Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fuss and Feathers; and Great-great Grandpa

Genealogy led me to this bit of family lore, which I have combined with a bit of historic information I have gleaned from various sources. My maternal grandmother's grandfather served in the USArmy under Winfield Scott during the Mexican campaign. It is said that Grandfather, Spencer Lawson, was with Scott during the incursion into Mexico. It is historic fact that Scott took Mexico City. What role Private Lawson played in this is unknown, other than the fact that he survived and returned to his native Hawkins County, Tennessee.

Prior to this war and on a visit to New Orleans in 1846, General Scott was defeated at chess by eight-year old Paul Morphy. Scott was not amused. Though Scott was a Virginian, he maintained his loyalty to the United States when the Civil War wracked the nation. He is credited with the "Anaconda" plan by which the South was eventually strangled into submission.

Meantime, when the War Between the States started, Grandpa Lawson said, as did his general during the previous war, "I will not take up arms against the flag I fought under." It is said that he joined the Union forces; but while home on leave, he was betrayed by a relative, captured by the South and imprisoned at Andersonville. I visited Andersonville twelve years ago and sought to verify this. While I found Lawsons from Hawkins County, there was no record of Spencer Lawson having been there. It is a known fact, however, that wherever he was held he was paroled due to illness and records of which I have obtained copies show that he died in military hospital in Annapolis in 1864. His widow was eventually able to draw a pension for his service in the Mexican War amounting to twenty dollars a month.

Scott was the Whig Party nominee for President in 1852. He was defeated by Democrat Franklin Pierce. He died in 1866.

[Sources: Morrell-Palmer Family Records, National Archives,Wikipedia]

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