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Written by Rev. J. H. McNeilly, of Glen Leven Church, NashviUe, Tenn.
William Goodwin Ewin was the second son of Mr. John H. Ewin, who was for many years the head of a wholesale drug business in Nashville; and who gave two sons to the cause of the South in her struggle for independence.
The older son, Colonel Henry Ewin, was mortally wounded in the battle of Murfreesboro, where his conspicuous courage won for him promotion to a position which he did not live to fill. The younger son was bom in Davidson county, Tennessee, Jan. 17, 1842, and received the usual education of a youth in his circumstances. After leaving school, he managed his father's farm for a short time, until the beginning: of the Civil War in 1861.
He was a young man of fine address and winning manners, very popular with all who knew him. He had been brought up to regard honor and duty above all else, and when Tennessee seceded and the governor called for troops to defend the South from invasion, he recognized the call as the voice of patriotism, and responded at once with all the ardor and enthusiasm of a brave and generous spirit.
He enlisted as a private in the Hickory Guards, and was made orderly sergeant of the company, which afterward became Company A of the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment of Infantry. He was with his company in the arduous service of the first year of the war, where the battles of Fishing Creek and Shiloh tested the qualities of his regiment, and gave it a reputation for courage second to none.
When the army was reorganized after the battle of Shiloh, Sergeant Ewin was elected captain of his company, a tribute to his character as a man and a soldier. He showed his fitness for command, not only by his coolness and courage on the field, and his kind care for his men, but also by the strictness of his discipline, so that his company was accounted one of the best drilled in the army. He shared all the privations and hardships of his men with bright cheerfulness, and was with his regiment in the many engagernents in which it won renown as the best regiment in the division. In the bloody battles of the Army of Tennessee from Fishing Creek to Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, and in the long-drawn conflict from Dalton to Kennesaw, Captain Ewin led his company with distinguished courage.
In the battle of Kennesaw Mountain on the 27th of June, 1864, he was severely wounded, making it necessary to amputate his leg. He was thus rendered unable for future service in the field, but for the remaining months of the war he continued his connection with the army, unwilling to be discharged, and ready to render any service he could to the cause he loved so dearly.
When the end came, in May, 1865, he came home as a paroled prisoner, and cheerfully set himself to do his duty as a citizen under the changed conditions. With the same courage which had marked his career as a soldier, he went to work with energy to make a living under adverse circumstances.
On Nov. 23, 1865, he was married to Miss Sallie House, the daughter of Mrs. John Thompson of Davidson county, Tennessee. She lived only a few years, leaving at her death a daughter, now Mrs. E. L. McNeilly. Captain Ewin was afterward married to Miss Martha Hillman, a daughter of Mr. George Hillman. She with several children survive him.
Captain Ewin's popularity with his fellow citizens was attested by his being twice elected clerk of the county court of Davidson county. The duties of the office were discharged with characteristic fidelity.
After his retirement from office, he engaged for a while in the hardware trade. He then removed to Humphreys county, Tennessee, and took charge of the Hurricane mills, a large establishment for manufacturing woolen cloth. He continued at the mills until his death, on the 30th of July, 1882.
Captain Ewin was a fine type of the class of men who defended the South in the great war. He was a man of unflinching courage, of devotion to principle, of strict integrity, of a high sense of honor. He was genial, warm hearted, kind, and courteous. He won and held friends.
He was a consistent member of the Christian Church, sincere, earnest, and faithful, and he died in the hope of a blessed immortality. His memory will ever be cherished by his old comrades as a soldier true and tried, and by his associates in civil life as a citizen honorable and upright. His friends in the intimacy of social life remember him as a gentleman without stain or reproach, a kind, loving, and gracious friend.