Skip to main content

Anxious Father Waits Days for News of His Son, Pvt. John Clayton Walden (b. 1846)

John Clayton Walden was born 26 March 1846 in Georgia to John M. and Elizabeth Walden. On 8 May 1862, at just over 16 years of age, the younger John was mustered in as a private in Company E (captained by C. H. Richardson) of the 57th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. John's Civil War service record ascribed to him the age of 17 years at the time. Bet he fudged a little bit.

In his history of the 57th titled Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia*, Scott Walker wrote the following about the Battle of Champion Hill / Baker's Creek:

As the men of the Fifty-seventh Georgia crossed Baker's Creek late on the night of May 16 [1863] and raced through the dark for the Big Black River [Mississippi], they were no longer strangers to such tragedy and horror. Their memories were scarred forever by the early days of the Vicksburg campaign.

And this portion he wrote about the Siege of Vicksburg:

As soon as [General] Grant resigned himself to a siege, he ordered his engineers to begin moving the Union lines closer to Vicksburg by using assault trenches...The trenches were zigzagged to keep the Rebs from firing down their length...

[Union General] Lauman also deployed snipers. Exposed soldiers risked instant death. John Walden Jr., a young private in the Fort Valley Infantry, Fifty-seventh Georgia, was not aware that his anxious father had caught a train for Vicksburg to check on his son and bring supplies to the Fort Valley troops. Union sentinels stopped the senior Walden upon his arrival in the Vicksburg vicinity and denied him passage through the lines. He waited helplessly for days for word of his son.

After a particular fierce shelling, young John Walden peered over the trench line for a brief moment. A Yankee sharpshooter placed a bullet cleanly through his forehead. Only after Vicksburg surrendered did his waiting father learn of his son's death and burial. Because of the war the grief-stricken father could not take the corpse home. Instead, the elder Walden returned home with the Fort Valley Infantry after the Vicksburg surrender and erected a simple monument in his son's memory that stands today in Fort Valley.

Death Loves a Shining Mark
John Clayton Walden
Born March 26, 1846
Killed in Battle at Baker's Creek
May 16, 1863

As you can see, the white bronze marker states Pvt. Walden was killed in the Battle at Baker's Creek (a.k.a. Champion Hill). This same information is found in the young soldier's service record.

For the passage in Mr. Walker's book, he cited "Governor Treutlin [sic] Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, History of Peach County, Georgia, 81." I have used this reference book before in a library, and would love to quote from it, but don't have a personal copy. (To be clear, I have no reason to doubt Mr. Walker or his source.) It's difficult to know for sure whether young John survived a few more weeks and made it all the way to Vicksburg.

Inconsistency aside, it is clear John Clayton Walden was a brave young man. And to say his father was grief-stricken over his loss is likely an understatement.

Also memorialized on the same white bronze marker in Oaklawn Cemetery at Fort Valley, Georgia were three brothers of the young private: Henry Thomas Walden (1849-1852), George Virgil Walden (1854-1855), and Pleasant Pierce Walden (1858-1859). This family endured much sorrow.

(*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)


Popular posts from this blog

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you. Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here." Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. H

Southern Cross of Honor

I'm late to this discussion, but it's one I'd like to join. :-) Terry Thornton at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country started with Grave Marker Symbols: The Southern Cross of Honor and UCV (link no longer available). Judith Shubert at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges continued with Hood County Texas: C.S.A. Veterans & Southern Cross of Honor Symbol . [UPDATE, 1 June 2009: Judith has moved this post to the blog, Cemeteries with Texas Ties . The link has been corrected to reflect this move. You may also link to her article via her nice comment on this post.] Wikipedia states: The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Arm

Thursday Link Love: EyeWitness To History

Yesterday, a link was added to the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo. The link was to the website titled EyeWitness to History through the eyes of those who lived it . It's a great site, and I encourage all to visit it. Here are several items I found while snooping around. - Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944 : "Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of "undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others." - Crash of the Hindenburg, 1937 : "Radio reporter Herbert Morrison, sent to cover the airship's arrival, watched in horror. His eye witness description of the disaster was the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast and has become a classic piece of audio history." [You ca

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)