Confederate general William Lindsay Brandon was born in October 1802 near Washington in Adams County, Mississippi. He was the youngest son of a Revolutionary War veteran and the brother of Gerard C. Brandon, a multiterm governor of Mississippi. William Brandon resettled in Wilkinson County in 1824 and carved out a plantation he named Arcole. He was educated at Virginia’s Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) before returning to Mississippi. Brandon and his first wife, Ann Davis Brandon, had two children, but both she and the children died at an early age. Brandon then married Ann Eliza Ratliff in 1833, and three of their four sons lived to adulthood.
Brandon was a planter with keen interests in hunting and medicine. He served one term in the state legislature and became a major general in the state militia. Brandon raised a company of volunteers after Mississippi seceded, was elected the unit’s captain, and accompanied it to Virginia. When his company became a portion of the 21st Mississippi Infantry, Brandon was promoted to major and then lieutenant colonel. At the Battle of Malvern Hill on 1 July 1862 he suffered a severe wound to the ankle that resulted in the amputation of his right leg. Doctors doubted whether he would survive, but after a long recuperation in Richmond, Virginia, he felt well enough to leave the hospital. One visitor who anticipated finding Brandon on his deathbed was astonished at his fighting spirit and confidence, which may have hastened his recovery. Finding a suitable artificial leg proved troublesome, and he was unable to mount or dismount a horse without assistance. Brandon rejoined his regiment on crutches and participated in the Gettysburg and Chickamauga Campaigns. He was appointed colonel of the regiment upon the ascension of Benjamin G. Humphreys to brigade command after Gettysburg. Brandon’s advanced age, the poor fit of his artificial leg, and recurring illness prevented him from properly attending to his field duties, and he evidently tendered his resignation in October 1863, although he reportedly served in the Knoxville Campaign later that year and returned to Virginia with his command.
The Confederate government was unwilling to dispense entirely with Brandon’s services, and on 18 June 1864 he was appointed brigadier general and assumed command of Mississippi’s Reserve Corps and Conscription Bureau, headquartered at Enterprise. He found himself frustrated by this assignment, which involved rounding up deserters and resulted in squabbles with Gov. Charles Clark over placing state troops into Confederate service. Brandon remained at this post until just prior to the end of the war. He was paroled at Meridian on 10 May 1865 and returned to his plantation, spending the remainder of his life attempting to rebuild his fortunes. Although biographical sketches universally state that he died on 8 October 1890, his tombstone in the family plot at Arcole lists 8 August 1890, and obituaries support the latter date.
- Harold A. Cross, They Sleep beneath the Mockingbird: Mississippi Burial Sites and Biographies of Confederate Generals (1994)
- Gary Gallagher, in The Confederate General, ed. William C. Davis (1991)
- Goodspeed’s Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi (1891); Jack D. Welsh, Medical Histories of Confederate Generals (1995)