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The Glengarry McDonalds of Virginia
Chapter 16 - His War and other Experiences

He returned with his father from England in November, 1860, and very soon entered into a law partnership with his brother-in-law, Judge Thomas C. Green, in Charles Town. It was of short duration, however, as he enlisted in Company G (Botts Grays) 2nd. Reg. Virginia Infantry the following April and was one of those intrepid souls who helped win for his brigade, under its baptism of shot and shell at the first Manassa, the illustrious sobriquet of "Stonewall." He remained with that command. participating in all of its engagements until the reorganization of the army the following year, when he was transferred to the Laurel Brigade as Ordnance officer on Gen. Rosser's Staff, with rank of Captain.

He was frequently disabled by sickness as his delicate organism could ill brook the privations and discomforts of camp life, but his optimistic and buoyant disposition made him always the life of every gathering. He was wounded but once—on the second day of the battle of the Wilderness, near Spottsylvania, C. H.—where he received a shell wound very near his heart and which laid him up for some time.

At the time of the surrender he was Chief of Ordnance of Mahone's Division and a great favorite with the blustering Irishman, who made many offers to assist him in his struggles with the wolf after the war, but as they were all based on a modification of his political principles, they were invariably declined. In a final effort, when Mahone was representing the republicans of Virginia in the U. S. Senate he wrote to William and told him he felt confident that he could get him a foreign appointment in the Diplomatic Corps, and all that he need do, so far as politics were concerned, was to "keep his mouth shut." Even this did not tempt him, however.

[William used to tell a good story on Gen. Mahone, which occurred when the army was falling back from Petersburg, and which was very characteristic of the General.

His entire Division was in motion, at the time, and as they moved laboriously along the rout(;, the General rode leisurely to the rear, on a tour of inspection. Encountering the driver of the Head-quarters wagon, he called out:

"Hello, Jim, Is everything all right?"

"Yes, sah," replied Jim, hesitatingly, `Everything, 'cept—"

"Except what, you d--d rascal?" yelled Mahone.

"Uh uh uh," stammered Jim, guiltily, "Yo' coffee-pot's done got ram-jammed, mighty bad, I'm 'feared, General."

"Who in the h--l ram-jammed my coffee-pot?" roared Mahone in a fury. And the entire wagon train was halted, until the head-quarters coffee pot was released from its perilous state of "ram-jam."]

After the surrender he went first to Charlottesville where he assisted in nursing his brother Edward. From the hospital in Charlottesville he went with his brother Edward back to the Valley and there they together rented one of the biggest farms in Clarke County. Here, William established the Cool Spring school, while Edward managed the big farm. Many of the students who entered were ex-Confederate soldiers whose education had been interrupted by the war, and it was no light task to get them into the traces again, but he was phenominally successful from the start.

Coming out of the war with only his horse and side arms, he said, that but for the gift of a dozen pairs of socks from a kind lady in Charlottesville, he didn't know how he would have reached home. He found the socks a happy medium of exchange. To use his own expression, he ate socks, he had his horse shod with socks, he slept on socks, besides putting a few pairs to their legitimate uses.

It was while he lived at Cool Spring that he wrote, in conjunction with Professor John S. Blackburn, the first Southern School History of the United States. It was published at their own expense and reached the twentieth edition, having still a wide circulation.

In August, 1867, he was married to Miss Catherine S. Gray, of Loudon County, Virginia, and shortly after that received from the Trustees of the Louisville High School—several of whom had been his former pupils—an offer of his old position as Principal, with a salary almost double that which he had originally received. This broke up the dear home at Cool Spring, where "Ed and Will," "Sue," "Flora" and "Allan," with frequent visits from other members of the family had found a safe and happyharbor after the four turbulent years of the war.

Ile was installed as Principal of the Louisville Male High School for the second time, September 29th, 1868, and an extract from his inaugural address on that occasion shows that his mind was still dominated with the same lofty aspirations which characterized his youth and early manhood: "The mental without the moral development, even in a worldly sense, avails but little, and with regard to those interests that survive this life, the subject admits of no discussion."

In substantiation of the principles by which he was governed, and in a measure, verifying his efforts to instill the same high ideals into his pupils, I find in a letter from one of his old pupils, later, Professor of Greek at Vanderbilt University, the following tribute: "I quite fail to be able to describe the profound and abiding impression which his method and expositions in teaching Butler's Analogy, for example, have had upon my thought, faith and life."

In 1872, he resigned his position as Principal of the Male High School and established, in conjunction with his brother Allan, the Louisville Rugby School, and for the next fifteen years this was conceded to be the largest and most successful private school for boys west of the Alleghanies. During this time he, with his brother Edward, established the Southern Bivouac, which he edited with great success for several years.

Finally, his health being much impaired, the old longing for his native heath caused him to give up his position as head of the Rugby and he returned to Virginia in 1887 and there opened at Berryville, Virginia, the Shenandoah University School, which he maintained in successful operation up to the time of his death on January 4th, 1898. He was at the time of his death a candidate for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Virginia, with every chance of success in his favor.

Besides his wife he left three sons and five daughters—two daughters, Flora and Fannie, having died in infancy. His body lies in Green Hill Cemetery, near Berryville, Virginia, and a nobler type of Christian manhood never lived! Possessed to an unusual degree with the genius of energy, he gave his best efforts to whatever enlisted his interests, and as a teacher, in the language of one of his old pupils: "He inspired his boys with an enthusiastic interest in whatever he taught them, making that a delightful pleasure which ordinarily is an irksome task."

He undertook, at General Rosser's urgent instance, to write a history of the Laurel Brigade and the little leisure he found, during the Iatter years of his life, was chiefly devoted to collecting data and material for that history. Professor Hurt, of Tulane University, said of him: "His knowledge is profound. his methods of exposition clear and his taste incomparable."

His genial, sympathetic nature made him much sought after and his friends were numbered by the score. In 1879, while still a resident of Louisville, be was invited by Governor Matthews of West Virginia to make him a visit at the White Sulphur Springs, and his letters home, tell how his Virginia friends toasted and feted him. At one of the dinners given him he speaks of meeting again "Roony Lee, General Robertson, Dulaney and several others with whom I had been in battles. And how they spoke of my father! Ran. Tucker, for the especial benefit of a New York heiress who was present, began telling of my father's capture by the Yankees. I mildly remarked that the young Iady, being a Yankee, might no relish the recital, whereupon she indignantly disclaimed being a Yankee, said that she was a true descendant of Virginia, whereupon Ran. Tucker proposed a toast to all true descendants of Virginia, and then resumed the story in his most eloquent strain. At its conclusion, Matthews exclaimed: `By heavens, I would rather be the son of such a man than Czar of the Russias.' "

When he attended the Confederate reunion, held in Richmond for the first time, he wore the Confederate uniform, which had not been seen in public since soon after the surrender. He stopped to see the writer on his way home and almost as soon as he got inside the house he exclaimed, "Let me take off this uniform! I feel like a pauper! No one has allowed me to pay for anything since I put it on to go to Richmond." But whether it was altogether because of the uniform, I have always had my doubts.

He was a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church and a vestryman and in addition to teaching all the week he also taught regularly in the Sunday School. The children who survived him were: William Naylor, Ellen Douglas, Craig Woodrow (since deceased), Nannie Gray, Hugh Marshall, Catherine, Leacy Naylor and Mary.

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