A Civil War Biography

William Ward Orme

Orme was born 17 February 1832 in the District of Columbia. After graduating from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, Orme moved to Chicago then Bloomington, Illinois. He was admitted to the bar and established a law practice. While practicing in Illinois Orme became acquainted with and gained the respect and friendship of future President Abraham Lincoln. Orme attended the Illinois constitutional convention in 1861.

Once the war started he joined the 94th Illinois, being named colonel on 20 August 1861. He commanded a brigade in the 7 December 1862 battle at Prairie Grove, Arkansas. For his performance at Prairie Grove he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 13 March 1863 to rank from 29 November 1862. During the campaign against Vicksburg he commanded the 2nd Brigade in Francis J. Herron's Division. After the fall of Vicksburg Orme was transferred to the Department of the Gulf in command of the 2nd Brigade / 2nd Division / XIII Corps. He was forced to relinquish his command on 25 August 1863 due to tuberculosis that he had contracted while in Mississippi.

Orme was assigned as an inspector of prison of war camps. In December 1863 he was named commander of Camp Douglas prison in Chicago. This duty also proved to be too difficult for Orme as his health continued to fail and he resigned from the army on 26 April 1864. He accepted an appointment from his friend Abraham Lincoln as supervising special agent with the Treasury Department in Memphis, Tennessee but his health continued to decline. Orme resigned from the Treasury Department in November 1865 and returned to Bloomington where he died on 13 December 1866.

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