Monday, April 11, 2011

Military Monday: My Civil War Ancestors

I am too late for Bill West's Civil War Genealogy Blog Challenge, but I thought I would go ahead and do a post about my Civil War ancestors.


Francis M. Tapley
  Eldest son of George Washington "Wash" and Elizabeth Tapley, brother of James Madison Tapley, and he was my great grand uncle

  Francis enlisted in the 48th Regiment Georgia Infantry, "The Battleground Guards" on March 4, 1862 in Johnson County, Georgia.  He is present and accounted for on every muster roll until July-August 1863, where he is noted as being absent with the remark "Absent without leave July 10, 1863."  He is again marked absent with the same remark for September and October.  He is back with his company in November.

  Further along in his Civil War file, we find that on July 19, 1863, Francis was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital, or General Hospital No. 9, Richmond, Virginia.  The very next day, July 20, it shows he was transferred to Chimborazo Hospital, No. 2, Richmond, Virginia, for some sort of fever.  Then on August 5, he appears on a Morning Report of Jackson Hospital, Richmond, Virginia.  He appears on that hospital's muster roll until August 31, 1863.  However, he also appears on a receipt roll for clothing issued to soldiers at the same hospital issued September 22, 1863.

  So obviously, Francis was not AWOL; he was sick with a couple of different, apparently serious, ailments in various hospitals around Richmond. Sometime between September 22 and November 1, he rejoined his unit.
  Sadly, Corporal Francis M. Tapley was killed on July 30, 1864, at the Crater, Petersburg, Virginia.  He was only 19 or 20 years old.  The story that has been passed down through the family is that he was killed during the initial explosion of the mine.  I have no way of knowing if that is true, but I do know that he is buried somewhere there in that field.

Looking up the hill from the mine entrance, 2009
  My mother and I visited this battlefield in 2009.  It was a moving experience.  Knowing that your ancestor fought and died there added a whole other dimension to it.  We visited the nearby Confederate cemetery and saw the unknown solider monuments there.

 James Madison Tapley
  Second son of George Washington "Wash" and Elizabeth Tapley, brother of Francis M. Tapley, and he was my great-grandfather

  Jim Tapley enlisted in the same unit as his brother, Company F, 48 Regiment Georgia Infantry, on March 15, 1864.  He was six weeks shy of his 17th birthday. 

  It is highly probable that he was there at the Crater on the day his brother was killed. Again, the story passed down through the family is that Jim saw his brother get killed in the initial explosion of the mine.

  Private James M. Tapley took part in many battles, along with his unit, including several more at Petersburg, and other locations around Virginia.  It does not appear he was seriously injured during this time.

  The final document in his Civil War file looks like this:

"James Tapley
Pvt., Co. _____, 48 Georgia Regiment.

Appears on a


of Prisoners of War belong to the Army of Northern Virginia, who have been this day surrendered by General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., commanding said Army, to Lieut. Genl. U.S. Grant, commanding Armies of the United States.

Done at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865."
Jim then proceeded to walk all the way back to his home in Georgia, as so many others did. 

Federal troops in front of Appomattox Court House after Lee's surrender.


  George W. Schwalls (or Schwall  - he did not add the "s" at the end until after the war)
   Parents unknown; he was my great-great-grandfather.

  George W. Schwalls enlisted in Company E of the 48th Regiment Georgia Infantry on March 4, 1862.
  He is listed on the Company Muster Roll for June 3 to October 31, 1862 as being absent with the remark "sick in hospital."  He appears on a Register of Receiving and Wayside Hospital, or General Hospital No. 9, Richmond Virginia dated October 13 and on a Hospital Muster Roll of sick and wounded soldiers at General Hospital No. 1, Richmond on October 17.  His Company Muster Rolls for Nov. & Dec. 1862 and Jan. & Feb. 1863 indicate he is still in the hospital.  He is back with his unit as of March 1, 1863.

  By September later that year, he is back "sick in hospital".  This time he is at 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder, Richmond, Virginia.  In November, he is back with his unit.

  On April 1, 1864, George Schwalls was transferred to the Confederate Navy by order of General Lee.  On his pension application made 37 years after the war, he indicated that he was transferred on January 1, 1865 to a gun boat and made an engineer.  

  Private George Schwalls was discharged from service at the end of the war in April 1865.

  On his pension application, he indicates many health problems; some due to his war service:  has lost his sight "for 4 years," "asthma in severest forms, also heart dropsy - was wounded in head from which I am almost totally deaf; suffer intensely from war wound in right leg."


James William Drake

  Son of Francis Bryant Drake and Selina King Drake; he was my great-great-grandfather.

  James W. Drake enlisted on May 7, 1862 as a Private into Company G, 32nd Georgia Infantry.  He was 32 years of age, which is a good deal older than what we mostly hear of serving in that war.

  He appears on a Regimental Return dated October 1862 with the remark "Absent on sick furlough for 30 days from 29 October 1862."  He again appears on a Regimental Return, this one dated November, with the remark "in Hospital."

  I have no records of him during 1863 in his Civil War file.  Then on January 9, 1864, there is a page in his file that indicates "Subject:  Court Martial."  On February 9, 1864, there appears to be a summons:  "Subject:  Report to Brig-Gen. Walker."  There is no other information about a court martial in his file and by June of 1864, he is appearing regularly on receipt rolls for clothing with his unit.    The book "The Drake Family of Washington County, Georgia" by Charles Edward Francis Drake offers the following explanation:

  "On 9 January 1864 he was court-martialed for being absent without leave from 7 July 1863 to 5 September 1863. I believe he went home to visit ill family members. He was acquitted and rejoined service with his unit."

  James W. Drake surrendered with his unit at Greensboro, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865:

  "Jas. W. Drake, Pvt, Co. G, 32 Reg't Georgia Infantry
Appears on a 
    Muster Roll
of Officers and Men paroled in accordance with the terms of a Military Convention entered into on the 26th day of April, 1865, between General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding Confederate Army, and Major General W. T. Sherman, Commanding United States Army in North Carolina.

Roll dated near Greensboro, N.C., April 28, 1865.

Paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina, May 1, 1865." 

  I assume James also walked to his home in Georgia.

 According to Charles Edward Francis Drake's above mentioned book, "When he [James Drake] made his pension application in 1899, he complained of chronic bronchitis and a double hernia." (I do not have a copy of this pension application and obviously need to add it to my to do list.)

  James had a brother, Francis Milton Drake, who served in the same unit.  Another brother, John Saffold, was also in the same unit for a short time, but he shows up as AWOL and there is no further record for him during the war that I have located thus far.  A third brother, Thomas Lamar Drake, also served in the Civil War, but I do not know the details of his service.


  I find that I have no information on whether any of my Page ancestors served.  Another item for the to do list!

I apologize for the long post, and if you are still reading, bless you!


  1. From your post I can say that the men in your family are defenders of our country


  2. Hi Liz,
    You did make the Challenge. I saw the post and included it. What a great bunch of research!

    So, thank you for taking part in the Challenge!

  3. Bill,
    That's great! Thank you! It was a great exercise, both in sharing with pride the sacrifices my ancestors did for their country and beliefs AND in showing me holes in my research that I need to fill!