Lt. Colonel William Henry Chapman Society

  A North Carolina Military Roundtable

Who Was William H. Chapman?

During the American Civil War, William Henry Chapman rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the 43rd battalion of Virginia cavalry, known as Mosby’s battalion.  As second-in-command to the Confederate partisan leader John S. Mosby at the end of the war, Chapman was the man who arranged the meeting of Mosby with Union General Winfield Scott Hancock, which led to the disbanding (but not the surrender) of the rangers at the war’s close. He had a distinguished military career and a long record of fine service in civil pursuits following the war.


William Henry Chapman grew up in Luray, Page County, Virginia. Prior to hostilities he was a student at the University of Virginia.  At that time, the students of the University were organizing themselves into their own regiment known as the “Southern Guards”. The governor of Virginia, however, disbanded the unit and told them to go home and help organize local military units. Chapman went back to Luray and called on a local inventor named John Kaylor Booton to help organize an artillery battery that would be known as the "Dixie Artillery". Later, John Booton was elected to the state legislature and Chapman was elected Captain of the "Dixie Artillery".   


As battery commander, Chapman fought at the Seven Days, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg before his command was consolidated with other units in October 1862. Made a supernumerary by this action, he served as a recruiting officer until given charge of a company in Mosby’s command. Operating behind Union lines, it was highly disruptive of Union communications. When the battalion was increased to a regiment, Chapman became its lieutenant colonel. He met with Hancock after Lee’s surrender to arrange the Mosby meeting mentioned earlier. Chapman himself was paroled at Winchester, Virginia, on April 22, 1865.

On February 26, 1864, Colonel Chapman was married to Miss Josephine Jeffries. Miss Jeffries was a resident of Fauquier County, living just north of Warrenton at "Edgehill", the family farm. The minister who was to officiate was captured on the way to the wedding and another was hastily procured. Later that same day Federal troops arrived but Colonel and Mrs. Chapman had left on their brief honeymoon.


John Mosby helped President Grant win re-election in 1872 and as a result was able to suggest several of his close associates for posts in the federal government. It was during this time that William Henry Chapman went to work for the United States Revenue Service. During the years that followed he was assigned to posts in numerous locales, including Alexandria, Virginia, northern Georgia, San Francisco, California, and Greensboro, North Carolina. 


One newspaper account states that Chapman began his duties with the Revenue Service in Greensboro and was stationed here at four different periods during his career. In January of 1916, The Greensboro Patriot newspaper reported: "Col. Chapman is perhaps the oldest man in the service of the internal revenue department, both in years and in length of service.  He is 76 years old and for half his life, or 38 years, has been a revenue agent . . . Col. Chapman is remarkably active and vigorous for a man of his years."

Following his retirement from the revenue service, William Henry Chapman made his home in Greensboro. The announcement of his death described him as a "distinguished Confederate veteran and prominent citizen" of Greensboro. Lt. Colonel Chapman is buried in Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro. 


Read Col. Chapman's Obituary.

Pictured at the May 10, 1953 Confederate Memorial Day service in Greensboro, N.C. On the right is Miss Katherine Chapman, daughter of Lt. Colonel William Henry Chapman. At the time she was serving as Chaplain of the Guilford Chapter of the U.D.C. To the left are Mrs. W. B. Davis, President of the Guilford Chapter of the U.D.C., Dr. James C. Stokes, Pastor of College Place Methodist Church, and Mr. Robert C. Hamlin, Commander, Henry K. Burtner Post No. 53 of the American Legion.

Sources:

  • Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York, NY: Facts on File Publications, 1988
  • Greensboro Patriot, January 20, 1916
  • Greensboro Daily News, September 6, 1929
  • Greensboro Daily News, September 7, 1929
  • Correspondence with David Roha, June 2006, great-grandson of William H. Chapman.