Civil War Saturday – It’s been 150 years

Sometimes the present takes precedence over the past and that’s what happened with this blog post. I intended to write and publish it last Saturday July 19th but my daughter had an out of town, three-day volleyball tournament. We made some fun family memories and a little family history of our own last weekend and this post easily waited one more week. Here’s what I had planned for last Saturday . . .

You know how we love to mark monumental events in our family’s lives like turning 21 or celebrating 50th birthdays and wedding anniversaries? It’s ingrained in our culture to recognize such events. I’m adding one more to my own list of family birthdays and anniversaries. In fact I’m going to honor it for the next year! It’s the 150th anniversary of my great-great grandfather’s involvement in the Civil War.

On July 19, 1864 – 150 years ago my great-great grandfather George W. Lowery was drafted and mustered in to serve with the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry. He reported to Chambersburg, which is Franklin County’s seat and incidently had been burned a year earlier by Confederate forces.

George was a 37 year old man with six children. A laborer, standing 5’9” tall with dark hair and gray eyes, his description fit most men of the era. His enlistment was for three years.

By September 5, 1864 George was at Camp Biddle in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Camp Biddle was a piece of land northeast of the army post at Carlisle where Civil War draftees and substitutes received their military training. Camp Biddle had recently opened in April 1864 just a few months before George ended up there.

As I remember the Civil War events in George’s life I know questions will pop up. Like Camp Biddle. I’d overlooked that in the past. Now I’m interested in where and what it was. How long was George there and so on.

You can come along with me on this journey. Where was your Civil War ancestor 150 years ago? Sometimes being very specific helps us narrow our research and produce better results. Less distractions. Researching one single topic like Camp Biddle is not as overwhelming as researching the life and times of my Civil War ancestor! Break his service down into manageable pieces and I bet you’ll accomplish more than you imagined.

So whether you research along with me or check in to see what George was doing 150 years ago I hope this helps you take another look at researching your Civil War ancestor.

(1) George W. Lowery, Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldier Who Served in Organizations From the State of Pennsylvania compiled 1899-1927, documenting the period 1861-1866, publication no. M554 (Washington: National Archives), fiche 0073.

If It Weren’t For Bad Luck . . . Three Times a Prisoner

The events Theodore Lindsey, a private with Co. H 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, experienced during the Civil War are worthy of a movie script. Filled with drama and danger Ted participated in some harrowing episodes during the war but before we get to those let’s set the stage.

Born in Franklin County November 1, 1844, Ted was the middle of five children born to Wilson and Rebecca Lindsey. He had a brother and a sister older than him and two sisters younger. The family lived in Franklin County for a few years then moved to Cambridge, Ohio for a few more but by 1855 they traveled across the state and settled into a new life in Dayton.

Once in Dayton Ted put the farmer’s life behind him and worked for the Dayton Journal learning a new trade as a printer. This new vocation was short-lived. The Confederate firing on Ft. Sumter and the secession of the southern states from the Union hurtled the United States into a war against itself.

Civil War research, genealogy, Regular army

Photo credit: the swedish from sxc.com

Along with many of his friends Ted answered President Lincoln’s call for troops and enlisted with the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry on September 11, 1861 serving with Co. H. The chance to serve his country and his president was uppermost in his mind. His new occupation would have to wait. He was needed to protect and preserve the Union. Quite a mature decision to make since Ted was only 17 years old.

With the strength of youth behind him Ted went off to war. If the viciousness of battle wasn’t enough for a soldier there was always the fear of being taken prisoner as Ted soon experienced. In September of 1862 he was taken prisoner near Huntsville, Alabama and sent to a Confederate prison in Macon Georgia known as Camp Oglethorpe. There Ted remained for six to eight weeks before being moved to Libby prison in Richmond. He spent three to four weeks at Libby. Early enough in the war to be part of a prisoner exchange, Ted was finally released and able to rejoin the 4th in Nashville.

He participated in the grueling and deadly three day struggle at Stone’s River from December 31, 1862 until January 3, 1863. He witnessed the carnage and death of his comrades that totaled more than 1,600 Union soldiers. Bloody and battered the Army of the Cumberland did prevail.

Ted was also involved in the horrendous fighting at Chickamauga in mid September 1863. With a Confederate victory the Union troops were beaten in a hellish battle and the highest number of casualties in the Western theater were recorded there at Chickamauga. Continue reading

He Couldn’t Stay Away – A Civil War Soldier’s Story

Honoring 4th OVC members George S and James R Van Meter

Honoring 4th OVC members George S and James R Van Meter

Do you remember a post I did a little while back called Checking a Goal Off My To-Do List? I was researching a Civil War soldier who’s surname was one of my family lines. Not only did I fill in the blanks on the soldier I was researching (James Vanmeter) I found he had a brother who also served in the Civil War. George Vanmeter’s story is even more compelling than James!

