Written by JC Knowles; edited by Cheri Todd Molter
It is said that Lewis was the last Confederate officer wounded during the Civil War and that he laid on the battlefield as dead. However, some soldiers saw him and took him to safety. He survived the war.
William Gaston Lewis was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on September 3, 1835. Lewis was educated at Lovejoy’s Academy in Raleigh, which was located where the Governor’s Mansion is located today. Soon after the death of his father, Lewis’ family moved to Chapel Hill where Lewis entered the University of North Carolina. He received his civil engineering degree in 1855 at the age of nineteen.
Lewis taught in Chapel Hill for a short time, then moved on to other towns and positions until 1861. On April 18, 1861, Lewis was commissioned into Company A of the First Volunteer Infantry (North Carolina) as Third Lieutenant. His first action took place at the Battle of Bethel on June 10, 1861.
Lewis served most of his service in Virginia and North Carolina. His service to the Confederate States of America was so outstanding that he moved up through the ranks quickly and was promoted to Brigadier General on May 31, 1864. His records show that he was engaged in 37 battles during the war, including Gettysburg and Cold Harbor.
Following the war, Lewis returned to his profession of civil engineering and worked as the State engineer for thirteen years. He also served as Assistant Construction Engineer in Wilmington, General Superintendent of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, and Chief Engineer of the Albany & Raleigh Railroad.
William Gaston Lewis did indeed make a difference to his fellow man. He died on January 7, 1901, and is buried at Willowdale Cemetery in Goldsboro, North Carolina.