Private Clayton Webb Shaw

I thought this Veteran’s Day that I would talk about an uncle of mine who was a soldier for the Union Army during the Civil War and died in 1862 at the age of 22, having had no chance to leave much of a legacy.

Clayton Webb Shaw’s short life consisted of: being born, which happened on the 8th of May, 1840 in Clermont County, Ohio, (he was the oldest son of John Shaw and Idea Webb); growing up; volunteering in 1861 in the 5th Ohio Cavalry O.V.C., Company M (as a musician); dying.

Reports of his death are a bit confusing.

The regiment that he joined was organized at Camp Dick Corwin, at the end of 1861, and the men who signed up were in for a three-year stint. The regiment was composed mostly of men from Hamilton and Clermont counties in Ohio.

On February 26, 1862, the 5th received orders to report to Brig.-Gen. W. T. Sherman in Paducah, Kentucky. So off they went.

On the night of March 15 the regiment dropped down to Pittsburg landing and the next evening an expedition, consisting of six squadrons of the regiment, was ordered in the direction of Corinth and when 5 miles from the landing, in front of Shiloh chapel, was suddenly fired upon by a considerable body of the enemy. A charge was immediately made, in which several prisoners were taken. 

On April 4 the second battalion of the regiment had a sharp skirmish with Confederate cavalry, infantry and artillery at Crump’s landing, in which the battalion had 2 wounded, but brought in 14 prisoners. 

At the battle of Shiloh the regiment was constantly under fire. Gen. Grant giving direct orders to it and assigning it various difficult and dangerous duties and positions in the field. The behavior of officers and men throughout their virgin battle was highly commended by both Gens. Grant and Sherman. The regiment advanced with the army in the slow “siege” of Corinth, and had its share of picket duty and other exposure.1

Here is a list of their battles, skirmishes, etc.:
March from Danville to Savannah, Tennessee, March 10-11, 1862.
Expedition to Mobile & Ohio Railroad to destroy bridges March 14-15.
Beach Creek Bridge, Tennessee, March 13.
Near Eastport, Mississippi, March 14.
Burnsville March 14-15.
Reach Pittsburg Landing March 15.

Skirmish Pittsburg Landing March 16.
Reconnoissance toward Corinth March 16.
Black Jack Forest March 16 (Detachment).
Near Shiloh Church March 24 (1st and 2nd Battalions). 
Expedition to Chickasaw, Alabama, and Eastport, Mississippi, April 1.
Near Monterey, Tennessee, April 3.
Crump’s Landing April 4 (Detachment).
Battle of Shiloh April 6-7.
Corinth Road April 8.
Beech Creek Bridge April 13 (3rd Battalion).
Affair with Cavalry April 14.

Advance on and siege of Corinth, Mississippi, April 29-May 30.

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Map of Shiloh and battle lines.

So right away Clayton’s company was pretty much thrown into the blender. Okay, so far we can see Clayton’s company’s activities up to and beyond Shiloh. And then Clayton dies. This is where things get a bit confusing. According to the ‘Graves Registration Card’ found at ancestry.com, Clayton died at Shiloh, Tennessee, KIA on May 22, 1862.

military_shawclaytonwebb_gravecard

But…the Battle of Shiloh occurred April 6-7. The Union Army was advancing to, and sieging at Corinth, Mississippi from April 29-May 30. So how did he die at Shiloh? Maybe he was in a picket type situation, or they were reconnoitering in the area and there was a skirmish he died in.

Here is the story as told by his brother James:

James F. Shaw ….son of John and Ida (Webb) Shaw…Five children were born to this union:…Clayton, enlisted at the beginning of the Civil war in the Fifth Ohio Cavalry and died at Pittsburg Landing soon after the battle…2

So according to his brother, Clayton died at Pittsburg Landing, which is also what the Battle of Shiloh is called, shortly after the battle. (You can see the landing on the map above.)

