Tuesday, June 10, 2008

William Henry Daniels

William Henry Daniels was born 1842 in Steuben County, New York, the son of Napoleon (b. 1820) and Harriet (b. 1823).

William’s parents were both born in New York and presumably married there. By 1850 William was living on the family farm in Tyrone, Steuben County, New York. Eventually the family moved west and by 1860 William was working as a farm laborer, attending school with his two younger sisters and living with his family on a farm in Caledonia, Kent County, Michigan.

William was a 19-year-old farmer living in Gaines, Kent County when he enlisted in Company A on January 18 or 25, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered on January 25. George Miller, also of Company A, and who was from Bowne, Kent County, probably knew William before the war, “Some new recruits,” wrote Miller on March 18, “came into camp while we were on picket, [and] among them was Bill Daniels. He appears to think soldiering a pretty nice thing so far. He looks healthy and I presume will be tough when he gets acclimated.”

By mid-April, however, William was absent sick. He was probably in Chesapeake hospital at Fortress Monroe, suffering, George Miller believed, from “some kind of fever.” He soon recovered, however, and a week later Miller wrote that Daniels had “just came out of the hospital a few days ago; he looks rather slim.”

Nevertheless, William recovered and returned to duty. He was killed in action May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and was presumably among the unknown soldiers buried at Seven Pines National Cemetery.

Two years after his death, the Grand Rapids Eagle ran a story on William’s mother and how she had fared so far during the war. “One of the glorious women,” wrote the Eagle,

whose works will compare favorably with the matrons of revolutionary fame, of whom we have read in song and story, lives in Caledonia, and we wish there were more whose patriotic spirits were like hers, equal to the times that try men's souls. This spirited lady lost her only son William Henry [Daniels], in the battle of ‘Fair Oaks’, fighting under our lamented and gallant [Samuel] Judd, and who with him, fighting, fell; and since that time, or in fact since the war commenced, she has successfully managed her farm, and is now in flourishing circumstances. This spring she grubbed, with her own hands, 16 acres of new land for wheat, planted 11 acres of corn, and hoed the same, and spun flax and wool enough to clothe her family. All this work she did, besides doing her house work, and attending to all other of her business matters. Last summer [1863] she raked and bound a large crop of wheat, did the most of the work necessary to saving her hay, and this years she intends to do the same work, but says ere the time comes for that work, that she would like to go down south and help finish up the rebels. Though Mrs. Daniels looks a little sun-burned, and her hands bear the marks of her labor, she has the appearance of being an educated and an accomplished woman. She's a Spartan.

In 1870 his parents were living on a farm in Cascade, Kent County (his father owned some $4000 worth of real estate).

In 1882 his mother, then living in Michigan, applied for a pension (application no. 538,720) but the certificate was never granted. In 1890 his father, living in Cascade, Kent County, applied (no. 509,576) but the certificate was never granted.

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