Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Very Own Civil War 1861-1865

 If you know me, you know that I am a serious Civil War buff.The Nation is in the midst of celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War so I thought I'd post a bunch facts about the war. Some of these are taken from the internet, thanks to the History Channel and civil, Gettysburg Stories and PBS Station WGBH amongst others, but a few of the facts I learned while working summer jobs at the Park service and reading Bruce Catton and E.B. Long as a kid. Check them out and just maybe you can become interested yourself to try to understand the motivations of these men both north and south.

When I was younger, I tried to live the life of a Confederate Soldier. I was a re-enactor for seven years. It was quite an experience, especially when I stumbled into one of my wife's cousins, Peter, while we re-enacting the Battle of New Market. I'm the Reb, he's the Yank. Those are 100% wool uniforms we were wearing and they were HOT!!!

• More than three million men fought in the war.

• Two percent of the population—more than 620,000—died in it. Extrapolating to days population it would mean 7,000,000 died

• In two days at Shiloh on the banks of the Tennessee River, more Americans fell than in all previous American wars combined.

• During the Battle of Antietam, 12,401 Union men were killed, missing or wounded; double the casualties of D-Day, 82 years later. With a total of 23,000 casualties on both sides, it was the bloodiest single day of the Civil War.

• At Cold Harbor, Va., 7,000 Americans fell in 20 minutes. Found in the diary of a dead Union soldier on the field, "June 4, 1864, I was killed."

• Senator John J. Crittendon of Kentucky had two sons who became major generals during the Civil War: one for the North, one for the South.

• Missouri sent 39 regiments to fight in the siege of Vicksburg: 17 to the Confederacy and 22 to the Union.

• In March 1862, the Monitor and Merrimack battled off Hampton Roads, Va. From then on, after these ironclads opened fire, every other navy on earth was obsolete.

• Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., future chief Justice, was wounded three times during the Civil War: in the chest at Ball’s Bluff, in the back at Antietam and in the heel at Chancellorsville.

• On July 4, 1863, after 48 days of siege, Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered the city of Vicksburg to the Union’s General, Ulysses S. Grant. The Fourth of July was not be celebrated in Vicksburg for another 81 years.

• Disease was the chief killer during the war, taking two men for every one who died of battle wounds.

• North and South, potential recruits were offered awards, or "bounties," for enlisting, as much as $677 in New York. Bounty jumping soon became a profession, as men signed up, then deserted, to enlist again elsewhere. One man repeated the process 32 times before being caught.

• African Americans made up less than one percent of the northern population, but by the war’s end made up ten percent of the Union Army. A total of 180,000 black men, more than 85% of those eligible, enlisted.

• Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest had 30 horses shot from under him and personally killed 31 men in hand-to-hand combat. "I was a horse ahead at the end," he said.

• In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General, a rank previously held by General George Washington, and led the 533,000 men of the Union Army, the largest in the world. Three years later, he was made President of the United States.

•By the end of the war, Unionists from every state except South Carolina had sent regiments to fight for the North.

• On May 13, 1865, after Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana became the last man killed in the Civil War, in a battle at Palmito Ranch, Texas. The final skirmish was a Confederate victory..

• The average casualty rate of a Civil War regiment was 30%. Several regiments suffered rates as high as 85% at Gettysburg and Antietam.

• The 1st Maryland Reg't CSA fought the 1st Maryland Reg't USA at Antietam.

• Mary Todd Lincoln, the USA First Lady had relatives who fought in the Confederate army.

• General Lewis Armistead of the Confederacy led the Confederate charge at Gettysburg which penetrated General Winfield Scott Hancock's line on Cemetery ridge. Hancock and Armistead were old friends from the old army. Hancock was wounded and Armistead was mortally wounded on that same day. Armistead's great Uncle fought in the War of 1812. He had command of Fort Henry of Star Spangled Banner fame

• USA General George Thomas known as the Rock of Chicamauga for his stand during that battle was virtually disowned by his Southern Relatives after the war.

• General Sedgewick a corps commander at the Battle of Spotsylvania was cautioned to be careful as Confederate sharpshooters were known to be in the area by a red barn. a few minutes later he was shot in the head by a Confederate sharpshooter at about an 800 yard range, this after he exclaimed that they could not hit an elephant at this distance.

• The H.L. Hunley a Confederate submersible was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship (The USS Housatonic) in combat  in Charleston Harbor.

• 83 Confederate Generals were killed in action, 47 Union Generals died.

