Last updated: January 12, 2022
William Mahone was the President and Superintendent of the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad before the Civil War. When the war began, he was appointed Colonel of the 6th Virginia Infantry and served in the Norfolk area of Virginia where he helped construct Confederate defenses before the Battle of Drewry's Bluff. At the Battle of Second Manassas, Mahone commanded a brigade in James Longstreet's wing of the Army of Northern Virginia.
As the war progressed, he rose through the ranks and was ultimately appointed Major General in recognition of his actions at the Battle of the Crater outside during the Siege of Petersburg. Mahone returned to railroading after the war and by 1867 was president of three different railroad lines. He also reentered politics, an activity he had begun during the war years. He was eventually elected to the U.S. Senate in 1881 and served a single term. He was affectionately known as "Little Billy" for his small stature and thin build.