by Larry Upthegrove
Click here to read Pt. 1
William Crumley was born in Macon on April 7, 1847 and completed his primary studies in the local schools. He was not able to go to college because of the war descending on the South at the time, of which he couldn’t wait to get into. At the age of 14 (and not over four feet tall) he managed to get into the Confederate Army, and when his superior horsemanship and courage were discovered, he became the aide and courier for Gen. Kershaw. There are many stories about William and his courage, but the best documented comes from the pen of Kershaw’s boss and Oakland resident Gen. Clement A. Evans:
“The story is brief, and so was the ride, for Crumley never rode faster nor better in his life. When General Cobb was wounded, Kershaw was ordered to reinforce the line behind the stone wall, which was done by moving the brigade rapidly over a hill to a stone wall. After getting into position it became necessary for Crumley to be sent across the hill in full view and exposed to the enemy’s fire. ‘Which way shall I go?’ said he to the general. ‘Right over the hill,’ was the reply.”
Crumley writes about the same story:
“The general replied ‘Right over the hill,’ so I backed off to get a good start and dug my spurs into old Montgomery’s sides. He leaped the bank and carried me up the hill over the top, in the face, it seemed to me, of the whole Yankee army as I rode. They were behind an old fence row, only about seventy-five yards in front of our line, and our troops almost ceased firing, as if to see whether I got over safely.“
After his service obligations ceased, the little warrior worked and studied to prepare himself for employment and, in 1868, took a position with Beck and Greg Wholesale Hardware, where he remained for 42 years, many of those as vice president and part owner. In 1910 he sold his part of that ownership and helped to found the Crumley-Sharp Hardware Company of Atlanta, where he was president until his retirement.
William and Carrie made their home at number 40 Forrest Avenue, raising their four children there. They were stalwart members of the church they were married in, the First Methodist. On May 22, 1921, Carrie died and was buried on their family lot in Oakland Cemetery. William followed her into eternity two weeks later, evidently not able to live without her.
Later in life, William received the following testimony to his character from his previous commanding officer, Gen. Kershaw. The letter is a valuable heirloom for the Crumley family:
“I often think of my brave little boy courier, who followed my fortunes in so many perilous trials, and can see you now running the gauntlet of Marye’s Hill, at Fredericksburg, through the heaviest of fires and coming through safely, to the relief of all who witnessed the gallant deed. Your children will never know what a true hero you were, the equal of any who wore the gray, but God knows and will reward you for duty nobly done, and I hope, dear Crumley, you and I shall meet where good deeds are rewarded more fitly…. Your friend and old comrade. J.B. Kershaw”