Portrait of William Loring

William W. Loring was a career soldier who served as an officer with the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War, as a major general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and for ten years as an officer in the Egyptian Army. [Wikimedia Commons]

William Wing Loring - Facts

December 4, 1818 - December 30, 1886

Key facts about William W. Loring, a career soldier who served as an officer with the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War, as a major general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and for ten years as an officer in the Egyptian Army.

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Birth Date:

  • December 4, 1818

Birth Location:

  • Wilmington, North Carolina

Parents:

  • Reuben and Hannah (Kenan) Loring

Education:

  • Alexandria Boarding School in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Georgetown University (1839– 1840, did not graduate)

Occupation:

  • Lawyer
  • Politician
  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Colonel (USA)
  • Major General (CSA)
  • Major General, Egyptian Army
  • Member Florida House of Representatives

Spouses:

  • None

Nickname(s):

  • Boy Soldier
  • Old Blizzards

Place of Death:

  • New York City, New York

Date of Death:

  • December 30, 1886

Place of Burial:

  • Loring Park, Saint Augustine, Florida

Significance:

  • In 1832, at age fourteen, William Loring joined the 11th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, of the Florida territorial militia and participated in skirmishes between white Florida settlers and resident Seminole Indians, earning him the nickname “boy soldier.”
  • William Loring fought in the Battle of Withlacoochee (December 31, 1835), at the age of seventeen, during the Second Seminole War (1835–1842).
  • William Loring may have run away from home to join the Texas Revolution (October 2, 1835 – April 21, 1836) after the Fall of the Alamo (March 6, 1836).
  • William Loring fought at the Battle at Wahoo Swamp (November 21, 1836) against the Seminole Indians.
  • William Loring was promoted to sergeant in the Florida territorial militia at the tender age of seventeen.
  • On June 16, 1837, William Loring was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Florida territorial militia before reaching his nineteenth birthday.
  • In 1837, William Loring left Florida to complete his secondary education at Alexandria Boarding School in Alexandria, Virginia.
  • William Loring attended Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., in 1839, but he stayed only one year before returning to Florida to study law and work in the office of territorial representative (and future U.S. Senator) David Levy Yulee.
  • William Loring passed the required exams and was admitted to the Florida bar in 1842.
  • William Loring served a two-year term in the Florida House of Representatives from 1843 to 1845, just prior to Florida achieving statehood on March 3, 1845.
  • William Loring made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in Florida’s senate in 1845.
  • William Loring abandoned civilian life and used his connections to obtain a commission as captain in the U.S. Army’s Regiment of Mounted Riflemen on May 27, 1846.
  • Serving with General Winfield Scott’s Army of Invasion, during the Mexican-American War, William Loring was promoted to major on February 16, 1847.
  • During the Mexican-American War, William Loring participated in all of the major engagements of the Central Mexico Campaign, including the Siege of Veracruz (March 9–28, 1847), the Battle of Cerro Gordo (April 18, 1847), the Battle of Contreras (August 19–20, 1847), the Battle of Churubusco (August 21, 1847), the Battle of Chapultepec Castle (September 12–13, 1847), and the occupation of Mexico City (September 14, 1847).
  • During the storming of Chapultepec Castle a Mexican bullet shattered William Loring’s left arm, forcing doctors to amputate it.
  • The U.S. Army brevetted William Loring to lieutenant colonel on August 20, 1847, and to colonel on September 13, 1847, in recognition of his valor during the Mexican-American War.
  • At the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, William Loring elected to remain in the U.S. Army.
  • On March 15, 1848, the U.S. Army promoted William Loring to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
  • In 1849, William Loring and the Mounted Riflemen led a large group of settlers to the Pacific Northwest in what was the longest march by a U.S. Army unit to that date.
  • William Loring commanded the 11th Military District, comprising much of the Pacific Northwest, from 1849 to 1851.
  • In 1852, the U.S. Army transferred the Mounted Riflemen to Texas and placed William Loring in command of the Rio Grande frontier.
  • On December 30, 1856, the U.S. Army promoted William Loring to the rank of full colonel, making him the youngest officer of that rank in the army, at age thirty-eight.
  • William Loring participated in the mostly-bloodless Utah War (1857–1858) against the Mormons.
  • In 1859, William Loring embarked on an extended trip to Europe and Egypt to study military tactics at the conclusion of the recent Crimean War (1853–1856).
  • The U.S. Army placed William Loring in command of the Department of New Mexico in March 1861.
  • William Loring resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on May 13, 1861.
  • William Loring accepted a commission as a brigadier general in the Provisional Confederate Army on May 20, 1861.
  • On July 20, 1861, the Confederate War Department issued Special Orders, No. 227 on July 20, 1861, announcing that “Brigadier General W. W. Loring, Provisional Army, C. S., is assigned to the command of the Army of the Northwest, and will proceed as soon as possible to Monterey (Virginia).”
  • William Loring participated in the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Cheat Mountain (September 12–15, 1861) in western Virginia.
  • In January 1862, William Loring participated in Major General Thomas J. Jackson’s Romney Expedition.
  • In early 1862, William Loring earned Thomas J. Jackson’s enmity for his role in the Loring-Jackson Incident during the Romney Expedition.
  • On February 9, 1862, Secretary Benjamin relieved William Loring of his command of the Army of the Northwest and ordered him to report to Richmond for reassignment.
  • February 17, 1862, Confederate officials promoted William Loring to major general.
