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George Robert Latham (March 9, 1832-December 16, 1917) recruited and commanded the first Union troops in north-central West Virginia during the Civil War. Latham was born in Prince William County, Virginia, on what later became the Bull Run battlefield. He moved to Taylor County in 1849. He taught school in Taylor and Barbour counties while he studied law at night. He passed the bar in 1859 and opened his practice in Grafton in 1860.

At the onset of the Civil War, Latham transformed his new law office into a recruiting station. The troop he formed, Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry, was ordered by Latham to remain in Grafton to vote against Virginia’s 1861 Ordinance of Secession before leaving for battle. Later that year, the company participated in the Battle of Corricks Ford, near Parsons. Latham served nearly to the end of the war and saw some of the fiercest fighting. He had three horses shot from under him at the second Battle of Bull Run. He was brevetted brigadier general in 1865.

At the close of the Civil War, Latham served as congressman for the Second District of West Virginia, 1865–67. From 1867 to 1870, he was U.S. consul to Australia. Upon his return from Australia, Latham moved to Buckhannon and was elected superintendent of Upshur County schools. He was appointed as supervisor of the census for West Virginia’s First District in 1880.

Latham remained in Buckhannon until his death. His Buckhannon home, purchased in 1866, is still standing. Latham was the father of artist Annie Latham Bartlett.

This Article was written by Kim Howard

Last Revised on January 12, 2023

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Comstock, Jim, ed. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia vol. 13. Richwood: Jim Comstock, 1976.

Cite This Article

Howard, Kim "George Robert Latham." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 January 2023. Web. 18 May 2024.


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