MICKLE, MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM ENGLISH

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III

            For the Civil War numismatic specialist on Confederate States of America memorabilia and C. S. A. money and stamps, here is a biographical sketch of one of the most important specialists and dealers -- Major General William English Mickle. Mickle is a contemporary of the thirteen-year younger Luther Brown Tuthill (1859-1930) who also specialized in Confederate Paper Money as a dealer in South Creek, North Carolina (q.v.).


Fig. 1. Photograph of William English Mickle in 1915 published in his book, Well Known Confederate Veterans and Their War Records, Arranged Alphabetically (New Orleans : Louisiana, U.C.V., 1907, and 1915)

William English Mickle (1846-1920),
was born the son of Joseph Thomas Mickle (-1898) and Nancy C. Gandy Mickle, on October 31, 1846  in Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. He is the grandson of Major Joseph and Martha Belton Mickle of Kershaw County, South Carolina. His father was a very successful merchant and banker who moved to Mobile, Alabama in 1852. His father organized the "Merchants Guard" during the Civil War. 

Fig. 2. 
Photograph of William English Mickle in 1864 published in his book, Well Known Confederate Veterans and Their War Records, Arranged Alphabetically (New Orleans : Louisiana, U.C.V., 1915)

He was educated at Summerville Institute, Noxubee County, Mississippi. On August 20, 1864, he went from school directly in the Confederate Army in the Mobile Cadets, Company A , 3rd Alabama Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia (of Battle's Brigade, near Winchester, Virginia). His urgency to enlist was prompted by the death of his brother Joseph English Mickle who was killed in battle at Warrenton Junction, October 14, 1863. He was severely wounded twice at the Battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864. He was hit by shrapnel and as he was being carried off the field was shot in the right ankle. He only experienced two months of active duty in the field during the Civil War. He was furloughed home only to return to duty on crutches the following February 1865. The Confederate medical examiner retired him for nine months, during which time the War had ended. After the War he worked as a teacher in the school system at Barton Academy in Mobile, Alabama. He became the school principal of the Boys' Senior Grammar School. He married Ellie Squire Woodhull (born in Branford, Connecticut), daughter of John F. Woodhull (d. 1894), now  of Mobile on October 8, 1867, at Mobile, Alabama. 

            In 1869, he left the field of education entering the book trade at New Orleans, Louisiana, and at Mobile, Alabama. He established one of the most noted Bookstores in the South located on Dauphin Street, Mobile, Alabama. 

Fig. 3. Postcard Photograph print of Dauphin Street, Mobile, Alabama, circa 1905, where Major General William English Mickle kept his bookshop opposite the Square seen in the center in this colorized photo-postcard.

He specialized on southern literature and history, especially regarding the Civil War and the Confederacy as well as the money and stamps of the Confederacy.  His collection of Civil War memorabilia is considered to have been the largest known. 


Figs. 4 & 5. An excessively rare business envelope of William English Mickle with the company logo and list of items purchased and for sale, including Confederate money. Postmarked March 12, 1892, with Railroad Post Office postmark. The back of the envelope is an advertisement for the "Magic City" of Birmingham, Alabama Fair of October to November 1889. Mickle had served four years as the Secretary and placed the ad of his successor R. P. Dexter on the back of his own stationery. Note the letter is addressed to Mrs. S. K. Wilcox, Smyrna, Chenango County, New York, a fellow chicken breeder. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. Ex Louis Duddera (Little Rock, AR) /Ex Howard Norton (Vilonia, AR)

            He served as the Secretary of the Agricultural, Mechanical and Horticultural Association of Mobile, Alabama from 1873 to 1886. According to the 1880 U. S. Census he, his wife Ellie W. Mickel, and their children : William English, Jr., Loui[s]e Gorham, and another daughter May Cornelia, lived in Napoleonville, Mobile County, Alabama, where he worked as a news dealer. From 1880 to 1884 he served as the Secretary of the Mobile, Birmingham, and Montgomery Fairs. He was also a chicken breeder of Buff Cochins having won several awards at the Fairs. On June 10, 1889, he was a founding and charter member of the Raphael Semmes Camp, No. 11, United Confederate Veterans, of Mobile, Alabama, serving as the adjutant lifelong. 
Fig. 6.  His bookstore was given a whole page advertisement in The Proceedings of the Convention For Organization of the United Confederate Veterans, June 10th, 1889 (1891)

On January 19, 1903, he was made Major General by General J. B. Gordon, Commander-in-Chief. He also served as "Pension Examiner" for the State of Alabama for several years. 

Fig. 7.   He is the author of, Well Known Confederate Veterans and Their War Records, Arranged Alphabetically (1907, and 1915), a significant work vital to the study of Confederate soldiers.

Fig. 8.  His bookstore is listed in  James Clegg's, The International Directory of Second-hand Booksellers and Bibliophile's Manual (1891, and 1894 editions), as located at 161 Dauphin Street, Mobile, Alabama.


Fig. 9. Portrait of Major General William English Mickle on the front cover of Confederate Veteran, Volume 28, Volume 3, March  (1920) 

            He died on February 18, 1920 at his home 405 1/2 Church Street, Mobile, Alabama. Funeral services were held at the Government Street Presbyterian Church. He is buried at Magnolia Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, three daughters Louie, May, and Josephine, and his son, William English Jr. A collection of 430 of Mickle's papers are in the Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Rare book collectors look for the "Mickle, Mobile, Ala" stamp in old books that were sold from his bookstore. The 1907 edition of his book Well Known Confederate Veterans typically sells for $400.

Fig. 10. Tombstone of Major General William English Mickle, Magnolia Cemetery.

Bibliography :

U. S. Census, 1880 - Napoleonville, Alabama
James Clegg, Editor, The International Directory of Second-hand Booksellers and Bibliophile's Manual (Rochdale, London, New York, Paris, Leipzig : 1891) : 35
James Clegg, Editor, The International Directory of Second-hand Booksellers and Bibliophile's Manual (Rochdale, London, New York, Paris, Leipzig : 1894) : 70
U. S. Census, 1900 - Mobile, Alabama
Houston Post, Saturday, January 24, 1903, page 2 (Sketch Portrait)
St. Louis Republic, Sunday, May 17, 1903, page 20 (Photo)
Mobile City Directory, 1903, page 398
The Tennessean, Tuesday, June 14, 1904, page 13 (Photo)
U. S. Census, 1910 - Mobile, Alabama
Confederate Veteran, Volume 19, Volume 2, February  (1911) : 
Houston Post, Friday, May 10, 1912, page 2 (Photo)
Times Dispatch, Sunday, April 25, 1915, page 43 (Photo of married daughter Josephine Carrell)
U. S. Census, 1920 - Mobile, Alabama
Confederate Veteran, Volume 28, Volume 3, March  (1920) : 83

Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama BiographyVolume 4 (Chicago : S. J. Clarke, 1921) : 1197

Thomas William Herringshaw,  William English Mickle, in Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography, Vol. 4


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