George S. Vanmeter born in 1841 was the third of seven children of parents John and Rachel Stevenson Vanmeter. John and Rachel had deep roots in Putnam County, Ohio. Both were born there, they married there and started their family there nestled in a prosperous farming community.

Certainly George’s closest friend and playmate growing up was his brother James. Only 22 months younger, James and George were close. Their reliance on each other was strengthened when the family left their home, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins to live in Lucas County, Ohio. Quite a distance from their relatives and friends the family farmed in their new location. The close ties to each other that would develop in Lucas County came to a screeching halt when John the family patriarch died in 1851.

George was only 10 years old when his father died. Along with his siblings he brought his father’s body back to Putnam County to be buried. Laid to rest among family members John Vanmeter’s death rocked this family to its very core. Continue reading

Jump on board my time machine – I’m heading back!

GAR Personal War Sketches Mart Armstrong Post 202

GAR Personal War Sketches Mart Armstrong Post 202

Did you happen to catch the July issue of Going In-Depth? If not you’re missing out! It’s jammed full of genealogy help and information. Better yet it’s free every month!

You can take a look at it here. While you’re at it flip to page 19. That’s my article on the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). I learned so much researching that article. The little known resources I found locally on Civil War veterans is killer.

Today I’m following up on the Personal Sketches album I referred to in the article. Here’s one page of that fabulous book written in the veteran’s own hand! We get a glimpse into what the war was like for him. What events and people he’ll never forget. It’s his story.

**I did correct the spelling when transcribing this page hoping to make it easier to read. I didn’t change punctuation.**

W. Francis Maltbie
born December 24, 1836 in Centerville, Montgomery County, Ohio

I first entered the service April 20, 1861 at Lima, Ohio. Entered as a private Co. F 20th Regiment OVI and was a private at the close of the war. I was first discharged August 18, 1861 at Columbus Ohio by reason of expiration of term of service. Reenlisted on the 30 day of August 1861was transferred from Co. B 81st OVI to Co. D 81st OVI in December 1864 and was discharged July 13, 1865 Louisville, KY by reason of expiration of term of service.

Record of Service
My first battle was Pittsburg Landing, Tenn – 2nd Corinth Miss in May and June 1862 commonly -??- the Siege of Corinth. 3d battle was the battle at Corinth October 3 and 4th 1862 – 4th Resaca Ga 5th OstaNaula – 6th Lays (Fery) Ferry – 7th Rome Cross Roads. 8Th Dallas. 9Th Kenesaw Mountain. . . 10th Atlanta July 22nd to the 27th the Siege of Atlanta 11th Jonesborrow August 31st 1864. 12th Savannah – 13 Bentonville North Carolina

Record of escapes
I was slightly bruised from a spent shell at Corinth Miss Oct 3d 1862 and another time at the Siege of Atlanta Ga I never was in a hospital and was never taking prisoner

Intimate Comrades
Sumner T Mason, Gidion Ditto, J W Tellier, Thomas A Maltbie, G W Miller, J M Nantshurr, A Fulmer, G W Dirtson

Noted Events (Battle of Pittsburg Landing, Atlanta Campaign. Shermans March
of importance (to the Sea, and through the Carolinas, and Grand Review Washington

Maltbie took the time to record his Civil War service in his GAR post’s book. It was that important to him! Only about a quarter of the members did. Continue reading

My Top 5 Resources for Researching your Civil War ancestor – All Online and All Free

Civil War Reenactors

Civil War Reenactors

Whether you’ve been swept up in the recent 150th anniversary commemoration of Gettysburg or watched Kelly Clarkson’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? tracking down your Civil War ancestor and where he fought maybe something you’re interested in. If so here are some resources to get you started.

 

First check your family tree for men who were born between 1820 and 1843. That’s approximately the time frame of a Civil War soldier’s birth. Then check the 1860 census for the state in which he lived. My research hung up on that fact at first. I thought my ancestor fought with an Ohio regiment only to find the family was still living in Pennsylvania during the 1860′s and so he fought with the 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

 

Now armed with a name and place he was living check my top five suggestions to start your research.

 

Soldiers and Sailors Database
http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm
Provided by the National Park System this no cost resource has compiled 6.3 million names of soldiers and sailors, both Union and Confederate, their rank and the regiment they served. If you have the time to linger this site is filled with scads of information pertaining to the Civil War.

 

Regimental History – Now that you know the name of the regiment your ancestor served with research that regiment on your favorite search engine. You will find numerous resources from websites to blogs, to books that will detail the formation of the regiment, where they served, which battles they were involved in, their casualty numbers and where they mustered out. There were approximately 3,000 regiments, formed during the war, from both north and south. 2,000 of those regiments have a book written about their service. Some books you will find written by the soldiers after the war, many more by scholars who have studied a particular regiment. By learning your ancestor’s regiment’s history you’ll get the specifics of where and how he served. Continue reading