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William Waters, born June l5, 1845, Yorkshire, England. His father was Washington Waters, his mother’s maiden name being Mary Ann Lake. Waters arrived in the United States, docking at New York aboard the SS “Virginia” from England at age 19 on December 7, 1863. When he enlisted, Waters gave his age as 21 because he was told that being from England, he would not be allowed to join up unless he was 21 years of age. Before leaving England Waters had worked as a farmer and was an apprentice to a carpenter. Ten days after arriving in New York he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 17, 1863, as a Landsman aboard the USS “Princeton”, lying at anchor in the Delaware River.   The USS Princeton was a 1370-ton screw steamer built at the Boston Navy Yard in Massachusetts, using the engines from the previous USS  Princeton in a new hull. She was completed for service in November 1852, with the intention of sending her to the Far East, but problems with her boilers prevented the deployment. After repairs the Princeton served along the East Coast and in the Caribbean area until June 1855, when she was placed in ordinary use and used as receiving ship at Philadelphia from 1857 until she was sold in 1866.

Shortly after that he was transferred to the U.S. Gunboat “Kansas”, a two masted eight gun wooden steamer; ordered built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to accommodate machinery captured in the steamer Princess Royal; which was to be renamed the Kansas. It was launched on September 29, 1863 and Commissioned the USS Kansas on December 21, 1863 at Philadelphia with Lt. Comdr. Pendleton G. Watmough originally in command.; designated ship number 62.  It’s length was 129' 6",  its beam was 29',  its draft was 10' 6", it did 12 knots, had a complement of 108 men, was armed with  one 150-pounder rifle, two 12-pounder rifles, two 20-pounder Dahlgren rifle and two 9" Dahlgren smoothbores.

The day of her commissioning, the “Kansas” was ordered to Hampton Roads to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, arriving at Newport News, Virginia on December 30th; but engine and boiler trouble required her to return to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs. In March 1864 she was stationed at Wilmington, North Carolina off New Inlet, where she served during most of the remainder of the war.

With the “Mount Vernon”, the “Howquah”, and the “Nansemond”, the “Kansas” once engaged the Confederate ironclad-ram “Raleigh”. The “Kansas” participated in a running fight with the CSS “Raleigh” off New Inlet, North Carolina on May 6th & 7th 1864, and shortly before dawn 15 May, the “Kansas” captured the British steamer “Tristram Shandy” as she left Wilmington on May 24th 1864 at around 5 O’clock in the morning and took her to Beaufort where a crew was put aboard her for her trip to Boston, as the blockade runner attempted to escape to sea with a cargo of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine.  After remaining on blockade duty at New Inlet until August, she returned to Philadelphia for repairs.

The “Kansas” rejoined her squadron late in September; and, after briefly cruising at sea, she returned to New Inlet and the blockading fleet in mid-October and captured the steamers “Annie” on October 31, 1864 and the “Stormy Petrel” on December 7, 1864, captured the “Stormy Petrel” on October 31, 1864 and participated in an unsuccessful attack on Fort Fisher on December 24th and 25th, the Second Attack of Fort Fisher on January 13th and 14th 1865 and served on the James River, Virginia all during 1865.

After cleanup operations in the Wilmington area, the “Kansas” moved to the James River in late February to support General Grant's final drive to Richmond and from time to time during the closing weeks of the war, the “Kansas” supported Army operations ashore with her guns, particularly near Petersburg. The day after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, she was ordered to a station off Cape Henry to prevent the escape of Confederate sympathizers; who were reportedly planning to capture vessels in the bay. The “Kansas” remained with the blockading fleet until September, when she steamed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ship was then put into dry-dock for refurbishing, the crew was given seven days shore leave and three days later they were paid off and discharged, at the Navy Yard. The “Kansas” entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard on  April 23rd  and was decommissioned on May 4th.

While aboard the “Kansas”, during one gun battle, a 150 pound cannon had been fired directly over Waters head, causing partial deafness, which steadily increased as he got older.

The “Kansas” remained with the blockading fleet until September, when she steamed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ship was then put into dry-dock for refurbishing, the crew was given seven days shore leave and three days later they were paid off and discharged, at the Navy Yard. While aboard the “Kansas”, during one gun battle, a 150 pound cannon had been fired directly over Waters head, causing partial deafness, which steadily increased as he got older.

Some claim Waters also served in the U.S. Army, but an exhausting search of all known records have failed to confirm that.   Such a search has indicated, however, that he did serve in some capacity under a number of assumed names, including William Hudson and John Black. It is therefore possible that Waters may have indeed served in other branches of the military for undetermined short periods. William Waters was discharged at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1864, wherein he travelled west and was engaged in gold mining for several years, before leaving for England in 1868. Waters lived in Sunderland, Durham, England until 1874, during which he married Meggy Golders in 1870, then he moved to Manchester, England and lived until 1882.

Meggy Golders died at Manchester, England in 1882 and soon thereafter Waters sailed for Queensland, Australia.   In Australia Waters found employment as a builder and a contractor and married Susannah Moss on October 18, 1883 at the St. Andrews Church in Brisbane, Queensland.

In Brisbane he was employed as a carpenter at Lahey Bros. & Nicklin, Saw Millers and Joiners for some twelve years and was highly thought of by employers. William and Meggy had their first daughter Olive, in 1898 and later Alice was born in 1893.

