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William Henry Forney (November 9, 1823 – January 16, 1894) was an Alabama legislator, brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and U.S. Representative from Alabama from March 4, 1875 to March 3, 1893.

William Henry Forney
William H. Forney.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1893
Preceded byDistrict re-established
Succeeded byWilliam Henry Denson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877
Preceded byCharles Christopher Sheats
Succeeded byDistrict inactive
Member of the Alabama Senate
In office
Personal details
BornNovember 9, 1823
Lincolnton, North Carolina
DiedJanuary 16, 1894 (aged 70)
Jacksonville, Alabama
Nationality United States
Political partyDemocratic
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Branch/service Confederate States Army
Years of service1861 – 1865
RankBrigadier General
Unit10th Regiment Alabama Infantry
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Early lifeEdit

Forney was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, November 9, 1823.[1] He moved with his parents to Alabama in 1835.[1][2] He was the grandson of Peter Forney and nephew of David M. Forney. He was the older brother of Confederate Major General John Horace Forney, first cousin of Confederate Brigadier General Robert Daniel Johnston and second cousin of Confederate Major Generals Robert F. Hoke and Stephen Dodson Ramseur.[1] Forney pursued an education in classical studies, and graduated from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1844.[1][2]

He served in the Mexican War as a first lieutenant in the First Regiment of Alabama Volunteers.[2] Upon returning from the War, Forney studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1848 when he commenced practice in Jacksonville, Alabama.[2] Forney served as a Trustee of the University of Alabama from 1851-1860. In 1859 and 1860, Forney served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives.[2]

Civil WarEdit

During the Civil War Forney entered the Confederate States Army in 1861 as a captain in the 10th Regiment Alabama Infantry, and was successively promoted to major on December 20, 1861, lieutenant colonel on March 17, 1862, and colonel on June 27, 1862.[1] He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Dranesville, Virginia, December 20, 1861.[1][3] He was wounded in the right arm and captured at the Battle of Williamsburg on June 27, 1862.[1][3] He was exchanged on August 31, 1862.[1] He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Salem Church on May 3, 1863.[1]

He was left on the field at Gettysburg with multiple wounds, captured and remained a Union prisoner of war for more than a year from July 5, 1863 to August 4, 1864.[1] Following his parole, on August 21, 1864, he was given commanded of a brigade in Major General William Mahone's division.[1][2] Forney was promoted to brigadier general on February 15, 1865.[1] He served as a brigade commander in Mahone's Division until the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.[1][2] He was pardoned on July 11, 1866.[1]

Aftermath: Post-War careerEdit

After the War, Forney served as member of the State senate in 1865 and 1866. He was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth and to the eight succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1893).[1][3][4] He served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury (Forty-sixth Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1892.

He was appointed by President Grover Cleveland to be a member of the Gettysburg Battlefield Commission and served until his death. Forney died in Jacksonville, Alabama, January 16, 1894 and was interred in City Cemetery, Jacksonville.[1][4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1. p. 240.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9. p. 91.
  3. ^ a b c Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4. p. 224.
  4. ^ a b Warner, 1959, p. 92.


Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles C. Sheats
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
District inactive
Preceded by
District re-established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
William H. Denson