John McClanahan Lewis, Jr., was the son of John McClanahan Lewis, Sr., and his wife Susan Madison Bowyer. John, Sr., and Susan were born in Virginia and moved to Alabama where John M. Lewis, Sr., served as Franklin County Representative in the Alabama State Legislature from 1828 to 1829.
John, Jr., was born November 29, 1837, in Franklin County. He immigrated with his parents to Montgomery County, Texas, in about 1842.
After moving to Montgomery County, John Lewis, Sr., was elected to the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, and served from 1844 to 1846 in the 8th and 9th Congresses of the Republic. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Ninth Congress.
Photo courtesy of Marilyn Dawson
Much has been written about the beautiful plantation home, Elmwood, which was built near present-day Willis by the Lewis family slaves.
John, Jr., is enumerated on the censuses of 1850 and 1860 with his parents and his brother Eldon Lewis, who is shown on the 1850 census as “William Elden Lewis.”
John did not enlist in Company B, 24th Texas Cavalry in Danville in March, 1862 and muster in at Hempstead, as did most of the other men. Instead, he enlisted at Galveston on April 17, 1862, where he had been serving under General Hébert as a member of the Ninth Infantry (Nichols').
John Lewis pay voucher for service in Company I, 9th (Nichols') Regiment Infantry
John is a lawyer; he is 5 feet 9 inches tall with light hair and blue eyes
Following his service in the Ninth, he was mustered into Company B, 24th Cavalry at Shreveport, Louisiana, on June 20 by Col. Wilkes.
John rode to Arkansas with his company, where he was dismounted with the others. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on December 1, 1862. He fought in the Battle of Arkansas Post and was captured with the other members of his company.
Camp Chase, Ohio, the Prison to which Confederate Officers were Sent
From the website of Ohio History Central
Since he had been promoted, he was sent up the Mississippi River and then sent by rail to Camp Chase, Ohio, with the other officers of the regiments which fought at Arkansas Post. He arrived there on January 30th.
On a roll of Prisoners of War, he was described as having blue eyes, light hair, and fair complexion.
John was held in prison until April, 1863, when he was forwarded to City Point, Virginia, to be exchanged.
For the next several months after the exchange, John signed the muster rolls as the commanding officer of Company B. We know that Capt. Wooldridge was hospitalized in Virginia after he was exchanged because of malaria fever; and being in a weakened condition, he was ordered to report to the general commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department rather than to stay in the battle field. Therefore, John Lewis was given the duty of commanding the company through February of 1864.
John then participated in the Atlanta campaign, and he was captured on July 21st by forces under Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi and was forwarded to Capt. S. E. Jones at Louisville, Kentucky, on July 29, 1864. He is on a roll of Prisoners of War showing that the was received at the military prison at Louisville. He is on another roll showing that he was "forwarded to Chattanooga, Tennessee." Yet another record shows him being received at Camp Chase, Ohio, and then forwarded to City Point, Virginia, on March 4, 1865. During his captivity, he was transferred to the military prison at Louisville, Kentucky and appears on the prison rolls there.
Included in John’s Compiled Service Records are several Prisoner of War rolls, as well as a large number of pay vouchers showing that he received officer’s pay.
John returned to Montgomery County after the war, where on November 15,1865, he married Martha (Mattie) C. Woodson, the daughter of Dr. Creed Woodson and Mary Cook. The Woodsons had migrated to Texas from Georgia with their family and were the parents of John C. Woodsonand William H. Woodson.
John M. and Mattie Woodson Lewis are enumerated in the 1870 census of Montgomery County with two children. In 1869, John was elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct One. He became County Judge in 1876 and served three terms, and in 1894 he became County Attorney.
He died in Willis on April 8, 1908, and is buried at Willis City Cemetery in Montgomery County.
The family information in this article is taken from the Montgomery County History, 1981, and was submitted by Mrs. Evelyn Bybee Fales. Other information is from the census records and marriage records of Montgomery County and from the Willis Cemetery marker. The information on John’s Civil War service is found in the Compiled Service Records, which are housed in the National Archives.
For further information and records of all Confederate soldiers of Montgomery County, Texas, as well as histories of the regiments they served in, see Montgomery County, Texas, CSA by Frank M. Johnson. The book may be purchased by visiting Frank's website at frankmjohnson.net or by contacting Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Karen McCann Hett
June 18, 2007