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Alexander Welch Reynolds
[[Image:File:AWReynoldsACW.jpg|center|200px|border]]Alexander Welch Reynolds
Personal Information
Born: April 1816 or August 1817
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: May 26, 1876 (aged 59–60)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: Gauley
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Confederate States Army
Egyptian Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Captain (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
Colonel (Egypt)
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: Mexican–American War

American Civil War

Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Alexander Welch Reynolds (April 1816 or August 1817–May 26, 1876)[1] was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate Army general during the American Civil War, primarily fighting in the Western Theater. After the conflict he served as a staff officer in the Egyptian Army.

Early life and career[]

Alexander W. Reynolds was born in either 1816 or 1817 in Frederick County, Virginia. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1833, and graduated five years later, standing 35th out of 45 cadets. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Infantry on July 1, 1838. Reynolds was promoted to first lieutenant on June 11, 1839, and was the 1st's Regimental Adjutant from October 19 to March 1, 1840.[2]

During the Mexican–American War, Reynolds was a captain in the U.S. Army, serving as the Army's assistant Quartermaster beginning August 4, 1847. He was at this rank on March 15, 1848, when he vacated his line commission. Reynolds was dismissed from the U.S. Army on October 8, 1855, following the disappearance of $126,307 USD from Reynolds' office. When the funds were later accounted for, he was restored to his previous rank of captain as of March 29, 1858.[2]

Civil War service[]


Reynolds as a United States Army captain

During the American Civil War, Reynolds chose to follow his home state and the Confederate cause. He went AWOL from the U.S. Army[3] and entered the Confederate States Army in 1861. He was appointed a captain in the Confederate Infantry on March 16, and promoted to colonel of the 50th Virginia Infantry on July 10. His soldiers called him "Old Gauley."[4]

Reynolds then was sent to the Western Theater. He joined Edmund Kirby Smith's command in the Army of Kentucky throughout the rest of 1861 and most of 1862.[2] After the Kentucky Campaign failed in its object, Smith's army joined Gen. Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee in a reorganization. On December 16, 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered the transfer of Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson's division to Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton's army. Reynolds, commanding a brigade in Stevenson's division, went with his troops to Vicksburg.[5]


Unlike the other three brigades of Stevenson's division, Reynolds' brigade suffered only lightly at the Battle of Champion's Hill. During the Siege of Vicksburg his brigade held a portion of the southern-most sector near the "Salient Work".[6] His brigade lost 14 killed, 25 wounded, and 14 missing during the siege.[7] Reynolds' brigade was part of the garrison that surrendered on July 4, 1863.[2]


Reynolds was exchanged on October 13, 1863, and promoted to brigadier general on September 14.[8] Reynolds led a brigade in Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner's division during the Chattanooga Campaign. After Confederate President Davis ordered Lt. Gen. James Longstreet to recapture Knoxville, Tennessee, Buckner's division was sent as a reinforcement. When the Union army attacked Bragg on 23 November, Reynolds' brigade was still waiting to board the trains that would take them to Knoxville. Detached from its parent division, Bragg sent it into the fight.[9]

File:Missionary Ridge.png

1863's Battle of Missionary Ridge. Reynold's force is near the center of the map.

In the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Bragg and corps commander John C. Breckinridge probably committed a serious tactical blunder in placing the troops of Reynolds and other brigades in a first line of breastworks at the base of the ridge. In case of a Federal attack, the two generals intended for Reynolds' men to fire a single volley and fall back to a position on the crest where a gap was deliberately left.[10] To compound the error, Bragg ordered Reynolds to move his brigade back to the top of the ridge early in the afternoon. Coincidentally, his men began pulling back just as the main Union attack began. This encouraged the attacking Federals and demoralized nearby Confederate troops in the first line.[11] Reynolds' troops were winded by the time they reached their empty position on the crest. When Union soldiers broke through the next brigade to the north, his exhausted men put up a brief resistance before retreating.[12]


Reynolds continued in brigade command in the Army of Tennessee during the Atlanta Campaign of 1864. He served in Stevenson's division of Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood's Corps.[13] He fought at the battles of Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, and Adairsville before being wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church on May 27. Upon recovery from his wounds, Reynolds was appointed assistant Inspector General of the District of Georgia in 1865 until the end of the war. He was paroled at Athens, Georgia, on May 8.[2]


Reynolds entered the service of Egypt in 1869 as a colonel in the Egyptian Army. Egyptian chief of staff, Charles Pomeroy Stone assigned Reynolds to serve as Quartermaster, Commissary officer, and paymaster general.[14] He and his wife (whom he referred to as duchess), and his son Frank, and Frank's wife and son took up residence in Alexandria, Egypt. They became friends with a small circle of American expatriates that included Stone, William W. Loring, and Raleigh E. Colston.[15]

Tragedy struck the family in 1875. The previous year Frank Reynolds had returned to the United States with his wife and son to buy Remington rifles for the Egyptian government. In 1875, Frank became sick and died in Ilion, New York. After this, Mrs. Reynolds returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she soon died. At this time, Reynolds lost his support group of expatriates when most of the American officers left for the war against Ethiopia. With his pay from the Egyptian government in arrears and owing his creditors money, he was forced to move into a seedy boarding house. He died in bed there on May 26, 1876. According to gossip, alcoholism was a contributing factor.[16]

The exact whereabouts of Reynolds' remains are not known; they could be in an unmarked grave in Alexandria or in the Patton Tomb located in Lewisburg, West Virginia, at the Old Stone Presbyterian Churchyard. In his memory a cenotaph was erected in St. James the Less Cemetery located in Philadelphia.[2]

See also[]


  • Battles & Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 3. Secaucus, NJ: Castle. ISBN 0-89009-571-X
  • Battles & Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 4. Secaucus, NJ: Castle. ISBN 0-89009-572-8
  • Boatner, Mark M. III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: David McKay, 1959. ISBN 0-679-50013-8
  • Cozzens, Peter. No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1991. ISBN 0-252-06229-9
  • Cozzens, Peter. The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 0-252-01922-9
  • "Civil War Times Illustrated", Struggle for Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Pa., 1967.
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Hesseltine, William B. & Wolf, Hazel C. The Blue and the Gray on the Nile. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.
  • Wright, Marcus J., General Officers of the Confederate Army, J. M. Carroll & Co., 1983, ISBN 0-8488-0009-5.


  1. Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p. 450. gives birth date of April 1816; Wright, General Officers, p. 111. gives birth date of August 1817.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p. 450.
  3. Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p. 450. Would be "dropped" from U.S. Army rolls on October 4, 1861.
  4. Hesseltine & Wolf, Blue and the Gray on the Nile, p. 72.
  5. Cozzens, Battle of Stones River, p. 38.
  6. "Civil War Times", pp. 40-41.
  7. Battles & Leaders III, p. 549.
  8. Wright, General Officers, p. 111. Appointed from Virginia on September 17, 1863, to rank from September 14, and confirmed by Confederate Congress on February 17, 1864.
  9. Cozzens, Battles for Chattanooga, p. 137.
  10. Cozzens, Battles for Chattanooga, p. 255.
  11. Cozzens, Battles for Chattanooga, pp. 268-69.
  12. Cozzens, Battles for Chattanooga, p. 289.
  13. Battles & Leaders IV, p. 291.
  14. Hesseltine & Wolf, Blue and the Gray on the Nile, p. 80.
  15. Hesseltine & Wolf, Blue and the Gray on the Nile, p. 75.
  16. Hesseltine & Wolf, Blue and the Gray on the Nile, p. 217.