The children of Patrick and Jane Butler would be a generation that watched as America struggled to stay together. That struggle defined their lives and changed the destiny of each of them. They would witness suffering on American soil that took the citizens of Walton County Ga. to hell and back.
Their oldest son William H. Butler b1827 was our gggrandfather, Papa Butlers grandfather. I don't know what the H. stood for, maybe Hansard which was his mothers maiden name. The other sons were , Nathan D. Butler, James P. Butler, Milbury Butler, and Henry Butler. They had two daughters, Sarah the oldest b 1826 and daughter Cynthia C. Butler. I know just a little about William's siblings. Nathan enlisted July 17,1861 Company B 16 Infantry regiment and died of pneumonia in Goldsboro N.C. April 16,1862..never to see home again. James who was 10 years younger than our William enlisted 3/4/1862 Co. H. 42nd Regiment..he lived through the war and came home to his wife Elander (Ellen) Austin Butler who he married 1/2/1859. I have found no records on Milbury or Henry as of yet, nor of Cynthia. Sarah married John Marler and in 1880 Patrick is living with them in Jackson Co Ga.
William H. Butler married Mary M. Whitley in Walton county 12/5/1849. They called him "Will" and her "Polly".
William was a member of Co. H. 11 Ga Regiment Walton Co. Volunteers. The history of this regiment is well documented because the officers kept accurate diaries and journals of what happened. Most of the following account is from these writings which can be found in Wayfarers In Walton, a History of Walton County by Anita B. Sams.
At the time of his enlistment Will and Polly had three children, Nathan Patrick(our great grandfather), James William, and Rebecca Francis. Joseph Henry, the youngest would be born after William's death. Patrick our ggrandfather was 9 years old when his father went off to war.
Officers of Compny H. were Capt "Tige" Anderson from Newton Co and a veteran of the Mexican War, First Lieutenant Henry D. McDaniel, and Second Lieutenant Matthew Talbot Nunnally. Henry McDaniel would return to Walton county after the war and become Governor of Georgia and Matthew Nunnally would die at Gettysburg.
William was a Private, he was 34 years old. Late in June, 1861 William and The Walton Co Infantry left Monroe for Atlanta. That day the company was presented a flag that was hand made by a group of young women of the community. The banner was given in a ceremony on the courthouse square in Monroe before they left that warm summer day. Lieutenant McDaniel later sent it to his father and it is in a Georgia collection of flags at the state capitol. After the warm send off in Monroe the company boarded a train for Atlanta, then on to Augusta and Virginia. At a pause in Petersburg, Virginia a group of women appeared at the station and when the men got off the train the women prepared a breakfast that the citizen soldiers ate picnic style. Then they went on to Richmond to the camp site at the fairgrounds. From Richmond they were ordered to join General Joseph E. Johnston. Eighteen miles of the trip was made on foot through the Shenandoah Valley. The troops slept without tents and it would many weeks before they were to have shelter.
Fate would deny the Walton Volunteers from being a part of the first battle of Bull Run. Some say a railroad conductor was bribed to delay the train carrying fresh troops, and that he was later tried and shot. In any event the Walton Infantry was left stranded in an open field without food or baggage to remain until Sunday night when the battle was over. The victory was for the South and the delayed regiments reached Manassas Junction Monday morning in the hard rain. As they stepped off the train the wounded were being brought in. After a 6 mile march in mud without tents or blankets the rain came down on them until midnight.
" I saw part of the battlefield yesterday and of all the horrible scenes this has to be the most horrible. Our men who were killed have been buried and I saw their fresh graves, the dead of the enemy are still lying as they fell, some with their heads torn off and others with their bodies mutilated." (A Private to his grandparents in a letter from the Battlefield of Bull Run)
Here the war ended for William, as he caught typhoid fever and was discharged disabled August 10,1861. Sickness caused many to die and many to have to go home. Some how he made it to Walton county before he died. There at home in Walnut Grove Sept 18, 1861 Will , our gggrandfather left this world behind. Then our ggrandfather Patrick was an orphan at age 9 and his mother Mary(Polly) a widow. Their loss must have tested them in ways we can't know. With no husband to make a crop, they would have starved if not for help from relatives. Or did Patrick and Polly plow the fields themselves? We don't know what they went through the year that Will died, but it was nothing to compare with the years to follow, when they would have to face an enemy alone with no father or husband to protect them......