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"Who was Colonel William M. Luffman?"

Have you ever heard of a family member of past generations and wondered "what did they look like", "where did they live", and "what did they do"? I am that way with Colonel William M. Luffman of Murray County, Georgia. The Luffman family would mention "the Colonel" who had served in the Confederacy during the Civil War and was a lawyer in Spring Place, Georgia. After the publication of The Murray County Heritage in 1987, which had several references to him, I became intrigued with this gentleman. My two decades of research revealed many interesting facts about his life. One being his title of Colonel, that was given to lawyers in the late 1800's, as a title of respect. He was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate Army. His marital status was questionable. Some of the family insisted that he was never married, but there was an unfamiliar first name on some of his land deeds, which proved to be his wife. His physical image proved to be a huge challenge. There weren't any photographs of "the Colonel" in my Luffman family. I couldn't locate a photograph of the 11th Georgia Infantry field officers, of which he was a member. During the "Murray on Mind Class" in 2007, Mrs. Bertha Luffman Walls showed Tim Howard a daguerreotype of "the old Colonel". She had received it from her father's, the late Oscar Luffman, estate. As I looked at his photograph, it stared back at me as if to say, "You have found me, now tell my story."

William M. Luffman was born 1 November 1820 (1823) at Martinville, Guilford County, North Carolina which is located in the Piedmont area of the state. He was the third son of John and Priscilla Luffman. His education was in North Carolina. He was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of North Carolina in 1847.

William purchased land in Murray County, Georgia on 2 February 1847 for the price of $31.00 from Thomas Connally, Sheriff. It was land lot # 182, 8th District, 3rd Section.

William was a soldier in the Mexican War of 1847, in Company E, 13th United States Infantry. He served throughout the war with gallantry and distinction according to "The Atlanta Constitution". The Descriptive and Historical Register of Enlisted Soldiers of the Army, for during the War with Mexico, under the Acts approved January 12th and February 11th 1847, (page 154, line 3, # 318) had the following information. William Luffman, age 28 yrs, had hazel eyes, auburn hair, florid complexion and was five feet and nine inches tall. He was born in Guilford County, North Carolina and was a student at law. He enlisted 12 April 1847 at Cassville, Georgia by Lt. Gray. It stated that he was in the 13th Regiment, Company E and was discharged 15 July 1848 at Mobile, Alabama as a Sergeant. The reason for discharge was expiration of service.

The Murray Co. GA Census in 1850 listed William Luffman (Loften) age 24, attorney at law, personal value: zero, birthplace: GA, living in the household # 587 of James Edmondson. (It is possible that a second party gave the information, hence the discrepancies in personal information, i.e. name spelling, age and birthplace.)

William moved to Murray County, Georgia before 1850. He was listed as a pioneer settler of Murray County in Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends "Part 2 – Historical Outlines, Original Settlers, and Distinguished Residents of the Counties of Georgia", by Lucian Lamar Knight. He bought land lot 183, 8th District, 3rd Section, in 1853. He sold this lot to his brother-in-law John Beamer in 1859.

William was listed as a member of the Grand Lodge of Georgia in 1854-Dalton Lodge No. 105, Dalton and Murray County. The will of Drury R. Hall named "my worthy friend William Luffman, Executor of this my last will and testament, this March 31st 1857". William served in the Georgia Legislature 1857-1858. The History of the State of Georgia from 1850 to 1881 by I. W. Avery in the chapter of pre-war leading Legislators states: "Among the more notable men of the House…….William Luffman of Murray". He was re-admitted to the Bar of Georgia in 1858 at Murray County Superior Court.

The Murray County Georgia 1860 Census listed William Luffman, age 37, in the household of John L. Edmondson. The address was the Spring Place Post Office. His occupation was attorney at law. His real estate value was listed as $1,700.00 and his personal estate value was listed as $3,000.00.

