Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana


Some description of the Commanding General William faced is of interest. He likely faced him before the Peachtree Creek battle. From a history book: There was no name in the Army of Tennessee more familiar to the soldiers than that of Cheatham, and no officer of the Confederate army possessed to a higher degree than he the affectionate regard of his men. He was born in the city of Nashville, October 20, 1820. He was captain of volunteers in the Mexican war, and was distinguished in its severest battles. On the outbreak of the War Between the States he espoused heartily the cause of the South and was appointed major general in the provisional army of Tennessee, May 9, 1861. From the very first, General Cheatham gained the reputation of being a brilliant fighter. He understood well the art of managing men. He was careful in looking after their comfort, and when it was proper to do so, carefully guarded their safety. But when duty required it, he was ready to face any peril and set before his soldiers an example. He was commissioned major general March 10, 1862, and we find him on the field of Shiloh and at Perryville, Ky., it was Cheatham's division that opened the fight. Again at Murfreesboro, Cheatham's was one of the four divisions that drove the Federals back.

At Chickamauga and the battle of Missionary Ridge, when the Confederate left center had been broken, Hardee threw a part of Cheatham's division directly across the path of the advancing Federals and held the ground. At the battle of Kennesaw Mountain (June 27th), Cheatham's and Cleburne's divisions probably inflicted upon the Federals a heavier loss than they suffered on any other part of the field. In the battles around Atlanta, Cheatham had command of a corps and it was here that Pvt. William Williams had the misfortune of facing him. General Cheatham's personal appearance was thus described a few years after the war: "General Cheatham is squarely and firmly built, and is noted for his extraordinary physical strength. He is slightly round-shouldered, and his weight is about two hundred pounds. His height is about five feet eight inches; his eyes are light blue, clear and expressive; his hair, light brown; his complexion, fair; and his moustache very heavy. In 1885 he became postmaster at Nashville, a position he retained until his death in 1886. Certainly a worthy adversary.

What was the nature of the gun that wounded Pvt. Williams? There were many infantry rifles used by the Confederate States. At the time it is likely it was a long barreled rifled weapon shooting a Minie ball similar to the ones he shot. It is not "mini" and is a giant compared to todayís infantry rifles. The bullet has a diameter of about 0.58 inches compared to todayís 0.30 and 0.223 inch size. The weapon had a length of about 56 inches. The ball is actually a lead bullet that is mostly cylindrical with a rounded nose and nearly 1-1/2 inches long. It is larger and heavier than the 50 caliber machine gun bullets used in aircraft in World War II to shoot down other aircraft. The Minie Ball (named for the inventor), according to Sherman war historian A. Castel, can penetrate six, one-inch thick pine boards at 600 yards when shot by a typical civil war rifle. The rifle in question was likely made at either the Richmond Virginia armory, Harpers Ferry armory or in England of the Enfield design. Whichever, it would have been very accurate at distances out to 600 yards or more.

We have to reflect again on the fact that William was not yet married. All his ancestors had yet to be born. If the rifle shot just 6 inches to the left, all us ancestors would not ever have been born. Since the barrel was about 40 inches long and assuming the range at 400 yards, it would take a movement of the tip of the rifle just 2/1000ths of an inch which is less than the thickness of one of the hairs on your head. Ponder that if you are an descendant of Williamís.

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