Captain William Thomas York, Civil War Soldier
Parts by John York Rumble and Scott Jackson
William Thomas York was born in 1830, the first of five sons born to Sarah Blake and Josiah Cowan York. Josiah fought in the Seminole Indian War, and his father, Captain William York, fought in the Revolutionary War.
Tom, as he was called, volunteered to fight for Company 'A', First Georgia Cavalry Regimenton March 4, 1862. Captain John C. Crabb enlisted him at Cedartown for 3 years or the duration of the War. Private York's horse was valued at $130.00. Captain Crabb's Company was part of Lt. Col. Morrison's Battalion.
Tom received a $50.00 bounty on April 17. The Army paid him 40 cents per day for the use of his horse and arms. Muster rolls show he was sometimes absent because he was serving as Commissary. On June 3, he was marked present at Big Creek Gap, Tennessee. He was paid for July and August by Captain Samuel W. Davitt. On the November-December Muster Roll, he is listed as 'Captain' with the date of rank of May 25, 1862. A pay voucher dated December 21 states Capt. W. T. York was paid $140.00 per month for a total of $1,120.00 for service from April through November, 1862. At Camp Beulah in Knox County, Tennessee on February 28, 1863, Tom was paid a $100.00 bounty.
Also enlisted in Co. A were Tom's younger brothers: Larkin B., Jasper Newton, and Abraham Huddleston York. Another brother, Josiah, Jr., enlisted in time for the Atlanta Campaign when he returned home from Gettysburg wounded in the left eye. John C. Crabb who organized the unit died on July 15, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro. Before the War, he built the first store in the Rockmart area. Jesse W. Crabb, who married Frances York, joined after he was discharged for a disability at Centreville, Virginia. He was seriously wounded at Sunshine Church. John W. Crabb also of Co. 'A', wrote an account of being captured by the yankees and cutting through a boxcar to escape. He and his brother, James Burton Crabb, were grandsons of Burton Crabb of Van Wert who was an original settler, a Baptist deason, and a licensed preacher. James Burton Crabb was wounded at Fredericksburg so severly that his left arm was left permanently disabled. Some of the Crabbs are buried at the Barber Cemetery just south of Rockmart.
On April 1, 1863, Tom was reassigned to 'the Line'. He was succeeded as commissary by L. L. Lamar. He had risen in rank because of his ability to procure and manage supplies and equipment. There are no entries in his service file for the next year. However, the First Georgia Cavalry was busy. They skirmished in East Tennessee, and later took part in Bragg's Kentucky Campaign. They served in Pegram's, Davidson's, and J. J. Morrison's Brigades. They fought at Murfreesboro twice, near Nashville, in Pegram's Kentucky Raid, in the expedition to Monticello, at Chickamauga, Big Hill, and in the Chattanooga Siege, at Philadelphia with Nathan Bedford Forrest, and in the Knoxville Siege. Most of the time they foght in General Joseph Wheeler's Cavalry Corps of the Army of Tennessee. On February 10, 1864, Tom enlisted his younger brother, Josiah, Jr. to fight for the remainder of the war.
In the spring and summer of 1864, Tom's signature appears on requisitions as 'W.T. York, Capt., Company A'. Two are signed, 'W. T. York, Commanding', although Captain S. M. May is listed as Quartermaster. The supplies were needed to defend Georgia from Sherman's invasion, so the job of Quartermaster was both essential and difficult. For the month of April at Oxford, Alabama, Tom Signed a requisition for forage for 'seventy private horses' for 30 days. The daily allowance of corn for each horse was 10 1/2 lbs., for a total of 22,050 lbs. Also, in April, at Marietta, Georgia, he ordered 7 pairs of pants, 16 pairs of shoes, 4 shirts, 6 coats, 5 pairs of drawers, 'foolcap' papter, letter paper, 70 pairs socks, and one bottle of ink.
On the march near Cartersville, on May 1, he ordered for 67 horses, 20,770 lbs. of corn, 1,1,000 lbs. of hay, and 1,550 lbs. of of fodder, then on June 2, he ordered more clothing, more paper, and 21 lbs of rock salt. For the month of June, at Marietta and vicinity, he requested 17,850 lbs. or corn, 18,900 lbs. fodder, and 4,200 lbs. of hay.
During the Atlanta Campaign, Company A., First Georgia Cavalry was part of Crews-Iverson's Brigade, Martin's Division, Wheelers' Cavalry Corps. Their job was to scout the enemy's positions and to destroy supply trains, tracks, and bridges. Wheeler drilled his horsemen in the art of charging an Infantry line, and lined up dummies made of old clothes stuffed with straw. Then he had his troopers charge at full speed, sabers held high, while under fire from blank cartridges. During the Atlanta Campaign, they fought, bravely, at Tunnel Hill, resaca, new Hope Church, Pickett's Mill, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, Bald Hill, and Peachtree Creek.
At 2 p.m., on July 21, 1864, Captain Tom York was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bald Hill (see note below). He was carried from the field to the hospital by his younger brother, Josiah, and was evacuated by train from Atlanta to Barnesville and taken to Mr. Bellah's. Josiah stayed with him and recorded the details of his last days. His account suggests that Tom was shot in the abdomen, and as he became delirious, he talked about his men and his command, calling for cartridges. According to Josiah, Tom died August 2, at 4:40 p.m. The Confederate Register of Officers and Soldiers Killed in Battle states he died August 3 at Kingston Hospital, Camp Kingston, Barnesville. He was thirty-four years old, was succeeded in command by his friend, Jesse W. Crabb.
The 1870 Polk County census lists a household occupied by Matilda York, age 33, and three children: Barney, age 15, Fanny, age 13, and Marietta, age 8. There is a srong possibility this is Tom's family. There is no record of Matilda applying for a Confederate widow's pension in Polk County, but she may have remarried, moved, or not needed one.
Josiah, Jr.'s son, John Hightower York recorded that Captain William Thomas York was buried near Jackson, Georgia. There is a Confederate Cemetery sixteen miles west of Jackson near Milner, just a few miles from Barneville. The historic marker states, "In this lonely spot lie the mortal remains of more than 100 unknown soldiers of the Confederacy. Most of them were wounded while heroically defending the City of Atlanta against the overwhelming forces of General Sherman and died in an improvised hospital near Milner."
The paon rocks for head and foot stone have been replaced by the United Daughters of the Confederacy with white marble markers.
Thanks to the dedicated effort of Scott Jackson, historian for the 1st Cavalry Organization, Captain William Thomas will have a marker, in the garden of the unknown, on an anonymous grave. He will be remembered by all who visit this sacred ground as an officer and a 1st Cavalry officer.
Scott, who has won an award for his cemetery project has set upon himself the hefty goal of marking all the graves of all the 1st Cavalry, and contacted this researcher wanting to know where all of the five York boys are buried. Thanks to the conjoined records of several descendants, we have found the graves of all but Jasper Newton who was so ill with tuberculosis when he returned from the war that his wife, the former Judith Flanagan, took him to Florida for the weather, but sadly he died and is buried there in a grave unknown to any of our family. So if any of his descendants, or those of Judith, see this article, please contact this researcher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you are descended from any of the five York brothers, please contact me with your information.
* The following is a note from Scott Jackson, historian 1st Cavalry, to Carter Campbell, a several times great grandson of Captain William Thomas York.
"Carter called me last night. We agreed that Thomas York wasn't shot at Peachtree Creek. He was actually shot on the 21st at Bald Hill in Atlanta. The 1st GA was shot up bad that day. Their position was over run with heavy losses. A large number were captured as well as wounded and KIA that day. The records of Company A show a lot of casualties on the 20th, but it was the 21st instead. Then on the 22nd they attacked McPherson's wagon trains on the square in Decatur. This is the day that the rest of the army was fighting "The Battle of Atlanta". Much of the battle occurred where the 1st GA had been fighting the day before. Bald Hill then became named "Leggetts Hill" after the Yankee General that captured and held it."
The sacrifice of the five brothers will never be forgotten.
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