William Luffman enlisted as a Captain in Company C, 11th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia, Confederate States of America, from Murray County, Georgia ("Murray Rifle Company") on 3 July 1861. He was elected Major on 27 January 1862 and elected Lieutenant Colonel on 26 May 1862. He served in the battles of the 11th Georgia Regiment at Manassas, Yorktown, Wilderness, Malvern Hill, Rappahanock, Seven Pines, Gettysburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Knoxville, Seven Days, Cold Harbor, and Suffolk. According to the Roster of Confederate Soldiers from Murray County, Georgia, Luffman was wounded at Manassas and Knoxville. The battles listed in which he participated were Manassas, Seven Pines and Gettysburg.

In Kittrell J. Warren's History of the Eleventh Georgia Volunteers, (1861-1862) there are several references to Lieutenant Colonel Luffman.

"Before fixing a period to this bevy of detached items, it will not be amiss to insert a brief paragraph with reference to Major Luffman, who is destined to be our pilot through seasons of peril and scenes of carnage. The Major is a cozy old Bach, reaching hard towards forty, and possesses withal a very presentable contour. He is indifferent to danger. He speaks quickly, thinks independently, and acts decisively. In social intercourse, he is frank, disingenuous, and quite communicative; to men of his command, indulgent and reasonable, and to the orders of his ranking officers all obedience, provided those orders happen to correspond with his preconceived opinions. He is a lawyer by profession, and has figured successfully on the political arena."….. "Major Goode's health failing, he resigned, and on the 27th of January 1862, Capt. Luffman was elected his successor, and with the exception of a brief interregnum, commanded the regiment until wounded subsequently in the second Manassas battle". …"During the retreat from Yorktown he (Lieutenant Colonel Guerry) resigned, and Major Luffman was promoted".

Falls Church, Virginia, 27th September 1861 Six companies of the 9th Regiment under Capt. Stokes and the 11th Regiment under Captain Luffman sets the story. "Their clothes were wet from the effects of a rain that afternoon, the weather had cleared off cold and windy, and their proximity to the Yankee lines being such (about three hundred yards) as to render it imperatively necessary to observe the utmost stillness, the order to fall back was of course agreeable, as it put in motion the benumbed and shivering limbs of the soldiers. Captains Stokes and Luffman having completed the discharge of their duties, had just before taken temporary quarters in a hut near the line, and there they remained, overlooked by the courier, and wholly unconscious of the exodus of their commands, cracking jokes and spinning yarns, until long after the hill had been abandoned to the enemy. But, per gratia, the darkness of the night, the sluggishness of the foe, and the genial influence of their own lucky stars, they escaped uncaptured and rejoined their companies before the regiment left Falls Church."

Meadow Bridge near Mechanicsville, Virginia, 21st May 1862 "Lieutenant Colonel Luffman moved the regiment to an eligible point, among some bushes in rear of a field, to the road side, and placed it in position."

Chickahominy River near Seven Pines battlefield, Virginia, 27th June 1862 "At midnight, six companies of our regiment were required to relieve the picket post between us and the enemy. Colonel Luffman did not send out these companies, but (according to his custom) went with them himself. He knew the position of one post and ordered the necessary force to possess it, after which he strolled and wandered about for some time in search of the balance, and at length found one of them, but could get no information as to the locality of any other. He accordingly left a relief there, and swearing he "would not be any longer marching about hunting hidden posts, and getting his men shot by Confederate pickets in any such way, and that if officers wanted their men relieved, they should come out of their dens and hiding places and show themselves," he carried the remainder of the regiment to their quarters. On the way he encountered Colonel Benning, who seemed surprised at such glaring infraction of orders, and endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, but with a few eruption of profanity, the spunky Colonel held his way"

Headed toward Manassas, Virginia, August 19th 1862 crossed the Rapidan River "Lieutenant Colonel Luffman stationed 6 companies in reserve, and conducted the remaining four to picket posts, and instructed them to observe profound silence, keep well awake, watch diligently, and in case of an attack to fall back to some houses near the ford; to risk death or capture, but in no event hazard re-crossing the river in the dark."

