Maj. William E. Simmons
William Eleazar Simmons was born August 26, 1839 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He graduated from Emory College at Oxford, Georgia in 1858. In March of 1861, he volunteered for the first company of infantry that was organized in Gwinnett County and was elected a 2nd Lieutenant.
Major Simmons first served in Company I, 16th Regiment, Georgia Infantry and later commanded Company C, 3rd Battalion of Georgis Sharpshooters, Confederate States Army.
Simmons participated in approximately 20 battles with the Army of Northern Virginia including Yorktown, Lee's Mill, Seven Days Battle, Malvern Hill, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Second Manassas and Gettysburg. He also participated in The Knoxville Siege, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.
Maj. Simmons was never wounded but was captured August 16, 1864 near Front Royal, Virginia. He was first sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. then after a week he was transferred to the Fort Delaware Prison which is called the 'Andersonville of the North'. He refused to take the oath as long as there was a Confederate Army in the field, despite the threat of hanging. He was released in July of 1865. In August of 1865 the Federal Government struck the 'Freely and Voluntary' phrase in the oath. He then took the oath.
After the war he studied law and was admitted to the bar in March of 1867. He was elected Solicitor General six weeks later. He married December 16, 1869, living to celebrate his sixtieth wedding anniversary. Major Simmons served as a Trustee of the University of Georgia for 32 years and later served 12 years as a Georgis Tech Trustee.
In appreciation of his war service, the State of Georgia offered him a Confederate Soldier's pension. Major Simmons, however, would never accept the pension. He died January 29, 1931 at age 91 and is buried in the Historic Shadow Lawn Cemetery in Lawrenceville, Georgia.