Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Civil War Soldier: George Washington Lyon

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, I thought I'd share the little I know of one of my soldier ancestors. The sesquicentennial brought him to my mind recently, and in honor of his service, I'm going to be ordering his full military record and pension from NARA soon.

(Source: Tim Crutchfield, via findagrave.com.)

George Washington Lyon was born 1st February 1843 in Illinois to Nathaniel Lyon and Permilia Madden. He married three times in Union County Illinois to the following ladies: (1) Lucenia Breedon on the 20th October 1864, (2) Lucy C. Gardner (my 3rd great-grandmother) on the 30th Sep 1869, and (3) Nancy Phelps on the 15th Apr 1881, who survived her husband.

He enlisted as a private in the 109th Illinois Infantry Company H for a term of three years on the 15 Aug 1862 at Anna, Illinois and was mustered in at Jonesboro, Illinois on 11 Sep 1862. The 109th was chiefly recruited from Union County with the exception of Company K, which was recruited from Pulaski County. At the time he gave his age as 19, gave his occupation as farmer, was 5 foot 7 with dark hair, eyes, and complexion.

After October 1862, the regiment left camp and moved through Tennessee and Kentucky, primarily being employed on guard duty for the rest of 1862. The guns given to the regiment were deemed unfit for battle and as such, the regiment was left at Lumpkin's Mill in Mississippi and ordered to guard railroad bridges between Holly Springs and Waterford.

The New York Times (Publish Date: 16 Nov 1862) reported skirmishes in the area between Lumpkin's Mill and Holly Springs in which the Confederates suffered six killed, seven commissioned officers captured, and the death of General Villipigue. The 109th reported to General Grant at Holly Springs on the 1st January 1863 and moved to Memphis, where they remained until March. By April 1, the Regiment was moved to Lake Providence, Louisiana.

Their numbers were so depleted that the regiment was merged into the 11th Illinois Infantry on 23 April 1863, including George Washington Lyon who was transferred into Company B. On April 26th, the Regiment marched to Vicksburg, arriving there May 18th. The men of the 11th participated in assaults on enemy positions and various other siege operations up until the surrender to the Siege of Vicksburg on 4th July 1863.

Lyons' regiment participated in expeditions to Natchez and Woodville before returning to Vicksburg, where the 11th Infantry's headquarters remained until July 1864. During this period, the regiment participated in the following expeditions and skirmishes: 1 Feb-8 Mar to Greenwood, Mississippi with a skirmish at Liverpool heights and Yazoo City, 6 Apr-26 Apr to Black River Bridge, and 4 May-21 May to Yazoo City, Benton, and Vaughn's Station, where the regiment was involved in three skirmishes. George Washington Lyon was discharged due to disability on 31 May 1864, so it is likely that he received said disability during that expedition of 4th May through 21st May mentioned previously.

His three subsequent marriages in 1864, 1869, and 1881, the 1870 Census where he is living with his second wife Laura C. (Gardner), and the 1880 Census, where he is a widower, tells us George W. Lyon returned to Union County Illinois following his discharge from the army. According to pension index card, George W. Lyons' pension application is dated 6th Nov 1883, application no. 499 377, certificate no. 321 006 and was filed for in Illinois.

In the 1890 Veterans Schedule, Lyon, now living at Essex, Stoddard County, Missouri after moving sometime after 1883, stated he had served one year, nine months, and sixteen days in the 109th US Illinois Infantry Company B and the 11th US Illinois Infantry Company H, and he was currently suffering from defective eyesight and weak lungs.

In the 1900 Census, he is the head of household with his third wife Nancy, four of their eight children were then alive and in the household. My 2nd great-grandmother Arpha/April (Lyon) Rodgers and four of her children lived with her father since her husband Samuel Pleasant Rodgers was shot and killed in 1898. Lyon gave his occupation as a farmer, could read and write, and owned his farm without mortgage against it.

George Washington Lyon died on the 22 Dec 1903 and is buried in Bloomfield Cemetery, Bloomfield, Missouri. His widow, Nancy (Phelps) Lyon, filed a widow's pension on 29th July 1904, application no. 798 848, certificate no. 678 017.

I do not have his full military record or pension, so I cannot tell if the weak lungs and defective eyesight was due to age or due to the disability he suffered during his service. I fully intend to get copies of those records and edit this entry with what new details I find. Additionally, if anyone seeing this has a photograph of him and/or any of his wives and children, please let me know.


Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900

Illinois Adjutant General's Report "Regimental and Unit Histories: Containing Reports for the Years 1861-1866"

New York Times Archive

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