Gratz, Lawson Daniel (unknown–1909)

By: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: April 14, 2016


Lawson Daniel Gratz, African-American Civil War veteran and Buffalo Soldier, was born a slave in Kentucky. Sources give his birth date variously as 1834, 1836, and 1839. When he gained freedom and volunteered for service in the Union Army on June 24, 1864, enlisting officers recorded his birthplace as Fayette County, Kentucky, and his age as thirty, making 1834 possibly the year of his birth. The 1900 United States census recorded the time of his birth as September 1839. A Texas Historical Marker lists Gratz as a native of Mason County, Kentucky, and born on the “plantation of Benjamin Gratz” on September 15, 1839. Gratz (or Gratts, as his name was written at times) became a sergeant in Company C of the 114th United States Colored Troops, a unit that was ordered to Virginia in January 1865 and participated in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign that forced the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army at Appomattox in April. The 114th USCT remained in Virginia until July 1865 and were then ordered to the Rio Grande as part of the United States Army guarding the border with Mexico. Gratz and his fellow soldiers were mustered out of service in April 1867.

Gratz moved for a brief time to Washington, D.C., before joining the newly-created Tenth United States Cavalry in August 1867. The Tenth Cavalry under the command of Col. Benjamin Grierson campaigned against the Plains Indians, especially the Comanches, from 1867 to 1875 and earned the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” for their skill and tenacity. Gratz suffered an accidental wound that destroyed vision in his right eye in 1868, but he learned to aim with his left eye and remained in the Tenth Cavalry until 1872, when he was discharged at Fort Richardson, Texas.

Following his discharge, Gratz moved to Albany, Shackleford County, Texas. He worked as a farmer and as a teamster, hauling hides eastward to Fort Worth and Dallas. On September 24, 1877, Gratz married sixteen-year old Rosa Ann (or Rosanna) Cass in Shackleford County, and the couple began a family that eventually included fourteen children. The family moved to a small farm near Annetta, Parker County, in 1892. The 1900 United States census listed Gratz (age sixty) with his wife Rosa and nine children in the household. They lived in Annetta until Gratz’s death from a heart attack on June 18, 1909. He was buried at Willow Springs Cemetery in Parker County. Lawson D. Gratz is honored by a marker erected in Parker County by the Texas Historical Commission, and his name is found on the Wall of Honor at the African American Civil War Monument in Washington, D.C.

Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Schubert, Frank “Mickey,” “10th Cavalry Regiment (1866–1944),” BlackPast.org (http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/10th-cavalry-regiment-1866-1944), accessed April 12, 2016. Soldier Details: Gratz, Lawson, The Civil War, National Park Service (https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=AC8B84A2-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A), accessed April 14, 2016.

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Military
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civil Rights, Segregation, and Slavery

Time Periods:

  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, “Gratz, Lawson Daniel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 04, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gratz-lawson-daniel.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 14, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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