Private William F. Ford of the Tom Green Rifles, Company B, 4th Texas Infantry had an extraordinary war.

At Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862 he and his regiment were part of Hood’s Division’s devastating charge into Miller’s cornfield early that morning. But that wasn’t enough for Ford.

… after the Brigade was relieved about 10 o’clock am, he was sent off and accidentally meeting the 9th Georgia Regt. reported to Capt King of Co “K” and fought with them till night. Capt King gave him a certificate complimenting him for his gallant conduct thro’ the the day, which certificate was endorsed by both the Col commanding the 9th Georgia Regt and Col Anderson – now Brigadier – commanding the Brigade …

He was captured at Gettysburg in July 1863 and sent to the US prison at Fort Delaware. From which he escaped in August or early September. Not an easy thing, as shown by the fate of Hoxey Whiteside, Company G of the 4th Texas, who attempted such an escape a couple of months after Ford, in November 1863, but drowned in the Delaware River.

Private Ford “passed through parts of Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland in the disguise of a citizen, arriving safely in Richmond” and, not a shy man, made a request for a furlough directly to the CSA’s Adjutant General, General Samuel Cooper – “hoping sir, that you will grant this favor.” Cooper did.

He was commissioned Junior 2nd Lieutenant of his Company on 1 April 1864 “for valor and skill” and distinguished himself in combat again, in the Wilderness of Virginia, where he was wounded in the leg on 6 May 1864. He was promoted to Senior 2nd Lieutenant on 16 June.

In addition to all this, his is the second case [first, here] I’ve found of a Confederate officer applying to raise and command a “negro regiment.”

He made that request on about 12 March 1865 through his military chain of command, and a week later wrote to John H Reagan, the Postmaster General of the Confederate States, asking for help in expediting it.

Reagan forward a positive recommendation to Secretary of War Breckenridge on 22 March. The reply came back the same day (cover below).

Res. ret’d to the Post Master General. The application has not reached us, but the Dept. has decided not to grant authority to recruit larger organizations of col’d troops than companies except where a battalion of four companies can be raised from one estate.
By com’d Sec. War:
[Captain] John W. Riely, AAG

Word got to Lieutenant Ford on 30 March 1865. It was largely a moot point by then, anyway – Federal troops entered Richmond 4 days later.

He was surrendered and paroled at Appomattox Court House, VA on 9 April 1865, and went home to Austin, Texas. He died there in 1875.

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