William Wing Loring
|William W. Loring|
William Loring in his Army uniform
|Birth name||William Wing Loring|
December 4, 1818|
Wilmington, North Carolina
December 30, 1886 (aged 68)|
New York City, New York
United States |
Confederate States of America
Khedivate of Egypt
United States Army|
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||
Colonel (USA) |
Major General (CSA)
Major General (Egypt)
Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (USA)|
Army of the Northwest (CSA)
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. 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.
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.
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.
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, participating in Robert E. Lee's Western Virginia Campaign in the fall of 1861. 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, particularly with Stonewall Jackson during the Romney Expedition in northwestern Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1862, and John C. Pemberton during the Vicksburg Campaign in 1863. In the case of the former, Loring and his officers went over Jackson's head to Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin, requesting that the division be withdrawn from Romney. Jackson complied with the order, then resigned in protest of Richmond's interference with his command; he withdrew his resignation under pressure from Governor John Letcher and his former commander, Joseph E. Johnston, and Loring was reassigned out of Jackson's command, to southwestern Virginia.
During the Vicksburg Campaign, he was cut off from the rest of the army at the Battle of Champion Hill. He and most of his division then marched to Jackson, Mississippi via Crystal Springs, Mississippi 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 commanded his division at Franklin on November 30, 1864, Nashville in mid-December, and in the Carolinas in March 1865.
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." 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. 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. 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).
Return to United States
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, behind Government House in downtown St. Augustine, Florida--where his presence was protested in 2018 by a group opposing Confederate memorials on public property.
Legacy and honors
- Charles Henry Pope, "Loring Genealogy", 1917, p.228
- Virginia. Governor (1860-1863: Letcher). Executive Papers, 1859-1863. Accession 36787. State government records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
- Czeslaw Jesman, "Egyptian Invasion of Ethiopia", African Affairs, 58 (1959), p. 79
- Boulger, Demetrius. The Life of Gordon, pp. 230 ff. T. Fisher Unwin (London), 1896 reprinted Library of Alexandria, 1986.
- Jesman, "Egyptian Invasion", p. 81
- Eicher, pp. 353-54.
- Williams, Greg H. (25 July 2014). The Liberty Ships of World War II: A Record of the 2,710 Vessels and Their Builders, Operators and Namesakes, with a History of the Jeremiah O’Brien. McFarland. ISBN 1476617546. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
- Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
- Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
- A Confederate Soldier in Egypt
- Loring website
- Loring biography at Civil War Home
- Biography of the Day: General William Wing Loring C.S.A.