William L. Cabell (1827-1911)
William L. Cabell, son of Benjamin W. S. Cabell, a Major General of the militia in Virginia, followed his father’s footsteps into the military. At the age of nineteen, his biggest decision was not which career path to take, but which of two routes into military service he should take. Presented with the option of traveling to the Mexican War with a band of volunteers or attending West Point, the young man chose the academy, from which he graduated in 1850.
After graduation, Cabell served with the United States Army in the West. He saw combat in engagements against Native Americans before earning a post as Quartermaster, first of a small outpost but later of the Seventh Infantry Regiment. During his service on the frontier, in 1856, Cabell met and wed Harriet A. Rector, daughter of Superintendent of Indian Affairs Elias Rector.
Like so many other Virginians and scores of his kinsmen, Cabell resigned his commission in the United States Army as soon as he heard of Lincoln’s 19 April call for troops “to suppress the rebellion.” Jefferson Davis immediately commissioned him Chief Quartermaster and Commissary Officer for Virginia. Even as a supply officer, Cabell won notice for his performance on the battlefield, particularly after the battle of Elkhorn in March 1862. He was appointed brigadier general on January 20, 1863, in which capacity he served throughout the war. He was captured in October 1864 while on a cavalry raid and was not released until full peace had been restored in August.
After the war, Cabell studied law and then moved to Dallas. He became a favorite son of that city and served four terms as its mayor. In addition to public service, he was named vice president of the Southern Pacific railroad and led for many years the local branch of the United Confederate Veterans. He received an elaborate public funeral at Dallas’ Greenwood cemetery upon his death in 1911.
Additional Sources Consulted:
Paul Harvey, Jr., Old Tige: General William L. Cabell, CSA (1970)
Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray (1959)