By Mac Wyckoff
"He was gifted with a rare intelligence, and possessed an affectionate nature, with a deep sympathy for his fellow men." So wrote D. Augustus Dickert of Colonel William Rutherford. William Rutherford the son of Dr. Thomas M. and Laura (Adams) Rutherford, was born on September 21, 1837 in the Newberry District of South Carolina. His father was the son of a Revolutionary War officer and his mother a descendant of the famous Adams family of Massachusetts. He was educated in the best schools in Greenville and Newberry. At the age of 16, he entered the South Carolina Military Academy. He started near the bottom of his large freshman class due to interest in outdoor sports and reading, but he began apply himself and quickly rose to near the top of the class. He found military discipline too restrictive so transferred after his first year to South Carolina College. Possessing a rebellious nature, he eventually dropped out. He soon regretted this decision and passed the bar exam. The Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court predicted a brilliant legal career for young Rutherford. He went to Germany to complete his education. The threat of war brought him back to his native state. Standing 5-10 in height, he was described as not having "an ounce of spare flesh, all bone and muscle, and was the physical embodiment of manly beauty. He enlisted on April 14, 1861 as the adjutant of the 3rd South Carolina. In March of 1862, he married Sallie H. Fair. At the regimental re-organization on May 13, 1862 he was elected major. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel after the death of Benjamin Garlington at Savage Station on June 29, 1862. He was captured on South Mountain during the Maryland Campaign and paroled the following month/ At Fredericksburg he was among the top seven officers in the regiment who were all shot on Marye's Heights. He returned from furlough two months later. Following the death of James Nance at The Wilderness on May 6, 1864, he was promoted to colonel. In September of 1864, General James Connor recommended him for promotion to brigadier. On October 13, 1864, just north of Strasburg at a place called Hupp's Hill, Kershaw's Brigade advanced to support an artillery battery. Rutherford went foreword to examine the ground in hope of finding a way to turn the Yankee left flank. A bullet struck and mortally wounded him. Rutherford died the next day. He is buried in the Rosemont Cemetery in Newberry.
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