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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Civil War: the Richards family tragedy

The Civil war was the end of the line for one Richards family who lost all their sons and a son-in-law.

Clarissa Richards Williams not only lost five brothers in the American Civil War, she also lost her husband.

When my ancestor Clarissa Richards was born around 1827, she was one of twelve children born to Christopher Richards, Sr. and Nancy Moore. The Civil War was anything but civil, and when it came, Clarissa's husband and at least five of her brothers served their country and gave their lives for it. 

Clarissa's husband died of fever during the war, he was a farmer from Virginia and a father of eight. One of those eight was my great, great grandmother Harriet Isabelle Williams. 

Clarissa or Betty as she was known was the sister of Lewis P. Williams who died in 1862 at the age of 13 in Franklin County, Virginia.

Their brother Asa Richards was 22 when he died in February of the same year.

Their brother Samuel M. Richards enlisted in Co. B of the 42nd Virginia Infantry about May of 1861 and died about November 1862 at the age of 21.  

Samuel M. Richards enl. pvt. Co. B, 42nd Va. Inf. May 25, 1861 Floyd C.H., Floyd Co., Va. To Warm Springs Hosp. by Oct. 31, 1861 and then to Bath Alum Springs by Dec. 31, 1861. Detailed teamster Feb. 21 to Mar. 19, 1862. Present Jul. 17, 1862. Warrenton Hosp. Aug. 31, 1862 and DOD there Sept. 20, 1862. J. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry.    

Robert Richards was born about 1836 and married Sarah Jane Shilling or Stirling in 1858. He had two children in the 1860 census at the age of 25 and enlisted in the 42nd infantry in 1861. he went AWOL in 62 and was court-martialed and sentenced to 4 months hard labor. He was killed in action in 1863 in Chancellorsville and the remainder of his sentence was set aside.

Robert E. Richards enl. pvt. Co. B. 42nd Va. Inf. May 25, 1861 Floyd C.H., Floyd Co., Va. age 25. Furloughed Feb. 14, 1862 40-day re-enlistment leave. Present Mar. 23, 1862. AWOL Aug. 12, 1862 Gordonsville. Present Dec. 28, 1862. Court-martialed Apr. 9, 1863, guilty AWOL, sentenced to four months' hard labor on public roads at Staunton and forfeit four months and seven days pay. The court was lenient "on account of the prior good character of the accused." KIA May 3, 1863 Chancellorsville, Va. Remaining sentence set aside May 29, 1863 for gallantry at Chancellorsville. 5'9 1/2" dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry.

 Hamilton Richards was 28 when he died at Cedar Run. He enlisted in 1861 right after the birth of his fifth child, Samuel. Hamilton was killed in action in August 1862.

Robert E. Richards enl. pvt. Co. B. 42nd Va. Inf. May 25, 1861 Floyd C.H., Floyd Co., Va. age 25. Furloughed Feb. 14, 1862 40-day re-enlistment leave. Present Mar. 23, 1862. AWOL Aug. 12, 1862 Gordonsville. Present Dec. 28, 1862. Court-martialed Apr. 9, 1863, guilty AWOL, sentenced to four months' hard labor on public roads at Staunton and forfeit four months and seven days pay. The court was lenient "on account of the prior good character of the accused." KIA May 3, 1863 Chancellorsville, Va. Remaining sentence set aside May 29, 1863 for gallantry at Chancellorsville. 5'9 1/2" dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry. 

Their brother William Richards married in 1860 and enlisted for the war in 1862. He died in 64.

  • William Richards enl. pvt. Co. B. 42nd Va. Inf. Mar. 8, 1862 Floyd C.H., Floyd Co., Va. age 22. AWOL Aug. 12, 1862 Gordonsville, Va. Absent through Dec. 31, 1862. DOD by Jan. 16, 1864. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry 122.   

Christopher Richards, Junior was born in 1836 and died in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at the age of 26 in April of 62.  He married Hannah Gearhart in 56 and had 3 children before he died.

Christopher Richards, Jr. enl. pvt. Co. B, 42nd Va. Inf. May 25, 1861 Floyd C.H., Floyd Co., Va. age 25. To Variety Spgs. Hosp. by Dec. 31, 1861. Present Feb. 28, 1862. Hosp. by Apr. 1, 1862. D. Apr. 14, 1862, Harrisonburg, Va. typhoid fever. J. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry 122.  

Not one of those Richards boys survived...

After the deaths of all her brothers and her husband, it really is not surprising that Betty Richards Williams would not want to lose her son is it?

After Betty's husband and five of her brothers died during the Civil War, Clarissa hid one of her boys in a cave, to keep him from being drafted or caught and hanged by the "Home Guard." Sometimes Isabelle would go with her to take him food. They would walk down a stream bed, so they couldn't be tracked. After the war, Clarissa went with her daughter and son-in-law, who was a minister, to Bluefield, West Virginia. She owned a large amount of land in Franklin County, bought with her husband's gambling winnings (but we have not yet located the land records). In 1910 at age 85, she was living with her son Noah H. "Hank" Williams in Montgomery County, Virginia. *

* This is taken from the book of John Marchel Reed and Anne Cora Nichols Reed by Nancy Mae Little Randers-Pehrson and Glenn Randers-Pherson

source:
http://www.hodges-hodge-society.org/db/getperson.php?personID=I466&tree=37



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