Rappahannock, Virginia, August 23rd 1862 (Moving forward while under fire from the enemy, pausing to rest for a few moments in a fence ditch, the fence being mounded dirt with a ditch beside it) "Lieutenant Colonel Luffman gave the order, and our regiment leaped the fence and again buffeted the storm."

Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia, August 26th 1862 "While we moved along this narrow pathway, a shell came suddenly hurtling over us from the front, and Colonel Luffman gave the order to lie down."

Manassas, Virginia, August 30th 1862 "Colonel Luffman, who has been severely wounded in both legs, and is able to walk only with great difficulty, still stays with, and encourages his men until relief arrives, when the command devolves on Major Little."

"I have noticed the gallant bearing of those among the commissioned officers who fell on that eventful day (August 30th). I can not, will not, pass over in silence the survivors, Anderson, Luffman, Little, etc."

References to Lieutenant Colonel Luffman in the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 2nd July 1863 are as follows:

The Bachelder Papers Volume I pg. 448: "Anderson was on foot at the time, returning to his troops after communicating with members of Kershaw's Brigade to his left. As he walked by a large boulder, a bullet struck his left thigh between the bone and artery. Colonel William Luffman of the 11th Georgia took over command of the Brigade as "Tige" was out of action for the rest of the battle."

Gettysburg, the Second Day by Harry W. Pfanz: "Little was wounded soon thereafter and Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman took charge. The Georgians under Luffman would have to fall back to the far edge of the woods where it was relatively quite, reform and try again." "Tige Anderson was wounded and out of the fight. The command of the Brigade now fell to Lieutenant Colonel Luffman of the Eleventh Georgia."

"Anderson Attacks the Wheatfield" by Jay Jorgensen states that Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman, a Mexican War veteran, commanded the 11th Georgia Regiment after Colonel Frances H. Little was wounded. Luffman was wounded after that.

"On the evening of 2nd July 1863, Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman, of the 11th Georgia, took over command of Anderson's Brigade after Brigadier General George T. Anderson was wounded at the Wheatfield." "The 11th Georgia in Roses Woods……Anderson was wounded….Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman of the 11th Georgia, Anderson's old regiment, took over command of the brigade."

Wilderness, VA, 25th August 1864 Lieutenant Colonel Luffman was severely wounded in the right hip. He was examined by the Medical Board in March 1865. The Board declined to recommend his retirement to the Invalid Corps.

The Mount Airy News, 11 November 1897, printed "The Battle of Siloam". The story is of a recuperating Lieutenant Colonel Luffman and Major Reeves escaping from five hundred Federals in April 1865. "The Colonel was bathing when he heard the heavy tramp of horses. Looking out the front door, he saw a quite a number of Blue Coats coming toward the house. He awoke the Major, seized his carbine, and rushed out into the front yard. "Surrender that gun, sir" demanded a Yankee, who had already been to the stable and was astride Colonel Luffman's fine horse. "This is my gun," curtly replied the Colonel, "and I have a perfect right to use it; besides, I see you on my horse; get off at once or I'll help you off!" Bang! Roared Luffman's gun, and off tumbled the haughty rider, shot through the breast." After a brief exchange of gun fire, the Colonel and Major escaped to the river and hid under the water, breathing through their nostrils, until the Blue Coats gave up the search. After resting and getting clothes from friends, Colonel Luffman returned to Spring Place, Georgia."

At the conclusion of the war, as per custom for the men who had served in the Confederacy, Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman was paroled in Atlanta on the 17th of May, 1865.

During the reconstruction period, Colonel Luffman served Murray County in many capacities. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of October 25, 1865. He was a delegate to the Congressional Convention at Kingston, Georgia on the 9 September 1868. He served as Murray County Solicitor and Deputy Surveyor. He was the Vice-Commander of the John B. Gordon Camp of the Confederate Veterans when it was first organized after the war.

The Murray County Georgia Census of 1870 listed William Luffman, age 50, living with his father, John, and his sister, Sythia A. Luffman (P. O. Spring Place-824 District). His occupation was a lawyer with the value of real estate at $500.00 and the value of personal estate of $350.00.

