Co. A - 31st Missouri Infantry Volunteers
John Williams served in the Civil War as a 2nd Lt. In "A" Company of the 31st Infantry Regiment of the Missouri Volunteers. He mustered in at Carondelet (St. Louis), Missouri on August 11, 1862 for period of three years. He left behind in Hillsboro, Missouri his wife Emily Jane, his sons Thomas, 11 and John R., 8, and daughters Nancy, 5, and Ruth M., 3. Emily was expecting their fifth child, Peter who was born in 1863 while John was at war.
The following paragraph is information found in "The Civil War Album" by Tom Robotham and published by Smithmark Publishers New York 1992.
In December 1862, under Orders of General Ulysses S. grant, General William Tecumseh Sherman led an expedition from Memphis down the Mississippi toward Vicksburg, Mississippi. On the 29th Sherman's four divisions charged Chickasaw Bluffs, where 14,000 Rebel troops were entrenched. Although the Federals outnumbered the Rebels two to one, the Confederate's position gave them the advantage.
The following are excerpts from an account given by Frank P. Blair, Brigadier General, Commanding First Brigade, Fourth Division and are found in "War of the Rebellion of the Union and Confederate Armies" Series I Vol. XVLL Part 1- Reports page 656.
"The regiments under my command were drawn up in two lines of battle, about 150 feet apart. The Thirteenth Illinois holding the right front and the Fifty-eighth Ohio in the rear. The Thirty-first Missouri occupied the left front, with the Twenty-ninth in rear. The right company of the Twenty-ninth Missouri and the left company of the Fifty-eighth Ohio formed the rear guard. When the signal of attack was given the brigade rushed with impetuosity to the attack and pressed over every obstacle and through a storm of shell and rifle bullets, and carried the first and second ranges of rifle-pits with an irresistible charge.
At this point I observed the rapidly–thinning ranks of that portion of my brigade which made the assault under my command, and turned and saw the column from the center of General Morgan coming up over the first range of rifle-pits. Encouraged by this support my gallant troops pushed still farther and to with in a short distance of the enemy's last entrenchments. Some reached the foot of these formidable works only to pour out our lives at their base. Colonel Fletcher, of the Thirty-first Missouri, it is ascertained was so badly wounded that he fell into the hands of the enemy. It is useless to apply words to eulogize the heroism of those who thus shed their blood for their country.
The list of casualties in the regiments under my command, embracing nearly one-third of the entire number who went into the field, attest the courage and obstinacy with which they struggled for victory, and which natural obstacles placed beyond our grasp."
It was at this battle that John Williams sustained a gunshot wound. He was transferred to a hospital ship and later to Williams Bend, Louisiana. At this time he resigned his commission due to his injuries. His letter was accepted on June 19, 1863 and he was mustered out on that date.
John Williams returned to Hillsboro after which six more children were born to his family. There were Ellie, born in 1866;William in 1868; Edward in 1870; Estelle, in 1872; Mary in 1873; and Ida in 1877. Mary Williams was my grandmother. John went on working as a farmer and serving the community of Hillsboro and Jefferson County for many years as sheriff. He died on January 22, 1893.