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William C. “Willy” Preston
Born 1843
Died August 29, 1862
Place of Birth: Lexington, Virginia
Buried: Preston gravesite, 16850 Sudley Rd., Centreville, Virginia
How Died: Killed in action at Second Battle of Manassas
Military Service: Confederacy
Military rank held: Private
Unit: College Company of the 4th Virginia Regiment Stonewall Brigade
Battle: Second Battle of Manassas

Willy, as he was known to his family, was killed during the Second Battle of Manassas. He had been a favorite of “Stonewall” Jackson. Jackson’s first wife was the sister of William’s stepmother, Margaret Junkin Preston. Jackson wrote of William,”I deeply sympathize with you all in the death of dear Willy. He was in my first Sabbath school class, where I became attached to him when he was a little boy.” Margaret Preston describes in her letters Willy’s last words: “Don’t distress yourselves about me, I am not afraid to die.”

William’s father went to the battlefield over a week after William died, to identify his son’s remains and bring them home. Although William’s father was able to identify his son’s shirt on the body wrapped in a blanket, he did not recognize his son. He marked the place of burial and returned home without the body. Upon returning home, his repeated words to his wife were “Slain in Battle.”

The inscription on the grave stone reads: “William C. Preston son of J. T. L. & S. L Preston Lexington, Virginia. He was a private in the College Company of the 4th Virginia Reg’t Stonewall Brigade and fell at Manassas Aug. 28Th 1862 in the 19th year of his age. The Young Patriot lost his mortal life in defending his native state. The young Christian found his nobler life in Christ who died for him.” The top of the head stone reads “SLAIN IN BATTLE” and the foot stone has his initials W.C.P.

Today, a duplicate grave marker and footstone are located in Lexington, Virginia, William’s birthplace. There is no documentation as to whether the family ever returned to remove the remains from “the Plains of Manassas.”

Sources:
1. Brothers and Cousins: Confederate Soldiers and Sailors of Fairfax County, VA, compiled by William Page Johnson, II
2. The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, Elizabeth Preston Allen and Margaret Junkin Preston, Google ebooks

Larger image of marker

Researched and written by Mary Lipsey