“A soldier never dies – until he is forgotten” – that comment was made several times on a recent Saturday morning at the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery, as local members of the Stanislaus Civil War Association joined with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp 2023 to remember “Judge” William A. Griffin and two of his fellow veterans, Daniel “Whit” Carmichael and Thomas Jefferson Ralls.
Griffin, who served as editor of the Oakdale Leader from 1898 to 1908, had an amazing Civil War record, having fought in 63 battles, according to the National Archives. He joined the Confederate Army on March 18, 1861, and served as an officer of the 2nd Battalion Sharpshooters, Company C and fought in most of the major battles in the western theater while also serving as a war correspondent for the Augusta Chronicle.
Griffin was wounded four times, the most serious being outside of Atlanta on July 31, 1864 when he was struck by a minnie ball which shattered his right elbow. This brought an end to his military career because the war was over when he recovered.
He came to California in 1869 and called Oakdale home. He was elected Justice of the Peace in 1893, where the name “Judge” came from, which his friends called him for the rest of his life. In 1895 he was appointed as Postmaster of Oakdale by the Cleveland administration. “Judge” William Andrew Griffin died on December 24, 1916 at the age of 80 years.
At the recent ceremony, Griffin and his two fellow veterans were remembered with the traditional Confederate Canteen Ceremony and by placing the Bronze Cross on their graves.