William Wing “Old Blizzards” Loring
Few officers resigned from the US Army to enter the Confederate service with a richer experience than General William Wing “Old Blizzards” Loring (born on December 4, 1818 in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Reuben and Hannah (Kenan) Loring.). In May, 1861, he was six months past his 42nd birthday and had been soldiering since he was 14. He had been in Seminole Wars in Florida at a time when most of his later associates were learning parade-ground tactics on the fields of West Point. Later Loring studied law and graduated from Georgetown College; when Florida became a state, he sat in the state legislature. Then, when the Mexican War called for valorous men, the 27 year old Loring abandoned law and politics forever. He became a captain, a major, and a lieutenant colonel with brevet promotions for gallant and meritorious conduct. Loring distinguished himself in the battles at Cerro Gordo, Contreras and Churubusco; at Mexico City, he led an assault on Belen Gate and lost an arm. Thereafter, his empty sleeve bore its eloquent testimony to his courage and gallantry. When the Mexican War ended in 1848, Loring stayed on in the US Army. He commanded the Department of Oregon from 1849-1851, served on the frontier, fought Indians on the Rio Grande and on the Gila in Arizona, went on the Utah Expedition, and spent a year in Europe studying foreign armies before taking command of the Department of New Mexico from 1860-1861. At 38, he was the youngest line colonel of the United States Army. When Loring entered the Confederate service, even his enemies bore him tribute: a man of “unflinching honor and integrity”, said the Federal officer who replaced him in western command before the War in 1861.|
William W. Loring resigned his commission in Santa Fe on May 13, 1861 in approval of states rights, although not in favor of secession. After waiting four weeks for a response from the Confederate authorities, Loring moved to Fort Fillmore, near El Paso. He relinquished formal command of the fort in late June. Though some historians speculate that Loring planned to deliver New Mexico to the Confederacy, he left the territory in Union hands. After a brief stint as a Confederate colonel, he received brigadier general's rank on May 20, 1861. Loring took part in the complex and disappointing campaigns in northwestern Virginia in 1861 before receiving orders to collaborate with Thomas J. Jackson early in 1862. The two generals soon found themselves in violent disagreement over the location of winter quarters assigned to Loring's men. Richmond sided with Loring, who was promoted to major general in the midst of the controversy. Soon after the infamous Loring-Jackson Incident and commanding near Charleston, Virginia, in 1862, Loring was sent to the West. He fought in the Vicksburg campaign, and General John C. Pemberton blamed him for the defeat at Champion's Hill. When Loring led the successful Confederate defense of Yazoo Pass in March 1863, he unwittingly earned himself a new nickname. Personally directing his men's fire, he cried in the heat of battle: "Give them blizzards, boys! Give them blizzards!" From that moment on, he was known as "Old Blizzards." During the Atlanta campaign he was a corps commander, and was Hood's second-in-command at Franklin and Nashville. He returned to Johnston's army and surrendered with him in North Carolina.
After the war he was a New York banker and a Wall Street financial advisor before going to serve the Khedive of Egypt as brigadier general in 1869. In command of the defenses of Alexandria and the entire Egyptian coast, he led a division in the Abyssinian campaign (this campaign was marred by transportation and supply difficulties, and the Egyptian army was almost wiped out during the initial battle), earned decorations and promotion, and was made a pasha before returning to the U.S. in 1879. For the last seven years of his life the veteran officer lived in New York and Florida. He wrote newspaper and magazine articles and a book on his war experiences (" A Confederate Soldier in Egypt" (1884). Loring died on December 30, 1886 in New York, after a brief bout of pneumonia, and was buried in St. Augustine, Florida.