•Wesley Culp, formerly of Gettysburg,  as of 1863, Shepherdstown, Virginia,  joined the Confederate army.  On the move near Winchester, he encountered a friend from Gettysburg, Jack Skelly from the Union Army who was mortally wounded. Skelly requested of Wesley that he deliver a note to his fiance back in Gettysburg. Skelly’s fiance was a woman that Wesley also knew.  Jennie Wade, who happened to be the only civilian casualty in the three-day battle that took place in early July of 1863. Wesley took the note from his dying friend and vowed to see the task through. Except that Wesley Culp never completed the task since he was killed on the 2nd day of the battle on Culp's hill, his own families farm. Side note, when my father was a child, he stuck his finger in the bullet hole in Jenny's kitchen door. It took a lot of butter but he was freed :-)

•During the Battle of Fredricksburg, Va. as night fell, the cries of the suffering Union soldiers on the plains before them so bothered Confederate Sergeant Richard Rowland Kirkland that he volunteered to go over the stone wall with full canteens to succor the wounded Federals. He was nick named the Angel of Maryes Heights and was Killed in action at Chickamauga 6 months later.

Are you hooked yet?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Diving back into Geneaology!!

I spent the last couple of days trying to work up the momentum in restarting my family research project. It is fun when you get on a roll, but a lot of it is so tedious. I am a member of a couple of geneaology boards and I get really frustrated. Some of their search engines really stink. I love the kinds of information has, but their search engine leaves a lot to be desired. for example, I put in as specific as I can the dates of all the events I know including the state I am interested in seaching. So one would think that if I ask for all Sara Dohertys that lived in NJ in 1910 than that's what I should get. Only it doesn't work that way. I get Massachuseets and Ohio and God knows what over states. I asked for a record of  Sara Doherty's death and got 5,000 hits. Do they really expect me to want to page through all that. Conversely, I asked for her census record in 1910 and hit it on the first try.

I also recently found out that one of my cousins passed away in 20001 through a posted hint on and am now corresponding with his daughter. So it is nice to know that there are other family members out there of which I was not aware. I've enlisted the aid of my sister to help find our grandmother's grave. Apparently, she is not buried where traditional family lore had her interned. Right now it is sort of haphazard. If I stumble across a relative while researching another, I get side tracked so I don't lose the information and forget to enter it in the family tree.

I've got a ways to go so as Stonewall Jackson used to say we have to "press on, press on!"

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Miss My job, I Miss My Job!!!!

I keep trying to tell my self about 6 months after I got laid off that I miss my job. While in some ways it is true such as I miss my income, I  miss friends  made, and coworkers as well as many of my former clients; I don't miss getting up at 4:30 AM Monday to Friday, I don't miss three hour round trip commutes at all with the attendant ridiculous expenses. There is a lot less wear and tear on the car, too. I don't miss driving to work in heavy snow storms because I was one of the required personnel to be there and help operate the facility. If I could only find a purchasing managers position in Rockland or Bergen Counties. I need a desk job because I can't wander around on my feet all day like I once did.

There is a lot to be said about the life of a laid off worker. Yes, I am looking for work but in the meantime, I am going to the library which is something I hardly did the last 15 years or so. I go down to the Hudson River and eat lunch watching the boats go by. I can actually go to the barber or grocer whenever I feel like it instead of cramming everything into a Saturday, The amount of business one can get done on a week day is amazing. I'm enjoying my Civil War Round Table Meetings which I could not get to before because I could never get home in time before the meeting started. One thing I haven't done yet is to start using my membership in to continue research on my family roots.

Today is a stay at home day what with a tropical storm (Andrea?) bearing down on us, so I will be watching Sherlock Holmes movies from Net flicks unless or until we lose power, which has been happening more and more of late.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cleaning Room by Room, Closet by Closet

You would not believe the amount of debris that you can accumulate after living 30 years in the same house. We are going through the place drawer by drawer closet by closet to see what we can dump. Today it was the kitchen cabinets. It was amazing the amount of canned goods we had, much of it expired. My wife wanted to toss it. I with my ISO 14001 trained mind said lets empty the cans and recycle them, putting the old food stuffs in our compost pile.

It was a lot harder work than I thought. You should try to get long expired marzipan out of a tin can. I did it outside, first dumping the contents into a huge bowl and keeping the cans aside for disposal. It was brutally hot today so I soaked my baseball cap with a garden hose and kept cool that way while I was disgorging the expired contents into the compost pile, there was smoked oysters, marzipan, blackberries in syrup and pecan pie filling along with egg whites. The kitchen looks a lot roomier now. 

On to the next set of cabinets!!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"I"m Melting, I'm Melting!!

Ok after 6 months of being laid off, I can actually say that I miss my job and reallllly mean it!! The A/C in my former office had been really nice.  It has been hell the last several days with temperatures over 90, I have no energy and just sweat sitting still in the house drinking gallons of water. We have individual A/C units in the house which until last night had not yet been installed. I called my youngest son Danny and asked him to come over and help install the A/C units in the bedroom and in the living room.

Last night was the first night we actually  slept without swimming in a pool of sweat.The weather forecast is over 90 again today with a heat advisory. So I'll be staying inside except for a brief foray into the world to water our garden tonight.