William Waters died at his home in Fairfield, Brisbane on July 23, l922 at the age of 77. His funeral services were conducted at the Toowong Cemetery the day after his death, by the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  He was buried in the Toowong Cemetery, located at the corner of  Frederick Street and Mt Coot-tha Road in Toowong, in  Portion 1, Section 39, grave 4; in an unmarked grave. Buried with him is his son,  Edward John Lake Waters,  buried on October 17, 1884. 

After Waters death his wife made application through the American Consulate at Newcastle, New South Wales for a visa to travel with her youngest daughter to America, where her oldest daughter had gone to live in Salt Lake City Utah; the home of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

A military headstone for William Waters has been obtained from the American Veterans Administration, by the American Civil War Round Table of Queensland, and will soon be erected on his gravesite during a memorial ceremony.

A World of Poetry by Robert Taylor

The War Between The States


This poem is dedicated to an American; the late Roy W Parker whose initial research in Australia made the discovery of many graves much easier. Also to a Southern man, Jim Gray, who lives in Australia. It is also dedicated to the American Civil War Round Table Queensland that funded the erection of numerous memorials in the State. These people and the ACWRTQ devoted time, finances and considerable effort to preserving the memory of Americans and even Australians who, having survived the War Between the States, came to distant lands such as Australia, New Zealand and even Rarotonga to seek a new future. With time, these veterans found eternal rest. Apart from those already mentioned, Toowong cemetery was inspiration for this poem and strangely it is that of a Yankee grave, William Waters. Still our search continues for Southerners whom we know are there, somewhere. When discovered they too will have their own ordered ranks. The headstone pictured below was photographed on the day we formed a working party to erect William Waters headstone 85 years after his death. It had remained unmarked all this time. The Rappahannock River flows through the heart of the Confederacy from the Blue Ridge Mountains and it was across this river that many major battles were fought, including the famous battle at Fredericksburg.


Still The Ordered Ranks

(From Rappahannock to Toowong)

Row upon row of neat grey-granite headstones stand,

some blackened by time, but then black-men also stood in that line.

Here, once proud rebel warriors stood before the green and amber wood,

and took their chance, nervous and neat in their butternut-uniformed times.


There, in that grassy wind stroked Southern field,

before the dark-wood, still boldly upright, even after many a year, they stand.

Fixed bayonets and determined glance,

‘cross the mighty Rappahannock’s ways; still straight as a lance,

still in their final spot, still silent in their stolen yesterdays, still ordered, in their loyal rebel ranks.

 There, where once young men fell to savage circumstance,

a cold winter chill of death now stirs ‘round grey-stones,

as indeed it still does within the dark and frozen ground.

Dancing, yellowed leaves of oak are caught,

to pile, as they did, about these fraught and stony places.

No more are seen those handsome folk,

or their young and buried faces.


 Stoop; brush aside the clinging snow

and a stubborn headstone reveals its silent name.

Merely a whisper now, as if not to waken those below.

Those who lay deep beneath the snow, who still weep in their eternal destiny,

still laid low, still below the slab, by one, tragic, moment done in history.


A howling lead minnie ball or bayonet’s cold steel stab,

brought death to steal away their very rebel breath,

to join the wind, sigh and howl, whistle Dixie

‘cross distant Blue Ridge Mountains somehow, to other ordered ranks,

even talk their wind-held words, with fellow buried Yanks.


Or, far, far away, a distant soldier hears their songs.

He marched ‘cross this very field, stepped over a fallen friend,

left behind he was, to fight until this unjust war was…done,

then wend a long pilgrim’s way, longing for warmer, quieter, happier places;

away from this drab and frigid bloody scene, and all its tragic traces.


Older now, he carries with him those young and buried faces,

merely memories; for those who remain, must endure eternal pain.

He sought new hopes ‘cross-seas in foreign lands,

escape to other places, far away from where he fought,

where now at last, his lone stone, stands.


No ordered ranks to keep him company;

one of the few; yet the same wind’s now warm plow,

stirs gum leaves ‘round a grey-granite stone,

even gathers ‘round a rocky barren ground within, somehow.

Wipe the sweat from your eyes and brow

and a name whispers from the stone,

as soft as lapping gentle-waters, as those distant names do.


Standing proudly still today, is the work of one Jim Gray,

for a Union Man in this far-flung land.

The American Veterans’ Association sent the stone,

so a fallen sailor wouldn’t lay bereft, left, alone

and wouldn’t be forgotten in this strange and distant place

and neither would his handsome, young and buried face,

nor will the sorrows for those few, whose

stolen yesterdays, should have been tomorrows.


Like a milestone it marks the end of one life’s journey,

stands boldly upright, there alone.

Shafts of Pacific sun pierce the dark-green wood

to sparkle on this new granite stone.

There, where no soldier or sailor ever longed to stand-alone.

In that very final spot today, a solitary slab of stone,

Is one of many, along Toowong’s stony ways.


Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center

England and Wales, Civil Registration Index: 1837-1983

England Census, 1845 – 1860 / England Census, 1870 – 1880

Immigration & Naturalization Records, New York Passenger Lists, 1851-1891

Index of Civil War Naval Forces, Union Ships - John King, Brisbane, Queensland

Toowong Cemetery Records, Brisbane, Queensland

U.S. Pension Record Files, U.S. Veterans Administration

Warships of the Civil War Navies, Paul H. Silverton

Kansas Historical Quarterlies, Kansas Collection

Bypaths of Kansas History, November, 1944, Vol. 13


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