William Brenton Shaw

(Currituck County)

Featured Character – 1864 Confederate Decline

William Brenton Shaw

William B. Shaw

Courtesy of the Virginia Military Institute Archives

William Brenton Shaw was born September 1, 1843, at Indian Ridge in Currituck County. He attended Indian Ridge Academy there and, after finishing in June 1861, was made a drillmaster by the governor of North Carolina. He reported to his father Henry M. Shaw, whose troops he drilled until the elder Shaw made his son decline commission as a lieutenant in one of the companies and sent him to Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He came to VMI on January 9, 1862 and was a color bearer; however, he was unable to accompany the corps into battle at New Market due to an illness.  He nevertheless graduated as first lieutenant of Company A and later married Jennie Ferebee of Camden County, having three sons and two daughters. He studied engineering, read law under his uncle and ran for the state senate in 1874 as a Democrat.  He and his wife moved to Wisconsin in 1905, and there they remained until his wife became ill; at this point, the two moved back to Henderson, North Carolina where Jennie died in 1907 and Shaw died the following year.

On February 1, 1864, Henry M. Shaw was killed at the battle of New Bern.