Birney, William

Life Span
to
Full name
William Birney
Place of Birth
Burial Place
Birth Date Certainty
Exact
Death Date Certainty
Exact
Gender
Male
Race
White
Sectional choice
North
Origins
Slave State
No. of Siblings
2
No. of Spouses
1
No. of Children
9
Family
James Gillespie Birney (father), Agatha McDowell (mother), Catherine Hoffman (wife, 1845)
Education
Yale
Occupation
Military
Attorney or Judge
Educator
Journalist
Writer or Artist
Relation to Slavery
White non-slaveholder
Other Affiliations
Abolitionists (Anti-Slavery Society)
Government
Grant Administration (1869-77)
Military
Union Army

William Birney (American National Bibliography)

Scholarship
Long in favor of enlisting African Americans, Birney supervised the recruiting of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCTs) early in 1863. With characteristic energy, he personally raised seven regiments composed of black residents of Maryland, including the inmates of slave prisons he liberated. On 22 May Birney was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers. In this capacity he was able to fulfill an oft-stated desire "to give the colored troops a fair chance of distinction in the field." He was assigned a brigade of USCTs in the Department of the South, which he commanded at Beaufort, South Carolina, and later at Jacksonville, Florida. In both locales he protected government property and Unionist citizens while conducting limited offensives with white soldiers as well as Colored Troops. His preference for the latter, however, was never in doubt; on at least one occasion he offered to trade white units for an equal numbered of USCTs.
Edward G. Longacre, "Pemberton, John Clifford," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00068.html.
How to Cite This Page: "Birney, William," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/5107.