William Lester Faurot - Civil War Soldier

Where William was born is something of a mystery. In his genealogical search, J. Michael Joslin, William’s third cousin, three times removed, found no less than four possible places of birth: New York, Canandaigua, Ontario, N.Y., Michigan, and Plymouth, County of Wayne, Michigan. The last might be the most likely because an affidavit signed by Ruth Dean stated that she was “personally present at the time and place … “ Ruth is adamant that her memory was accurate because she remembered that the next day was “Town meeting.”

We do know with certainty that William was born on April 3, 1842 to Clement Wilder Faurot and Hannah Gulick Faurot and that he had four siblings: Polly Jane, Wealthy Anne, Mehitable and John. Both William and his father were shoemakers. This is reflected in one of William’s letters in which he very specifically details what he wants in the new boots that his father is requested to make for him and another when he rather proudly tells his father that some of his fellow soldiers offered to purchase the shoes he was wearing, right off his feet. 

The Faurot family was living in Fayette Township at the outbreak of the Civil War. William volunteered for the 18th Michigan Infantry at Jonesville. This was the infantry that was recruited by Henry Waldron at the request of President Lincoln. They encamped and trained at Lewis Emery’s farm to the east of the city of Hillsdale. William enlisted in Jonesville on Aug. 5, 1862.

Mike Joslin summarized the events leading to the capture by the Confederates of William and others in both the 18th and the 102nd Ohio. He based his account on “History of the 102d Regiment, O.V.I.” by George S. Schmutz and “The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal State, 1861-1865 - Records of the Regiments in the Union Army - Cyclopedia of Battle - Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers.”

This is Mike’s account:


On Sept. 24, 1864, 231 officers and men, including William Lester Faurot, and 150 men from the 102nd Ohio, were sent from Decatur, Alabama, via train, as an detachment to protect the road and reinforce the garrison at Athens, Alabama. The train was forced to stop a few miles from the garrison due to a break in the rails. When they disembarked, they were attacked by overwhelming forces under the command of Confederate General Nathan Beford Forrest, consisting of approximately 3,000 to 4,000 men. The detachment fought valiantly for nearly five hours, continuously moving in the direction of the garrison in Athens. They incurred considerable losses, yet causing even more losses to the Confederate forces. When they arrived within 300 yards of the garrison, they discovered that the Union forces there had already surrendered and the garrison was in the hands of the Confederate forces. They were left with no other option than to surrender.

Thirty-four of the detachment of the 18th Michigan were taken to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. The remainder of the prisoners were taken to Cahaba Prison in Alabama. Some of the Andersonville prisoners were later transferred to Cahaba.

Near the end of the war, William Lester Faurot and others of the 18th Michigan were taken to Vicksburg, Mississippi for exchange, but the war ended, so they were set free. They were to travel via steamship to Camp Chase, Ohio, and then to return home. On April 24, 1865, they, along with many other soldiers and civilians, boarded the steamship Sultana.  The Sultana was badly overloaded. It left Vicksburg, but made a stop at Memphis, Tennessee. In the late afternoon of April 26th, it once again got underway. In the early morning hours of April 27th, a few miles north of Memphis, the boilers of the Sultana exploded. Casualty numbers differ from story to story, but nearly 1800 died that night, including 68 members of the 18th Michigan, killed in the explosion or drowned. William Lester Faurot was among that number of dead.



William’s parents, Clement and Hannah, were left to face the battle of collecting pension funds due them as William’s parents. His pension documents are considerable in number, including affidavits from Hannah Faurot, relatives and many neighbors. She had first filed on Sept. 24, 1880. It appears it was rejected on Oct. 2, 1880. On Mar. 28, 1885, a second application was filed. Her attorney, John L. Ransom, submitted the second application for admission on May 26, 1887. On May 28, 1887, it went before a Board of Review and was approved. On June 6, 1887, a certificate was issued, then sent to Hannah on June 21, 1887. It was payable at Detroit Agency. Apparently it was retroactive, as it showed the rate per month at $8.00 commencing on Sept. 24, 1880, then increasing to $12.00 a month from Mar. 19, 1886. Further, on April 21, 1868, she was paid the $100.00 bounty due her son, William Lester Faurot, for his enlistment.

J. Michael Joslin and JoAnne P. Miller

If you would like to read William's early letters home CLICK HERE

If you would like to read the story of the 18th Michigan Infantry CLICK HERE.

If you would like to read the tragic story of the Sultana CLICK HERE.