Pvt. John Jefferson Williams, USA

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Pvt. John Jefferson Williams, USA

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Redkey, Jay County, Indiana, United States
Death: May 13, 1865 (23)
Palmetto, Fort Bend County, Texas, United States (Honored as last soldier killed in the American Civil War)
Place of Burial: Pineville, Rapids Parish, Louisiana, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John J. Williams and Mary Williams
Husband of Sarah Jane Green
Father of Arthur Elwood Williams
Brother of Harrison Williams; Elizabeth Williams; George Williams; William Williams; Mary M Williams and 3 others

Occupation: Co. B, 34th Regiment, Indiana Infantry, Blacksmith
Managed by: Dr. R. Owen Wyant, (PhD) on Sabb...
Last Updated:

About Pvt. John Jefferson Williams, USA

Find-a-Grave Memorial #6805019, which can be found at:

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6805019/john-jefferson-williams

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John Jefferson Williams (June 9, 1841 – May 13, 1865) was a Union soldier and private in Company B the 34th Regiment Indiana Infantry and was the last soldier killed in the American Civil War.

From Wikipedia

Williams was born in 1841, probably in Jay County, Indiana, and joined the Union Army September 1863, probably in Anderson. He moved to Camp Joe Holt where his unit drilled before being put on duty in the field. His regiment spent most of the war on guard and garrison duty in the Western Theatre, including New Orleans where he was stationed before his unit joined the army forming for the invasion and occupation of Texas in spring of 1865. He first saw action in the Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas where he died May 13, 1865. Williams is recognized as being the last soldier to have been killed in action during the Civil War.[1]

He is buried in the Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana.[2] His grave can be found in plot 797.[2]


  • Residence: 1850 - Wayne, Jay, Indiana, USA
  • Residence: 1860 - Wayne Township, Jay, Indiana, USA
  • "Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V6RP-517 : accessed 10 June 2015), John Jefferson Williams and Sarah Jane Williams, 17 Oct 1861; citing , Jay, Indiana, county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,749,840.
  • "34th Regiment, Company B". Privates: Jefferson J. Williams.
  • 34th Indiana Infantry Regiment The 34th Indiana Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the The Morton Rifles, was an Infantry Regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It had the distinction of fighting in the last land action of the war, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, Texas May 12-13, 1865, and also of suffering the last soldier killed during the war, Private John J. Williams.
  • Quirky Places: Last Casualty of the Civil War The clash ended with a Confederate victory, and according to Jeffrey W. Hunt’s The Last Battle of the Civil War: Palmetto Ranch, the 34th Indiana suffered most of the Union casualties. Out of the 114 Union soldiers lost during the battle, 76 of them came from the Hoosier regiment. That unfortunately included John J. Williams, who was mortally wounded by a Confederate bullet during the skirmish. According to Hunt, Williams’ body was left on the battlefield, where Confederate soldiers, in dire need of essentials, took his shoes, socks, pants and hat. The $45 in Williams’ pocket was recovered by Union troops and made its way back to his widow in Indiana. The last soldier of either side to die in the Civil War was then buried with thousands of his comrades in a national cemetery in Brownsville, Texas, near Fort Brown.
  • Last soldier In an abandoned family cemetery in the shadow of the old Jay County home lays the grave of John Jefferson Williams…his final resting place marked only by an iron stake. Williams was born in Redkey, Indiana in 1843, but grew up in Portland. He was the town blacksmith until the war dried up the supply of iron. So in March 1864, he joined the 34th Indiana Volunteers. Described as six feet tall, dark complexioned and very handsome, young John Williams was among 1,500 Jay County Volunteers who fought in the Union Army. Williams joined late in the war and was sent to the Texas coast, where confederate holdouts were defending Texas ports critical to the southern economy. On the morning of May 13th, 1865, one month after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Company B of the 34th Indiana stumbled onto confederate troops near the mouth of the Rio Grande River, at a place called Palmetto Ranch. Several union soldiers were killed in the skirmish, John Jefferson Williams being the last to die. The Battle of Palmetto Ranch was the final official battle of the Civil War. Williams’ body was shipped back to Jay County and buried without fanfare in the family cemetery. On may 14th, the day after the 140th anniversary of Williams death, this headstone provided by the Veterans Administration will be placed at his grave in a ceremony sponsored by the Jay County Museum of the Soldier.
  • John J. Williams at Find A Grave Memorial# 6805019
  • "Died Once, Buried Three Times" His family eventually chose to exhume his body once again and bury him in the family cemetery in Jay County, Indiana. The cemetery is now a National Historical Site.The headstone gives a glimpse of John Jefferson Williams' Civil War service: "JOHN J. WILLIAMS, PVT CO B; 34 IND VOL INF; CIVIL WAR 1843 1865; KIA MAY 13 1865; PALMETTO RANCH TEXAS; LAST MAN TO DIE IN THE CIVIL WAR." [3] [3] 140th anniversary of Williams death, 14 May, Jay County Museum of the Soldier sponsored an anniversary ceremony.  The headstone was provided by the Veterans Administration. Photo of the headstone was provided by the Museum of the Soldier.
  • Re: Jay County Poor House (Infirmary) Records "The land originally belonged to a Williams family. They sold/donated some of their land for the infirmary. The stones that remain in the cemetery are of the Williams family and a few others. The residents of the infirmary who were buried there probably never had stones. Interesting note-John Jefferson Williams, a Civil War veteran is buried there. He has been declared the last soldier who died in the Civil War. The facility is now used as a retirement home."
  • John Jefferson Williams query 2005

