Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ancestors in the War, Hofstetter Update

This is another post on my ancestors in the Civil War. These are, obviously, posts I especially enjoy, giving me a more personal connection to the war. I have been pleasantly surprised to find so much to write about, with hopefully more posts to come, including this brief update today. 

I previously mentioned John Hofstetter, who was my great-great grandfather on my father's maternal side. Last summer, I found out that the 1890 Veterans' and Widows Census (what a great resource that is!) shows "Catherine Hofstetter, widow of John Hofstetter" in Cincinnati and states that John had been a private in the 3rd Indiana Cavalry from July 10, 1861 through August 31, 1864. The soldiers and sailors site shows he was in Company D, but no records seem to exist on, even under alternate spellings. I also requested his service records from the National Archives, but they found nothing, unfortunately.

I had known he owned a grocery store/saloon in Cincinnati, so it was interesting to learn that he joined an Indiana unit. I did find one site that shows he resided in Dearborn County, Indiana when he enlisted. I have not yet found his name on the 1860 census for any state. 

John had been born in Switzerland on May 6, 1823, and his wife Catherine Lang in Bavaria, Germany. According to a family history site, John applied for citizenship in New Jersey in 1858 and received it in 1858 in Cincinnati. He married Catherine in late 1865 at St. Francis Seraph Catholic Church, also in Cincinnati. 

John died on October 6, 1887 and is buried, with Catherine (who lived from November 30, 1841 to August 13, 1903) in Vine Street Hill Cemetery in Cincinnati, though apparently his grave is unmarked.

His Civil War unit was an interesting one, consisting of eastern and western halves. John was in the eastern portion and saw action in major battles such as Gettysburg. I still need and want to research this unit more, including its fighting on July 1, 1863. Surely I will post more about this in the future.

The above photo from him from, probably from the postwar years. Here are two more pictures, one of his store in the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati, probably circa 1880 and then a modern picture of the building. Both are courtesy a cousin's family history site. 


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

William Falconer Hart, 3rd Alabama Infantry

In previous entries on this family, I have described the stories of Derrill Wason Hart, his father Robert S. Hart and Derrill's uncles/Robert's brothers Benjamin R. Hart, and Derrill M. Hart  

Remarkably, three more Hart brothers enlisted to fight in the war and this entry, the shortest of the series, will tell one more of their tales.

The third oldest Hart sibling, William Falconer Hart, (his middle name was his mother's maiden name) was born October 5, 1835. On April 26, 1861, just two weeks after the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, 25 year-old William reacted like many other young southern men and chose to fight for the Confederacy, enlisting in Company G of the 3rd Alabama Infantry regiment. He was enrolled by Captain William G. Andrews for a 1-year term, but would not be able to serve that term, as he died in a hospital on July 10 or 11, 1861, before even the fighting at Bull Run occurred. (A family history site says July 10, but the muster roll in his file at says July 11.) The muster roll says the hospital was St. Vincent of Paul, which likely means St. Vincent de Paul. Since the regiment was in Virginia by this time and probably already in Norfolk, this seems to refer to the hospital now known as Bon Secors DePaul Medical Center, founded in Norfolk in 1855 (incorporated 1856.)  

I have not found any cause of death. He had probably been in camp already. Perhaps being around a large group of men, possibly near unclean water, led to him contracting a common disease. That was an all-too-frequent occurrence, for too many men, during the war years but is just speculation.

His younger brother Edward joined the same company a few weeks before William's death, but survived the war. His story, and others on this family, will follow soon.

St. Vincent de Paul Hospital, courtesy

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Some 1861 Commentary and Questions on Kentucky Neutrality

I took another trip back into the  Covington Journal to search for interesting tidbits I may have overlooked previously. Today I found two brief commentaries on the subject of Kentucky's attempt at neutrality, both from July 13, 1861, just before he first Battle of Bull Run. They were on the same page, but not next to each other as they are here. This newspaper had favored John Bell in the 1860 Presidential Contest and generally took a pro-Union, but anti-abolitionist stance during the Civil War (the last available war issue is from August 1862.)

The Neutrality of Kentucky 
Mr. Mallory, the Representative of the Louisville District, speaking it would seem for the Union Representatives of Kentucky on the floor of the House, has pledged the State to stand by Lincoln's government in the prosecution of the war. 

And so falls to the ground the neutrality of Kentucky.

The neutrality of Kentucky was urged and defended by Mr. Crittenden. It was endorsed by the Legislature and sanctioned by the people. It has kept our beloved State out of the war, and secured her comparative quiet.

Is this principle to be given up at the bidding of a few politicians at Washington city? Let the people speak.

Disunion Completed
President Lincoln calls neutrality "disunion completed." The phrase, in itself, is meaningless, but it serves to convey Lincoln's detestation of neutrality.

Now we have a distinct recollection that Hon. Garrett Davis and Hon. W.L. Underwood, not a great while since, assured the public that President Lincoln would respect the neutrality of Kentucky. What have these gentlemen to say now?

Not two months since, John H. Harney, Geo. D. Prentice, Nat. Wolf, Hamilton Pope etc., constituting the "Union Democracy State Central Committee of Kentucky," issued an address to the people of the State, in which they said: 

"The government of the Union has appealed to her [Kentucky] to furnish men to suppress the revolutionary combination in the Cotton States. SHE HAS REFUSED. SHE HAS MOST WISELY AND JUSTLY REFUSED.


