About this Famous Person
Elisha F. PAXTON
American lawyer and soldier who served as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War
Source : Tim DOWLING
Paxton was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He was the son of Elisha Paxton and Margaret McNutt, a Presbyterian family, and his grandfather was American Revolutionary War veteran William Paxton. His first education came from his cousin James H. Paxton's school.
In 1845 he attended Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, and in 1847 he entered Yale University located in New Haven, Connecticut. Paxton then attended the University of Virginia Law School in Charlottesville in 1849, graduating at the top of his class. When fully grown Paxton was described as "five feet ten inches high, heavily built and of great bodily strength", a physique that inspired his childhood nickname, "Bull". He was known not to drink alcohol.
Upon graduating Paxton settled in Virginia and became a lawyer, then a bank president in Lexington. He also later worked as a planter, and then moved to Ohio. After passing the state's bar examination, he worked for several years in Ohio prosecuting land claims. His law practice ended in 1860 because of his failing eyesight, but this did not stop him from becoming prominent in political matters. His son Matthew wrote that "he was a man of ardent temperament and strong convictions such as did not permit him to remain an indifferent spectator of the exciting political occurrences of era." His "blunt and outspoken views" on behalf of the secession of South Carolina caused a rift in his friendship with Lexington resident Thomas J. Jackson; the two men did not speak to each other until after each had joined the Confederate Army.