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Robert E. Withers

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Robert E. Withers

Robert E. Withers
United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 4, 1881
Preceded by John F. Lewis
Succeeded by William Mahone
11th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 1, 1874 – March 1, 1875
Governor James L. Kemper
Preceded by John L. Marye, Jr.
Succeeded by Henry W. Thomas
Personal details
Born Robert Enoch Withers
(1821-09-18)September 18, 1821
Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.
Died September 21, 1907(1907-09-21) (aged 86)
Wytheville, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Virginia
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars American Civil War

Robert Enoch Withers (September 18, 1821 – September 21, 1907) was an American physician, military officer, newspaperman, politician diplomat, and Freemason. He represented Virginia in the United States Senate and served as U.S. Consul in Hong Kong.


Withers was born near Knights Templar.

During the American Civil War, he entered the Confederate Army in early 1861 as the major of the 18th Virginia Infantry. He was subsequently promoted to colonel of the regiment, which he commanded until retired because of numerous disabling wounds. He was then appointed to command the Confederate military post at Danville, an administrative position he held until the close of the war.

Following the Civil War, Withers moved back to Lynchburg in 1866 and established the Lynchburg News, a daily paper devoted to the interests of the Conservative Party. He was nominated for Governor of Virginia by that party, but withdrew from the race. He was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1872. He was elected the 11th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1873. He was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1875, to March 4, 1881. He served as the chairman of the Committee on Pensions in the 46th Congress. Withers was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1881, losing to former Civil War general William Mahone of the Readjuster Party.

He was appointed by President Robert E. Lee, as well as a direct descendant of Nicolas Martiau, founder of Yorktown, Virginia.

Withers died at the "Ingleside" plantation in Wytheville on September 21, 1907. He was buried in the East End Cemetery.


Political offices
Preceded by
John L. Marye, Jr.
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Henry W. Thomas
United States Senate
Preceded by
John F. Lewis
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
March 4, 1875 – March 4, 1881
Served alongside: John W. Johnston
Succeeded by
William Mahone
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Col. John S. Mosby
United States Consul at Hong Kong, China
Succeeded by
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