William Conway was the oldest of nine Whittle brothers (James was second). His daughter-in-law Ruth Drewry Whittle compiled the following account:
William Conway Whittle … was in the United States Navy and remained in it until the Civil War, when he resigned and was made Commodore in the Confederate service.
He was engaged in the naval part of the Mexican War in which he was wounded, and in the Confederate service rendered much service on York River and along the Mississippi and its tributaries and commanded the naval forces at New Orleans when it fell. It was at Vera Cruz that he was wounded in the Mexican War while charging a parapet at the head of his men that he had landed in open boats under heavy fire. He was also for two consecutive years on the Coast of Africa as commander of the Sloop of War, Dale, suppressing the slave trade.
After resigning his services in the U. S. Navy, he first tendered his services to Gov. John Letcher, the War Governor of Virginia, and was sent to Yorktown to look after the river defenses there. He then accepted the Commission of Commodore from the Confederate States Government and remained in the service until the close of the war. He was in command at Jackson, Miss., New Orleans and elsewhere.
After the war he lived for some years at his home, “The Anchorage,” at Buchanan, Virginia, but when his children grew up and moved away he lived about among them, and died at the residence of his son-in-law, Coles Terry, at Bent Mountain, Virginia. He was on the Coast of Africa in 1855 when the yellow fever plague visited Norfolk, in which his wife, Elizabeth Beverley Sinclair and his oldest son, Arthur Sinclair, lost their lives. His second wife [a Mrs. Hamner] died very soon after he went to Buchanan to live.
Among W. C. Whittle's eleven children were Lt. W. C. Whittle, Jr., CSN (executive officer of the C. S. S. Shenandoah); and Judge Stafford Gorman Whittle (see also further biographical material).
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