Author: Peter S. Carmichael

the Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College

William Nelson Pendleton (1809–1883)

William Nelson Pendleton was an Episcopal priest and chief of artillery for the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War (1861–1865). No Confederate officer in the East generated less heat on the battlefield and more away from it than Pendleton. As Robert E. Lee‘s chief of artillery, he was responsible for hundreds of guns and thousands of cannoneers, but he never fully utilized the potential of the army’s “long arm” in battlefield to merit his high standing. Pendleton’s efforts usually resulted in controversy, the most scandalous occurring when he abandoned his command at the Battle of Shepherdstown on September 19, 1862. Yet Pendleton did make a few important contributions in reorganizing the artillery into the more efficient and effective battalion system that enabled battery commanders to maximize their limited firepower. Pendleton was also a man of the cloth and his attention to the spiritual needs of the rank-and-file must have endeared him to the pious Lee.