EDGAR, WILLIAM M.
EDGAR, WILLIAM M. (1829–1908). William M. Edgar, carriage maker, farmer, merchant, government contractor, and Confederate officer, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 5, 1829, the son of James and Nancy (McGee) Edgar. Because his father was a United States Army officer, Edgar spent his youth on military posts in Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri. In the early 1840s Edgar apprenticed as a carriage maker in St. Louis, Missouri. In January 1845 he traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, intent on enlisting in the United States Navy. The Navy was not recruiting, however, and Edgar traveled to Texas and enlisted as a private in the Third Infantry Division on February 24, 1846. During the Mexican War, Edgar saw action at the battle of Palo Alto near Port Isabel, Texas, in May 1846 and during the campaign to occupy Mexico City in the summer of 1847. Following the war, he was stationed at Camp Salado near San Antonio. Edgar was discharged as an artillery sergeant in May 1850, and he settled in San Antonio.
Between 1850 and 1855, Edgar worked as a farmer, a merchant, and in the U. S. Army Ordinance Department. In 1852 he married Mary Frances Smith in San Antonio. They had three daughters and two sons. In 1855 and 1856 Edgar was elected as first assistant city marshal and city marshal of San Antonio. From 1857 to 1860 he was employed as storekeeper for the U. S. Army Quartermaster's Department. Around this time, Edgar was a leader among San Antonio members of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret organization seeking to preserve Southern institutions. As the secession controversy intensified in late 1860, Edgar began assembling a local militia company of artillery. With hostilities imminent in February of 1861, he was ordered by the Texas state government to seize the Federal Arsenal and Quartermaster Department at the Alamo. Following the peaceful surrender of the arsenal, he enlisted as a captain on April 20, 1861, to guard the local arsenal and earned his unit the nickname "Alamo City Guards." Edgar and his unit were attached, as Company A, Texas Light Artillery, to Henry Eustace McCulloch's Regiment, Texas Cavalry. Edgar spent the autumn of 1861 at Galveston, recruiting and training his unit, which was renamed the First Texas Field Artillery Regiment. In April 1862 Edgar was assigned to provide the artillery component of Waul's Texas Legion. The following autumn, however, he and his regiment were detached from Waul's Legion. Following this, Edgar and the First Field Artillery served both independently and attached to various units in numerous engagements in Arkansas and Louisiana. During operation near Yellow Bayou, Louisiana, in March 1864, Edgar was captured with his regiment. Edgar was imprisoned at New Orleans, until being exchanged on July 22. He attempted to reorganize a fighting unit but met with poor results. Edgar was surrendered with other Texas Forces on June 2, 1865. After the Civil War, Edgar returned to San Antonio and worked as a merchant and government contractor. In 1870 he worked as an agent for A & W and in 1875 was appointed a U. S. Indian commissioner. From 1886 to 1894, Edgar served the U. S. government as superintendent for the American Cemetery in Mexico City, as well as both vice and deputy consul at the U. S. Embassy in Mexico City. In 1891 he served as a bookkeeper and two years later as a deputy constable. By 1900 he worked as a clerk in San Antonio. Edgar survived contracting cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, and typhus, but died on July 30, 1908, in San Antonio. He is buried at City Cemetery #1 in San Antonio.
Roy Sylvan Dunn, "The KGC in Texas, 1860-1861," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 70 (April 1967). D. Michael Cobb, Jr., "First Texas Field Battery, CSA, Edgar's Battery: A Profile of a Rebel Unit" (http://www.angelfire.com/tx/mrcobbs/1stTX.html), accessed March 9, 2011. A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).
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Uploaded on March 31, 2011. Modified on April 6, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.