But then we get to his headstone, the one that was applied for that honors his service:

headstone_shawcw_CivilWar

It reads:

He volunteered in Co. M 5th
O.V.C. October 3, 1861
Was in the battle at
Shiloh Fields.
Sent home sick, arrived
May 9, died on 22, 1862
Aged 22 years 19 days3

His headstone states that he died at home due to illness. However, it doesn’t specifically state what kind of illness. Was he recovering from wounds received in battle? Did he catch one of the prevalent diseases that killed many his fellow soldiers? Regardless of what illness killed him, it looks like he was not actually killed in action, but died at home surrounded by his family–I guess if you have to go, it’s not as bad as dying in a muddy, bloody field of battle.

In the end, despite the confusion on the details of his final days, Private Clayton Webb Shaw died in service to his country. So I thank him, and am only sorry that he is one of many young men whose life was cut so brutally short by war.

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Here is a slide show of three of the only decent images I could find online regarding Shiloh, or the 5th Ohio, (the company is unknown in that image though). Found these at the National Archives.


Sources:

  1. From—5th Ohio Cavalry Soldier Roster – Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Volume 11, by Ohio Roster Commission (Joseph B. Foraker, Governor, James S. Robinson, Sec’y of State and H. A. Axline, Adjutant-General), 1886.
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Crosses in the Civil War…

I have been doing a lot of intermittent research on the Cross line on my Dad’s side of the family. Along with other Cross researchers, (some of whom are quite surly and rude), I have been trying to find that magical document that connects my Clarissa Cross to her probable mother Serviah (Warner) Cross. No luck so far.

During this search I have been gathering any documents I can find on the surname. In particular I have been focused on Sophia (Rosa) Cross, the eldest sister of my 3x great grandfather Abram Rosa.

Like her father Garrett Rosa, Sophia also married a Cross, Amandor Mandrick Cross to be exact. He is believed to have been her uncle, her mother’s brother. (And with the reputation this family has, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.)

So, while I haven’t found that ‘holy grail’ document, I thought I might share a bit about what I have learned about herself, and her sons George H. and Daniel Wellington Cross, from their Civil War pension application files. Both boys were Union soldiers.

Daniel Wellington Cross
If you will recall, not too long ago I had some interesting research results to share about Daniel regarding his foray into larceny and his stint in prison. All of which happened after he served, pretty much the duration, of the Civil War in Co. I of the 17th Michigan infantry, and later, in Co. C of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters.

firstmisharpshooters_memorial_lansingDaniel was only in his first unit for about 6 months, about half of which time he was in the hospital ill. So, in February of 1863 the military discharged him due to this illness.

In April of that same year he signed up again, this time with the Sharpshooters. Unfortunately, I could find no record of his time in this unit, other than he was mustered out at the end of the war on the 28th of July 1865. After looking at the regiment’s timeline during the war I found that Daniel’s unit was involved in several battles that would put him in the same area as my great great grandfather FW John: Weldon Railroad, the mine explosion in Petersburg. Maybe they ran into each other. I hope gramps checked his pockets afterward if they did! If you are interested in a little bit of the regiments history there are a couple of links below you can check out.

We know next to nothing about Daniel’s personal experience in the Civil War, except regarding his health. Thanks to his pension record we know that while serving guard duty at Camp Douglas in Illinois on New Year’s eve 1863/4, his feet were frozen to such a degree that he most likely experienced frostbite. This incident affected his feet for the rest of his life. Below is his mother Sophia’s testimony and a friend or neighbor Darius ____ regarding the matter.

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Both above items from Daniel’s pension record.

Although Daniel had been married for a short time, (they divorced), there were no children from the marriage, so Daniel died in 1918 without issue.

An interesting note regarding Daniel’s service, he was most likely only 16 or 17 when he signed up in 1862. Maybe his enthusiasm for battle had him running away and lying about his age. There is nothing in the pension papers that gives any sense of Sophia’s feelings regarding the matter, but she must have been frantic with worry with her two eldest sons off to war.

