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Mysteries and Family History: Civil War Soldiers

Hey all!  Velma here. I know, I know. I’ve been seriously lacking in the family history posting. But I’m hoping to make it up to everyone over the next weeks and months.

Today is all for the Civil War Buffs out there. Today I’m posting a selection of my family’s representation in the War of Northern Aggression (that’s Confederate Tennessean for Civil War).  Members of my ancestral line fought at some of the most famous and infamous battles in the war.  I think it’s awesome that a few of them were in the vicinity of Appomattox when General Lee surrendered.  That’s some serious history right there.  I also found it interesting that Rebel Private Smith was fighting at Chickamauga, where the Yankee Captain Drake was taken prisoner.

If you’re looking to solve the mystery of your family’s Civil War Soldiers, I recommend starting at the NPS Soldiers and Sailors Database. Remember that there may be more than one soldier with your ancestor’s name, so there are other ways to find out exactly which Regiment and Company they were in.  Try searching on Family Search.  It’s free.  I found my information in Tennessee Soldier and Widow Pension Records, US Civil War and Later Pension Index, 1861-1917, 1894 Michigan Census, and 1890 Union Veterans Schedule, among other sources.  If you have an Ancestry.com account you can find the records there too, and are able to attach them to your family tree.


1. William Henry Grizzard (1826-1911) (Great Great Great Grandfather)

William Henry Grizzard, son of Thomas Ambrose Grizzard and Nancy Lewis, fought with the 11th Battalion, Tennessee Calvary (Gordon’s) as a Private in Company D.  The 11th Cavalry Battalion [also called 10th Battalion] was organized in January 1862, with six companies. The men were recruited in Giles, Davidson, DeKalb, and Smith counties.  By April 1862, when it was assigned to General N.R. Beall’s Brigade in the Army of the Mississippi, it contained 32 officers and 357 men. Later, when the battalion merged into the 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, William was a Sergeant in Company D, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Gordon and William S. Hawkins.  I’m still rooting out what battles they were involved in.

 2. Josiah Richard “Dick” Smith (1837-1930) (Great Great Great Grandfather)

Josiah, son of Joseph “Josiah” Smith and Michel “Mickey” Shepherd, was born in Tennessee in April 1837.  He enlisted as a Private in the 5th Regiment, Tennessee Calvary (McKenzie’s), Company F.

5th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry (McKenzie’s), was organized in December, 1862, using the 13th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion as its nucleus. The men were from the counties of Polk, Hamilton, Meigs, McMinn, Bradley, Cocke, Hawkins, and Blount. It served in Scott’s, Humes’, H.B. Davidson’s, and H.M. Ashby’s Brigade. After skirmishing in Kentucky the unit fought at Chickamauga, McMinnville, Shelbyville, and Philadelphia. Later it was involved in various conflicts in Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia, and then took part in the campaign of the Carolinas. The regiment surrendered with the Army of Tennessee. Its commanders were Colonels George W. McKenzie and John B. McLin, Lieutenant Colonel John G.M. Montgomery, and Major John L. Backwell.


1.  Nathaniel Leonard Corbin 1828-1888 (Great Great Great Great Grandfather)

Nathaniel, son of Nathaniel Corbin and Nancy Ormrick, enlisted as a Private in Company K of the 9th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery on 16 August 1862 in Ira, New York.  He was promoted to full Corporal on 26 April 1864 in Washington, D.C.

The 9th Regiment was organized at Auburn, New York as the 138th Regiment New York Infantry and mustered in September 8, 1862. The Regiment left New York for Washington, D. C. on 12 September 1862, where they remained on garrison duty until May 1864.  During that time they build and garrisoned Fort Mansfield, Fort Bayard, Fort Gaines and Fort Foote.  They were relieved on 18 May 1864 and ordered to join the Army of the Potomac in the Field.  Company K was involved in The Rapidian Campaign, The Siege of Petersburg, Sheridan’s Shenandoah Campaign,  Appomattox Campaign 28 March-9 April, including being present at Appomattox Court House on April 9th for the surrender of General Lee and his army.

Drake Brothers (Great Great Great Great Uncles)

Bronson, my great, great, great, great grandfather may have died in 1862, but the Drake family was well represented in the Union Army by 4 of his brothers.  In 1859, Byron joined the 2nd U.S. Artillery as an Army Regular.  In 1862, George, Lewis and Milton (aka Milan/Milon) enlisted the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry.  Sadly, the Drake family lost both George and Milton in 1864.

1.  Byron Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 27 February 1838.  He enlisted as a private in the 2nd U.S. Artillery (Regular Army), Battery G, on 5 October 1859.  He served five years, fought at the Battle of Bull Run, Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Fredricksburg, Battle of Gettysburg, and mustered out on 5 October 1864.  After his time in the Army, Byron returned to Michigan and became a carpenter.

2.  George B. Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 21 June 1841.  He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, Company B as a private.  He gave his life on 20 August 1864 during the Siege of Atlanta, Georgia.

3.  Lewis B. Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 18 May 1830.  He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, as a Sergeant and mustered out as a Captain.  He served in both Company D and Company G.  He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.  He returned to Michigan after the war.

4. Milton M. Drake, also Milan M. or Milon M. Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 9 May 1832.  He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, Company B as a private.  He gave his life on 22 April 1864 near Chattanooga, Tennessee.  At the time of his death, he was a Corporal.

The 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry was organized at Pontiac, Michigan, and mustered in August 29, 1862. The Regiment left Michigan for Kentucky on 4 September 1862.  They were involved in the Battle of Chickamauga, Siege of Chattanooga, and the Siege of Atlanta, Georgia.  The Regiment was attached to the Engineer Brigade in November 1863 and were engaged in building a road from Chattanooga to Brown’s Ferry and laying a pontoon bridge for the crossing of Sherman’s army.

