The Battle of Gettysburg, the 20th Maine and George Washington

Little Round Top Gettysburg National Battlefield

Little Round Top viewed from Devils Den – Gettysburg National Battlefield

What hasn’t been said about the infamous battle that took place in the tiny southern Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg? The Army of the Potomac clashed with the Army of Northern Virginia in a savage three day battle that resulted in horrendous loss of life. Both sides suffered substantially with more than 51,000 casualties, nearly one third of all those who fought.

Millions of words have been written about specific events of those three days. The heroic stand of Buford and his cavalry the first day. The bloody assaults at the Wheatfield where possession of the land changed hands multiple times that afternoon. The decimation of Pickett’s Charge but none may be as memorable as the fight waged by Union Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain and the men of the 20th Maine at the battle for Little Round Top.

We all know the story. It was the second day of battle at Gettysburg. The Union troops grip on the high ground of Cemetery Ridge was slipping. To shore up the Union’s defensive position troops were dispersed to the hills just south of town. General George Sickles was to move his II Corps to a hill known as Little Round Top. His reinforcements would bolster a weak Union line and was ordered by the Union commander himself, General George Meade. Yet Sickles in one of the greatest blunders known to military minds took it upon himself to defy orders. He moved his troops about a mile away into a heated battle at the Peach Orchard. Sickles left the Union left flank completely open to devastation. If Confederate troops could exploit this breach the Union line would fall like dominoes losing the high ground, maybe even the entire battle to the rebels.

The vulnerability of the Union line left by Sickles at Little Round Top was soon discovered. Col. Chamberlain and his men were immediately dispensed to bolster the inadequate defenses there. It was while these troops were heading toward Little Round Top that an unimaginable event occurred.

The men had come to a fork in the road. Being unfamiliar with the territory the 20th Maine wasn’t sure which route to take. It was at this point a huge white stallion appeared out of nowhere. The horse and rider had an ethereal air about them. Some of the men later called it an eerie glow. The rider erect in the saddle wore a tri-cornered hat and old fashioned clothes. Those soldiers who got a glimpse of his face swore it was the very man who fought for and fathered this country decades before, George Washington. Although dead for 60+ years the men had seen paintings and etchings of Washington and were sure this was who was directing their path to Little Round Top. If the appearance of George Washington wasn’t enough some men said Washington raised his sword and led the troops to the appropriate position on Little Round Top. Continue reading

A Little Decorating on Decoration Day

With Memorial Day this past weekend my gene-buddy sister and I headed out on Saturday morning to “decorate” the graves of our Civil War ancestors and any soldier we found that needed a flag. Actually most cemeteries are very good at marking the graves of all veterans for the Memorial Day holiday. We added flags to just a couple graves.

George W Lowery Co A 81st Pennsylvania

George W Lowery  Co A 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

Our first stop was to honor our direct Civil War ancestor George W Lowery. He was a private and served with Co. A 81st Pennsylvania until he was wounded at the Battle of Cumberland Church on 7 April 1865. Two days later Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Our great great grandfather missed Appomattox by two days!! Thankfully he recovered from his injury, came home and fathered my great-grandfather.


Phillip Lowe

Next we stop at the grave of Phillip Lowe. This is my sister arranging his flag and flowers. Phillip Lowe is either our 3x great grandfather or our 2x great uncle. You know how that goes. Lots of Phillip Lowes in our family and we’re still trying to find the records that will identify each one individually. We’re honoring Phillip Lowe’s service with Co. D 112th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.


James R and George S Vanmeter

Next we leave flowers for our first cousins – four times removed James R and George S Vanmeter. They were brothers and both served with Co. F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. George was wounded while with the 4th and was discharged and sent home. Meanwhile James died of “lung fever” in February 1864 and is buried in a local cemetery. George reenlisted with Co. G 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. He died on the battle field 13 April 1864 outside of Florence Alabama. His body was never recovered. So we honor George by placing his flowers alongside his brother James.


Thomas William

Thomas Williams is a half-brother to our 2x great grandfather Isaac Williams. That makes him our half great great uncle (?) or something like that. As you can see Thomas fought with Co. B 129th OVI and Co. D 161st OVI. I know very little about him. I really need to spend some research time on Thomas and get back to researching Phillip Lowe too!


Hidden Soldier Julius Curtiss

Then we found this hidden soldier resting peacefully among this greenery. We set his GAR marker upright and added a flag.

Julius Curtiss

I’m glad we were able to mark the grave of Corporal Julius Curtiss of the 151st OVI on this Memorial Day.

My sister and I went to four cemeteries on Saturday and walked every inch of three of them. You know how happy that makes a genealogist! It was a beautiful day and we were so glad we could honor a lot of Civil War veterans. Did you write a blog post honoring one of your Civil War veterans? Why don’t you put the link to your post in the comments. I’d really like to read about your veteran ancestor.

Civil War Saturday – He Enlisted with Men Half His Age

Civil War Reenactors  Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Civil War Reenactors
Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Some people are born to make a mark on the world they live in. They reach down deep within to draw on courage, endurance and stamina. With those qualities they leave their imprint on the world around them. Michael Leatherman is one of those people. He lived a life of adventure and some adversity while contributing greatly to his surroundings.

Michael’s story starts on January 16, 1799 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Michael Sr. and Catherine Palmer Leatherman and one of their eleven children. Early on Michael’s teacher and parents realized how intelligent he was. He easily mastered every subject he studied in school. Even though education was not stressed in a young man’s life, Michael’s teacher provided him with plenty of material to continue learning. Michael devoured whatever books he could find and was especially fond of great works of literature. His self education was so extensive Michael eventually took over as the area teacher and his knowledge was known by all well beyond the county.

Yet Michael loved farming and longed to get back to that heritage. His parents owned farmland but of course with so many children there wasn’t enough land to distribute to them all. Michael saved his hard earned salary to purchase his own land yet it wasn’t land near his parents that he had hopes of owning. He had his eye on western Ohio. The part of Ohio that was still an untouched area, heavily timbered and with few inhabitants.

On December 25, 1820 Michael married Hannah Ohler in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He and Hannah had quite a number of children themselves, raising a family of ten. Even while welcoming many new additions Michael pocketed enough money to secure his land in Allen County, Ohio and the provisions he’d need for his family.

He moved Hannah and the brood to Jackson township in Allen County and began the work of hewing out a life on their farm. In fact the area the Leatherman clan moved to was so densely populated with trees Michael had to cut a road to his own property on their arrival.

Once settled in Ohio, Michael was well respected in the area for his superior education and hard work. Many of his peers felt he was just the man needed in their fledgling government. So Michael accepted the call and was voted in as a township trustee. His next position was serving as Justice of the Peace. Then for 12 years he served as joint surveyor for both Allen and Auglaize counties. All through this time Leatherman continued farming, adding to his holdings and was managing a bustling 400 acre farm.

Perhaps the highlight of Michael’s political career came next when he was elected the state representative from Allen County and served a term in Ohio’s government. Yet he wasn’t done. Leatherman spent six more years as a probate judge in Allen County.

Continue reading

Civil War Quick Tip – Researching Your Arkansas Civil War Veteran

FBGenCircleLogo1Are you searching for your Arkansas Civil War veteran? Check out:

They have a great military section including Civil War Pensions, Military Records and information for other wars. It’s a good resource to check out.

Keep researching your Civil War ancestor!




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

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