Sunday’s Salute #39 ~ William Riley Divine ~ Union Soldier

William Riley Divine is my maternal 1st cousin 4 times removed. He was born in 1819 in Spartanburg, Greenville County, South Carolina. He was the 3rd child of 7 born to James Marshall Divine Sr (1793-1872) and Nancy Calloway (1796-1872). His family moved to Monroe County, Tennessee when he was 5 years old.

Here he married Amelia “Milly” Webb (1825-1897) on September 27, 1842, and they had 18 children, 5 sons, 10 daughters, and 4 who died at birth and their gender is not known. In 1860, William moved his ever growing family to Morgan, Dade County, Missouri. Here they purchased a farm. On April 14, 1862, he mustered into the E 14th Missouri State Militia as a Private in Springfield, Missouri.

At the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas December 6, 1862, Captain Julian Greene’s county company of the 14th cavalry, Missouri State Militia, fired the first gun on the Federal side discharged by Gen. Herron’s division. The entire portion of the regiment engaged, numbering about 100 men, and they performed a valuable service for the Union cause by uniting with 25 men of the 1st Arkansas (Union) cavalry and 175 men of Judson’s 6th Kansas. They were able to hold a road, thus preventing the Confederate General Hindman from throwing his entire force upon General Herron and crushing him before General Blunt could come up and cooperate. The Confederates were delayed two hours by this small force.

On the 14th of December 40 men of the 14th M. S. M., under Lieutenant John R. Kelso, 60 enrolled militia under Captains Green and Salee, raided the Confederate saltpeter works on White river, near Yellville, Arkansas. They took Captains Jesse Mooney and P. S. McNamara prisoner as well as 36 other men. They then destroyed 35 stands of arms, a complete three months supply of provisions for 50 men and burnt four buildings, along with machinery, kettles, manufactured saltpeter, etc.This destruction cost the Confederacy the amount of $30,000 and brought their 38 prisoners to Springfield without the loss of a man.

William was transferred to the 8th Regiment Calvary on February 4, 1863, but he mustered out in April of that year. He returned home and continued to farm. He was also made a Justice of the Peace in Dade County. On October 10, 1874, William received a Homestead Deed for 160 acres of land in the township of Bona. He became sick about 6 months later and died on October 4, 1875, at the age of 56.

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