From Fold3:

John J. Williams: Last Civil War Fatality Share CONFLICT: CIVIL WAR BY KAREN Pension file index for John J. Williams Pension index file for John J. Williams, last fatality of the Civil War Although the Battle of Palmito Ranch is generally considered a post-war battle, its final fatality, John J. Williams, has the dubious honor of being recognized as the last soldier to die in battle in the Civil War. John J. Williams, circa 1865 John J. Williams, circa 1865 Despite Lee’s surrender to Grant a month earlier, in mid-May 1865 some Confederate troops remained in southern Texas. Since March, they had had a gentleman’s agreement with the Union troops in the area that there wouldn’t be any more fighting, but Union colonel Theodore Barrett, for reasons unknown, ordered Lieutenant Colonel David Branson to take some of the troops stationed on the island of Brazos Santiago and attack Confederates at White’s Ranch and Palmito Ranch, a few miles away on the mainland. On 11 May, Branson took 250 men from the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry and 50 dismounted men from the 2nd Texas U.S. Cavalry and went to White’s Ranch but didn’t find any Confederates there. On the 12th, Branson and his troops continued on to Palmito Ranch, skirmishing with Confederates along the way. It looked like the Union troops would take the ranch, but then the Confederate numbers were reinforced and the Federals had to retreat back to White’s Ranch. After being sent word of Branson’s predicament, Colonel Barrett brought 200 troops from the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. They skirmished with the Confederates some more, but eventually the arrival of a big Confederate cavalry force made them form a battle line. After being bombarded by artillery, and to avoid being outflanked, the Federals made an orderly retreat back to Brazos Santiago. But the Union retreat left the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry vulnerable to attack from the Confederate cavalry, and this is when 22-year-old Private John Jefferson Williams was killed, making him the last soldier to die in battle during the war. 1860 federal census record for John J. Williams and his parents and siblings 1860 federal census record for 17-year-old John J. Williams and his parents and siblings By the time the Federals made it back to safety, they had 4 killed, 12 wounded, and 101 captured, while the Confederates had 5 or 6 wounded and 3 captured, giving the Confederate troops a fairly useless victory since the outcome of the war had already been determined. - See more at: http://spotlights.fold3.com/2012/11/05/john-j-williams-last-civil-w...

from 21alive 2001 The very last soldier to die in the Civil War, was from 21Country. Jim Waechter, with Museum of the Soldier says, “Everybody should be remembered and he has an unfortunate place in history as the last soldier being killed.” In an abandoned family cemetery in the shadow of the old Jay County home lays the grave of John Jefferson Williams…his final resting place marked only by an iron stake.

Williams was born in Redkey, Indiana in 1843, but grew up in Portland. He was the town blacksmith until the war dried up the supply of iron.

So in March 1864, he joined the 34th Indiana Volunteers. Described as six feet tall, dark complexioned and very handsome, young John Williams was among 1,500 Jay County Volunteers who fought in the Union Army.

Williams joined late in the war and was sent to the Texas coast, where confederate holdouts were defending Texas ports critical to the southern economy. On the morning of May 13th, 1865, one month after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Company B of the 34th Indiana stumbled onto confederate troops near the mouth of the Rio Grande River, at a place called Palmetto Ranch. Several union soldiers were killed in the skirmish, John Jefferson Williams being the last to die. The Battle of Palmetto Ranch was the final official battle of the Civil War.

Williams’ body was shipped back to Jay County and buried without fanfare in the family cemetery. On may 14th, the day after the 140th anniversary of Williams death, this headstone provided by the Veterans Administration will be placed at his grave in a ceremony sponsored by the Jay County Museum of the Soldier.

Waechter says, “He's a Jay County soldier. He's the last soldier killed in the United States, recognized as the last soldier killed in the United States at the end of the Civil War. It's a way of recognizing their service and keeping their memory alive.”

John Williams’ story is not unusual for a Civil War soldier marching off to battle…too young to vote, but not to fight or die.

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Pvt. John Jefferson Williams, USA's Timeline

1841
June 9, 1841
Redkey, Jay County, Indiana, United States
1863
September 30, 1863
Jay County, Indiana, United States
1865
May 13, 1865
Age 23
Palmetto, Fort Bend County, Texas, United States
????
Pineville, Rapids Parish, Louisiana, United States