Graduate of the Virginia Military Institute
Wounded at the 2nd battle of Manassas, Va.
(1826-95) Born in Southampton County, Va., he studied engineering and graduated from the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Va., in 1847. He then taught military science at the Rappahannock Military Academy, 1848-49. In 1853, the newly established Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad hired Mahone as its chief engineer, and construction began. He designed and built drawbridges across the busy Eastern and Southern Branches of the Elizabeth River near Norfolk. Mahone, who had gained previous experience building plank roads, is credited with the design and implementation of an innovative roadbed through the Great Dismal Swamp near Norfolk, employing a corduroy log foundation laid at right angles beneath the surface of the swamp. Still in use today, his design withstands immense tonnages of coal traffic through the swamp. He is responsible for engineering and building the famous 52 mile-long tangent track between Suffolk and Petersburg. By the time the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad was completed, the clouds of war were quickly forming with Mahone having become the president and superintendent of the railroad. Soon afterwards, he was commissioned colonel of the 6th Virginia Infantry, and participated in the capture of the Norfolk Navy Yard, and he later commanded the Norfolk District until its evacuation. Mahone fought with great distinction in the Army of Northern Virginia from the battle of Seven Pines to the surrender of General Lee's Army at Appomattox Court House. Other battles he participated in were the 1862 Virginia Peninsula campaign, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the 1864 Overland campaign. The only time Mahone was absent from his command was when he was convalescing from wounds received at the 2nd battle of Manassas in the summer of 1862. He also played a very prominent role in the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Va., on July 30, 1864. General Robert E. Lee had very high praise for General William Mahone, saying he made a large contribution to the organization and command of the Confederate army. After the war ended, he returned to his first love, railroad engineering, and became president of the Norfolk and Western Railroad. He later served in the U.S. Senate from 1881-1887, and was the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, and the Committee for Public Buildings and Grounds. He died in Washington, D.C., on October 8, 1895, and is buried in Petersburg, Va.
Signature with Title: 4 1/2 x 1 3/8, in ink, Wm. Mahone, next to the imprinted title of President. Vignette of a spread winged eagle sits to the left of Mahone's autograph. This was cut from a railroad bond when he served as president of the company. Large and bold signature. Very desirable Confederate general.