5. George W. Nicholson 1845-1923 (Great Great Great Grandfather)

George, son of John S. Nicholson and Paulina F. Fuller, enlisted in the 2nd Regiment, Massachusetts Cavalry as a private in Company K on 12 August 1862 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. After the War, in the 1880’s, he settled in Owosso, Michigan.

Company K was organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts.  They left for Baltimore, along with Companies, A, B, C and D, and then moved to Fortress Monroe, 12-18 February 1863.  They were then moved to Gloucester Point, Virginia on 19 February.  There they were attached to Calvary Command, 4th Army Corps, Department of Virginia.  There they were engaged in picket, outpost, and scouting duty until July of 1863.  It was there that George was shot in the right leg.  He was mustered out on 4 March 1863 in Farnsworth, Virginia.

George enlisted in the Union Army the second time on 4 January 1864.  But this time he was a private in Company I of the 20th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry.  The 20th Massachusetts Infantry was organized at Readville 29 August to 4 September 1861. When George arrived they were attached to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, until March, 1864. They were then attached to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, until the end of his duty.  He was involved in the Campaign from the Rapidan to the James, Siege of Petersburg.  He was also among those present at Appomattox Court when General Lee surrendered.  He mustered out in June of 1865.  In 1881, George moved to Owosso, Michigan.

Hope you enjoyed this!



Mysteries and Family History_William H Grizzard and Mary Louisa Hawkes

My great-grandmother is Rebecca Nina Grizzard Nicholson.  She was born in Clarksville, Tennessee in 1910 to William Jackson “Bud” Grizzard and Fredonia “Dona” Smith.  Both of Rebecca’s grandfathers (William Henry Grizzard and Josiah Richard Smith) fought for the Confederacy, being Tennesseans and all.  This is interesting since her husband’s grandfather, George W. Nicholson (See:  https://jillbeingstill.com/2013/04/16/nicholson_historymystery/ for further information) fought for the Union Army.

Anyway I said all that to say that today’s Mystery and History was that when I found the marriage record for Bud’s parents, William Henry Grizzard and Mary Louisa, his mother’s name was Mary Louisa Grizzard.  I nearly fainted!  I was like OH NO!  Please don’t be marrying your cousin or sister William Henry!  That’s so not ok!

So I set out to prove that my Grizzards weren’t related.  But alas, they were!!!!  Mrs. Mary Louisa Grizzard was the widow of  Lewis H. Grizzard, William Henry’s brother.  Ahhh.  Wait.  What?   Here’s the rest of the story….

William and Lewis are two of the 5 children of Thomas Ambrose Grizzard (1803-1854) and Nancy Lewis Grizzard (1802-1860).  William is the oldest, born 12 March 1826 in North Carolina before the Grizzards set out for Tennessee.  Lewis was born in 1832 in Tennessee.  Their other siblings are Sarah (1836-1863), Ambrose J (1839-1860) and Major Tiller (1842-1934).   The Grizzards started out in Virginia (after emigrating from France) and went to North Carolina, then Tennessee.


William Henry Grizzard married Susanna Kennedy on the 4th of July 1847 in Tennessee.  They are next found in Saline, Arkansas on the 1850 Federal Census, where William is working as a brick mason.  They have 2 children at this time Ambrose Davie, age 2, and Lewis Edward, 4 months.  Their home is worth $100.  Sadly Ambrose died a year later, at the age of 3.  They also had a son William Johnson (1853-1856).

Per the 1860 Federal Census, William is now a 34 year old farmer whose land is worth $250.  Susanna is now 28, and Lewis is now 10 and their daughter Dora Ann is 3 years old.  Several months later, on September 24, 1860, Susanna dies.

Sometime between 24 September 1860 and 2 December 1861 William returns to Tennessee.  I know this because he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army on 2 December 1861.  Per his Civil War Soldier Profile, he was assigned to Company D in the Tennessee 11th Cavalry Battalion on 24 December 1861.


Lewis H. Grizzard was living in Davidson County, Tennessee in 1850 with his parents, and working as a laborer.  Around 1856 Lewis married Mary Louisa Hawkes, daughter of John Randolph Hawkes and Ann Eliza Foster.  In 1860, Lewis and Lou (as she’s called) are living on his parents farm.  He’s 26 and working as a carpenter and she’s 20.  They have one daughter, Anna who’s a year old.  Then in August 1860 John Franklin “Frank” Grizzard is born.

When Lou is pregnant for their 3rd child, Louella “Eller” Grizzard, Lewis dies in 1862.  I’m not sure how or the exact date, but he dies.  Eller was born in 1863.

William and Louisa 

William returns from fighting in the Civil War in 1864 and marries his brother’s widow.  I’m not sure if this was joining forces to raise their combined 5 children, if they genuinely fell in love or both.  But I can tell you on 22 November 1864 Mary Louisa Hawkes Grizzard and William Henry Grizzard got married.

That next year, my gg grandfather, William Jackson “Bud” Grizzard was born.  Followed by Henry Thorton, Amanda Jane, Mattie Louise, Carrie, George Coffey and Cora Lee.

That’s all for now.  Til Next Time….Velma

Major Tiller GrizzardPS   This is a photo of Major Tiller.  (BIG thank you to Scott Grizzard for loading this on Ancestry).  Major Tiller (Tyler) did fight in the Civil War. But Major is his actual first name, not a title.  Which is random and cool.  He actually fought at the battle of Shiloh and was later captured by the Union army and helt at Ft. Delaware until the end of the War (per his obituary). Almost makes me want to buy a Confederate flag, but I’m also a Nicholson, and we don’t do that. 🙂