William Barksdale, CSA

A Biography of the Controversial United States Congressman and Confederate Brigadier General

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About the Book

An aggressive and colorful personality, William Barksdale was no stranger to controversy. Orphaned at 13, he succeeded as lawyer, newspaper editor, Mexican War veteran, politician and Confederate commander. During eight years in the U.S. Congress, he was among the South’s most ardent defenders of slavery and advocates for states’ rights. His emotional speeches and altercations—including a brawl on the House floor—made headlines in the years preceding secession.

His fiery temper prompted three near-duels, gaining him a reputation as a brawler and knife-fighter. Arrested for intoxication, Colonel Barksdale survived a military Court of Inquiry to become one of the most beloved commanders in the Army of Northern Virginia. His reputation soared with his defense against the Union river crossing and street-fighting at Fredericksburg, and his legendary charge at Gettysburg. This first full-length biography places his life and career in historical context.

About the Author(s)

John Douglas Ashton is a retired materials testing executive and distinguished metallurgist. A founding member and later Chairman of the Southern Ontario Civil War Roundtable, he has traveled to all of the major battlefields where Barksdale’s Mississippians fought to gain further insights.

Bibliographic Details

John Douglas Ashton
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 50 photos, maps, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8374-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4172-0
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

• “To generations of Civil War historians, the name William Barksdale conjures up images of his Mississippi brigade’s smashing attack against Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard on July 2, 1863. In William Barksdale, CSA, author Doug Ashton gives readers the most deeply researched biography ever written on this controversial Confederate general. From Barksdale’s beginnings in Tennessee through the combative halls of pre-Civil War Congress and to his final battle in Pennsylvania, Ashton provides greater context to the exaggerated image of Barksdale as only a fire-eating secessionist. In examining Barksdale’s successes and failures, readers will gain a much better understanding of the general’s fiery personality and the equally tumultuous times in which he lived.”—James A. Hessler, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and award winning author of Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard

• “‘Barksdale!’ His surname alone stirs emotions of valor and memorable sacrifice! Mississippi’s General William Barksdale was one of the Confederacy’s most heroic warrior-commanders. Looking over the heads of his gathered regiments at Gettysburg he called out sharply, ‘Attention, Mississippi Battalions! Forward!’ and charged forever into the pages of history! Long-overdue, Doug Ashton, an impartial chronicler breathes life into Barksdale from birth until his untimely death on the battlefield. Read and understand the substance of a noteworthy life during a noteworthy time!”—H. Grady Howell, Historian Emeritus, Mississippi Department of Archives and History