What Happened to Samson Hawley?

Sergeant Samson Hawley, Company K, didn’t return from the war. Comrades told his wife, Winiford, that Samson was killed near Malvern Hill (Cold Harbor). In 1885, the North Carolina legislature passed a new law granting widows of Civil War veterans a pension. Winiford applied for her pension right away, but the State put her application on hold, waiting for further evidence of her husband’s service and subsequent death. Private William L. Godwin, who had served with Sergeant Hawley, provided a written statement to support Winiford’s application:

On the 31st day of May 1864 the 51 Regt of NC Troops got into an ingagement with Shearadens army about 2 or 3 ocock PM and fout on until we got short of amunation.  Therefore we had to retreat.  At the same time the enemy tried to take us all prisoners by a flank movement but tha failed to do so by our falling back about ½ mile.  When we come to a hault but a few minutes while thare a ball struck Samson Hawley and we had him to leave as we could not hold our ground without amanation.  So he was left behint the lines.  Main time Sargt Stanly [First Sergeant George Stanford] from Co C same Regt was wounded and left & Stanly told us next day that Hawley talked to him several times before he died & told to tell his wife & child that he thought he should go to rest & for her to prepare to meet him in heaven.  Stanly said he died about midnight that night on the 1st day of June which was next day.  The litter barers was sent out the next day to bring up the killed & wounded.  Tha come back and stated that tha succed in gitting to Hawley laying thare hands on him but the sharp shooting was so sevare they could not bring him away from thare to berry him and in a short time we gained that parshall of ground back again & found a grave rite where he fell a victim.  The enemy had throwed up brest works rite along where he lay & and it was our thoughts that tha had to berry him because by this time he stunk.  This is all I can tell you about him.

Winiford got her $30-a-year pension.

Copyright © 2021/2022 by Kirk Ward. All rights reserved.

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