Genealogy Circle - Genealogy Family History Research Civil War http://www.genealogycircle.com Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:38:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Civil War Quick Tip – Union Draft Registration Records http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/24/civil-war-quick-tip-union-draft-registration-records/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/24/civil-war-quick-tip-union-draft-registration-records/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:38:35 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4157 Continue reading ]]> FBGenCircleLogo1Did you know the first military draft enacted in this country was during the Civil War? As the months turned into years it was clear the war would not be ending anytime soon. Add to that the drop off in Union enlistments presented President Lincoln with a big problem.

By mid-1863 the president instituted the very first draft. All men from 20 to 45 years old were eligible to be drafted. There were two classes of men:

Class I included men 20 to 35 years old and all unmarried men 36 to 45 years old.
Class II were married men 36 to 45 years old.

Men who fit the above categories had to go to their local Provost Marshal’s office to sign up.

Today known as the Civil War Draft Registration Records they can be researched at Ancestry. A thorough explanation of the records can be found at FamilySearch.

Consider these records as an “off year” census to use in documenting where your northern male ancestors were living during the Civil War. Not only will you get their place of residence, also their age, marital status, occupation and if he had already served there may be a notation about that.

Good Luck as you continue researching your Civil War ancestor.

 

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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.

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!

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People are talking about Ancestors In A Nation Divided! http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/22/people-are-talking-about-ancestors-in-a-nation-divided/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/22/people-are-talking-about-ancestors-in-a-nation-divided/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:51 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4151 Continue reading ]]> image

People are talking about Ancestors In A Nation Divided! Here’s what they’re saying!

I HIGHLY recommend this book for Civil War genealogy research! Ancestors In A Nation Divided . . . @geneabloggers

MUST READ: Ancestors In A Nation Divided – An In-Depth Guide To Civil War Research by Cindy Freed . . . @VHughesAuthor

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

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You know you want to – Subscribe to my site! http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/21/you-know-you-want-to-subscribe-to-my-site/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/21/you-know-you-want-to-subscribe-to-my-site/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4146 Continue reading ]]> GenCircleLogo12For some reason the “Subscribe to my site via email” link was disabled here on Genealogy Circle. I’m not sure how that happened BUT  it’s fixed now!

So if you’d like to receive my new posts by email, the sign up link is in the middle of the right side bar,  just below the Civil War Tips – it’s titled “Subscribe to my site via email

Thanks! I hope to be showing up in your inbox soon!

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Organizing My Genealogy Files . . . an update http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/20/organizing-my-genealogy-files-an-update/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/20/organizing-my-genealogy-files-an-update/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4153 Continue reading ]]>
Civil War blog reading

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Do you remember a few months back when I wrote a post about going digital with my genealogy files? I was attempting to set up a family history file on my laptop where I could keep scanned family photos and documents. I started this adventure at the beginning of this year. I thought I had a great plan but it hasn’t worked out as well as I thought it would.

My idea was to create one file on the desktop of my computer and name it My Family History. Then when I opened up that file I created another folder inside it and put my name on it. Next I opened up my file and added two files, one for each of my parents. When I open up the file with my dad’s name I add two files one for each of his parents. When I open up the file with my mom’s name I add two files one for each of her parents and so on. The example below helps to visualize what I’m saying.

Examples of files for Organizing Genealogy Records

When I click on the Me file it contains My Dad and My Mom files. When I click on My Dad file it contains Dad’s dad and Dad’s mom files. I’ve added to additional folders one for his pics and one for docs.

This system was like stair steps. If I wanted to check a photo in the file of my paternal great grandfather I had to open my own file to get to my dad’s file which led me to my grandfather and finally to my great grandfather. I had to open four files before I got to my great grandfather’s file and then click on his photo file. I found this to be really cumbersome. I realized I quit scanning pics and all my saved documents were being added to my To-Be Filed later folder. I was avoiding working on family files. My digital organization wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do.

I’ve done some more research on methods other genealogists use in the hope I’d find a better system. I’ve heard about a family historian who has three files. The first is her Family Tree Maker where she attaches a scanned document. The second is a “need to attach file” where she keeps her To-Do stuff or need to attach documents and her third file is her “research folder”. She keeps scans there that need more research before storing them or attaching them to another file permanently. All of her scans are tagged with lots of detail. When she’s looking for a file she just uses the search on her laptop. She’s not worried about using an organized system within her files, she just uses “Search” and finds the file she’s looking for.

