Mahone, William

Mahone, William məhōnˈ [key], 1826–95, Confederate general in the American Civil War and Virginia politician, b. Southampton co., Va. He was president, chief engineer, and superintendent of the Norfolk-Petersburg RR when the Civil War broke out. Mahone joined (1861) the Confederate army and fought in most of the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia. He distinguished himself particularly at Petersburg, where on June 30, 1864, he repulsed the Union assault at “the Crater.” For this he was immediately promoted to major general. After the war he resumed his railroad activities and entered politics. Mahone became the leader of the Readjusters, Virginia Democrats who advocated the partial repudiation of the state debt and popular social and economic reforms. He led them to victory in the state elections of 1879 and 1881, and was himself elected (1880) to the U.S. Senate. By allying himself with the Republicans there, Mahone was able to build a powerful machine that controlled Virginia Republican politics for several years.

See biography by N. M. Blake (1935).

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