Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - Riley Sansom

Riley Sansom

Representing: Confederate

Unit History

  • 16th Virginia Cavalry Confederate E

See full unit history

Riley Sansom
Full Unit History

Organized: September, 1862 VA
Consolidated: 1/63 Camp Zilke, VA with Otis Caldwell's Battalion of Confederate Cavalry to form the 16th Virginia (Confederate) Cavalry.

Organized: 1/15/63 Camp Zirkle Salem, VA
Mustered In:  1/63 Camp Zirkle Salem, VA
Disbanded: April, 1865 Lynchburg, VA

Regimental History


Little documental information is available pertaining to Milton J. Ferguson's (Confederate) Cavalry Battalion. It was organized in Wayne County, VA. In 1/63 its six companies were combined with four of Otis Caldwell's Cavalry Battalion to form 16th Virginia Cavalry.

Within the 16th Ferguson's companies were assigned as follows:

1.) Stevenson's Company became Company "A". Many of these men were from Russell County, VA.

2.) Morris' Company became Company "D". Many of these men were from at least six different Virginia and present-day West Virginia counties including Cabell and Putnam.

3.) Spurlock's Company became Company "E". Many of these men came from Wayne County, VA - later WVA.

4.) Parks' Company became Company "G". Many of these men hailed from Wayne County, VA - later WVA.

5.) Ferguson’s Company became Company "H". Many of these men came from Wayne County, VA - later WVA.

6.) Nounnan's Company became Company "K". These men came from at least eight or ten different counties.

Inf. Not Avail.



The 16th Virginia (Confederate) Cavalry regiment was created in January, 1863 by combining six companies of Milton Ferguson's Cavalry Battalion with four of Otis Caldwell's Cavalry Battalion. The organization took place near Salem County Virginia.  Ferguson was elected colonel of the new organization.

Most of the men in the 16th had been recruited from the western Virginia counties of WAYNE, Putnam, Cabell, Kanawha, Russell, Tazewell and Roanoke. Within six months many of those counties would be part of the newly formed (union) state of West Virginia.

Initially the 16th was assigned to duty in "west" Virginia. There it saw action at Droop Mountain Pocahontas Co, WVA (11/6/63). It suffered its worst defeat at the battle of Murder Hollow (2/15/64) in Wayne County, WVA. Wayne happened to be the county where Ferguson's Battalion had originated.

At Murder Hollow fifty enlisted men of the regiment plus Colonel Ferguson were camped when they were set upon by more than 400 Federal troops. Five men of the 16th were killed. Another thirty eight- including Colonel Ferguson - were captured. The colonel was later exchanged, but eleven of those captured died in Union prisons.

Mid 1863 found the 16th at Gettysburg, PA. There, it fielded 265 men. It then returned to western Virginia before entering actions in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

1864. In February of that year the regiment could field only 165 troopers.

On 4/9/65 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, VA. Not long after the 16th disbanded at Lynchburg, VA.

Regimental loss numbers not available

Soldier History

SOLDIER: (Ferguson)
Residence: Wayne County, VA   Age: 31.6 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 9/6/62   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: Inf. Not Avail.
Transferred Out: 1/63 to 16th VA Cav. 
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Rank At Discharge: Pvt.

SOLDIER: (16th)
Residence: Wayne County, VA   Age:  36.11 yrs. (est.)
Transferred In: 1/63   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 1/63
Mustered Out:  4/65
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Rank At Discharge: Pvt.

Family History




NOTE: The birth - to - death biographical profile of Riley Sansom was created in April, 2021 during the Covid-19 medical pandemic. It contains less depth of detail than many other biographies within this website because military service, pension and other veteran-related files housed in Washington, D.C.'s National Archives were not available. At a later time those documents may be obtained and the data contained therein added to the
Narrative which follows:


Riley Sansom was born on February 10th. U. S. Census birth years include 1831, 1833, 1834 and 1835. Most likely, though, he was birthed in 1831. 

The location of Riley’s entering into this world, like his birth year, varies. Some sources point to Virginia - (later West Virginia), others, Kentucky.  In 1850 the Sansom family was residing in Kentucky's Pike County, so that, may have been Riley's birthplace.

Parenting Riley were John Riley Sansom, Jr. (b. 1760 VA or 2/28/777 Buckinghamshire England - d. 1850 Pike County, KY)  and Elizabeth (nee Davidson b. 1781 Giles County, VA - d. 1850 Pike County, KY) Sansom. Although not documented, likely the Sansoms were a farming family.

If available (U.S. Census) data is to be relied upon, Riley Sansom was the eighteenth of at least nineteen children produced by John, Jr. and Elizabeth. His older siblings were Mary Polly Sansom (b. 1800 VA), Susannah Ann Sansom (b. 1801), William A. Sansom (b. 1803), James Sansom (b. 1804 VA), Chloe Sanson (b. 1807), Elias Sansom(b. 1809), Matilta Sansom (b. 1810), Charlotte Sansom(b. 1816 VA), Davidson Sansom (b. 1813 VA), John Riley Sansom III (b. 1814 VA), Matilda Sansom (b. 1815), Abel Lincoln (b. 1817), Jennie Sansom (b. 1819), Hiram Sansom (b. 1820), Lanta Sansom (b. 1821), Andrew Sansom (b. 1823 *) and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Sansom (b. 1830). Younger than Riley was Nancy Caroline Sansom (b. 1832 VA).

