Biography of Washington Leonidas Grice

A family tree would show four Grices in a direct line, all residents of Johnston County, North Carolina: Francis, who died in 1750, a copy of whose will appears in the published Colonial Records of North Carolina; his son, William, a Revolutionary soldier; and next, Stephen, a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions, and his son, Garry, who in his youth was a civil engineer and laid out the town of Goldsboro, North Carolina.

In 1822, Judge Stephen Grice, with his wife, who was formerly Miss Sally Simms, with their family, moved to Newton County, Georgia, and later to Henry County, about midway between McDonough and Griffin, where they settled on a large plantation on which the son continued to live for many years after his father’s death. The son served for a long time as Justice of the Inferior Court, first of Henry, then of the new county of Spalding; and he also represented his people in the General Assembly. When sixtythree years of age he enlisted as a private in the Spalding Grays, Second Georgia Battalion, the first troops outside Virginia to land on the soil of that State. Judge Garry Grice was the father of Judge Washington L. Grice.

On the maternal side, Judge W. L. Grice was one of the Lamar clan that has given to Georgia and to the rest of the country so many men of note. His mother was Ann Lamar, daughter of Philip Lamar, a planter, of Beech Island, South Carolina. She was the great aunt of the late Mr. Justice Joseph R. Lamar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
He was born February 22, 1832. He died March 9, 1925. He taught school a couple of years; admitted to the bar in 1855; practiced at Butler until 1861, when he marched off to war with the first company that left Taylor County, in the Sixth Georgia. On the formation of the Forty-fifth Georgia Regiment, he was elected major. In the very first battle, both the colonel and the lieutenant-colonel were severely wounded, and the latter, though promoted to the colonelcy, was unable for a long time to return to his command, and Major Grice, promoted to lieutenant-colonel, was the only field officer with the regiment in the battles around Richmond, and commanded it in many other important fights, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

While on the firing line in Virginia, his friends at home sent him to the State Senate, where he acted as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. There were several extra sessions, and after the first two, all members of the General Assembly who held commissions in the army were required to resign one or the other place. He had not sought either honor and was considering what he ought to do when his friends persuaded him he was needed most in that wartime Senate, and he resigned from the army. It was characteristic of him that at the end of the session he enlisted as a private in Pruden’s Battery of Artillery and served with it for the remainder of the war.

In 1866 he located in Hawkinsville and remained here for two years. While living here he was tendered the judgeship of the Southern circuit, but he declined to accept office under the Bullock administration. In 1868, General Eli Warren of Perry offered him a partnership, and he moved there. In 1877, he was appointed judge of the Macon circuit by Governor Colquitt. In 1922, he returned to Hawkinsville, and this continued to be his home for the rest of his life.

On October 6, 1870, he married Miss Martha Virginia Warren, the daughter of his law partner. She was born July 18, 1840, died January 1, 1926. There were two children, both sons-Warren and Herbert Landrum Grice-who practiced law with their father. The latter and younger of the two was born March 9, 1878, and died February 17, 1912, a bachelor. His brilliant career at the bar is still well remembered. The elder son, born December 6, 1875, married Clara Elberta Rumph, June 18, 1901, and now resides in Macon, after having served in the Legislature from Pulaski in 1900-1904, and as Attorney General of Georgia in 1914-15. In 1927 he was chosen president of the Georgia Bar Association. His children, besides a son, Warren, Jr., who died in early childhood, are : Ruth, Samuel R., Benning M., and Elia.

Altogether Judge Grice was a member of the Hawkinsville bar for nearly forty-five years.
While his record as a lawmaker, judge, and practicing lawyer was such as one would naturally expect from one of his talents, it was as a soldier that he really shone.
He happened to be in Macon when General Howell Cobb was preparing to defend that city against the Federal General Wilson. There being but few experienced officers available, General Cobb placed Colonel Grice in command of one wing of his little army which consisted mainly of old men and boys.

Many of his old war comrades have said what a kind hearted officer he was. Oftener than otherwise, on the long marches, he would let some private soldier ride his horse while he walked with the men. Passing through Orange Court House one hot day, Major General Pender put him under arrest and sent him to the rear because he ordered his regiment to march on the sidewalk under the shade instead of the middle of the street in the sun. His men very much resented his arrest and originated something like a round robin, and at their insistence Brigadier General Thomas interviewed General Pender, who relented and restored him to his command just as the Battle of Gettysburg was about to begin.
It is the unadorned truth to add that in the army he acquired a reputation for his bravery and coolness under fire. In that monumental publication, Official Records o f the War o f the Rebellion, one may read reports of battles in which his superior officers make special mention of his gallant conduct. General Walter A. Harris, in an address at the annual convention of Spanish-American War Veterans in Macon in May, 1935, made the statement that for a number of years he had made it a habit, as opportunity offered, to inquire of Confederate veterans who was the bravest soldier they ever saw, and that the answer the most frequently received was, “Colonel W. L. Grice.” His regiment was formed from counties adjacent to Macon.

“The bravest are the tenderest, The loving are the daring.”



Pulaski County GA,

Baggott, Rev. J. L. Biographies of Pulaski County Georgia. Daughters of American Revolution. 1935.

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