William W. Loring

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This article is about the American soldier. For the British naval officer, see William Loring (Royal Navy officer).
William W. Loring
William W. Loring.jpg
William Loring in his Army uniform
Nickname(s) "Old Blizzards"
Born (1818-12-04)December 4, 1818
Wilmington, North Carolina
Died December 30, 1886(1886-12-30) (aged 68)
New York City, New York
Allegiance  United States
Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Khedivate of Egypt
Service/branch  United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Egyptian Army
Years of service 1846 - 1861 (USA)
1861 - 1865 (CSA)
1869 - 1878 (Egypt)
Rank Union army col rank insignia.jpg Colonel (USA)
Confederate States of America General-collar.svg Major General (CSA)
Major General (Egypt)
Commands held Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (USA)
Army of the Northwest (CSA)
Other work Author

William Wing Loring (December 4, 1818 – December 30, 1886) was a soldier from North Carolina who served in the armies of the United States, the Confederacy, and Egypt.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

William was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Reuben and Hannah Loring. He was a fifth great grandson of New England pioneer Deacon Thomas Loring.[1] When he was four, his family moved to Saint Augustine, Florida, where, at the young age of fourteen, he began a military career that spanned fifty years. As a fourteen-year-old, Loring joined the Florida Militia and gained his first combat experience fighting the Seminole Indians in minor skirmishes that would culminate in the Seminole Wars. When he was seventeen, he ran away to fight in the Texas War for Independence, but was soon retrieved by his father and taken home. For the next few years he would fight in the second Seminole War and end up being promoted to second lieutenant. In 1837, Loring was sent to Alexandria Boarding School in Alexandria, Virginia, completing his secondary education. He attended Georgetown University from 1839 to 1840 and then went on to study law, and was admitted to the Florida bar in 1842. In 1843, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives where he served from 1843 to 1845. In 1845 he ran unsuccessfully for the Florida Senate.

Mexican-American War[edit]

In 1846, Loring joined a newly formed regiment, the Regiment of Mounted Rifles, originally created to protect the Oregon Territory. He was promoted to major even before the regiment saw battle. Shortly thereafter the Mounted Rifles were sent to Mexico to fight in the Mexican-American war. Loring's regiment saw action in most of the battles of the war and he was wounded three times. While leading the charge into Mexico City, Loring's arm was shattered by a Mexican bullet, and he would later have it amputated. He received two brevets for bravery, one to lieutenant colonel, and another to colonel.

Antebellum years[edit]

In 1849, during the California gold rush, Loring was ordered to take command of the Oregon Territory and led a train of 600 mule teams 2,500 miles from Missouri to Oregon. He was in command of the Oregon Territory for two years and was then transferred to being commander of the forts of the frontier, such forts as Fort Ewell, Fort McIntosh, and Fort Union. During some five years he engaged in many skirmishes with the Indians, most notably with the Comanches, Apaches, and Kiowas. Loring was promoted to colonel at the age of 38 in December 1856, the youngest in the army.

He left the United States and traveled to Europe in May 1859. While there, he, like many of his fellow American officers, studied the military tactics that had been invented in the recent Crimean War. Before he returned home, Loring would visit Great Britain, France, Sweden, Prussia, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, Turkey, and Egypt.

Civil War[edit]

When the Civil War erupted, Loring sided with the South. In a conference in New Mexico, just before he left to defend his homeland, Loring told his officers, "The South is my home, and I am going to throw up my commission and shall join the Southern Army, and each of you can do as you think best." He resigned from the U.S. Army on May 13, 1861. Upon offering his services to the Confederacy, Loring was promptly commissioned a brigadier general and given command of the Army of the Northwest. His first assignment was to defend western Virginia from Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who was invading from Ohio. He soon acquired the nickname, "Old Blizzards" for his battle cry, "Give them blizzards, boys! Give them blizzards!"

Loring famously butted heads with superior officers. He went over General Jackson's head in requesting that his command be relieved from Romney (now in West Virginia) during the winter of 1861-62 prompting Jackson to threaten resignation. There were incidents with General Pemberton during the Vicksburg Campaign as well.

During the Vicksburg Campaign he was cut off from the rest of the army at the Battle of Champion Hill. He then marched down to join forces with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and was under the command of Johnston and Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk, respectively. Loring took over command of Polk's corps temporarily when Polk was killed at Pine Mountain on June 14, 1864, and was replaced on July 7, 1864 by Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart. After being wounded at Ezra Church on July 28, 1864, Loring was out of action until after the fall of Atlanta. Upon returning he fought at Franklin on November 30, 1864, Nashville in mid-December, and in the Carolinas in March 1865.

Egypt[edit]

Loring as a pasha in Egyptian service

After the Confederate defeat in the Civil War, Loring served for nine years in the army of Isma'il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt. He joined about fifty Union and Confederate veterans who had been recommended to the Khedive by William Tecumseh Sherman. Loring began as Inspector General of the army, a position in which he suggested various ways to modernize the army. He was then placed in charge of the country’s coastal defenses, where he oversaw the erection of numerous fortifications. In 1875 he was promised the command of an Egyptian invasion of Abyssinia, however Ratib Pasha was given the assignment instead, and Loring was named chief of staff. Ratib Pasha was the ex-slave of the late Said Pawshar, the viceroy of Egypt, with negligible military qualifications; according to one of Loring's American compatriots, the freedman was "shrivelled with lechery as the mummy is with age."[2] The campaign against Abyssinia ended in disaster at the Battle of Gura, and the Egyptians blamed the Americans for the disaster. When Ratib Pasha had urged remaining with the Gura fortress, Loring had taunted him and called him a coward until he consented to meeting the Ethiopian host in the open valley.[3] While the rest of the Egyptian army returned home, they were ordered to remain in Massawa until further notice, where they endured the summer months, then spent the next two years enduring endless frustration and humiliation in Cairo.[4] In 1878, partially due to finances, the American officers were dismissed. During his service to Egypt, Loring attained the rank of Fereek Pasha (Major General). After his return to the United States, he wrote a book about his Egyptian experiences, entitled A Confederate Soldier in Egypt (1884). Loring was also the posthumous co-author of The March of the Mounted Riflemen (1940).[5]

Return to United States[edit]

Loring returned to Florida where he unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate against Charles W. Jones. He then moved to New York City, where he died. He is buried in Loring Park, Woodlawn Cemetery, St. Augustine, Florida.[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Charles Henry Pope, "Loring Genealogy", 1917, p.228
  2. ^ Czeslaw Jesman, "Egyptian Invasion of Ethiopia", African Affairs, 58 (1959), p. 79
  3. ^ Boulger, Demetrius. The Life of Gordon, pp. 230 ff. T. Fisher Unwin (London), 1896 reprinted Library of Alexandria, 1986.
  4. ^ Jesman, "Egyptian Invasion", p. 81
  5. ^ a b Eicher, pp. 353-54.

References[edit]