William Montague Browne was a prominent politician and newsman. During the American Civil War, he served as acting Secretary of State for the Confederacy in 1862 and as a general in the Confederate States Army.
In 1861 Browne, known as Constitution Browne by then, had become a well-connected proponet of secession and moved to Athens, Georgia after that. A favorite of both the just elected Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Secretary of State Robert Toombs he was appointed Assistand Secretary of State. On several occasions in 1861 and 62 Browne acted as interim Secretary. Living in Richmond, Virginia with his wife, Eliza Jane Beket, he had two permanent houseguests. One was Howell Cobb, a former Secretary of the Treasury and an old and close friend from Washington, who now was the President of Provisional Confederate Congress. The other was his younger brother, Colonel Thomas R.R. Cobb.
Browne resigned in March 1862 and was assigned as military aide-de-camp to President Davis, with the rank of a Colonel of cavalry. Beside his main duty on the staff he also was assigned to command a battalion of local defense cavalry. On April 5, 1864 Davis appointed Browne as Commandant of Conscription in Georgia, where Governor Joseph E. Brown consistently hindered the Confederate war efforts. Browne was a natural choise as Georgia resident who had inspected and reported about the conscription in Georgia before.
In late 1864 Browne, while still enforcing conscription, was detached to commanded a small brigade of reserves during the Savannah Campaign. In December Browne was promoted to temporary Brigadier General, ranking from November 11. He resumed his conscription duty in January 1865. In February his promotion was not confirmed by congress and he reverted to colonel. Despite this he later was excluded from amnesty on grounds of being both a civil officeholder and a military officer ranking higher than colonel. He was paroled on May 8, and pardoned either in late 1865 or 66.