Lawrence Williams

Name: Lawrence “Larry” Williams
Occupation before the war: Clerk, cotton-spinning mill

Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island
Birth: March 21, 1842
Death: January 14, 1917
Spouse: Amy Leigh Harrison

Date of Picture: 1862

Rank: Private upon enlistment; rose to rank of 1st lieutenant by the time his unit was disbanded in 1865.

Selected battles/conflicts:

  • First Manassas (Bull Run)
  • Yorktown and Williamsburg
  • Antietam
  • Fredericksburg
  • Chancellorsville
  • Gettysburg
  • Cold Harbor
  • Petersburg (Final Assault & Fall)
  • Pursuit of Lee
  • Appomattox Court House

Bio: Larry’s father, Thomas Williams, was brother to Abigail Carden but left the Richmond area early in his career and moved north to Rhode Island to seek his fortune in the new industries being developed there. After Thomas’s death in 1862, his son Larry enlisted in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, an infantry regiment. Until that time Larry had been working as a clerk at Slater Mill, a cotton-spinning mill outside of his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. The loss of his father forced him to enter the military to help provide for his family.

Larry participated in many of the major battles in Virginia, spending much of his military career in Eastern Virginia. His regiment was stationed near Williamsport, Maryland, when his commanding officer recorded in his diary, “we saw the Battle of Antietam fought almost at our feet.”

Following the famous battle at Gettysburg, in which he participated, Williams’ regiment followed the Union Army—led by General Grant at that time—through the final major battles of the war, including Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and following Lee’s retreat to Appomattox. All of these occurred just north of where his father grew up in Virginia; although, Larry had never visited the area before the war.

After his unit was disbanded in June, 1865, Williams returned north to his hometown. He married a seamstress, Amy Leigh Harrison, and had two children, Richard and Jeannette. He lived to the age of 75, continuing to work in the textile industry and eventually becoming a plant manager. After the war he discovered he’d fought in many of the same battles as his cousin, John Carden, including First Manassas in the beginning of the conflict, Gettysburg, and the war’s final skirmishes from Petersburg to Appomattox.

Union soldier

Private, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers

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Please note: This material is part of a performance task developed with input from teachers Kelli Wilson and Makesha Yellock from Martinsville Middle School, instructional coaches, and other dedicated educators in the Martinsville City Public Schools. You are free to use this task, but do please give credit to John Ross and Martinsville City Public Schools if you do use it.