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This Day in Richmond History: February 28, 1896

General WIlliam Mahone, during the Civil War
wikipedia

The last will and testament of General William Mahone is opened for dispersal of his property, following his death in October of the previous year.

On this day in 1896, the will of former Confederate General William Mahone is probated, months after his death in October of 1895. His home in Petersburg was left to his wife and family, while other belongings, such as interests in mining in the western part of the state were dispersed among family and creditors.

Mahone was a prominent railroad man before and after the Civil War. During the war, he steadily moved up the ranks, starting as a lieutenant colonel in 1861. "Little Billy", so called for his smaller stature and the fact he only weighed 100lbs, would become a brigadier general by the end of 1861. He fought in basically all of the major battles that the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia took part in, including Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

In July of 1864, Mahone took part in the battle that he became famous for. After the Union army detonated a mine under the Confederate trenches and attacked, Mahone was the primary General in the area that organized the troops that repelled the onslaught. He became known as the "Hero of the Battle of the Crater". Mahone made it to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox the following April of 1865 and returned to the railroad industry after the war was over.

He also was well known in Virginia politics after the war, eventually becoming a Republican and a senator.

In October of 1895 he suffered a major stroke and did not recover, dying on the 8th of that month at the age of 68.