I’ve also read where some genealogists have a birth certificate file, marriage license file, death certificate file, wills and so on. Again each scan is well labeled so when opening up the birth cert file the researcher just scrolls down to the appropriate file.

You know neither of these ideas clicked with me. I’m not criticizing them in any way but I’ve realized the filing system I use has to work with the way I think. If it doesn’t seem logical to me it just won’t work. I really liked the idea of my first attempt at organizing my family files. In theory it made lots of sense to me but turned out not to be very practical. I just didn’t use it.

So my new plan is to “unassemble” my stair step method of organizing my files. I am going to alphabetize my folders by surname. You know one file for the “A” surnames, one file for the “B” surnames, etc. When I click on the “A folder” I’ll have individual files for each ancestor with an “A” surname. All my female ancestors will be filed by their maiden name/married name. (That of course could change at a later date! Who knows as I try to refine my system!)

An ancestor will get their own file when I find pics or documents for them. (No empty folders) If I have a pic or document that applies to more than one person I will continue to link that document to the other files. That way I won’t have two or three copies of a pic on my hard drive, just one with a link to the other files.

One thing I do know I will continue labeling my files the same way. Surname_FirstNameMiddleInitial. For example: Nantz_FloraA.

I’ll bet this system is probably used by more family historians as a way to maintain the mountains of censuses, wills, pics and various other info accumulated during research. The best part is its simplicity. I may have been overthinking my system earlier. I don’t need some well thought out, complex organizational method. I just need a place on my laptop to store my scans and digital info on my ancestors. Then be able to easily find that info when needed.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned here is to set up my files in a way that works for me. My system has to be what I consider easy and convenient and one I’ll use.

How about you? Have you changed your digital organizing system for storing your family’s history? Please tell us how you’re going about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and welcome any and all tips! What works for you, or a variation of it, may work for someone else. We can all learn as we continue the never ending task of organizing our genealogy files.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Civil War Tool Box – Part 2 http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/18/civil-war-tool-box-part-2/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/18/civil-war-tool-box-part-2/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:00:53 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4093 Continue reading ]]> Tool BoxWe’ve all heard the term “Genealogist’s toolbox” or “Genealogist’s toolkit” in online posts and at workshops. Genealogists and family historians have come to know a “toolbox” as the resources available to them for their research. Examples from a genealogist’s toolkit can range from links to websites and databases, to books and repositories. Some may even include software and apps but usually all the tools are found online.

Last week we discussed Websites for Civil War research and learning. This week let’s dig a little deeper in my Civil War toolbox and see what’s there!

More Websites for Learning

The Civil War Homepage http://www.civil-war.net/ There’s so much Civil War information here it’ll make your head spin. I especially like the Official Records battle reports in the upper right corner. There’s only a few listed but I like reading through the general’s reports without wading through entire volumes of the Official Records. You can also scan their photo section, maps, letters and diaries and on and on.

Civil War Archive http://www.civilwararchive.com/ Another good site to for researching the history of Union and Confederate Regiments, there are soldier’s letters and diaries and battle reports. Again knowing what activities are going on around your ancestor helps in understanding their Civil War service.

Civil War Soldier Search http://www.civilwarsoldiersearch.com/
Lots of information packed in this website. Tips on researching Compiled Military Service Records, Pension Records, 1890 Special Census, photographs and so on.

Resources When Searching For Pension Records

National Archives Records Administration (NARA) http://www.archives.gov Obviously the place to go to when ordering a Union soldier’s pension record but there’s lots of helpful info and explanations.
Also when you’re on the NARA site take a look at their Prologue Magazine
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/ Many, many helpful articles there.
NARA State Archives list http://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/state-archives.html Individual state links for finding your Confederate soldier’s pension information.
Fold3 – Online Military Records http://www.fold3.com/ $$ Constantly adding records. I found a Union soldier’s pension file, all 64 pages of it here. All pension files are not yet available on the site but they do claim 436+ million U.S. military records.
Council of State Archivists http://www.statearchivists.org/states.htm Another list of southern state information when searching for your Confederate Civil War ancestor’s pensions.

A Soldier’s Post War Life

Grand Army of the Republic
Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/gar/ Complete list of GAR posts.

Sons of Union Veterans http://www.garrecords.org/ They are working to document the location of all GAR post’s records which include applications, minutes, etc.

Grand Army of the Republic Library and Museum http://garmuslib.org/

United Confederate Veterans

Sons of Confederate Veterans http://sonsofconfederateveterans.blogspot.com/2011/01/records-of-united-confederate-veterans.html A list of the locations of the United Confederate Veterans records.

Books

Ancestors In A Nation Divided

Ancestors In A Nation Divided by Cindy Freed (me!)

Available in paperback
Kindle
.PDF

Now let me do a small commercial here. My book will help you through the steps of researching your Civil War ancestor. Whether you’re starting from the beginning and only have a name – to an in-depth search of your veteran’s military and post-war life. This book will guide you step-by-step through the process. It’ll be a big help. I’m sure of it!

These next three sites have quite an array of digital Civil War titles free and available to read. I particularly like to research County Histories on these sites. Easy to read from home.

Google Books http://books.google.com/

World Cat https://www.worldcat.org/

Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/texts

Civil War Newspapers

Beside checking on the newspapers published in the locale your ancestor lived during the Civil War here’s a list of other era newspapers. This kind of reading certainly helps the researcher get a better grasp of Civil War life and thinking.

Virginia Tech American Civil War newspapers
https://dcr.emd.vt.edu/vital/access/manager/Index?site_name=American%20Civil%20War%20Newspapers

Penn State – Pennsylvania Civil War era Newspaper Collection
http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Default/Skins/civilwar/Client.asp?skin=civilwar&AppName=2&AW=1382378907961

Son of the South – Harper’s Weekly the newspaper during the Civil War
http://sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/the-civil-war.htm Reading Harper’s Weekly will give you a great overview of the war as it was written at the time.

Civil War Newspapers is the name of this site. http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/newspaper_titles.htm
Loads and loads of links for mostly southern titles.

There you have it. A peek into my Civil War toolbox. I have many more links I use but these are at the top of my list. As I said in the beginning I hope you find a site or two you have not searched before or this list is a reminder to least check back and have a second look at some you’ve previously explored.

As always thanks for reading and Good Luck in your research!

** Previously published in the September 2014 issue of “Going In-Depth” magazine**

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Subscribe to my site via email http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/16/subscribe-to-my-site-via-email/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/16/subscribe-to-my-site-via-email/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:00:46 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4068 Continue reading ]]> GenCircleLogo12For some reason the “Subscribe to my site via email” link was disabled here on Genealogy Circle. I’m not sure how that happened BUT  it’s fixed now!

So if you’d like to receive my new posts by email, the sign up link is in the middle of the right side bar,  just below the Civil War Tips – it’s titled “Subscribe to my site via email

Thanks! I hope to be showing up in your inbox soon!

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Civil War Saturday – My Civil War Toolbox http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/11/civil-war-saturday-my-civil-war-toolbox/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/11/civil-war-saturday-my-civil-war-toolbox/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 09:00:11 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4077 Continue reading ]]> Tool BoxWe’ve all heard the term “Genealogist’s toolbox” or “Genealogist’s toolkit” in online posts and at workshops. Genealogists and family historians have come to know a “toolbox” as the resources available to them for their research. Examples from a genealogist’s toolkit can range from links to websites and databases, to books and repositories. Some may even include software and apps but usually all the tools are found online.

I’ve seen toolbox collections that cover genealogy topics ranging from a Beginning Genealogists toolbox, to an Irish Genealogy Toolkit to a National Archives toolkit. In this article I thought I’d share with you my Civil War toolbox. It’s my list of go-to sites for Civil War soldier research as well pages for learning about the war itself. My hope is that you find a site or two you’ve never used before or you find one you haven’t checked in awhile and want to stop back again and research.

So let’s open my Civil War toolbox and see what’s inside!

Websites for Research

I thought I’d separate this first section of websites into two categories. The initial category below will help with links to track down your individual ancestor. These sites will assist you in locating your Civil War ancestor through rosters, obits, databases, etc.

Leslie Lawson has one of the most detailed genealogist’s toolboxes I’ve ever seen. Her site, Lawson Research Services http://www.lawsonresearch.net/toolbox lists genealogy links for all 50 states as well as a few other topics like DNA, vital or jails. Here you’ll find link upon link for your search. Each of the individual states are broken down into counties. Some counties are further broken down into probate, obit index, naturalization records and so on. She includes Civil War info for each state. Ohio for example has a link for Names of Union Soldiers with Civil War Service in Ohio Units and Ohio Civil War Rosters. Don’t overlook Leslie’s extensive information. Just click on the toolbox tab in the header menu on her site.

 Lawson Research Services http://www.lawsonresearch.net/toolboxUsed with permission from Leslie Brinkley Lawson

Lawson Research Services http://www.lawsonresearch.net/toolbox – Used with permission.

Another great site is Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s Olive Tree Genealogy. http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/mil/usa/cw.shtml I have a soft spot for Lorine’s site. It was the very first one I checked out when I started my Civil War research. There are a variety of links here from U.S. Civil War POW Records, to Confederate Disability Applications and Receipts to Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers Home Applications for Admission. She lists many seldom used and seldom talked about record sets. Stop by and take a peek.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze's Olive Tree Genealogy http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/mil/usa/cw.shtml  -  Used with permission

Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s Olive Tree Genealogy http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/mil/usa/cw.shtml – Used with permission

Cyndi’s List http://www.cyndislist.com/us/civil-war/ For more than 18 years Cyndi has been compiling and updating online genealogy links for family research. There are 1,116 in the Civil War category alone. Her site is constantly evolving. So a researcher should check back often. New links are added continually. Cyndi’s List is a must in your toolbox.

National Park System Soldiers and Sailors Database
http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm This is a free database with the names of both Union and Confederate soldiers. I’ve heard a few complaints that the database is not as complete as it could or should be. This may be the case yet it is a good place to start your research and certainly shouldn’t be the only place you research. Nice informative section on regiments as well.

American Civil War Research Database http://www.civilwardata.com/ On their website they claim they are “the largest, most in-depth and fully searchable database of American Civil War soldiers and events.” As of this writing I have not subscribed but plan to. Once I do I’ll write a review in a future blog post. I’m including this little-known site as a place for you to consider. It’s a subscription site but the price seems very reasonable.

Find-A-Grave http://www.findagrave.com/ I’ve found more clues for further research on this site because someone else very generously documented and uploaded the gravesite information from a cemetery. Of course it’s a hit or miss whether the final resting place of the person you’re searching for is on the site but I’ve had good luck finding soldier’s graves here. Which gave me additional clues for my research.

The next few links are of course the standard list of online genealogy resources we use daily but still worth the mention.

Family Search https://familysearch.org/ Free

Ancestry http://home.ancestry.com/ $$

Find My Past http://www.findmypast.com/ $$

Archives http://www.archives.com/ $$

Websites for Learning

This second website category is for general information about the Civil War. It’s so vital in understanding our veteran’s place during this time in history to know something of the era and the events going on at the time.

Civil War Trust http://www.civilwar.org/ Far and away my favorite site to learn about the Civil War. Want to know about a particular battle, prison or stats? You’ll find it all right here in an easy to read format. This is a free site. They do invite you to donate but you can read and research without paying. I especially like their series Civil War In 4. They’re four minute videos on a variety of subjects like medicine, women, armies, black soldiers and Confederate leaders. Good, solid information told in a concise manner.

Now since I have a pretty big “tool box” I’ll continue my list with next week’s Civil War Saturday. Hope to see you then! As always thanks for reading and Good Luck in your research!

** Previously published in the September 2014 issue of “Going In-Depth” magazine**

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#52 Ancestors Meets Up With #Crafting Genealogy again http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/09/4058/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/09/4058/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:00:10 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4058 Continue reading ]]> Ancestor-o-dex completed card

Ancestor Rolodex

Do you remember way back in January when we all committed to #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks? This brilliant idea by Amy Johnson Crow encouraged us all to . . . 

. . . have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

What a great idea! Not only should it get me blogging more, but also motivate me to take a deeper look at some of the people in my family tree.”

Well I did just that . . . . for awhile. The plan was I’d write each week about one of my ancestors then I would dedicate a rolodex card to them. See the explanation of that post here. Each card would have a copy of a pic, a memory or whatever struck me at the time. I’d use my vast stash of decorative paper and whatever bits of ribbon, twine, buttons, etc. I had. I was certain working with such a small canvas would ensure I’d get it done every week.

Well . . . that didn’t exactly happen either! Oops! But this past weekend I did work on my ancestor Rolodex file.

Gathering supplies: Rolodex cards, copies of pics, decorative paper

Gathering supplies: Rolodex cards, copies of pics, decorative paper

I grabbed several blank Rolodex cards, copies of my family pics, glue stick, ink pad and leftover pieces of my scrapbook paper. First I glued some background papers to my Rolodex cards.

Trying several layouts before gluing anything down

Trying several layouts with pics and papers

Once I had my photos where I wanted them I glued everything down. I also used an ink pad around the edges and corners. I love the vintage look ink gives this kind of project.

The finished Rolodex cards. I did write names in those blank boxes.

The finished Rolodex cards. I did write names in those blank boxes.

I do identify all ancestors before they go in the Rolodex file. I’m hoping to get several more cards done before Christmas when my older daughters come home. Who knows maybe this will spark a conversation or two! I’m always hoping to share a bit of family history with them.

In the mean time have fun Crafting Genealogy!

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Crafting Genealogy: Beautiful Botanicals http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/09/crafting-genealogy-beautiful-botanicals/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/09/crafting-genealogy-beautiful-botanicals/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4027 Continue reading ]]>
Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Beautiful Botanicals

Welcome back to Crafting Genealogy! This month we’re going to add a little color to our lives with these Beautiful Botanicals. I’m using them as bright and spirited holiday ornaments. They’ll be beautiful on my Christmas tree but could also be used as a tie on for a gift or maybe as a finishing touch to another craft project (book cover, front of greeting card, etc.). If you usually add a few hand-crafted items to your holiday giving these ornaments are ideal. This project barely takes an hour to complete and works well with any skill level. So get the kids to help and let’s get started Crafting Genealogy.

Gathering our supplies is easy:

* Glittery Botanicals – I bought these at Michaels after the holidays but all crafts stores have their Christmas decorations out now. So wander down the aisles and see what you can find.

* Copies of vintage family pics – this time I’m using portrait pics. They fit this project better.

* Paper – I used a page from an old dictionary and book but use scrapbook paper or whatever you have that compliments your botanicals.

* Decorative scissors, cookie cutters, etc. – I used these for different background shapes for the paper

* Glue – I used a glue stick and wet glue like Aleene’s for this project

* Chenille stems (optional)

* Ribbon, buttons, etc.

* Hanger (optional)

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Gather your supplies

First off I decided which way I wanted my botanicals to hang. A couple have the stems up and a couple have stems down. On those that have the stem at the top I made a loop out of the stem for a hanger. Those with the stems down I looped and knotted a piece of thread for a hanger. You can use fishing line, thin wire, dental floss or even a twist tie for your hanger. It’s on the back so no one will see it.

Next take your old book or dictionary pages to make a background for your photo Botanical. I eyeballed the size I would need depending on my leaf or branch size. I used decorative scissors to cut out one of the backgrounds but I also traced a tin, or use a cookie cutter, jar lid, even free-hand cut out your decorative background. I like the uneven variations better than perfect circles or ovals.

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Cutting out shapes

Now cut your photo copies just a bit smaller than the background. Decide how much of an edge you want behind each pic. Once everything is cut out lay your photos and backgrounds on your Botanicals. Make any adjustments and when you’re pleased with the layout glue the photos to the background (I’ll use a glue stick for this step) and then glue the background to the Botanicals (I’ll use small drops of liquid glue for this step to assure my photos/backgrounds are firmly adhered.

Finally add a few embellishments. I took some chenille stems and twisted them to make frames for some of my pics. (See photo) Add buttons, tie bits of ribbon or lace into bows or add the person’s name.

Crafting Genealogy - Beautiful Botanicals

Voila! Beautiful Botanicals

Your finished Botanicals will look great on your Christmas tree, holiday wreath, as a gift tie-on or string together as a banner. You’re bound to have kids or grandkids ask who the people in the photos are and what a great opportunity you’ll have to share some family history.

I hope you’ll try crafting your own Beautiful Botanicals. If you do and make your own variation of it, please send me a pic or two. I’ll share them in a future post giving all of us even more ideas and inspiration.

In the mean time have fun Crafting Genealogy!

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Civil War Saturday A Soldier’s Story http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/04/civil-war-saturday-a-soldiers-story/ http://www.genealogycircle.com/2014/10/04/civil-war-saturday-a-soldiers-story/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.genealogycircle.com/?p=4025 Continue reading ]]> He Fought From the War’s Beginning to End with the 4th OVC

Charles and Amanda Briggs

Charles and Amanda Briggs

Charles Marion Briggs grew up on what could be considered the frontier of Allen County, Ohio. He was born July 25, 1842 while the county was still in its infancy. There were large tracts of heavily wooded land still untouched by settlers. Situated on the edge of the Great Black Swamp the population was still rather small. As a youngster Charles saw the occasional Indian roaming the area. Probably Shawnee, he’d show up at the family’s farm, frightening everyone at home and taking whatever food he could find. Nearby was the tiny village of Spencerville. Just a few miles west of their farm. It was the closest town for supplies, medical help and community. Living here required a certain amount of mettle and the Briggs family had it.

