Memorial Day Thoughts: Lewis Casada – Union Soldier

lewis casada grave stone

Lewis Casada (also spelled Cassada) is one of my paternal 2nd great- grandfathers from Wayne County, Kentucky. He fought for the Union (12th Regimented Kentucky Infantry) in the Civil War. He is not the only direct ancestor of mine to fight in that war, but the only one to have died in military service.

He was not an officer, or anyone heroic in the grand sense we like to bandy about on days such as Memorial Day. He was just a common man, not wealthy, not important, a farmer in a rural county in Appalachian Kentucky.

His was a complex military service, with desertion, return to the Regiment, more than one hospitalization for illness as per the military record, and re-enlistment.

One wonders ‘why desertion?’, but it was actually very common in the Civil War. The war went on far longer than either side imagined ever possible. They were fighting fellow citizens and likely felt used and confused. There were inadequate food and supplies. There was so much illness – it is estimated that 2/3 of Civil War soldiers who died in service, died of disease, not battle wounds.

His is the kind of military record that one might hide or not discuss at all, but I chose not to go that route. There are no records that carry his perspective into the future for us to consider. I happen to believe there is more to learn from history in the contemplation of the common person, than to consider only the ‘rock stars’ of history, which we are apt to do. Encouraged to do. This fuels my interest in genealogy – not the search for famous relatives or genetic ties to the Queen of Sheba.

He came, he went, he returned. He was mostly with his regiment during his two enlistments, but sometimes he left and at other times, the muster roll indicates he was in hospital in Lebanon, Kentucky. The battles his regiment was involved in were largely near to home – Kentucky, Tennessee – until they were dispatched to North Carolina in late 1864-early 1865. Home must have called – either as a respite for a coward or a sickly man, or to return to care for the family (his wife and seven children on the farm).

Lewis Casada died of Smallpox at the General Hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina on April 20, 1865, a few weeks before the Civil War ended. Five days following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

He was 45 years old. Military records describe him as a farmer with dark hair and dark complexion, 5ft, 8in tall. He left behind his wife, Sarah Anderson Casada, and seven living children. His oldest child, John, was 20 years old; his youngest child, Sciotha, was five years old. My great-grandfather, Samuel Monroe Casada, was 12 years old.

One daughter, Fanny, preceded him in death, dying in 1860 at the age of 14.


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