Civil War & Stephens County, OK (18)

Newman, Richard Lafayette (1844-1927)

While it is true that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union forces on April 9, 1865, the Civil War by no means ended that day. It would take months for word to circulate throughout the land that hostilities were to come to an end. General Joe Johnston’s troops as well as General Zachary Taylor’s men did not surrender until nearly one month later. When General Kirby Smith’s troops overwhelmed a Union force nearly three times its size in distant west Texas at the Battle of Palmito Ranch on May 12-13, Smith had not even heard of Lee’s surrender. General Stand Watie and his men fought on until nearly the end of June, finally surrendering at Doaksville near Fort Towson in Indian Territory.

What that means is that for some of those who served as Civil War veterans, the biggest share of their service was after the time normally recognized as the end of the war, and their service was often no less dangerous. Such was the case for one Richard Lafayette Newman.

Born the eighth of ten children to George Shaw & Jamima (Oliver) Newman, Richard would grow up to enlist in the Union Army on January 22, 1865. Richard was mustered into service as a Private in Co. K of the 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment on March 10, 1865. In late May 1865, the 4th TN MI was ordered to make an expedition “through White, Overton, Fentress” and Morgan Counties, to Montgomery, Tennessee to deal with the Confederate guerrillas who “so much infested” the region. The 4th TN MI was mustered out of service on August 25, 1865.

Of special note is the fact that one of Richard’s older brothers, William J. Newman, was killed in the bloody Battle of Gaines Mill in June 1862. William it appears, however, did not serve in the Union Army, rather, he served as a Private in Co. B of the CSA, 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment (Turney’s). Regrettably, it seems the Newman family was one of the multitude of families that saw itself rent asunder by the war, having sons who served on opposing sides.

On December 17, 1866 in Lincoln County, Tennessee, Richard married Emily Francis Stone (1847-1926). Richard and Emily would go on to have seven children born to them between 1867 and 1887, the last being born in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. This is all I currently know of Richard’s life following the war. I wish I knew more.

Richard’s gravestone in the Old Velma Cemetery in Velma, Oklahoma bears testimony of his military service and makes specific mention of the 4th Tennessee Mounted Infantry.

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