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Williamson - Randolph Foster

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 6 Dec 1901 p 1

Darlington, Ind Dec 4 – Last Sunday was the 58th birthday of Foster Williamson, and as a testimonial of their affectionate regard, a number of his old comrades, neighbors and friends planned and executed a surprise dinner for him. We found him on a farm south of town surrounded by wife and an interesting family of b oys and girls. Jim Stewart had been delegated to entice him away from home in the morning. Jim performed his part so that to Foss the surprise was complete, and he grasped the hand of each guest with tears trickling down his cheeks. The day was spent in a social way by conversation and vocal music. The Stewarts were there. The dinner occupied some three hours and was a real surprise dinner. After dinner on behalf of the company, SS Martin in a rip-roaring speech of fully a minute presented Mr. Williamson a beautiful rocker. He arose to replay and between his sobs made the most effective speech we ever listened to in these words “God bless you all.”  All realized that it came from the heart and all were amply paid for attending. The soldiers were represented by EP McClasky, BF Gilliland, Joseph Corns, WH Custer, John Finney, AW Mote, WR Lynch, EH Russell and SS Martin. Accompanying these were Jim Accompanying these were Jim and Mort Stewart, Albert Mullen, John Trumble, John Hays, LW Peterson, RC Harper, Robert Reynolds, AH Pickett and Curt McCalip of Crawfordsville. Many of these had their wives and families, which by a singular coincidence made the number equal the age of Mr. Williamson.  The lengthening of the shadows reminded all that one of the most beautiful of winter days was drawing to a close and we must part.  Goodbyes were given and we were gone.  

Randolph Foster Williamson was born in Ohio Dec 1, 1843, coming to this county when yet a boy Our first knowledge of him was when he was learning to plow corn under the tutelage of John Peterson on Potato Creek, with one horse and a single shovel plow. He continued to work among the farmers of this neighborhood until the breaking out of the war in 1861. On the 18th of September of that year he was mustered as corporal of Co I, 10th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving with his command in its various marches and engagements, arriving at Chickamaugua on the 19th of October, 1863 where for two days he took an active part in the historic battle and was captured during the fight on the 20th.  After laying in several minor camps for prisoners he was safely landed in Andersonville where, with thousands of others, he starved, sickened and almost died. Yet but a boy he suffered the pangs of hunger. Naked he stood the heat of the torrid sun; daily he watched the dead corded up and hauled off. Emaciated, haggard and weary, for 18 long months he waited, watched and prayed, his mind and heart far to the north with the old 10th Indiana. Time and again did he try to escape, diggint tunnel after tunnel – his only reward was punishment. Discouraged, with no hopes of relief, the confederacy offered him the only alternative he had ever received that of taking the oath. Foss reasoned that the confederacy was all wrong and would soon be wiped out of existence, their oath not binding and thereby no sin and an outlet to him for his long cherished hopes for a chance to run the gauntlet.  He accepted and in three days was on the run with the guards and bloodhounds after him.  A stripling of a boy,. Naked hungry and weak, rushing through sloughs, wading and swimming streams, blundering, scratching and bleeding through heavy forests of timber, every white man an armed foe,  yet with all this and more, he bid the southern Confederacy adieu.  After weary months of this by the help of God and the ever ready darkey, he was mustered out some time after his regiment at Indianapolis on the 1st day of September 1865 a little less than 22 years of age. Today he is an old man at 58 – the effects of this – yet that one act of his is effecting his escape has so far deprived him of his just dues – a pension. We, his comrades, with no suffering as soldiers compared to his, yet receive our quarterly bounty, we honor and appreciate his services as a soldier and his motive, coupled with eternal grit, in gaining his command and home, sweet home.
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