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William Speakman Potts
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Birth: May 5, 1830
Philadelphia
Philadelphia County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Aug. 4, 1881
Blayney
New South Wales, Australia

William Speakman Potts, son of David and Rebecca Potts, was, prior to the Civil War, employed in the engineering profession, and was employed on several railroads in Pennsylvania. He enlisted at Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, April 20, 1861, as a private in company C of the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry. At the expiration of his three month term of service, he decided to commit himself further to the cause of the Union, and, on August 17, 1861, was appointed as captain in company B of the 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry, for a three year term. However, on April 26, 1862, he resigned his appointment. During Confederate general Lee's 1862 invasion of Maryland, which culminated in the battle of Antietam, Pennsylvania governor Curtin placed a call for volunteers to defend the state, and Potts was one of those who responded enthusiastically, being placed in command of company B of the 13th Pennsylvania militia of infantry in early September, 1862. The unit was disbanded a few short weeks later. On October 19, 1965, he left New York, aboard the vessel, CORINGA, for Melbourne, Australia. Travelling with Potts, on the same trip was former United States Navy mate, Frederick Otto Gustav Fincke. As a matter of fact, both former Union officers occupied the after cabin aboard the CORINGA, and no doubt would have discussed their experiences. The vessel arrived at the port of Melbourne on January 29, 1866. By Christmas, 1866, he was appointed as a third class detective constable in the Victorian Police force, and was promoted to 2nd class detective by May 19, 1868. He held a position as a clerk in the Melbourne detective office. However, less than a month later he was to apply for, and receive his discharge from the force. On December 7, 1869, a warrant was taken out for his arrest, for larceny as bailee of 115 pounds, the property of Gavin G. Brown, at Sandhurst. The warrant described Potts as an American, aged 31, 5 feet 7 inches high, grey eyes, dark brown hair, pale sallow complexion, thin face, thin sandy whiskers (probably small), moustache, thin build and respectable appearance. The warrant was also published in the Melbourne newspaper, the ARGUS, with the statement that "he is also said to have served in the Confederate Army during the American war and to have quittted that line of buisness in a very unexpected manner." This final inaccurate statement brought a response, in a letter to the editor of the ARGUS, from a person describing himself as writing "on behalf of the Southern portion of the Americans residing in Victoria," firmly stating that Potts was never a Southerner, but a Northerner, further adding that he "is a thorough black Republican, and was born in the state of Pennsylvania, U.S, and that to my certain knowledge he was acting as a spy, but held a lieutenant's commission in the Army of the Potomac, under General McClellan." The writer further added that the reason why Potts left the Union Army was because, "when the Northern army was defeated at the battle of Bull's Run, he, like many others, skeddadled, and never stopped until he found himself safe in a foreign county." However, it is important to note that, after the first battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July of 1861, Potts had actually continued in the service of the Union Army, serving until his resignation in April, 1862, and some months before the second battle of Bull Run, in August of that year, so the reason given by the writer is obviously inconsistent with the facts. Additionally, after his resignation from the Union Army, in 1862, he remained in America for a further three and a half years. Another letter in the ARGUS, in defence of Potts, indicates that he (Potts) was employed, at some stage, by the Melbourne Omnibus Company, but whether this was before, or after his service in the Victorian Police, is currently unknown. At any rate, Potts was arrested and brought to Melbourne on Thursday, December 23, 1869, taken before the City Court to be charged for embezzlement, and remanded to Sandhurst, where he had committed the offence. On February 11, 1870, he was charged, before Judge Williams, and pleaded guilty, the sentence showing that he was "to be imprisoned in H.M. Gaol at Sandhurst or such other Gaol of Victoria as may be by Law apointed for a period of six months with hard labor." His discharge papers show that he actually served his sentence at Castlemaine, and he was discharged on June 20, 1870. The discharge papers also mention that he had a scar on his forehead, a mole on the right breast, another mole on the right arm, a scar on his right elbow, and a blue mark on his left arm.
He obviously decided to leave the state of Victoria, where his reputation was in tatters, and moved to New South Wales. He was married to Matilda Elizabeth Pembroke at Albury, New South Wales, in 1873. He lived in New South Wales for the rest of his life, and was an architect by profession. Ten months prior to his death he had taken up the position of book keeper at the firm of Heaton Brothers, in Blayney. 
 
Burial:
Blayney
Blayney
New South Wales, Australia
 
Created by: Terry Foenander
Record added: Jan 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33056242
William Speakman Potts
Added by: Terry Foenander
 
 
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