Civil War Quick Tip: What did he say? Deciphering Civil War era lingo

Vintage fountain pen

Photo Credit: Stock.xchng by hisks

Have you ever read a letter written by a Civil War soldier to family back home and wondered, “What’s he saying?” or read an officer’s report and thought, “What the heck is a vedette?” I have! So what do you do?

Check the Definitions of Civil War Terms found here.

Not only will you learn what “Cotton-clads” were but you can wow your friends with “Mother” Bickerdyke’s panada. So check out Definitions of Civil War terms and learn Civil War terms that you can toss out in a conversation and amaze your peeps!
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Ancestors in a Nation Divided by Cindy Freed

Ancestors in a Nation Divided by Cindy Freed

If you’re interested in focusing your research on your Civil War ancestor check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – available in Kindle and also in paperback. Only $15.93 on Amazon. Great 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 Civil War Research Tips – Finding More on Your Civil War Ancestor 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!

Civil War Saturday – My ancestor died on the battlefield. So where’s he buried? Part 1

Research Log
Last week we talked about the brick wall I’ve been working on recently. I have a Civil War ancestor that died in the war and I don’t know where he’s buried. So for the next couple Saturdays I’ll share my research and outcomes with you. Hopefully you’ll find a resource or two that you were not aware of or one you may want to go back and try again.

Now just as a recap we’re talking about my first cousin four times removed George S Vanmeter. He was with Co. G 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and was killed in a skirmish with Confederate forces April 12, 1864 on the Jack Peters plantation outside of Florence, Alabama.

Only three men were killed in this small battle. One Confederate and two Union soldiers. The rest of Company G was captured by the men of the 27th and 35th Alabama and sent to Andersonville.

As far as I know his body was not brought back to Ohio for burial. I have never seen a gravesite for him at the cemeteries he would likely be buried at. As family historians I know you’ll understand, I frequent these cemeteries several times a year.

Today I’m going to look at some standard online resources. I’m not sure how much I’ll learn, but who knows? I may be very surprised and find a nugget or two about him. So let’s begin.

I’ll pull out my research log and my goal will be to find where George S. Vanmeter is buried. I also have a To-Do list handy. That way if I run across another site, or link that will help in some of my other genealogy research I’ll note it and go back to it another time. I don’t want the enticing possibility of another research goal to get me off track of this search or become a time waster.

Check back with me this Saturday as I list out the resources on my research log! See you then!

Civil War Quick Tip: Check out the manuscript collection at libraries and universities

Newspapers

Photo Credit: datarec
http://www.freeimages.com/

Have you taken a look at local library and university archival collections? These institutions have manuscript collections which may include Civil War era newspapers, diaries and donated family papers.

Check the facilities in the area where your ancestor enlisted or the regiment was raised. Many soldiers wrote home to the local newspaper recounting events their regiment encountered and their letters were published. Diaries and family papers were donated to universities generations later when the family felt they were of historical value and should be preserved and available for anyone to read.

Most newspapers are accessed at the facility on microfilm but many diaries and donated family papers are digitized and readily available to read online.

If you’re like me, my Civil War ancestor didnt keep a journal. Nor are there letters between family members and my Civil War veteran that were passed down through the generations. But other members of regiments did keep journals and write letters that survived through the years. If you find documents written by men in his regiment it’s like reading your own Civil War ancestor’s words. Reading those letters, diaries and newspaper accounts will give you an understanding of all that your Civil War ancestor saw, felt and experienced. So be sure to check out the manuscript collection at libraries and universities.

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If you’re interested in focusing your research on your Civil War ancestor check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – available in Kindle and also in paperback. Only $15.93 on Amazon. Great 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 – Finding More on Your Civil War Ancestor 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!

Civil War Saturday: My ancestor died on the battlefield. So where’s he buried?

Woodlawn Cemetery Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

You’ve been researching your Civil War ancestor. You’ve found his company and regiment. You know his enlistment dates and the battles he fought in. You know he died on the battlefield and you’re thinking his family didn’t have the funds to bring his body home. So where is he buried?

That’s the dilemma I found while researching a collateral Civil War ancestor of mine, George S. Vanmeter. George is my first cousin, four times removed. You may remember his brother James, who was a special research project of mine awhile back.

Briefly George‘s first enlistment in the Civil War was as a member of Co. F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC). He was injured in May 1862 and discharged. He headed back home to Putnam County, Ohio. George was home just over a year. His wife had given birth to a baby girl. The infant was barely five months old when he reenlisted September 1863. This time with Co. G 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC).

In early April 1864, Co. G of the 9th OVC, was foraging in the area about 6 miles west of Florence, Alabama. By orders of General Sherman the men were living off the land. The company settled in for the night on the John (Jack) Peters plantation. The cavalry men of Co. G were sleeping in and around the main house and barn. George S. Vanmeter was on picket duty.

A small contingent of soldiers from the 27th and 35th Alabama were camped just across the Tennessee river from the Peters plantation. These were men who lived in the area and were well aware of the Yankees and how they had scoured the countryside for food, horses and provisions. About 100 Confederate soldiers crossed the river at Seven Mile Island in the wee hours of April 12th and totally surprised Company G. There was a brief but intense skirmish that left one Confederate and two Union soldiers dead. The rest of Co. G was captured by the men of the 27th and 35th Alabama and sent to Andersonville.

My cousin George S. Vanmeter didn’t go to Andersonville. He was one of the two Union soldiers who died in the fight. This was a small battlefield, a small skirmish. There weren’t Union soldiers left to take care of the aftermath. What happened to George’s body?

I’ve read George’s pension file. His widow and daughter applied for a pension on behalf of his military service. I’ve researched the Official Records regarding this incident, I’ve scoured regimental histories for the 9th OVC, but the one question I haven’t been able to answer is:

Where is George S. Vanmeter buried?

That’s the brick wall I’ve been working on lately. Do you have a Civil War ancestor that died in the war and you don’t know where he is buried? The next couple Civil War Saturdays I’ll outline my research. What steps I take, the records and online sources I’ve used. Maybe some of my resources will be of help to you in your research. Stop back here next week and we’ll see if I can find where George S. Vanmeter buried.

Today’s Civil War Quick Tip: Read the Regimental History

Photo courtsey of stock.xchng.com

Photo courtsey of stock.xchng.com

I’ll bet one of the first bits of information you found about your Civil War ancestor is the regiment he served with. Take the time to read the history of your ancestor’s regiment. Make a special point of focusing on the regiment’s actions during his enlistment time. You can find a regimental history in the library, or check the numerous online regimental histories available.

By reading about the regiment’s actions you’ll learn a lot about your ancestors life during his military service. Not only will you become more familiar with your ancestor’s Civil War experience, battles fought, etc., you’ll have a much better sense of what resources you’ll want to pursue as you continue your research.

One place to look for a regimental history is at the Civil War Archive. Their list of histories are linked to Google books where you’ll be able to download the history in a .pdf format to your computer. This will make it easy to read and refer back to.

The National Parks Service has a regimental search page too at http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-regiments.htm

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If you’re interested in focusing your research on your Civil War ancestor check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – available in Kindle and also in paperback. Great 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 – Finding More on Your Civil War Ancestor 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!