Born in Alabama in 1830, William Felix Brantley moved to Mississippi with his family at an early age. He became an attorney and represented Choctaw County as a delegate to the Mississippi Secession Convention. Brantley voted in favor of secession and subsequently volunteered for service in the Confederate Army. Brantley captained a local company, the Wigfall Rifles, which became Company D of the 15th Mississippi Infantry. Wounded at Shiloh, he later served as an officer in the 29th Mississippi Infantry and eventually rose to the rank of brigadier general. Brantley was wounded again at Murfreesboro but returned to lead regiments at Chickamauga and Chattanooga. He took part in the Atlanta Campaign, accompanied John Bell Hood on his ill-fated invasion of Tennessee, and finally surrendered with Joseph E. Johnston at Durham Station, North Carolina, in 1865.
At the war Brantley returned home to Greensboro in Choctaw County to find the life he had known shattered. Both his wife and his mother had died during the war years, and he was ruined financially. He settled back into civilian life and worked to reestablish his once-thriving legal practice. He soon resumed his involvement in local politics, but he did not live to see the end of Reconstruction. In what became one of the region’s most legendary crimes, the former general was shot and killed in an ambush on 2 November 1871 as he traveled by carriage from Winona to Greensboro. Although there were a number of suspects, including political enemies and members of a family with whom the Brantleys had a long-standing feud, authorities never solved the crime.
- William T. Blain, Journal of Mississippi History (November 1975)