  • On May 8, 1862, Confederate officials placed William Loring in command of the Department of Southwestern Virginia, with orders to protect Richmond’s rear as Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac advanced on the Confederate capital during the Peninsula Campaign (March 17 – August 14, 1862).
  • In 1862, William Loring led a successful campaign in the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia (now West Virginia).
  • On September 13, 1862, William Loring’s soldiers occupied Charleston, Virginia (now West Virginia).
  • On October 15, 1862, Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General of the Confederate Army notified William Loring that “You will turn over your command, together with the orders and instructions heretofore communicated to you, to General Echols, after which you will, with the least delay practicable, report in person to this office.”
  • In December 1862, Confederate officials reassigned William Loring to the Western Theater to command a division of Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton’s Army of Vicksburg.
  • On March 11, 1863, William Loring’s 1,500-man division turned back a Federal force of 4,500 men trying to gain access to Vicksburg through the Yazoo Pass.
  • During the heated Battle of Fort Pemberton (March 11, 1863), Loring acquired the nickname “Old Blizzards” by shouting to his men to “Give them the Blizzards, boys” when the Yankees attacked.
  • On May 1, 1863, William Loring was late coming to the aid of Major General John S. Bowen’s division at the Battle of Port Gibson. The union victory enabled Major General Ulysses S. Grant to establish a beachhead on the eastern side of the Mississippi River and threaten Vicksburg.
  • On May 16, 1862, William Loring failed to reinforce Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton’s left flank, during the Battle of Champion Hill as he was ordered to do.
  • When Loring’s division became separated from Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton’s main army during the Battle of Champion Hill (May 16, 1862), Loring chose to move away from Vicksburg and join General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces in central Mississippi.
  • As a divisional commander in General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Mississippi, William Loring participated in Johnston’s retreat from central Mississippi after the fall of Vicksburg.
  • William Loring was unsuccessful in halting Major General William T. Sherman’s raid against Meridian, Mississippi (February 14–20, 1864). In fairness to Loring, his forces were outnumbered two-to-one, thus there was little he could have done to stop Sherman.
  • In May 1864, Major General William T. Sherman launched his Atlanta Campaign (May 7 – September 2, 1864). In anticipation of Sherman’s offensive, on May 4 Jefferson Davis ordered Polk to bring his Army of Mississippi east to help defend Georgia.
  • In early May 1864, William Loring was ordered to Georgia where he served as a division commander during the Atlanta Campaign.
  • On May 12, 1864, all of William Loring led his division in the Battle of Resaca, the first major engagement of the Atlanta Campaign.
  • When a Union artillery shell killed General Leonidas Polk on June14, 1864, William Loring assumed temporary command of the corps. A week later, Confederate officials selected Lieutenant General Alexander P. Stewart to replace Polk as the corps’ commander, effective June 23, 1864.
  • On July 28, 1864, William Loring took a bullet to the chest at the Battle of Ezra Church. The wound was severe enough to keep Loring out of action for forty-three days.
  • During the fall of 1864, William Loring participated in General John Bell Hood’s ill-fated Franklin-Nashville Campaign as a divisional commander of Stewart’s Corps with the Army of Tennessee.
  • At the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864) William Loring’s Division suffered substantial casualties when pinned down by heavy artillery fire.
  • William Loring led a division during the disastrous Confederate defeat at the Battle of Nashville (December 15–16, 1864).
  • William Loring saw his last major action wearing a Rebel uniform as a divisional commander with the Army of Tennessee under General Joseph E. Johnston’s leadership during the Confederate loss at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina (March 19–21, 1865).
  • On April 26, 1865, General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the 89,270 soldiers under his command, including William Loring, to General William T. Sherman.
  • On May 1, 1865, Union officials paroled William Loring, along with a host of other Confederate army officers.
  • Following the Civil War, William Loring moved to New York City where he tried his hand at banking for several years.
  • In 1869, Loring accepted a commission from Ismail, the Khedive of Egypt, to serve as Inspector General of the Egyptian Army.
  • William Loring served as second-in-command of an Egyptian expeditionary army that Ethiopian forces soundly defeated at the Battle of Gura (March 7–9, 1876). Egyptian army officials quickly placed blame for the loss on Loring and other American military advisers.
  • Toward the end of his service in Egypt, William Loring penned a book of memoirs entitled A Confederate Soldier in Egypt, which was published in 1884.
  • Egyptian officials awarded William Loring with two decorations and the title of “Ferik Pasha” (honorary major general) for his service in Egypt.
  • After briefly touring Europe, William Loring returned to Florida in 1880. He remained there only one year before taking up residence in New York for the remainder of his life.
  • William Loring died from pneumonia at the St. Denis Hotel, New York City, on December 30, 1886.
  • William Loring’s body was cremated and buried at Grace Episcopal Church in New York City on January 2, 1887.
  • William Loring’s ashes were exhumed and reburied in St. Augustine on March 18, 1887.
  • In 1920, William Loring’s remains were moved to Loring Park in downtown St. Augustine, Florida, under a marble obelisk where they remain.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title William Wing Loring - Facts
  • Coverage December 4, 1818 - December 30, 1886
  • Author
  • Keywords William Wing Loring
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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