16 April 2011

Civil War Profile: William A Craft

     The following is a profile of one of my Civil War ancestors. What was their life like before, during and after the war? Where did their sympathies lie? How did they feel about the war?

     In 1860, William A Craft was 20 years old and living with his parents, Willis and Martha Craft, in the Elbert District of Elbert County, Georgia. He was working as a farmer, likely alongside his father and siblings. His father was also listed as a farmer, with real estate valued at $4500 and a personal estate valued at $16,670. Such a high personal estate value indicates slave ownership.  Willis owned 10 slaves: male: 60, 35, 27, 12, 12, and 9; female: 60, 15, 15, and 9.  These slaves would have cost a lot of money and been important to the family's finances. Likely, this family would have wanted to defend their way of life.

     On 4 March 1862 in Elberton, Georgia, William enlisted in the 15th Georgia Regiment, Company F. Having been married in late 1860, William is leaving behind a new wife. Did they know that she was almost two months pregnant with their first child? Clarence Craft would be born in August.

     According to this newspaper article, William was at the Battle of Malvern Hill in Virginia that July. There, he picked up a bible he found. He apparently carried the bible with him throughout the rest of the war.

     From November 1862 to February of 1863, William was recorded as Commissary Sergeant Protem, in charge of distributing equipment. From August to December of 1863 William is listed as absent without leave. By July, William was back with his unit. Finally, William is recorded as a prisoner of war as a member of the Army of Northern Virginia, having been present for the surrender at Appomattox. From there, he would have likely directly returned home.

     In 1870, William is back with his family in Elbert County. William is farming, though not on his own land. In addition to his wife and three children, there are two other people living with the family: a young black male, age 11 and a 26 year old female school teacher.  The boy's name is hard to ready, but might be Seaborn or Seabold Gains. This eleven year old boy is working as a farmhand, when only a few years prior he would have been working as a slave. Do his parents live nearby or does he even have any? Is he having to make his own way in the world at such a young age?

     In 1887 William purchased land from his brother, John. However he lost all of his land in 1900, unable to make payments. That year, William applied for a pension for his service during the war.  Apparently William had suffered a stroke and remained partially paralyzed. He was trying to farm, but wasn't achieving enough success to support himself and his wife.  William did receive his pension, which his wife continued to draw until her death in 1938.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails