Genealogy Circle - Genealogy, Family History, Research Civil War Sun, 16 Aug 2015 09:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Would You Help Me With A New Project Here On Genealogy Circle? Sun, 16 Aug 2015 09:00:31 +0000

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Will you help me with something new at Genealogy Circle? Sat, 15 Aug 2015 09:00:16 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Civil War, 4th OVC, Jacob Seib, genealogy research

Civil War Reenactors – Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Hey friends! Time for another Civil War Saturday! Usually you’ll find a post here about a particular event during the Civil War or the life of a soldier on Civil War Saturday. You’ve learned about men who fought with the 81st Pennsylvania, the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and the 42nd Virginia Infantry.

You know I feel very strongly about that. I think we need to share the lives of veteran Civil War soldiers. As the years creep by and the Civil War becomes “ancient history” our veteran ancestors’ stories get lost. They’re not handed down through the generations like they once were.

Let’s remedy that together! I would like to post the story of your Civil War ancestor here on Genealogy Circle. Every couple of Saturdays I’ll publish the story of Civil War veterans, Confederate or Union. I’ll need you to write up an article about the life of your veteran ancestor. It can be 300, 400, 500 words and if you have photos to include, all the better!

In this way your ancestor will have another chance to be remembered. That’s my ultimate goal to honor their memory but who knows what distant cousin may contact you because they recognize the name of their Civil War ancestor in a post on Civil War Saturday.

We’ll also get the chance, I hope, to read the stories about men who may have served in the same company, regiment or brigade our ancestor served in. I myself would dearly love to connect with the descendent of a soldier who fought with Co. A 81st Pennsylvania. That’s the regiment my great great grandfather served with.

So please send me your Civil War veteran’s story. You can email me at cindy at genealogy circle dot com or look me up on Facebook at Genealogy Circle. I’m also on Twitter @GenealogyCircle and on Google+ just look up Cindy Freed to contact me.

Let’s tell the stories of our Civil War ancestors. Let’s remember them, honor them and maybe learn about some of the men they served with.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you! Please contact me today!

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I asked a question at the end of yesterday’s post . . . . Thu, 13 Aug 2015 09:00:45 +0000 Continue reading ]]> George & Mary Ellen Williams Marshall Farm

George & Mary Ellen Williams Marshall on their Farm

Did you read my post yesterday, I see the soldiers – do you? If not I’d really appreciate it if you would take a minute to read it. That way today’s post will make more sense. Just scroll down to the previous post or click here.

OK now that you’ve read it and you’re back, let me tell you what I was thinking. After realizing that I do see the Civil War soldiers when I visit different battlefields I realized it’s only a very short step to our own family research.

As genealogists or family historians we see, we feel, we experience our ancestors. That’s why we research them, because we can “see” our ancestors. It’s incredibly similar to seeing the soldiers. Not only do we see our family members with our mind’s eye, we want to know more about them and their lives. They aren’t just names and dates, they were living, loving, imperfect people who passed across the face of this earth. It’s their lives that resulted in our own.

Because we are the ones who see our ancestors we know we are charged with the task of making sure they are not forgotten to history. We’re the ones whose job it is to learn and tell their story, to preserve their memory for future generations.

Because of this insight we’ve been given the responsibility of remembering our ancestors, researching them and writing about their lives and experiences. Actually it’s pretty exciting that we are given that mission.

So to all of us who spend time in city directories, researching obscure occupations, staring endlessly at photos and federal censuses, then writing about those finds – keep on! Persevere! You’re doing a great job researching your family and they are pleased.

I asked a question at the end of yesterday’s post but I know I don’t have to ask today. I already know, “You see your ancestors.”

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I see the soldiers, do you? Wed, 12 Aug 2015 16:15:52 +0000 Continue reading ]]> DUVCW Ohio Dept Convention - Sally in center

DUVCW Ohio Dept Convention – Sally in center

Many of you know that I belong to the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 (DUVCW). Our members are direct descendants of honorably discharged Union soldiers. Our goal is to “keep green the memory” of our Civil War ancestors.

Now I’ve been a member of the DUVCW for 18 years. I’ve been fairly active in my local group, called a tent, for the last 10 years.

All tents in our state meet yearly for a State or Department convention. The Ohio Dept. convention this year was lucky enough to have the DUVCW National Senior Vice President join us. Sally, was a lot of fun and we enjoyed her participation in the convention.

I had the good fortune to speak with Sally several times over the three day convention. Sally is a former history teacher and very knowledgeable about the Civil War.

One of our conversations will forever be etched in my mind. Sally had heard me give a brief description about my book, Ancestors in a Nation Divided, to the members. I credited a visit to Gettysburg as the turning point in my life when I became committed to Civil War research. Specifically I talked about standing on Seminary Ridge and actually feeling the devotion to “the cause” that brought those soldiers there.

When Sally and I talked later she said she understood how I felt that day seven years ago in Gettysburg. Her father was a Civil War buff and when she was a child he took the family on many vacations to different battlefields. On every visit her dad would gaze out across the battlefield and say to her, “Sally can you see the soldiers?”

Of course at the time she was too young and didn’t understand what he was saying. But she looked me in the eye that day and said, “I see them today and I know you do too.”

Her comment nearly brought tears to my eyes. I see the soldiers. I see them when I go to Gettysburg, Chickamauga or follow my great great grandfather’s footsteps across Virginia just like his regiment did as they pursued Lee the final week of the war.

I see the smoky haze from continual artillery fire. I can feel the soldiers, their loyalty to their flag and their determination to fight for it. I do see the soldiers.

Something clicked with me during Sally’s comment as I realized that I see the soldiers. It sounds silly but the light bulb went off in my head. I knew right then I’m supposed to remember these soldiers and tell their story. My job is to make sure they are not lost to the pages of history.

So recharged and energized I want to remember our Civil War ancestors, research them, write about their lives and experiences and never forget that we stand on their shoulders today. I’m working on some ideas to do just that. I’m hoping that maybe you’ll give me a hand. Until then . . . .

I see the soldiers, do you?


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Today on Civil War Saturday: This soldier fought in major battles and experienced war’s greatest tragedies Sat, 08 Aug 2015 09:00:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Today I have a guest family historian, Norman Pugh, sharing the story of his Civil War ancestor. I know you’ll enjoy reading about this Civil War veteran as we remember him on Civil War Saturday.


Charles and Harriet Franklin. Charles fought with Co C 42nd Virginia CSA

Charles and Harriet Franklin. Charles fought with Co C 42nd Virginia CSA

If you would allow me a minute of your time, I would like to tell you about a Civil War hero. My great great grand father Mr. Charles Robert Franklin was born 7-6-1841 into a family of eight. He was the third child of a family of farmers who lived in Lisbon (now Bedford) Virginia.

Charles decided to enlist in the CSA on 5-18-1861 with his older brother Henry Thomas who was 24 years old at the time. Charles was 20. They were in the Buford Grays company, and were members of Company C, 42nd Virginia Infantry. When the CSA organized the 42nd, they took men from the counties of Bedford, Campbell, Floyd, Roanoke, Patrick, and Franklin. The field officers were Colonels Jessie S. Burks, Andrew J. Deyerle, John E. Peen, and R.W. Withers. There were around 1,000 men who enlisted to fight in the war for money to raise there families or just for what they thought was the right thing to do. There were 10 companies and they were in many battles including First Kernstown, Cold Harbor, Seven Days Battle, Appomattox, Second Manassas, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Antietam along with other small battles.

On 1-15-1863 in a small battle on Payne’s farm in Virginia, Charles watched his brother Henry, hit and killed when a shell hit a wooden fence and sent splinters flying everywhere. Charles buried Henry there that day, about 10 months later Henry’s body was exhumed by Charles and other family members and taken back home where he rests today in Bedford.


Henry Thomas Franklin

Pvt Henry Thomas Franklin – Co C 42 Virginia Infantry

I have found records where Charles was wounded three times including the lose of his left thumb that was shot off at Antietam. He was shot in the right shoulder at Gettysburg, and wounded at Chancellorsville. We also found records where he suffered from chronic rheumatism his whole life. He was captured in Spotsylvania by the Union army on 5-12-1864 and sent to Elmira NY as a pow. This pow camp was one of the worst and had the highest death rate (one in four died) from starvation, bad weather, or some other hellish thing. At some point Charles was later liberated, used in a prisoner exchange. He then returned home to Bedford where he was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor.


Charles and Harriet Franklin. Charles wearing his Southern Cross.

Charles and Harriet Franklin. Charles wearing his Southern Cross.

After the war he married a cousin named Harriet Anna Franklin. They lived on the mountain all their long life. They had 10 children, two died at an early age. These two were buried on the mountain. The Franklins owned around 200 acres of timber, of which they cleared 4 or 5 acres and built a home to raise their children, and grow food to live from. This I’m sure was a very laborious feat, with all the rock and tree stumps to be removed by hand. I believe the land was payment for his service in the war. The old home place still stands proud up there today.
When Charles got home he filed for disability and got it, because he could not use an axe properly to chop wood. This says a lot about my great great grandmother because she had to take up what Charles could not do.

He lived on the farm in Bedford until he died on 8-3-1910 from heart dropsy. He is resting beside his wife and brother Henry and other family on top of the mountain. Just two years ago I had new marble head stones placed beside the original stones. To honor my heroes in the Franklin line.


Pvt Charles Franklin final resting place

Pvt Charles Robert Franklin’s final resting place

Even with all that was put on him in the war and after, I look at Charles as a very hard, sturdy man and a giant in my eyes. Even though he was a small man physically, the heart and soul of this man was something that is not found much today. I would like to thank my cousins Rodney Franklin and Teresa Shiflett who helped me a whole lot with researching our family. May God forgive all who have died in wars. THANK YOU NORMAN L. PUGH


Thank you Norman for sharing your Civil War ancestor and his life here on Civil War Saturday. Charles Franklin fought in many of the war’s major battles, buried his brother on the battlefield and endured life in a prison camp. May we always remember these men and their stories.

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Heroic Civil War Veteran and Post War Scoundrel Sat, 01 Aug 2015 09:00:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Jefferson Hill is an interesting Civil War veteran. He was a member of the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC) with a life that was anything but average. Jefferson was born in November 1838 in Maineville, Warren County, Ohio to John and Anna Hill. He came from a large family being one of seven children. Jefferson grew up farming and gave that as his occupation when he enlisted with the 4th OVC.

By the summer of 1858, a few months shy of 20 years old, Jefferson married Abigail Eliza Carr on August 30th in Clermont County, Ohio. It’s interesting to note that Abigail was six years and in some records even eight years older than Jefferson. They had been married five years and had two children when Hill enlisted with the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

He served with Co. I, had an enlistment date of December 17, 1863 and was to serve for a three year period. It was recorded that Jefferson had brown hair, hazel eyes and a clear complexion. Like all enlisted men he started out as a private but rose to the rank of corporal less than a year later on November 1, 1864.

Like his fellow cavalrymen, Hill experienced some ferocious fighting and participated in several other minor skirmishes. He saw the hard fought Atlanta Campaign to lesser known Sandtown and also Wilson’s Raid. While the 4th was engaged in a monumental battle against Nathan Bedford Forest and Confederate forces at Selma, Alabama Jefferson Hill was wounded. April 2, 1865, the day he was injured changed his life forever. Shot in the upper right back, the minne ball tore through into his right shoulder. This grueling injury plagued him for life. He would spend the rest of his enlistment in the hospital and was eventually discharged August 15, 1865 in Cincinnati.

Jefferson found it very difficult to work after the war. He suffered a great deal of pain and experienced a lack of arm movement and even arm use from this war injury and filed for a pension.

The physician who examined Hill in June 1886 as he applied for his pension noted, “. . . as result of the wound . . . is atrophy of right arm” also “right arm cannot be extended in the low horizontal way in any direction. Grasping powers of right hand is very weak.”

When Jefferson was examined again in June 1891 for his pension the doctor wrote . . . “right arm wound had atrophy . . . shoulder is very much stiffened and painful in motion . . . arm can be elevated only to right eye. The other motions are limited or dim.”

Hill was granted a pension for his Civil War injury and presumably lived off of that pension for the rest of his life. A notation on a public family tree on said Hill was not able to work again after the war.

Even though Jefferson was not able to join the workforce once back home he didn’t lack in social activity. He seemed to have a lively love life.

Another public family tree on has this note – “Hill was running around on (his first) wife and joined the army to escape the consequences. He never returned. There was no divorce, so his subsequent marriages were not legal in the strict sense.”

Those marriages mentioned in that note:

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census Jefferson is married to Elmira and has two children.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census Hill is married to Mary and has four children.

It would be very interesting to see who Jefferson was married to in the 1890 U.S. Federal Census if it were available.

There are no divorce records for any of the marriages of Jefferson Hill. Presumably Jefferson fathered at least eight children with three different women. The Sharonville Historical Society notes a fourth wife listed in Hill’s pension file.

Jefferson Hill's original headstone

Jefferson Hill’s original headstone

Jefferson Hill's incorrect headstone

Jefferson Hill’s incorrect headstone

The extent of Hill’s love life was fully revealed after his death. At least a couple of his wives filed for a widow’s pension after his demise. The pension office had a heck of a time sorting out this marital mess. But without any divorce records Hill’s first wife Eliza was recognized as his widow and granted a widow’s pension. The rest of his marriages were null and the children from those marriages were considered illegitimate.

Jefferson Hill died January 13, 1899. He is buried in Coleman Presbyterian Cemetery, Sharonville Ohio.

Ironically Jefferson Hill’s controversial lifestyle didn’t end with his death. A typical white marble Union military headstone was placed on his grave but it had become worn and deteriorated over the years. A Boy Scout project aimed at getting him a new headstone somehow went wrong. Instead of getting a new Union headstone Hill ended up with a pointed obviously Confederate headstone. The Sharonville Ohio Historical society is working on remedying this error.

Certainly Frank Sinatra could have been singing about Jefferson Hill when he crooned. “I did it my way.”

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Sultana: An Unimaginable Tragedy Claimed as many Casualties as any Battle Sat, 25 Jul 2015 09:00:19 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Photograph shows the overloaded steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River the day before her boilers exploded and she sank on April 27th. No known restrictions on publication. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Photograph shows the overloaded steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River the day before her boilers exploded and she sank on April 27th. No known restrictions on publication. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

By April 1865 citizens had grown accustomed to big news events but this month was filled with even more outstanding headlines than usual.

On April 9th, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, signaling the first step in the end of the Civil War.

Shocking the nation, President Abraham Lincoln was shot April 14th and died April 15th from the assassin’s bullet. His murderer John Wilkes Booth was shot and killed on April 26th.

April 27th saw Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrender his army to Gen. William T. Sherman and his Union troops in North Carolina. Yet buried in the backs of most newspapers would be one of the single most tragic events of the Civil War. The explosion of the riverboat Sultana.

For a little background, the Sultana was built in Cincinnati in 1863. She ran in the most southern part of the Mississippi River, used mainly for transporting cotton but she was also known to carry U.S. Army officers and soldiers between ports along the river.

On April 21, 1865 the Sultana was docked in New Orleans. She was being loaded with sugar and livestock. There were a few passengers boarded in the 100 cabins of the steamer. By law the Sultana could carry 376 persons which included the crew. Leaving New Orleans on April 24th the Sultana headed for Vicksburg, Mississippi which was a regular stop on her route. While docked in Vicksburg the ship’s captain discovered the Sultana’s boilers were leaking. The repair normally should have taken three to four days yet was completed in a single day. The rush to finish the repair was easy to figure out. In a single word – money.

Ship lines were paid five dollars a head by the government to transport Union soldiers back north. The men about to aboard the Sultana we’re headed to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio where they would be mustered out of the army. If the Sultana stayed in dock a couple extra days soldiers anxious to make the trip home would find other ships to make the journey. The repair crew rushed to fix the Sultana’s boilers to get the ship back en route and not lose out on this easy cash.

It’s estimated that 2,300 people were aboard the Sultana when it left Vicksburg. This was six times the number of people it was supposed to carry. In fact crew members had to bolster the second floor deck to keep it from caving in from the weight of so many people.

Recently released Union prisoners of war comprised most of the passengers. Liberated from Cahaba, Alabama and Andersonville, Georgia prisons they were being housed at Union Camp Fisk outside of Vicksburg. From there they would board ships heading north on the Mississippi River. Finally these POWs, recently released from their hellish prison experience would be headed home. After enduring so much in prison camps, being overcrowded on a steamer going home didn’t seem so bad. Many of the men were weakened, ill and in such bad shape their only thought was to get home.

The exact number of soldiers on the Sultana was never known. The ship was so crammed with passengers that it was decided not to make out muster rolls in advance. Roll would be taken once the ship was underway.

Once the Sultana left Vicksburg she made her way north on the Mississippi River, stopping at several smaller ports unloading cargo. The river was high for this time of year with a fast moving current. There had been a lot of rain recently. The steamer, with the extraordinary number of passengers strained to get through the churning waters.

It was late afternoon on April 26th when the Sultana docked at Memphis. Here some of the soldiers, went ashore to get off the overcrowded ship and do some sightseeing. The recently repaired boilers started leaking again and were quickly patched once more so the steamer could get underway. Some of the soldiers who got off the ship did not get back in time and missed boarding the Sultana as it pulled out of Memphis around 7 pm. These men would soon learn that being late probably saved their lives.

It was about 2 am April 27, 1865. The Sultana was just a few miles north of Memphis, straining against the powerful river currents with hastily repaired boilers when the unthinkable happened. The boilers, stretched to their limit, with the extra weight and churning waters, burst. With unbelievable force the explosion, escaping steam and fire tore the mid section out of the ship. The blast was so loud and flames shot so high in the sky it was seen and heard back in Memphis.


First appeared in the magazine Harpers Weekly, May 20, 1865.

Sultana in flames – First appeared in the Harpers Weekly magazine, May 20, 1865.

Soldiers, presumably sleeping at that early morning hour, were blasted into the air, then plummeted into the cold April waters of the Mississippi. Some were scalded by the boilers hot steam, others burned by fiery debris. Still others clung to the ship’s remnants or were trapped aboard as the disaster continued to unfold. They too were forced to jump into the river as fire consumed the part of ship they clung to. The Mississippi was littered with the bobbing heads of passengers as they desperately tried to stay afloat. These soldiers were weak from their POW experience. The effort it took to swim, if they knew how or to hang on to whatever they could find floating was too much for most. Battered, burned and scalded they slipped beneath the water’s surface drowning in the Mississippi River. Tragically they were only a few days from reaching home.

By morning, ships of all sizes had arrived at the scene from Memphis, pulling survivors from the river and picking up those who made it to shore. It was estimated that somewhere between 500 and 600 men were taken to Memphis hospitals. About 200 of those survivors died soon afterward either from their injuries, exposure or their weakened condition. It really isn’t known how many people died in the explosion since their wasn’t an accurate list of passengers but it’s generally accepted 1,700 perished although some published accounts put the number at 1,800. To put this horrible incident into perspective 1,754 Union soldiers died at Shiloh.

The Sultana, alarmingly overcrowded with passengers, struggling against unusually high waters, with hastily repaired boilers, exploded and caught fire in the worst maritime tragedy of our country’s history. More passengers died in the Sultana explosion than the sinking of the Titanic. Making it even more heartbreaking is the fact that most of the dead were Union prisoners of war. Men who had survived Andersonville and Cahaba prisons and were finally headed home to their families. May they always be remembered and rest in peace.

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The Battle of Gettysburg, the 20th Maine and George Washington Sat, 04 Jul 2015 09:00:43 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 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.

George Washington

George Washington
Photo: Library of Congress

As we all know the Union troops barely reached their location on Little Round Top when the Confederate surge commenced. They too had seen the vulnerability of the Union’s line and were ready to exploit it. Led by the 15th Alabama, wave after wave of men charged up the side of the mountain. With the wailing shouts of the rebel yell proceeding them and the intensity of impending battle, the fighting began. Through stalwart determination Chamberlain and the 20th Maine withstood the continuous Confederate onslaught. The fighting was so heavy both sides used every bit of energy and stamina the men could muster. Ammunition ran short and whatever could be garnered from fallen comrades was quickly accessed. As the prolonged battle continued even that ammo was quickly depleted.

After nearly an hour of intensely fierce fighting the 20th Maine had lost almost half their men. They had used up their munitions and faced what looked like a fresh rebel force readying to mount yet another charge up the hill. Chamberlain and his men braced for what looked to be certain defeat and most assuredly imminent capture or depth.

Assessing the gravity of the situation and knowing the results if he and his men faltered, Joshua Chamberlain ordered his men to fix bayonets. Without ammunition, without reinforcements, staring death in the eye, these Union troops would choose their path. Relying on sheer bravery they would charge the enemy. They would go down fighting with bayonets in hand. They would not let their country down.

As the Union forces moved as one, yelling, holding bayonets high in the air, sweeping like an open gate toward their enemy, the 20th Maine made their last stand. Confederate troops watched the oncoming Union combatants with shock. Surely this animated, energized attack was fresh reinforcements. The beleaguered Confederates knew they could not beat them. Surprisingly their response was to drop their guns in surrender. They gave up in the face of the revived but doggedly tired, Union troops. Later it was said the Confederate soldiers thought the energy brought by the men of the 20th Maine meant reinforcements were brought in. Others gave a different reason.

Many soldiers of the 20th Maine recounted that at the most critical point of their charge the rider they had seen earlier appeared again. The eerie figure of a man dressed in clothes of the past with his tri-cornered hat on his white horse. The rider inspired the men giving them courage and hope. He rallied the Union troops to stand strong and withstand this final attack.

Rebel soldiers gave a similar account of the ghostly rider and horse. Dressed in blue they assumed him some sort of Federal field commander. Many aimed their rifles directly at this figure but he seemed unfazed by the flying bullets which reinforced their view of fresh Federal troops.

Again soldiers agreed this mysterious man who simply appeared out of nowhere resembled George Washington. How is it this figure showed up at the very moment the men of the Maine were at their lowest point? Could it be as some suggested that the “father of our country” returned to save the nation he had fought so hard to establish?

Whether this figure, this apparition, was seen or the result of incredible stress, the talk of George Washington on the battlefield at Gettysburg made it’s way back to Washington. The rumors were so rampant Secretary of War Stanton could not ignore them. He appointed one of his staffers, Col. Pittenger to seek out men who were present that day and interview them.

Pittenger spoke with a number of men who participated in the events of July 2, 1863, that hot summer day in Gettysburg. It’s said he gathered mounds of unwavering testimony to General Washington’s appearance and ultimate help to the Federal troops. When asked about these events during the investigation Joshua Chamberlain answered , “We know not what mystic power may be possessed by those who are now bivouacking with the dead. I only know the effect, but I dare not explain or deny the cause. Who shall say that Washington was not among the number of those who aided the country that he founded?” Interesting that Chamberlain did not deny the claim of Washington’s presence that day on Little Round Top.

Even more interesting is the fact these findings were never revealed by Secretary Stanton and the only published accounts of the battle were the officers reports which excluded any supernatural advantage.

We’ll never know whether George Washington took it upon himself to help save the nation he labored to build through the hard won fighting of the American Revolution. Yet it is a curious fact that this legend was so wide spread and well known in that time that the Secretary of War felt it needed investigated. It’s also notable that history has looked at the battle of Gettysburg as the turning point of the war. It was the win that eventually secured Union victory in the Civil War. It’s also interesting to note that in recent years the most vital Union win at Gettysburg has been considered the 20th Maine’s holding of Little Round Top. So maybe, just maybe a little help from the nation’s founding father isn’t so far fetched. Maybe . . . .

*Previously published in the 4th Ohio! First Call! The magazine of the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Descendants Association.*
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Crafting Genealogy: Family Photo Blocks Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:39:56 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Family Photo BlocksWelcome back to Crafting Genealogy! This time around we’re going to make some Family Photo Blocks. This project is really easy, inexpensive and can be done in just an hour or so.

Let’s gather our supplies and get started. You’ll need:

Children’s blocks or pieces of wood


Acrylic paint/small craft paint brushes


Copies of family photos

Modge Podge

Gathering our supplies

My husband bought the children’s blocks I used. He loves to bargain hunt and stops at garage sales, yard sales, etc. So he bought some older blocks at one of the sales he stopped at. As you can see it was a few blocks, not a complete set, so I was limited in some of my options. I was able to pick out the words “Our Family” and spelled that out with the blocks. I used the rest of the blocks to add my photos.

You could also use some scraps of wood instead of children’s blocks. If you have a spare 2×4 or 2×6 you could cut them into small blocks for this project.

Rough them up with a little sanding

First off I grabbed a piece of sandpaper and sanded the corners to make sure they had a worn, distressed look. I like most of my craft projects to look like they’re old and vintage. I wiped the blocks off with a cloth after sanding to make sure there wasn’t any dust clinging to them for the next step.

Family Photo Blocks

Painting. I decided to use a two step method to paint the blocks. I’m only painting a side or two on each of my spare blocks. First I put a base coat of gray on the side of the blocks where I’m adding the photos. I used gray because that was the color I had on hand. You could use any color or none at all. When the gray paint dried I put some Vaseline on the edges of the blocks. Some blocks had a little more Vaseline than others and you’ll be able to see that in the finished product.

The Vaseline keeps the second coat of paint from sticking to the previous coat. So with the Vaseline applied I put the yellow topcoat of paint over both layers. Once this top coat dried completely I used fine sandpaper on the corners of the yellow painted sides to reveal some of the gray underneath giving the blocks a distressed look. If I sanded off too much yellow I went back and painted over that area.

Since my blocks were small I used very small photos. I picked a few out of my stash of copied family photos. With the wet adhesive used in this project you’ll need prints from a laser printer or printed professionally from Walgreens or WalMart. Ink jet photo copies will smear with this adhesive. I love using my vintage family pics but current photos work just as well. Once I chose my pics I cut them down to fit the blocks.

Using the Modge Podge I put a light coat of adhesive on the painted side of a block. I let it sit for just a moment to dry to a tacky state. Then I added a light coat of Modge Podge to the back of the photo. Now I pressed the photo on the block. I tapped the photo with the end of my paint brush to make sure the edges of the pic were pressed down. Finally I added a light coat of Modge Podge over the block and pic to seal it. I let the Modge Podge dry completely and then I arranged my finished blocks.

Family Photo Blocks

I completed my Family Photo Blocks in just a couple of hours and used supplies I already had on hand. I think the next batch I make I’ll use scrap wood pieces cut a little larger. Although I really like my finished project here, larger blocks will allow me to use larger photos and I’ll also be able to use any color scheme I’d like. Either way these Family Photo Blocks are a fun, easy project and would be great to do with the kids and grandkids. Enjoy Crafting Genealogy!!

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Civil War Quick Tip: Take a look at the FamilySearch Memorial Day post Thu, 28 May 2015 09:00:01 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Memorial Day CrossesI hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. and that you got the chance to honor our fallen soldiers either in a moment of silent tribute or by visiting a cemetery.

Memorial Day is a holiday that has its roots in the Civil War. It was originally known as “Decoration Day” and folks both north and south set aside a specific spring day to pay tribute to their fallen veterans by decorating their graves. did a neat blog post on May 22nd. They asked family historians to share stories of their favorite Civil War ancestor. I was honored to be among the four and wrote a short piece about my own Civil War ancestor. You can find that post here.

Along with some really moving stories about Civil War soldiers, FamilySearch gives several suggestions for Civil War research in their vast databases. You’re sure to find a tip, a record set, or a new search idea that will help you find more on your Civil War ancestors.

So please take a look at the FamilySearch post, “Family Historians Share Stories of Their Favorite Civil War Ancestors” and maybe leave a comment about your favorite or most interesting Civil War ancestor either on their blog or right here in my comments. I’d love to read about your own favorite or interesting Civil War ancestor.

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