Do You Have a “Special Research Project”?

Pvt James R Van Meter

Pvt James R Van Meter

As family historians we all have niches in research we tend toward. A favorite ancestor or maybe an era in history we love to research. We might even have a “special research project” saved for when we have more time, money, vacation, etc.

Several years ago I was wandering a cemetery looking at family headstones and noticed a lone grave of a Civil War soldier. His marker was engraved with an eagle and the inscription “Rest Soldier Thy Warfare is Ore”. Oddly enough his surname was one in my family tree but I knew he wasn’t a direct ancestor. When I saw he was only 21 years old when he died I decided to learn about him.

I needed to find out about this young man who died in during the Civil War. Had he been shot in battle? I wondered if he had a wife? Did he leave children? My instinct was that he didn’t and even though I’m sure he was mourned by his parents and siblings it wasn’t too many years later that his name probably wasn’t mentioned again. Not out of malice of course – life goes on. Parents pass away, siblings marry and have families of their own. Brothers who died in the war are mentioned as a passing comment.

So here I was 140+ years after this young soldier’s death, kneeling next to his headstone, telling him I’d learn about his life and he’d never be forgotten. At that moment he became my special project.

imageDo you have a Civil War ancestor you’d like to research? Not sure where to begin? Ancestors In A Nation Divided will guide you through the steps of researching your Civil War ancestor. From the beginning if you only have a name – to an in-depth search of his military and post-war life. This book will take you through the process step-by-step. Ancestors In A Nation Divided – Kindle. Also in paperback. Great research help in learning more about your Civil War veteran’s life.

Ancestors In A Nation Divided

imageDo you have a Civil War ancestor you’d like to research?

Not sure where to begin?

Ancestors In A Nation Divided will guide you through the steps of researching your Civil War ancestor.

From the beginning if you only have a name – to an in-depth search of his military and post-war life.

This book will take you through the process step-by-step. Ancestors In A Nation Divided – available in Kindle. Also in paperback. and as a .PDF too!

Great research help in learning more about your Civil War veteran’s life.

Civil War Quick Tip – In His Own Words: Isaac Newton Carr

FBGenCircleLogo1One of the best things about blogging is meeting new people. I did just that this past week when “cmkinhunter” left a comment on one of my posts. She wrote about her Civil War ancestors and her research.

She said, ” . . . I hit the mother-load of information when I discovered his journals at the Iowa State Historical Society a few years ago. My ancestor began journaling in September 1861 when he entered service and continued journaling throughout his life as a farmer and businessman — right up to his death in 1923. His Civil War experiences are covered in his 1861, 1862 and 1865 journals. He must have lost his 1863-1864 journals as they were not in the collection.

I finally started a blog and am posting some of the more interesting journal entries. I’ve just gotten to 1865. If you are interested in reading what a solder from the 11th Iowa Infantry experienced, please visit my site at http://cmkinhuntercm.wordpress.com/. My blog is titled “In His Own Words: Isaac Newton Carr 1836-1923″.

So I did just that and let me say you really should visit this site. Each blog post is an entry from Isaac’s journal and the insight into a Civil War soldier’s life is exceptional.

Take for example January 3, 1865 Isaac talks about a walk through Savannah, having his picture made and the high price of goods for sale. Or Battle of Shiloh – April 6 & 7, 1862. To read the words of a soldier who was actually there gives me chills but Isaac’s words are honest and straightforward. You can trust what he’s written, no embellishments.

That’s what makes this site an excellent resource as you continue the research of your Civil War ancestor. Even if your veteran didn’t fight with the 11th Iowa Infantry, you’ll learn so much about your soldier’s daily life during the war. Through Isaac’s words you can follow in your ancestor’s footsteps. I highly recommend In His Own Words: Isaac Newton Carr 1836-1923

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If you’re interested in researching your Civil War ancestor’s story check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – Kindle. Also in paperback. Great research help as you seek your veteran’s place in our country’s history.

Also I’d love for you to sign up for my monthly tipsCivil War Research Tips here. I’ll share pointers and info to help in researching your Civil War ancestor. Please take a moment to sign up and thanks so much!

Civil War POWS: Prisoners Within Their Own Country or Another?

Confederate prisoners captured in the Shenandoah Valley being guarded in a Union camp, May 1862. Select Audiovisual Records National Archives and Records Administration Washington, DC 20408

Confederate prisoners captured in the Shenandoah Valley being guarded in a Union camp, May 1862. Select Audiovisual Records National Archives and Records Administration
Washington, DC 20408

The subject of prisons ranks high as one of the most controversial topics of the Civil War. It’s probably second only to the reason the war was fought. It’s hotly contested as to whether the treatment of Civil War prisoners was deliberately cruel or resulted from a lack of resources. Whatever your view researching the valiant men who populated those prisons should not be overlooked in our genealogy research.

There were more than 150 prisons used during the Civil War across both north and south. Some of those weren’t operated to capacity until later in the war. Large prisons of the day barely accommodated 100 men which did suffice early on. In the initial stages of the war both sides participated in an exchange program. Captured prisoners were either held a short time in a local prison and paroled or sent home and were not to rejoin their troops until an exchange of men was made with the other side. Generally this system worked although there were some prisoners of war who immediately rejoined their regiment upon release not abiding by the rules. It was even noted some prisoners were exchanged immediately after a battle, private for private and officer for officer, relieving both armies of the burden of dealing with prisoners of war.

Andersonville Prison, Ga., August 17, 1864. South east view of stockade. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA <http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print> No known restrictions on publication.

Andersonville Prison, Ga., August 17, 1864. South east view of stockade. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA <http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print> No known restrictions on publication.

This system didn’t last long though and fell apart. The Confederate government refused to exchange black prisoners. Any black prisoner of war was considered and treated as a slave by the Confederacy whether he had been a free man prior to the war or not. With this criteria in place the United States government made their own significant decision which secured the demise of the prisoner exchange system. I’ve seen it attributed to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in 1862 and General Ulysses S. Grant in 1864 but whoever made the final decision the result was devastating to future prisoners of war. No longer would the United States participate in any type of prisoner exchange program. Period. It was felt the paroling of Confederate soldiers was only prolonging the war by allowing them to rejoin their regiments and eventually fight Union troops again. Limiting the manpower in southern armies, it was felt, would bring an end to the war. Continue reading

Civil War Quick Tip: Checking a Federal Census

FBGenCircleLogo1Just a reminder when checking U.S. Federal Censuses the 1910 and 1930 United States Federal Censuses did ask a specific question about military service. If your Civil War ancestor was enumerated in either of those years be sure you’ve checked to see his answer.

On the 1910 United States Federal Census the question was – Is the person a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy?

On the 1930 United States Federal Census the question was – Is the person a veteran of the U.S. military or naval forces mobilized for any war or expedition? If yes, which war or expedition?

Enumerators were to enter “WW” for World War I, “Sp” for the Spanish-American War, “Civ” for the Civil War, “Phil” for the Philippine insurrection, “Box” for the Boxer rebellion, or “Mex” for the Mexican expedition.

Sometimes in checking a federal census we don’t read the answers to all the questions especially if they’re listed to the far right on the page.

Also I’d love for you to sign up for my monthly tipsCivil War Research Tips here. I’ll share pointers and info to help in researching your Civil War ancestor. Please take a moment to sign up and thanks so much!