Tangents… and looking for “intersections”, part 1

Posted on June 12, 2011 by


This past week, I’ve found myself distracted from the standard Sesqui followings. Maybe it’s because I just haven’t felt like there’s much to say, regarding what happened at this time (almost mid-June), 150 years ago. Not to say that there wasn’t a lot going on at that time…

Anyway, as I am one to go on tangents and follow simple leads… looking for historical “intersections” that take me to some interesting stuff… I’ve found myself meandering down two paths this week… one following my interests in Virginians in the First World War, and another following my curiosity with a particular Jessie Scout who hailed from my home county.

Capt. Lloyd W. Williams in France, 1918. The rank of major was given posthumously.

My WW1 interests center on the fact that, at this time, 93 years ago, the 5th Marines were in the middle of some intense dealings in Belleau Wood. In that particular affair, we have a Virginian (and a Shenandoah Valley boy, to boot) of note… Major Lloyd William Williams.

Williams was from Berryville (yes, the same place that is currently in the Wendy’s food chain commercials), a VT grad (Class of ’07… that’s “19-ott-7”, not “2-double-ott-7”), and a career Marine. He’s particularly remembered for his reply to a French officer who advised him to move his men, once they arrived at their first position, on June 1, 1918… “Retreat, hell! We just got here.” Williams reported the incident to his battalion commander with the following message: “French drawing back through us. French major ordered me to withdraw with him. Told him to ‘go to hell’.” Regretfully, despite his spunk, Williams became a fatality less than two weeks after saying this, and also Virginia’s first to die in WW1 as a result of battle wounds.

In my quest to find more, I was surprised to see that his Wikipedia page (see => here) is so incredibly weak, and his Find-a-Grave page, nonexistent. So, I remedied the Find-a-Grave situation (just need to fact-check some of the details, and take a photo of the headstone), and added this =>biographical sketch. I suspect I’ll want to do more with this (a more detailed bio sketch written for another site in which I have a great deal of interest) before all is said and done.

You may note, while looking over the Find-a-Grave page that his father’s name was Goodwin Hulings Williams, and this just might ring a bell when it comes to remembering stuff about the Civil War.  If it does ring a bell, you might be thinking about a particular officer of the 49th Pennsylvania Infantry who was killed at Spotsylvania Court House. Here’s how a connection plays out…

Col. Thomas Hulings

Major Williams’ father, Goodwin Hulings Williams, was a son of Goodwin G. Williams. Goodwin G. was born in Northampton County, Va. and was a grad of William & Mary Law… and the deeper one digs, the deeper the Virginia roots for this old Eastern Shore family (not only a FFV, but also a descendant of one of the “Ancient Planters“). So, anyway… Goodwin G. married Mary R. Hulings. Mary was the daughter of David Hulings… who was also the father of Col. Thomas Marcus Hulings, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry.

There you have it… Major Lloyd Williams was a great-grand nephew of a Union colonel killed at Spotsylvania Court House. Incidentally, Major Hulings’ and Mary Hulings’ sister, Mary Patton Hulings, married one Lloyd William Williams… who happened to be Goodwin G. Williams’ brother (and, ALSO, a grad of William & Mary Law, but an earlier class). Therefore… Major Lloyd William Williams was named for his father’s uncle.

Now, the next question you may have is… “Being a Virginian, did Major Lloyd W. Williams not have any Confederate kin?” Of course, he did… but what’s the surprise in that?

My hunt for the Jessie Scout to follow…