In his early years Charles learned to be strong and independent. His youth was spent with only his father and sister. His mother died when he was just four and younger brother Jacob passed before his first birthday. His hard work and self-sufficiency on the farm would serve Charles very well in the next chapter of his life.

As the summer of 1861 came around Charles turned 18 years old. News of southern secession traveled fast even to rural areas like Allen County. Love of country and patriotism were plentiful as President Lincoln issued a call for troops. Yet it was soon apparent, after the initial enlistment, this conflict would not be resolved in a few short months. More soldiers would be needed and recruiting began.

Allen County was a fertile area to find hard working, active, young men. It wasn’t difficult to raise a company of soldiers there. The Spencerville area produced a number of men ready, willing and able to fight for and defend the country they loved. Charles Briggs was one of them. He enlisted on October 18, 1861 for three years. He was a private in Company I, 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Charles was well suited to be a cavalry man. He was short, lean and wiry. Very capable of riding a horse for great lengths of time without burdening the animal. Being raised on a farm, the rigors of cavalry life may not have surprised Charles very much. He was well aware of the daily care and maintenance a horse required. He’d spent his life working the land putting in many labor intensive days. So the drilling and training required of new recruits may not have phased Charles much either.

Yet the brutalities of war soon became a regular part of Charles daily life too. He encountered fear, death and bloodshed no one could be prepared for. He was involved in every battle the 4th OVC fought from Stone’s River to Chickamauga to Selma, adding to that the continual harassment of outlaw Confederate cavalryman, John Hunt Morgan.

Charles witnessed the death and injury of hundreds of his comrades. He saw the blood and heard the chilling screams as flesh was ripped open by shrapnel. Charles knew the hollow ache of watching your friends die of wounds or disease because there wasn’t enough doctors or medical supplies. He was fully christened to the atrocities of war.

Yet when his enlistment time was up Charles didn’t bid the cavalry good-bye and head for home. The war was not over so his job was not done. He re-enlisted for another three years. He went back to Allen County for a 30 day furlough and more importantly was given the rank “Veteran Volunteer”. A respected and well earned title.

On his return to duty Charles and the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry found themselves attached to General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army and participated in the siege of Atlanta and the infamous “March to the Sea”. Charles’ discipline, loyalty and hard work did not go unnoticed. He was promoted to Corporal for Company I on November 1, 1864.

Years later Charles would tell his granddaughter Dorothea of his war experiences. How he and fellow soldiers were ordered to set fire to beautifully built elegant houses. He and his comrades cringed at the tearful pleas of the women and crying children to spare their homes, yet as a soldier he had no choice. Charles had to follow orders or be court-martialed, worse yet he could be shot on the spot as a traitor. Charles hoped aloud to his granddaughter God would forgive him these mandatory acts of war.

With the last shots of the war fired, Charles and the rest of the men of the 4th were discharged in July 1865 in Nashville, Tennessee. He headed home to Spencerville and lived a short while with his sister Nancy Jane and her husband. He worked in the Dry Goods store they owned in town.

A few years later in 1869 Charles married Amanda Vest, known to everyone as Amy. She was a local school teacher. They began their married life on the family farm where Charles grew up. It was there they raised five children of their own.

In 1883 as local posts of the Grand Army of the Republic were formed Charles joined Fair Post 322 in Spencerville. He was an active participant being listed among the officers as an Officer of the Guard in 1908.

After 35 years of marriage Amy passed away and Charles eventually moved from the farm into town.

He worked from time to time for the local undertaker doing various odd jobs.

Charles Briggs

Charles Briggs

He was known to have a bit of a temper but never lost his love for the country he fought for. When the United States entered World War I young National Guard recruits from the area marched through the streets of Spencerville, drilling in vacant fields outside town. Charles would salute them from his front porch encouraging them as they passed by. Three of his own grandsons were among these units.

Although Charles was never wounded, his war years and age eventually took its toll. As time passed he suffered from rheumatism, pleurisy and chronic diarrhea. Charles died June 18, 1925 at 82 years old and is buried in Spencerville Cemetery, in Spencerville, Ohio.

Charles Marion Briggs young life was filled with hard work and discipline. The lessons he learned as a youth served him well as he fought throughout the Civil War. He saw brutal combat, agonizing death and destruction yet came home to build a life, a community, a nation that we all benefit from today. May we never forget Charles Briggs and the thousands upon thousands of veterans like him who sacrificed and served with perseverance and determination enabling us to live in this nation today.

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