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Civil War Soldiers - Williamson

Williamson, James A., brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born in the state of Kentucky, but in early life removed to Iowa and was residing there at the outbreak of the Civil war. On Aug. 8, 1861, he was appointed first lieutenant in the 4th Ia. infantry, afterward being made adjutant, and with that regiment proceeded to St. Louis, thence to Rolla, Mo., where the command remained until Jan., 1862, making an expedition to Licking, Texas county, where it dispersed a body of the enemy and captured a number of cattle, horses and mules. In January the regiment left Rolla for the purpose of giving battle to Price, then at Springfield, at which place a skirmish occurred on the evening of Feb. 12, but the enemy left during the night without offering battle. At Pea ridge the regiment won high praise for its valor. On April 4, 1862, Adjt. Williamson was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and the following day led his regiment to Batesville, Ark., thence toward Little Rock, but was compelled to return on account of the shortage of supplies. In June he was at Jacksonport with his men in a half- starved condition, they having lived on such scanty supplies as they could pick up in the country, and to escape actual starvation they marched 100 miles to Clarendon only to find the troops and supplies gone, which compelled them to march to Helena. While at this point, July 21, 1862, Col. Williamson was commissioned colonel and with his regiment engaged in several minor expeditions and brought in quantities of cotton, horses and supplies. In December he proceeded to Vicksburg with Sherman's army to join Grant's advance on that place, and was in the disastrous attack on Chickasaw bluffs, where his regiment moved without support upon an open point, carried the first line of works and held them under a murderous fire while waiting for help that never came, Col. Williamson being wounded several times. In Jan., 1863, the regiment went into camp in the swamp below Vicksburg and spent two whole months there, then moved to Greenville, the enemy being met and driven several times and large quantities of supplies were picked up. Col. Williamson then returned with his command to Milliken's bend, took part in the movement on Jackson, his being one of the first regiments to enter that place, and he then returned to Vicksburg and was engaged at Haynes' bluff. In the siege of Vicksburg he was almost constantly under fire, and he took part in the siege of Jackson and accompanied the pursuit of Johnston as far as Brandon. With his regiment he then went into camp near the Big Black river, where he remained until the middle of September, when he embarked for Memphis, moved thence to Corinth and marched to Iuka, from which point he was ordered to Cherokee Station, Ala., where he was in repeated engagements with the enemy until October. He then joined Sherman's army at Eastport and proceeded to Chattanooga, where he arrived on Nov. 23 and took position with Hooker at Lookout mountain. On the morning of the 25th he moved to Rossville with his own and two other regiments, turned the enemy's left and took a strategic position, from which he took part in the battle that followed. He was engaged at Ringgold, where he held an important position against heavy odds and saved two railroad bridges. He then moved to Bridgeport, Ala., and from there to Woodville, where his regiment went into camp. In May, 1864, he joined in the Atlanta campaign and was in nearly every battle and skirmish of that movement. At Atlanta on July 22, the brigade to which he was attached made a gallant charge with other regiments, retaking De Gress' famous battery of 20-pounder Parrott guns, the skirmishers of his regiment being the first to reach it. On Jan. 13, 1865, Col. Williams was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers, having been given that rank by brevet on Dec. 19, 1864, for gallantry and good conduct in the campaigns against Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Atlanta, and he was brevetted major-general of volunteers on March 13, 1865, for gallant conduct during the war. On Aug. 24, 1865, he was honorably mustered out of the service, and on Jan. 17, 1895, he was awarded a medal of honor for having led his regiment at Chickasaw bluffs against a superior force strongly intrenched and holding his ground when all support had been withdrawn. Gen. Williamson died Sept. 7, 1902.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908

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