Photo by Mark Engelbrecht
William J. Brooks was my 2nd Great Grandfather and is the closest ancestor I know to have been killed in the line of duty. On this Memorial Day, I honor him and his service to our country.
William J. Brooks, son of Bartlett Brooks and Monima Williams, was born in South Carolina in 1835. He married Sarah Jane Miller (1836-1923) and together they had four children – Albert Preston (1857-1935), John B (1859-1935?), Frances Maria (1860-1936), and William W. (1862-1934). On July 1, 1862, shortly after William W. was born, William enlisted for a 3 year term in Co. G, 3rd Regt., So. Carolina Volunteers in Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo by Matthew Straubmuller
I don’t know much about William’s service in the Civil War until his company, commanded by Captain R.P. Todd, entered the conflict at Fredericksburg, Virginia where 163 men, including William, were killed. Killed. December 13, 1862. Died in a hospital. And that’s about all I know. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, I don’t know exactly where. All I know is killed.
Which might be all Sarah knew when she met with the War Department on February 10, 1863 in order to secure the money that William never received for serving his country. 5 months and 13 days fighting for his country which netted Sarah a grand total of $98.13. Four small children, one of whom was my Great Grandmother, to raise with $98.13.
I do know that Sarah came from an affluent family so I doubt that she was homeless but I can’t imagine the heartache and trials she faced as she went on with her life. As the story goes (correct me if I’m wrong, cousin Terry) William left his pocket watch with his friend, John H. Anderson, and asked that it be delivered to his wife, Sarah, in the event of his death. A romance blossomed between the two and they ended up marrying and having three more children.
William J. Brooks is buried in Dials Cemetery, Laurens County, South Carolina.