battle of Seven Pines, Wilcox commanded two brigades, and at Battle of Gaines' Mill on June 27 he led threehis own, Featherston's, and Pryor's. On June 30 at the Battle of Glendale during the Seven Days Battles, nearly every regimental officer in Wilcox's command was killed, and Wilcox himself had his clothing pierced by six bullets, but he somehow escaped injury. The loss in Wilcox's brigade was heavier in the Seven Days Battles than of any other brigade in Longstreet's division. After Longstreet was elevated to corps command, Wilcox got half of his division. He led it to Second Bull Run, but was held in reserve and saw no serious action. In the Maryland Campaign, Wilcox was returned to brigade command and his division merged with Richard H. Anderson's. He fell ill and spent the Battle of Antietam resting in Martinsburg, Virginia, leaving Colonel Alfred Cumming to command his brigade during that battle.

As a part of the division of Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, Wilcox's brigade was instrumental in delaying the Union VI Corps in its drive west from Fredericksburg, Virginia, slowing them at the Battle of Salem Church. Shortly after the battle, Wilcox and his brigade moved with Anderson's division to the newly created Third Corps, under Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill on May 30. [1]


Attack by Anderson's division, July 2 Gettysburg Day2 Cemetery Ridge.png
Attack by Anderson's division, July 2
The Dash of Wilcox's Battery at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863 Dash of Wilcox's Battery at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.jpg
The Dash of Wilcox's Battery at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863

Wilcox and his command participated in the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863. On the battle's second day, July 2, his charge against a weakened Union line was met (and held off) by a suicidally brave countercharge from the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.

On the third day of the battle, during Pickett's Charge, his brigade served as support on the right flank of the division of his West Point classmate, Maj. Gen. George Pickett. Heavy Union artillery fire, particularly from those guns on Cemetery Ridge under the command of Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery, readily broke up Wilcox's assault, who ordered the brigade to withdraw. [2]

With the death of Dorsey Pender at Gettysburg, Wilcox was promoted to major general on August 3, 1863, and assigned command of Pender's division in Hill's Third Corps. [1] Wilcox's new command consisted of Lane's North Carolina brigade, Thomas's Georgia brigade, McGowan's South Carolina brigade, and Scales's North Carolina brigade.

For the rest of the war, Wilcox's Division saw heavy fighting, from the Overland Campaign through Appomattox Court House. During the final days of the Siege of Petersburg in 1865, Wilcox's last-ditch stand on April 2 at Fort Gregg helped delay the Union forces long enough for Longstreet to maneuver into position to cover the army's retreat to the west.

Postbellum career

Wilcox in later life CMWilcox-later.jpg
Wilcox in later life

After the close of the American Civil War, Wilcox was offered a command as a brigadier general in the Egyptian Army, but he declined it. In 1886 U.S. President Grover Cleveland appointed Wilcox as chief of the railroad division for the government at Washington, D.C. and he served in that capacity until his death. [2]

A lifelong bachelor, Wilcox cared for his brother's widow and small children following John Wilcox's sudden death in February 1865. [2]

Wilcox died at the age of sixty-six in Washington, D.C., and was buried there in Oak Hill Cemetery. [1] His pallbearers included four former Confederate generals and four former Union generals, a token of his esteem.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Eicher, p. 568.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Cadmus M. Wilcox' Alabama Brigade, 18621865". Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-09-19.

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Further reading