George H.Cross
George was born about 1840 in Michgan. The eldest of the Cross boys he has the dubious honor of having died during the war after contracting an illness. Although he did die at home while on leave. According to my quick research, dysentary was the leading cause of death of 2/3rds of the men during the Civil War, and it is most likely that this was the cause of George’s demise. He had also contracted measles earlier in the war but apparently survived that.

Like his brother Daniel, George was also in the war for pretty much the duration. Although he was sick throughout much of his service. He enlisted in Co. I of the 1st Michigan Cavalry and was later tranferred to Co B. When he enlisted he signed with his mark as he was unable to even write his name.

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Image of 1st Michigan Calvary.

This particular unit was under the command of General Custer and was known as the Michigan Calvary Brigade, Wolverines or Custer’s Brigade. They fought in every major campaign of the Army of the Potomac from the Battle of Gettysburg to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865. George was unable to be there for the surrender as he had died at home in February of that year. (See below several links regarding some history of this regiment.)

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Custer on the field with the Wolverines.

George’s illness made for some interesting reading in his pension record as he was arrested earlier in the war for desertion, an accusation which was later rescinded. He hadn’t informed his superior that an illness prevented his returning to his company after his furlough was over.

George had been captured at Berryville, Virginia in August/September of 1864. His service record indicates that he was confined at Richmond, Virginia, which would mean he was most likely at Libby Prison. Another of those nasty hell-holes they called a prison during the war. By December he had been paroled and was back with his unit. It was shortly thereafter that he was transferred to Co B.

Much of George’s time in the Civil War was spent being ill. The time he spent in a confederate prison made his health worse, a situation which eventually contributed to his death in February of 1865. Like his brother Daniel, George died single and without any issue. But least Daniel had had a chance to make a life for himself, even if the choices he made were very poor ones.

Sophia Rosa Cross
George’s mother Sophia was the person who applied for a pension under her son’s name. She was alone and in need of support. She had been widowed in 1866, her drunkard of a husband, Amander, having died. Below is a statement from George’s pension regarding Amander’s weakness in this regard:

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Transcription: That they have known Amander Cross, the father of George H. Cross, deceased, since the year 1850 and befor, and from the year 1860 he never did anything for the support of his family for the reason that he was an habitual drunkard from 1860 and befor until the day of his death about July 9th 1866, Sophie Cross was dependent on George H. Cross her son for her support and at his death was in destitute circumstances, and has been ever since.

It appears that Amander put little effort into making the farm they owned a viable resource for providing for the family. He had probably been too busy getting drunk.

So. He died in 1866. Sophia’s eldest son died during the war. Daniel was a thief and ex-con, and lazy Frank wasn’t much better. After Amander died Sophia ended up having to sell her land and everything on it to pay the mortgages that were owed on the property. As that only paid the debts, she hired herself out to clean houses and the like to make money to live on. All told, she was in desperate straights. Thankfully, the pension board saw fit to  provide a small pension for Sophia. It was nothing to get rich on, but it help a little.

Sophia died in 1901 at about 85 years of age. She had ended up in a facility for the mentally incompetant and had a guardian; dementia or Alzheimer’s is probably what put her there.

Sophia’s legacy regarding her sons is not a pretty one, they were mostly not good folk. I have my suspicions she had some pretty loose morals herself. After all her favorite brother was Joseph, who had been her son Daniel’s partner in crime, literally, and she had had one of her daughters lie in their pension affidavit about her not having married again, because she had, although the marriage didn’t last.

All-in-all a family of many scoundrels. Makes for interesting reading.

And as for George, (whose illness and poor health during the war contributed to abruptly ending any chance of his having a life), he still died honorably in service to his country.  Even Daniel, whose later life choices were usually bad, did at least one good thing in his life by serving his country throughout the war. I respect that.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Regiment_Michigan_Volunteer_Sharpshooters
  2. http://civilwarintheeast.com/us-regiments-batteries/michigan/1st-michigan-sharpshooters/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Brigade
  4. http://custerlives.com/7thcav1.htm