Let’s take for example the 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Which also happens to be the regiment my ancestor fought with. Now I know my ancestor joined 19 July 1864 and joined the 81st in November of 1864 after two months training. He mustered out of the infantry on 25 June 1865. So let’s take a look at movements of the 81st Pennsylvania during those eleven months.
My ancestor, George W. Lowery would have joined up with his regiment, the 81st at Petersburg, VA. In November 1864 Petersburg was under siege. The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac were entrenched around the city. Months of fighting had resulted in a multitude of deaths and eventually Grant’s army successfully cut off the Confederate’s supply lines resulting in the fall of Richmond. Without the very basics like food, Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia moved west across the state in early April 1865, pursued by Grant and Union forces, which included my g-g-grandfather.
Following this trail, outlined in the regimental history, I can now “march” along with my Civil War ancestor. I’ve made this trek twice. Once with my husband and another time with my genealogy-minded sister.
I picked up the trail traveling west out of Petersburg to the little known Battle of White Oak Road. I’ve walked the paths there through trees and underbrush imagining troops bursting through the foliage. Making my way back to the small graveled parking lot I slipped a pine cone in my pocket. It was a physical connection for me. I was standing where my Civil War ancestor had been. Continue reading