In the 1870's, Colonel Luffman was a member of the committee that drafted a resolution that stated Murray County would peacefully abide with the state of Georgia when it was admitted to the Union on the15th July 1870. On numerous occasions he served as chairman of the Democratic Party of Murray County as well as a delegate to the State Convention. He was appointed to the first, five-man Murray County Board of Roads and Revenue Commission in 1873 for a four-year term along with John Bryant, Miniard W. Harris, Samuel M. Carter, and John H. Kuhn. He reported to "The Atlanta Constitution" that the crops were sorry, because of late heavy rains and cool weather in 1873. He was a member of the Mexican War Veterans 1846-1848, from Murray County.

Colonel William Luffman and Colonel McAfee Bates were candidates for the State Legislature from Murray County in 1877, which Colonel Luffman won the election. He served in the Georgia Legislature 1878-1879. The Georgia's General Assembly of 1878 Biographical Sketches by Sam'l A. Echols described "the Colonel" as follows: "At the age of fifty-five, he is still unmarried. In connection with the practice of law, he has been engaged in the building of the railroads and also in farming. He served as Judge of the Inferior Court of his county before the war and after the war was Solicitor of the County Court, and President of the Board of Education, which trust, he resigned two years ago. He is a Mason and a Democrat."

The Murray County Gazette of June 3, 1879 had an advertisement for lawyers, "Luffman and Harris, Attorneys at Law, Spring Place". "Wm. Luffman and W. D. Harris will attend faithfully to all business entrusted to their care. Office on Public Square south of Courthouse."

William Luffman was listed as head of the household in the Murray County Georgia 1880 Census. His age was listed as 60 and his occupation was a lawyer. His sister, Sythia, and two male servants were living with him in the Spring Place-Town District.

The first reunion of the Eleventh Georgia Volunteers, Confederate States of America met in Fulton County, Georgia in September 1888. It was decided that the regiment be organized as a permanent institution. Colonel Luffman was elected president of the group.

After sixty-eight years of "blessed singleness", Colonel Luffman married Agnes A. Johnson Edwards on 9 December 1888 in Jackson County, Alabama. Their marriage announcement in "The Atlanta Constitution" wished the couple "life's choicest blessings, even the blessing which God gave unto Abraham and Sarah". Agnes was the daughter of John and Nancy Johnson. Her first marriage was to David Edwards in 1854.

The 1889 Murray County map showed Colonel William Luffman's home on the eastern half of Land Lot # 173, 9th District, 3rd District, which is now the northeast section of the intersection of Highway 225 and Highway 52 (the Central Crossroads). He served on the Roads and Revenue Commission in the early 1890's.

The hand written journal of John M. Luffman (his nephew) states that Colonel W. M. Luffman died December the 13, 1893. He was buried on the west side of the Spring Place Cemetery, Murray County, Georgia. His gravestone is one of the tallest in this cemetery. Some of his life's accomplishments are carved in the stone. "He was a lawyer by profession, served in the Legislature before and after the war, was a soldier in the Mexican War, served as Captain and Colonel in the Confederate Army."

In 1998, the newly formed Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp # 936 in Murray County was named in honor of Lieutenant Colonel William M. Luffman, because he was the highest ranking officer in the Confederate Army from Murray County, Georgia.

The Colonel's story is not complete. Where he was educated in North Carolina and where he served during the Mexican War are just a few of the unanswered questions. The answers will reveal more of his interesting life's story. Searching for these answers is a part of the fascination of the man, Colonel William Luffman.

Sources not otherwise stated:

Murray County Heritage complied by Tim Howard and the Murray County History Committee.

Georgia's General Assembly of 1878 Biographical Sketches by Sam'l A. Echols.

Civil War Service Records, National Archives Veterans Records, Washington, D. C.

Roster of Confederate Soldiers of Murray County, GA located in the Probate Court of Murray Co. GA.

Records located in the Murray County Court House.

"The Atlanta Constitution" Archives

Compiled and written by Carolyn Z. Luffman Revised 2010


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