William Ward

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William Columbus Ward (born 1835 in Bibb County; died 1910 in Birmingham) was an attorney and the first Mayor of the Town of Highland.

Ward was the son of David and Elizabeth Ward and grew up on the family's farm near Six Mile. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1858 and was employed as a math teacher at Howard College in Marion until the start of the Civil War.

Ward enlisted as a private in Company G of the 4th Alabama Regiment on April 24, 1861. He was promoted to second corporal on September 1 of that year and fought early battles in Virginia.

Ward was wounded on July 2, 1863 during his unit's retreat from Gettysburg. He received a musket ball to the thigh at Little Round Top and took cover behind a tall rock, where he was captured. He was given medical treatment as a prisoner at Camp Letterman until being released in an exchange in October. He returned to the battlefield as Captain of Company A of the 62nd Alabama Regiment and was wounded again while defending Spanish Fort in Baldwin County. He was captured on April 9, 1865 and held at Ship Island until his parole on May 1.

His former commanding officer in the 4th Alabama, William Robbins, later became commissioner of the Gettysburg battlefield and wrote to Ward to tell him that he had inscribed his name into "Ward's Rock", where he had taken shelter after being wounded.

After the war, Ward began a private study of law and was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1866. He practiced in Selma before moving to Birmingham on December 1, 1885. He partnered with J. B. Head in the firm of Ward & Head with offices in the Caldwell-Milner Building and added the Elyton Land Company and Birmingham Trust & Savings Company to his list of clients.

In 1890 he moved his office to the newly-built Steiner Building at 2101 1st Avenue North. He and his wife, the former Alice Ann Bailey raised six children at their home at 1717 12th Avenue South.

Ward was a popular public speaker, and published several historical papers for the Alabama Historical Society. He delivered a long account of the history of Howard College at its semi-centennial in June 1892, and recollected his wartime experiences in an address in Birmingham in 1900. He particularly recalled the loss of a half gill of whiskey which he had poured into his canteen before a march.


  • Desmond, Jerry (January 2013) "One Man’s Lunchbox" Jefferson County Historical Association newsletter