52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 6: William L Murphy

Kurz and Allison's idealized view of the Siege of Vicksburg (Library of Congress)

William L Murphy is a civil war hero.  

He was born in 1831 in Tennessee.  At age 23, he is in Dade County, Missouri (in the southwest corner of the state).  William  marries Ann Wingfield and tragically, she dies within the year of their wedding.  But luckily, he finds love again the following year in 1855 and he marries Sarah Ann Shinkle.  They are married by Wilson Murphey (possible relation) in the home of her father, Elijah Shinkle, who is himself a minister and a landowner.  His wife and (the mother of the bride) Malinda had died 4 years earlier, possibly in childbirth.

click image to enlarge

William and Sarah have baby Susan in 1857 and two years later baby Isaac in 1859.  Then they move to Arkansas.  William is farming old man James Williams’ farm.  Sarah’s younger sister Barbara (age 20) is living with them, probably helping with the children.  Baby Maggie is born there on 1 Dec 1860.

Father-in-law Elijah has remarried and they (along with Elijah’s two youngest children) are living nearby, farming the Simpson’s farm.

Then William (31)  and Sarah (30) and the kids move back to Missouri, and the civil war breaks out.  

William enrolls at Rolla, MO on 18 Aug 1862 in the Union Army for a service term of three years. He musters in on 18 October 1862.  He is a private in Company A of the 32nd Regiment of the Missouri Infantry Volunteers. 

They are organized at Benton Barracks, MO.  They become part of General Sherman’s Yazoo (river) Expedition and they are at Chickasaw Bayou and others. 

Vicksburg and the Mississippi River circa 1863 (Library of Congress)

And then they are part of a very famous battle: the siege of Vicksburg, May 18 to July 4, 1863.

As you may know, General Grant’s armies (77,000 men) surround Vicksburg entrapping the Confederate army (33,000 men) under General Pemberton.  For 47 days the battle rages. The Confederate Army and the citizens of Vicksburg are trapped, and they run out of food and supplies. Pemberton surrenders on July 4, 1863, and his army is captured.  The Mississippi River is now controlled by the Union, and the confederate army has lost its ability to get  supplies and reinforcements from Texas.   

William L Murphy (31) survives the battle, only to die 2 weeks later of “chronic diarrhea” on July 20, 1863 at the regimental hospital at Walnut Hill near Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He leaves a wife and 3 small children.  Thank you for your service William L Murphy.

Note: Missouri’s 32nd was comprised of 1628 men:  26 were killed in battle, and 408 were killed by disease. 

1860 US Federal Census
US Civil War Pension Index
Murphy, William S (WC79207) War File and Widow’s Pension File


  1. It seems the day in and day out battle for general existence was harsh in those times even without war but to fight the battle of Vicksburg and win only to perish of disease soon after is devastating. His victory was embodied by his descendants who would live in a better world.


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