Monday, May 19, 2008

David C. Crawford

David C. Crawford was born October 29, 1838, in Michigan, the son of Robert (1794-1884) and Sally (Crooks, 1798-1888).

New York native Robert and Massachusetts-born Sally were married in 1816, and settled in Michigan sometime before 1839. By 1860 David was a law student living with his family in Lyons, Ionia County where his father worked as a farmer.

David was 22 years old and still residing in Lyons when he enlisted as First Sergeant in Company E on May 13, 1861. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.)

While the Regiment was forming in Grand Rapids in late May and early June of 1861, he wrote to the editor of the Ionia Gazette, responding to a recent over the selection of commissioned officers in the Ionia companies.

As there are some very foolish reports circulating relative to some of our boys here, I write this to correct any wrong impressions that may exist. We are all well satisfied here with our quarters and our officers -- we have elected men from Grand Rapids for our Captain and Second Lieutenant, because we wanted men who were capable to fill those places, and we all felt that we were not capable of doing as well as other companies unless we had men that were well drilled, and we have them and are all satisfied and feeling well. We are well provided with provisions and bedding, in good spirits and very anxious to be moving. We were mustered in the service of the State last week by Col. Withesley [Whittlesley] of Detroit, and but one man who refused to take the oath. We number 85 men, rank and file, and a better looking lot of boys cannot be found in the Regiment. I would say to the friends in our County that we have left that they need have no fear for Company E. We are eager to march to the scene of action, and every man is determined to do his duty.

David was promoted from Sergeant Major and commissioned Second Lieutenant on July 19, 1861. It is quite possible that he returned to Michigan sometime in late fall of 1861 since he reportedly married Michigan native Florence A. (1844-1929), probably in Michigan, on November 1, 1861, and they had at least three children: Robert (b. 1867), George (b. 1869) and Daisy B. (b. 1877).

He eventually returned to duty and he was wounded slightly on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia. However, some in the Regiment thought he acted less than heroically during the battle. On June 18 Hiel Clark of Company D (one of the two “Ionia companies”) wrote home that although “most of our Regiment fought well, some of them shrunk out though, both privates and officers, the most prominent among the latter class was one [D. C.] Crawford, second Lieutenant of Company E. He is among the wounded sent to Washington but the doctor says there was not a scratch on him or his clothes. He says he will report him for cowardice that would be rough, but it would be right.”

Whether the story was simply camp rumor or contained some truth, we'll never know. It is clear, however, from the existing record that Crawford acquitted himself well for the remainder of the war.

By July of 1862, Crawford was reportedly detached on recruiting service in Michigan, and by mid-September was in Detroit, staying at the Michigan Exchange Hotel. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant on September 22, replacing Lieutenant Peter Granger, and by early October he was in Grand Rapids recruiting for the Regiment. Although he was reported absent sick with leave from June of 1863 through November, in fact he was serving with the Regiment as acting Adjutant in late July.

David was also present for duty as adjutant of the regiment when it was detached to Troy, New York in early September of 1863. He served as Adjutant for the detachment commanded by Colonel Byron Pierce, and composed of the Third and Fifth Michigan regiments and a battery of the Second Connecticut Artillery. According to the Troy Daily Press of August 31, “Col. Pierce has established his headquarters at Capt. Frank Cooley’s office. He is ably seconded by his Adjutant, D. C. Crawford, Esq.” In December he was on detached service in Michigan, presumably on recruiting duty, and was promoted to Captain and transferred to Company G in February of 1864, replacing Captain Joseph Mason.

During the battle of Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864, according to George Waldron, then adjutant of the Fifth Michigan infantry (which together with the Third Michigan had been consolidated into one regiment under the command of Colonel Byron Pierce of the Third), “Capt. [David] Crawford . . . with his company, took one of the batteries and turned it upon the enemy and did good execution upon the fleeing rebels. “

Just before he was mustered out of the service, on June 17, 1864, David wrote from Lyons to the father of Charles Church, one of Company G who had recently been killed in action. “I shall at last write you as all hope is lost that your son Chas was killed on the 8th day of May last at [the] Wilderness, Va. I have waited in hopes that I was mistaken but I think there is no doubt of his death. He had gone ahead of the Regiment to the skirmish line, & was shot just as we received an order to fall back. We had been out to feel of the enemy works & was within fifteen rods of them when he was hit and he could not be got[ten] off the field. I shall make the proper releases this week so that you can get his back pay & bounty. I left the army on the 10th day of June -- my term of service having expired. Any assistance or information I can give you will be cheerfully released to the father of one of my brave men.” He was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864 at Detroit.

After his discharge David returned Michigan, probably to his family in Lyons where he lived for more than 20 years after the war, although he may have lived briefly in Buffalo, Erie County, New York in the fall of 1867.

By 1870 David was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children next door to his parents in Lyons. By 1880 David was working as a gardener and living with his wife and children in Ionia, Ionia County; also living with them was David’s father Robert.

David was residing in Lyons when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1881. He was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Dresser Post No. 100 in Lyons. In 1880 he applied for and received a pension (no. 223,289).

He remained in Lyons until at least 1884, and for many years he worked as a surveyor. In fact, by 1893 he was Ionia County Surveyor. By 1888, he was living in Ionia, Ionia County and it is quite likely that he resided in Ionia until 1917.

David died at Belding, Ionia County, on January 11, 1920, and was interred in Lyons cemetery next to Robert and Sally.

In 1920 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 891827).


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