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Adams, William Wirt (1819–1888)

Biography Entry

William Wirt Adams, son of Judge George and Anna (Weissiger) Adams, was born at Frankfort, Kentucky, on March 22, 1819. Returning from college in Bardstown, Kentucky, in 1839, he enlisted as a private in Col. Edward Burleson's command for service in the Republic of Texas. Adams was soon made adjutant of the regiment and was in the campaign against the American Indians in northeast Texas. In autumn of 1839 he returned to Mississippi. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s Adams made a living in banking and agriculture. He married Sallie Huger Magrant in 1850. They had no children. In 1858 he served in the Mississippi legislature, and in 1861 he worked as a Confederate commissioner in Louisiana attempting to convince the state to secede. After the formation of the Confederate States of America, Adams declined Jefferson Davis's offer to serve as postmaster general. He subsequently raised a regiment, the First Mississippi Cavalry to fight in the Civil War. In September 1863 Adams was commissioned a brigadier general. Following the war he lived in Vicksburg and Jackson, where he served as postmaster in 1885. In 1888 Adams died in Jackson in a street fight with a local newspaper editor who had written a critical editorial of the statesman.

Dictionary of American Biography.


  • Agriculture
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers

Time Periods:

  • Civil War
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Adams, William Wirt,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 13, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 25, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: