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REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIER WILLIAM FREEMAN



BURIAL SITE:

Springfield National Cemetery, 1702 E. Seminole, Springfield, Greene County, Missouri.

His burial site is easy to locate. It is near the north wall of the cemetery and just to the left of the main entrance to the cemetery. It is about 30 feet due east of the Cemetery Office entrance. He has a government stone that is similar to many others in the cemetery. He is buried next to a number of Confederate soldiers of the Civil War. There is a tall Confederate Statue. It seems the Confederate Soldier on the statue is looking directly at William Freeman’s grave.

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TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTION at the National Cemetery:

Wm. Freeman / 10 N.C. Mil. / Rev. War

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William Freeman is the only veteran of the Revolutionary War buried Springfield National Cemetery. He was born October 26, 1759 in Bertie County, North Carolina. Merrill Hill Mosher, in her book, JOHN FREEMAN OF NORFOLK COUNTY, VIRGINIA, places this William Freeman as a son of James son of John son of the John of the title of her book.

He enlisted in the North Carolina Militia from Bertie County and served at various times during 1776, 1778, and 1781. It was common for soldiers to enlist for a few months duration when needed. Between battles and skirmishes they would return to their farms. He served as a private in Child’s Company in 1778 for 9 months. He also served in Col. Abraham Shepherd’s Regiment, 10th Regiment of North Carolina. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame is that he also served as one of George Washington’s scouts.

Also, it is important to note that William Freeman served under the command of General Nathanael Greene at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, which was one of the bloodiest and most bitterly contested engagements of the war. Although British General Charles Cornwallis forced Greene’s army to retreat, British casualties were almost 30 percent, while Nathanael Greene saved most of his army. Cornwallis, having outrun his supplies, was forced to retreat to Virginia, thus leaving the Carolinas in the hands of the patriots. Logistics won when arms failed.

After the war ended, Freeman married Mary Bryan and moved west to Burke County, North Carolina. This area later became Caldwell County in 1841. By 1832 he was living in Maury County, Tennessee as he applied for a war pension there on September 12, 1832.

In 1834, at the age of 75, William Freeman, his wife Mary, and five of their 10 living children (sons John and Lemuel, daughter Nancy, grandson William W. [son of Reddick], and possibly others) moved to Greene County, Missouri.

William settled on a farm of 160 acres where Cherry and Glenstone streets meet today in Springfield. The site was between East Trafficway and Cherry. This is close to where Samuel Austin later settled who also was a Revolutionary War soldier and who had two sons who married Freeman daughters.

William Freeman died on January 28, 1839, and he was buried on his farm, but in 1912, at the urging and work of the Daughter of the American Revolution, his remains were moved to Springfield’s National Cemetery. It is presumed that his wife and other family members are buried still on the site of the old family farm in unmarked graves. This site, at the corner of Glenstone and Cherry, is now a busy commercial site in Springfield, with no hint that a farm was ever located at this location.

In 1912, Sheriff Walter. E. Freeman, a descendant of William Freeman, was encouraged by the Rachel Donelson chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to locate his grave. He enlisted the help of William Freeman’s grandson, Lemuel B. Austin, then age 76, who walked directly to a large elm tree at the southwest corner of Glenstone and Cherry. "Right here," he stated, "but dig crossways for I might be off a little." The walnut casket was located and the remains were moved to the Springfield National Cemetery on June 22, 1912. The body of William Freeman was interred just north of the monument dedicated to the soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

The Ozark Mountain Chapter SAR, in conjunction with the William Freeman Society CAR, and the Rachel Donelson Chapter DAR, held a memorial service for William Freeman on April 17, 1999. Members of the Freeman family participated as well as some local school children. Some members of the MOSSAR colorguard presented colors. A historic marker near the entrance to the National Cemetery was dedicated in that same ceremony to honor all Revolutionary War soldiers.


(c) Copyright 1998-2005.

Last updated May 15, 2005.


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