William Watson (sergeant)

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William Watson (born 1826, died 1906) was an author and soldier in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He is most noted for an autobiographical book Life in The Confederate Army that he wrote after the war chronicling his army life.

William Watson was born in 1826 in the Scottish village of Skelmorlie, some twenty-five miles west of Glasgow on the Firth of Clyde. His father, a landscape gardener named Henry Watson, had been born in England. He had come to Skelmorlie in 1820 to lay out the grounds of Ashcraig, the estate of Andrew D. Campbell, a retired sugar planter.

Trained as an shipbuilding engineer, Watson immigrated about 1845 to the Caribbean Islands, where he worked as a civil engineer and occasional captain of sailing vessels. Sometime about 1850 he moved to Louisiana and by 1860 was part owner of a sawmill and a coal and steamboat business in Baton Rouge, and joined the local Rifle Volunteers. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a sergeant in the 3rd Louisiana Infantry and served in a number of military campaigns with the regiment. He was one of many British citizens to serve the Confederacy, including Confederate army officer Henry Wemyss Feilden [1] and Thomas Leslie Outerbridge, who crewed blockade runners. In 1862 Watson was discharged and became a blockade runner, initially with schooners and then as a steam vessel master.

In 1865 Watson returned to Scotland and, in his retirement, wrote Life In The Confederate Army: Being The Observations And Experiences Of An Alien In The South During The American Civil War was published first in England in 1887. This was followed in 1892 by The Adventures Of A Blockade Runner; Or, Trade In Time Of War.

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