Lawson Daniel Gratz (Gratts)
Lawson D. Gratz was born a slave to the Benjamin Gratz family in Kentucky on September 18, 1836 and remained a slave until the age of 26 when he volunteered for service in the 114th United States Colored Troops in 1864. The owners were paid to allow him to enter into military service. The white officers of the 114th did not think the Black soldiers could fight up to the standards of the White soldiers. The troops were anxious to prove them wrong.
Lawson was somewhat educated; he could read and write. His ability to work with and for the white officers and his ability to take and relay their instructions down to the enlisted men helped him be promoted to First Sergeant in less than a year.
Lawson became a Black Dispatch, or spy, and would go behind the Confederate lines and blend in with the field slaves. The information they gathered was instrumental in helping end the war.
The 114th was at Appomattox with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant for the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865.
After the war, the 114th was sent to the Texas/Mexico border to help Mexico fight the French in 1866 and 1867. In 1868, he joined the newly formed 10th Cavalry under General Benjamin H. Grierson. The 10th was initially based at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, but the command there did not want Black soldiers based there, so they were moved to Ft. Riley, Kansas.
The Indians the 10th Cavalry defeated during the Indian campaign named them Buffalo Soldier after the revered buffalo because they respected the fighting skills, tenacity and tracking ability of the regiment.
Lawson Gratz died of a heart attack June 19th, 1909.