Brig. Gen. Stephen Elliott Jr. (b. 1830, d. 1866) Wounds suffered when his unit was blown up at “The Crater” during the Battle of Petersburg and at Bentonville eventually contributed to the early death of Stephen Elliott Jr. Born in Beaufort, South Carolina, Oct. 26, 2830, Elliott was the grandson of a distinguished naturalist and son of the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in Georgia. Elliott attended Harvard before eventually graduating from South Carolina College in 1850. A planter on Parris Island, South Carolina, Elliott also was known as a yachtsman and fisherman. He served in the South Carolina state legislature prior to the war. When the war came, Elliott was captain of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, which traced its heritage back to 1776. He took the unit, later known as Stuart’s Battery, to Charleston, where it participated in the shelling of Fort Sumter. Elliott was then assigned to protect an area around Port Royal harbor in South Carolina. After the fall of the coastal islands, Elliott led a series of night raids on Federal outposts. One of these raids sank the steamer George Washington, April 9, 1863. By September of 1863, Elliott was a lieutenant colonel in charge of artillery for the Third Military District based at Fort Sumter. He experimented with torpedoes, and four of his devices were placed in the harbor with the hopes of sinking the USS New Ironsides. Department commander Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard reported to the War Department of Elliott’s qualities. Elliott got the call to Virginia in the spring of 1864. He took Holcombe’s Legion to the Petersburg fortifications. After his promotion to brigadier general May 24, 1864, Elliott received three more regiments for his brigade. Oddly, a man who experimented with mines and torpedoes, Elliott’s command was at the wrong place at the wrong time when Federals burrowed under his lines and exploded a mine under his positions. About 700 men in his brigade were either killed or wounded in the explosion. Elliott got out of the hole, but was critically wounded while trying to fill the gap in the Confederate line. After recovering, Elliott returned to duty under Gen. Joseph Johnston in the Carolinas. He was again severely wounded at the Battle of Bentonville, March 19, 1865. Elected to the South Carolina legislature again, Elliott died in Aiken, South Carolina, Feb. 21, 1866. He was buried in Beaufort, South Carolina, in the Episcopal Churchyard.
Brig. Gen. Matthew D. Ector (b. 1822, d. 1879) Seriously wounded July 27, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign, Matthew Duncan Ector was knocked out of active command as a leg had to be amputated. Up until that time, Ector had risen from private to brigadier general in the service of the Confederacy. Born in Putnam County, Georgia, Feb. 28, 1822, Ector attended Centre College in Kentucky. He practiced law (admitted to the bar in 1844) and served a term in the Georgia state legislature before moving to Texas in the late 1840s. Residing in Henderson, Texas, Ector was elected to the state legislature in 1855. He entered Confederate service as a private in Capt. R.H. Cumby’s cavalry. When officer elections were held, Ector was elected first lieutenant. This company became part of the 3rd Texas Cavalry commanded by Col. Elkanah Greer. Ector was named regimental adjutant. The 3rd Texas Cavalry fought in the Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, Aug. 10, 1861, and in the defeat at Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge), Arkansas, May 7-8, 1862. Ector briefly was brigade adjutant before being elevated to colonel of the 14th Texas Cavalry (dismounted). He was promoted to brigadier general to rank from Aug. 23, 1862. His troops participated in the Confederate victory at Richmond, Kentucky, Aug. 29-30, 1862. At the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River), Ector led his Texas Brigade into a successful dawn attack against Federal troops of Maj. Gen. Alexander McCook during the opening day of the battle, Dec. 31, 1862. In the spring of 1863, Ector’s Brigade was selected to go to Vicksburg to bolster defenses there. Ector’s Brigade arrived May 19, 1863, one day after the Federals sealed off Vicksburg. Back with the Army of Tennessee, Ector’s brigade helped to initiate the Battle of Chickamauga (Sept. 19-20, 1863). After another stint in Mississippi, Ector was back with the Army of Tennessee for the Atlanta Campaign. He remained with his brigade until being wounded. Recovering, Ector and his brigade played a role in the defense of Mobile in the final days of the war. After the surrender, April 11, 1865, Ector was paroled in May of 1865 and returned to Texas with his third wife. A lawyer, Ector was appointed to the Sixth District Court of Appeals in 1874. He was the presiding judge at the time of his death in Tyler, Texas, Oct. 29, 1879. He was buried in Marshall Texas. Ector County Texas, established in west Texas in 1887, was named in his honor.
Brig. Gen. John Echols (b. 1823, d. 1896) Popular lore states that John Echols “rarely made an enemy and never lost a friend.” Echols spent most of his Confederate military service in the western part of Virginia. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, March 20, 1823, Echols grew to an impressive six feet, four inches and weighed 260 pounds. Echols graduated from Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and studied law at Harvard before opening his practice in 1843. He later served as a commonwealth attorney and member of the state’s general assembly. He was a delegate to Virginia’s secession convention. He was active as a recruiter in the western part of Virginia and was commissioned into the Confederate Army as lieutenant colonel of the 27th Virginia Infantry. He served with this unit as part of the famous Stonewall Brigade at First Manassas (Bull Run) July 21, 1862. Much of his early war service came in the command of Maj. Gen. Thomas Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Fighting at Kernstown, March 23, 1862, Echols was severely wounded. Soon after, Echols was promoted to brigadier general April 16, 1862, and assigned to command a brigade in the Army of Western Virginia under Maj. Gen. William W. Loring. On Oct. 16, 1862, Echols was named commander of the Army of Southwestern Virginia, but was replaced in less than a month. During the summer of 1863, Echols served on a court of inquiry to examine the surrender at Vicksburg. He was back in a brigade command later in the year. His forces were defeated at Droop Mountain Nov. 6, 1863. In 1864, Echols led his men at the Battle of New Market (May 15, 1864) as part of the division of Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge. The Confederates won the day with cadets from Virginia Military Institute playing a major role. Echols’ men went to the Army of Northern Virginia with Breckinridge, fighting at Cold Harbor (June 1-3, 1864). Echols was named commander of the District of Southwest Virginia, replacing Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. He held this role until March 30, 1865. At that point, he moved his forces to join the Army of Northern Virginia, but he learned of the surrender at Appomattox on the way. Echols then turned his men to join forces of Gen. Joseph Johnston. Echols eventually was captured while with President Jefferson Davis’ party in Georgia. After the war, Echols went into business in Staunton, Virginia, and Louisville, Kentucky. He helped to organize the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad out of the old Virginia Central. He was on the board of visitors for VMI and Washington and Lee. Echols died in Staunton May 24, 1896, and was buried there.