With all of the Sansom children births in Virginia, when the family had moved to Kentucky from the Old Dominion State is not known. Then, too, another unknown is why Riley's younger sister Nancy was born in Virginia!!

As of the U.S. Census of 1860 it appears Riley was farming in Pike County, KY. Perhaps he had taken over his parents' farm, but most likely he had a place of his own as by that time he was married and a father. 

Riley's bride was Sarah (no middle name or initial) Cline. Sarah had been born on 7/20/36 in Logan County, VA. In 1863 Logan County would become part of West Virginia.

How Riley and Sarah may have met is an unknown. They were married in 1852.

During their years together Riley and Sarah reportedly produced fourteen children. If so, only eleven are identified in available documentation. They were: Arminta (b. 12/2/52 or '55 Wayne County, VA),  Levi (b. 1854 or '56 Pike County, KY),  Hannah (b. 1857 Pike County, KY),  Margaret (b. 2/11/58 or '59 KY or Wayne County, VA), Frances (b. 1860 Pike County, KY), William R. (b. 1866 WVA), Mary A. (b. 1867 or '68 WVA),  America (b. 1872 Logan County, WVA), Elizabeth (b. 1874 VA or MN), Lizzie (b. 1/9/77 Kingston, MN) and John M. (b. 4/77 VA or MN).

The U.S. Census tallies for both 1850 and 1860 found the Sansoms farming in Pike County, KY. Two years later, in 1862, however, the family had apparently quitted Kentucky and moved northward to Wayne County, Virginia. Wayne County was a part of Virginia that would shortly become part of the new state of West Virginia. There, Riley enlisted in a Confederate cavalry unit so, perhaps, the move had been made specifically so he could join older brother Andrew and enlist in Milton J. Ferguson's Confederate cavalry battalion which was forming in Wayne County.

Without accessing Private Sansom's military service period we know little about his period of enlistment. He did, however, survive The War and returned to his family in what was, by then, West Virginia.

In 1870 Riley and family were censured farming in Magnolia Logan County, WVA. How long they remained there is an unknown because a decade later, in 1880, they were tilling the soil in Kingston Meeker County, MN.

The specifics of what had drawn the Sansoms westward are not known, but it may have been the availability of homestead land because on 7/20/81 Riley was given the patent (deed) to an eighty acre homestead tract by the U.S. Land Office in St. Cloud, MN.

As of 5/1/85 the Sansom family's travels had taken them southward once again. By that date they were in Bertha Todd County, KY. How long they may have remained there is an unknown because there is no census data available for 1890. Most of that information was destroyed by fire.

1900. A new century. A new decade and a new U.S. Census. That year's population roll found the Sansoms in Jocks located in Missoula County, MT. In Jocks Riley was employed as a "lumber laborer."

September 24, 1904. The Sansoms were no longer in Montana, but in Washington State. Exactly where they were residing on that date is not known, but by April, 1905 they were in or near the southwest Washington community of Chehalis located in Lewis County.

On the September date above former Civil War cavalry trooper Riley Sansom applied for a U.S. Government disability pension based on his days of Civil War soldiering. As a Confederate combatant the request was not granted.

Riley Sansom died on 4/6/05 at the age of 74.  The cause of his passing is not known. He was/is buried in the Calquato Cemetery near Chehalis.

After Riley's death Sarah remained in Chehalis for a time. In 1910 under her roof was married daughter Lizzie and Lizzie's husband, John Waller.

On 6/6/12 Sarah, as the widow of a Civil War soldier, applied for a U.S. Government pension. As with her late husband's request, her application was denied.

By 1920 daughter Lizzie and her husband had moved northward to the community of Monroe located in Snohomish County, WA. Sarah had moved with them.

Sarah Cline Sansom died in Monroe on 9/6/28 at the age of ninety two years. She was/is buried in the Grand Army Of The Republic (G. A. R.) Cemetery located nearby in Snohomish, Snohomish County, WA. She has been noted in the Snohomish G.A.R. Cemetery as the wife of CWV Riley Sansom buried at Claquato Cem near Chehalis, WA. 

* During the American Civil War Andrew Sansom served in the Confederate cavalry with his younger brother, Riley. The two initially enlisted on 9/6/62 in Spurlock's Company of Ferguson's Cavalry Battalion. When that battalion merged with Caldwell's Cavalry Battalion to form the 16th Virginia Cavalry, Spurlock's company became Company "E" of the 16th. In the 16th’s Co. "E” Andrew served as a sergeant. He survived The War.



Buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens AKA Claquato Cemetery

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Chehalis, Washington

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