William Cummins Deck was born in Illinois on 18 Feb 1838. William, 23, joined the Union army on 9 October 1861. At Denver, CO on 1 Dec 1861, he was mustered in – probably – to Co C, 2nd Colorado Infantry Regiment. To reinforce that probability, the esteemed Soldiers & Sailors Database of the National Park Service shows William C Deck as strictly a member of Company C of the 2nd Regiment Colorado Infantry. The Colorado Archives clarify the situation: “Colorado’s first cavalry regiment was formed in November 1862 from the 1st Regiment of Colorado Volunteers (infantry) and Companies C and D of the 2nd Colorado Infantry.
From Dec 1861 to Nov 1862, as part of Co C of the 2nd CO Inf, William may have participated in actions at Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Apache Canon, La Glorieta Pass, Pigeon Ranch, and Peralta. Once merged into the 1st CO Cavalry, the reg’t assignment was to guard the so-called Colorado Territory [at that time: parts of KS, NM, UT; & NE Territories] and its gold mines from possible Confederate invasion and to protect the white settlements from Indian raids.
William completed his 3-year service in the Colorado territory. However, from his own affidavit: William received a gun shot wound from the enemy on 25 Sep 1864, in an engagement with Indians on the Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas River in what is now Kansas. This shot shattered his right shoulder blade resulting in partial use of the arm for the rest of his life. William’s personal account is reinforced by a 25 Sep 1864 “Report of Major General James G. Blunt” commander of the “District of Upper Arkansas” with Maj.-Gen. Blunt’s graphic description.
He related that on 25 September at 3 a.m. his force of about 400 troopers continued their march north along the Arkansas river and reached Pawnee Fork at daybreak. Scouts had encountered Indian sign up the creek; and Maj. Gen Blunt sent companies L and M ahead to investigate under the command of a Major Anthony. By the time the main force arrived they discovered “the small force under Major Anthony surrounded on all sides by the Indians, and gallantly fighting their way back.” Seeing their arrival, the Indians “ceased fighting and commenced to retreat.” Included in his report, Blunt noted, “My loss is 1 killed, 1 missing (supposed to be killed) and 7 wounded.” William C Deck was discharged at Fort Leavenworth, KS on 9 Dec 1864.
On 30 Jan 1865, William married Amanda F STAFFORD (b. 8 Sep 1842 VA; d.24 Jan 1927 Fairmont, MO) and the first two children of nine – known to be born to William and Amanda – had arrived: sons Ellworth 3 and Kenzi 1. The family lived in Grant Township, Clark Co, Missouri; and William worked as a Blacksmith, with a personal wealth of #100. By 1880, they were living in Sweet Home Township, also in Clark County; four more children had joined Elsworth 12 and George/Kenzie 11: son Charlie and daughter Ahmo [sic] both 7 yrs old, daughter Lottie 5, and son Ottis [sic] 2. Son Otis is the child from whom this line descends to the member of Laura Belle Stoddard Tent 22 of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861 – 1865.
In 1883, a bitter dispute over the placement of a property line arose between William and their nearby neighbors, the Cullor family. On the 19th of Sept, the neighbor’s son Luther Cullor, armed with a loaded pistol, met William at the fence and shot him. Three days later, on the 22nd of September 1883, William died from the gunshot wound, twenty years almost to the day after William had been wounded by the other gunshot at the Pawnee Fork!
Amanda survived husband William for 40-some years. In the 1900 census the last two children William and Amanda appear in the household: daughter Rachel and son John. Amanda, who died 24 Jan 1927, and at least six of their children are buried in the Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Fairmont, MO.
In 1941, a veteran’s tombstone was ordered by George R Deck, from – and shipped by – the US government to the American Legion, H. E. Edwards, Service Officer; and placed at William’s grave in Lemonville Cemetery [aka Lemons Cemetery], Putnam County, Missouri.
Sources: all accessed in May 2015.
Family information and records, including Pension.
Ancestry.com databases, esp. Census 1850-1900; Civil War; Gov’t Headstone; Missour Marriages, and family trees.
Familysearch.org databases, esp Illinois, Colorado, Missouri.
National Park Service – Soldiers & Sailors database.