My grandmother was Bertha Gregory Clifton. She was a very young child when her father,
Edward Lewis Clifton, died. She never knew anything about the Clifton family and was never
able to tell me anything. I was able to find out that the father of my great grandfather Edward
Lewis Clifton was Henderson Clifton. It was there that my search through the Washington
County Courthouse records and State and National Archives began. As a result, Henderson
Clifton has become one of my heroes. Unfortunately, my grandmother had passed away before
I was able to construct a Clifton family tree.
Henderson Clifton was born in 1839 in Washington County, NC. He was the son of James W.
Clifton and Sarah Ann Collins. Henderson grew up on his father's farm but apparently went to
school enough to have at least a basic education as the 1860 census of Washington County
shows that he was employed as a clerk for a Washington County merchant named D. G.
Cowand. Cowand later served as a Colonel in the 32nd Regiment NC Troops, CSA. Henderson
was the eldest of seven children. The others were Nancy, Elizabeth, Amanda Caroline, Mary
E., James M., and Marcus D. Clifton.
At the outbreak of the War Between the States Henderson enlisted on July 27, 1861 in what
became Company G, 19th Regiment NC Troops (2nd NC Cavalry Regiment), CSA. At the age
of 22 he was mustered in as Private. The January-February 1862 muster roll shows that he had
been promoted to 4th Corporal but by March-April, 1862 he had been reduced in ranks to
Private. the reason is not given. He must have redeemed himself for by July-August, 1862 he
had again been promoted, this time to 3d Corporal. The muster roll for January-February shows
that he had been promoted to 2nd Sergeant of Company G, 2nd NC Cavalry Regiment which
would lead one to believe that he was taking his duties seriously. This regiment for the most
part saw service in Eastern North Carolina until October, 1863 at which time it was transferred
to Brigadier General W.H.F. (Rooney) Lee's Brigade, Major General J.E.B. Stuart's Calvary
Division, Army of Northern Virginia. This unit fought in numerous engagements, in some of
them suffering heavy losses. After the return from the Gettysburg Campaign, Sgt. Clifton had
to procure another horse.(It was the practice of the time that cavalry soldiers had to provide
their own mounts. If a cavalryman was without a horse and had no prospects of getting one,
he was more than likely transferred to the infantry or artillery.) In late August, Henderson
received a twelve day furlough to return home to Washington County to procure a horse. This
was not a really safe thing to do as most of, if not all of Washington County was occupied
by Federal forces. He was captured on September 7, 1863 near Plymouth, NC. He was
eventually sent to Point Lookout, Maryland where he sat out the rest of the war as a Prisoner
of War. His name appears on a roll of Prisoners of War released at Point Lookout, Maryland
from May 12 to 14, 1865.
The War being over, Henderson returned home to Washington County. On March 21, 1866 he
married Casandra Swain, the daughter of Charles and Alvania Swain. They had four children:
Sarah Lafayette who married William Elisha Norman, Robert L. Clifton who married Penny
Woodley, Thomas D. who married Alice Tarkington, and Edward Lewis who married Emma
Gregory, whose father, Thomas Gregory, was also a Confederate veteran having also been a
Prisoner of War at Point Lookout, Maryland. It would be interesting to know if Thomas and
Henderson ever met while they were at Point Lookout.
Henderson farmed in the Pea Ridge section of Washington County. His farm was but a few
miles from the Scuppernong Church of Christ. On May 1, 1907, Henderson deeded his farm
to his son Thomas D. Clifton with the provision that he and his wife, Casandra, would be
provided for as long as they lived. Apparently this provision was carried out. However,
Casandra did survive her son Thomas by about nine years. Casandra applied for and received
approval for on 5 July 1909 a Confederate widow's pension based on Henderson's Confederate
Henderson Clifton died in 1908. He is buried in the Scuppernong Church of Christ Cemetery
with his wife Casandra, son Thomas D., Thomas's wife Alice Ann, and his daughter Sarah
Lafayette Clifton Norman and her husband William Elisha Norman.
Unfortunately I don't know enough of the details of the life of Henderson Clifton but with what I
have been able to learn, he is someone I would have liked to have known.
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