Dr. William Buchanan Conway was born January 3, 1845, at Ellerslie, Madison County, Va., and died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. William Capers Mizelle, College Park, Ga., on July 6, 1920. He was the sone of Battaile Fitzugh Taliaferro Conway and Cornelia Buchanan Conway and was connected with some of the most famous families of Virginia, including the Washingtons, Fitzhughs, and Lees. His mother, the daughter of Dr. William Buchanan, of Fredericksburg, Va., was a kinsman of President Buchanan. His grandfather, Catlett Conway married a neice of President Zachary Taylor, and a more remote ancestor, Col. Edwin Conway, was married in 1704 to Anna Ball, a half sister to the mother of George Washington.
In 1870 Dr. Conway was married to Julia Ellen Thomas, daughter of Col. William Thomas, of Blacksburg, Va. She died in 1916, and in 1918 he was married to Mrs. Lee DuBose Armstrong, of Rome, Ga., who died at Blacksburg in December, 1919. The children of the first marriage were: Daisy, who married Dean Harvey L. Price, Blacksburg, Va.; Alfred Taliaferro, who married Bessie LeRoy Hart, Baltimore; William Battaile, who died in infancy; Arch Moncure, who married Frances Smith, Atlanta; Mamie Greer, who married William Capers Mizelle, College Park, Ga.
Dr. Conway was reared in his native county in Virginia, and when hostilities began in 1861 was a student at the Virginia Military Institute. Though only sixteen years of age, he enlisted as a private in Company C, 4th Virginia Cavalry; a gallant command, which had for its colonels at different times Gen, Beverly Robertson, W. C. Wickham, William H. Payne, and Woolridge. He served as a private and corporal under J. E. B. Stuart and Fitzhugh Lee through nearly all the campaigns of the cavalry corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, making a splendid record as a soldier. For a time he acted as courier attached to the headquarters of General Wickham. His battles were many in number, including practically all those of his regiment and brigade. Notable among them in his own experience were: Kelly's Ford, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Winchester, and those of the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley.
At Spotsylvania Courthouse, May 9, 1864, he was wounded in a hand-to-hand fight. With several of his company, he had charged through the ranks of the enemy, and on returning they were met by six Yankee cavalrymen. He killed one of them, and the rest gave way, so that he passed through them; but in a few minutes he reeled and fell from his horse unconcious, having received a saber cut on the hand and a lick from a carbine on the knee cap, which latter caused him to faint. When he regained conciousness General Wickham was riding by, leading the rest of the regiment in a headlong charge. He asked: "Conway are you hurt?" And after being assured that it was nothing serious, he called to his men: "Give 'em h---, boys, give 'em h---!"
He was a courier for General Wickham a few months in the fall of 1863. In the winter of 1863-64 he was elected corporal by his company. While in winter quarters in front of Montpelier, President Madison's old home, he was invited to a dance given by the officers of his regiment and had the pleasure of being on the floor with the gay Stuart, Fitz Lee, General Wickham, and other distingushed guests.
Just before the surrender at Appomattox he, with others of his company, was detailed to transmit dispatches to Col. John S. Mosby, who was then in Fauquier and Loudon Counties, Va., and so he was not at the surrender.
After the war Dr. Conway studied medicine under Dr. Alfred Taliaferro, of Culpeper Courthouse. He then entered the medical dapartment of Washington University, Baltimore, Md., from which he graduated in 1869. For a short while he practiced medicine at Mount Vernon Iron Works, in Rockingham County, Va. He then became surgeon for the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, now the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, at Blacksburg, which position he held for fifteen years.
On account of failing health he moved in 1891 to Athens, Ga., where he practiced medicine until four years before his death, when he retired.
Dr. Conway was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg, Va., and also the First Presbyterian Church at Athens, Ga. He said that the things in his life of which he was most proud were as follows:
That he was a Presbyterian in faith.
That he was of Anglo-Saxon stock.
That he was a Southerner.
That he was a Democrat.
That he was an old Confederate veteran of the C. S. A.
That he represented the regular medical profession.
That he was a native Virginian and a Georgian by adoption.
Those who knew him might add that he had the right to be proud that he was a man greatly beloved by his family and friends and highly esteemed by all who knew him. He belonged to the old order that is passing-a courteous, kindly gentlman, sympathetic and considerate of others, cherishing spiritual values, and leaving a memory worthy of emulation and love.
SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, July, 1920.
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