What say you now, Messrs. Harney, Prentice and Wolf? Do you stand by your deliberate declaration made in April last, or do you surrender that position and give your assent to the dictum of A. Lincoln, that neutrality is disunion completed? 

On the 7th of June, delegates representing the Union Democracy of the Tenth District met in Covington  to nominate a candidate for Congress. As is usual in such bodies, it was deemed proper to have a platform and a committee was formed to prepare one. 

The committee reported the resolutions of the last General Assembly (from the pen of Senator Fisk, if we mistake not) in which it is declared that "KENTUCKY OUGHT AT LEAST TO REMAIN NEUTRAL TILL THE END OF THE CONTROVERSY." After a sharp contest, the report of the committee was adopted by ayes 114, nays 18. Gentlemen of the late Congressional Convention, where do you stand to-day? Do you believe neutrality is "disunion completed?"

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Lincoln's Confederate "Little Sister:"Emily Todd Helm by Stuart Sanders.

Stuart Sanders, the author of three books  (Perryville Under Fire; The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky; and Maney's Confederate Brigade at Perryville) has produced another high-quality work, a long-form essay entitled Lincoln's Confederate "Little Sister," Emily Todd Helm. It came out about a year ago and I finally found the time to read it and am glad for it. It is available at 

The basic story of this essay - the challenges facing a woman who was a sister of Mary Todd, sister-in-law of President Lincoln and wife and brother of Confederate soldiers - should be well-known to most who study the Civil War, but this essay goes beyond the basics and recounts her life story on a deeper level, providing details that may be less familiar. 

The essay starts with a scene of Emily in her later years, before the story goes back in time, even before her birth, to explore the Todd family background and influence in Kentucky. It describes Emily and Mary's father Robert Todd and how he raised two families after the unfortunate death of his first wife. 

Sanders discusses Emily's childhood and the development of her close relationship with her older half-sister Mary and brother-in-law Abraham Lincoln. He then discusses her marriage to Benjamin Hardin Helm, who also had influential family ties to the state and its government. Their affection for each other was very strong.

This sets up the story of the split and misfortunes that the Civil War created for her family. Eight members of the Todds supported the Confederacy while six remained loyal to the United States. During the war, Emily lost her husband and two brothers and took each loss very hard.

The biggest and most famous controversy of her life, first mentioned at the start of the essay, was her trip to Washington .D.C. in late 1863. This essay does an outstanding job of describing her visit from its origins with Emily's refusal to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States to a less-than-friendly encounter with a Senator and to the President's attempt to offer her assistance as she returned to Kentucky. The discussion of her strong bond with Mary and how both had endured personal tragedy (Emily losing a husband, Mary a son) during the war is especially poignant and makes it more understandable how the widow of a Confederate general was allowed to visit the White House during the war. Biologically, they were half-sisters, but in real life they were much closer.

The ending of the relationship between Emily and the Lincolns is another powerful piece of this tale. 

The essay then describes her long, sometimes contradictory, life in the years after the war. She was a beloved widow of a former Orphan Brigade leader, yet also a family representative at events commemorating the life of President Lincoln; she was proud of her Confederate ties, refused to take the oath of allegiance, yet accepted a Government appointment to help support herself and her family and adopted a spirit of reconciliation.

This is an informative and well-written essay, with a writing style that is easy to read. Having it in this format also makes for a quick read. Despite its relative brevity, however, it tells an intriguing story of this woman and how the war affected so many of her closest relationships. Her enjoyment of genealogy and wish to protect her family legacy were noteworthy and perhaps even ironic given the sadness to which her family ties contributed so much.

Though her name and much of her story may be familiar to Civil War students, Stuart Sanders' work provides a more detailed account of her life's story, making this a very worthwhile read. I highly recommend adding it to any e-library or reading list. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Derrill Middleton Hart, Semple's Battery of Light Artillery

As my study of the career and Civil War connections of former University of Kentucky basketball player Derrill Wason Hart continues, the story moves on to the life and career of his uncle, and probably the man for whom he was named, Derrill Middleton Hart.

The elder Derrill Hart was born in Montgomery Alabama on August 4, 1840, the fifth son and sixth child of Benjamin and Anne Hart. Among his older brothers were Confederate Colonel Benjamin R. Hart and Confederate 2nd Lieutenant Robert Singleton Hart, both of the 22nd Alabama Infantry. 

Like his brothers, Derrill supported the Confederate cause. On May 10, 1862, he enlisted in an artillery unit that went by the name "Semple's Battery," in honor of Captain Henry C. Semple. It had been organized in Montgomery, but Derrill enlisted at the sight of its first assignment, Mobile. He joined for a term of "three years or the war." 

When Captain Semple was promoted to Major in 1864, Richard W. Goldthwaite took over the battery's leadership and the unit was then sometimes referred to as "Goldthwaite's Battery." One of the forms in Derrill's service records lists his unit as "Semple's Company of Light Artillery," but at the bottom states "This organization subsequently became Capt. Goldthwaite's Battery, Alabama Light Artillery." It appears that both names were in use throughout the last part of the war. (I have also seen it referred to as "Mark's Battery," but have not seen a reason for that. "Semple's Battery" seems to be the most commonly used name,)

Derrill enlisted as a private and muster rolls consistently listed him as "present." He earned three promotions, first to Corporal on July 20, 1863 and then to Sergeant on February 10 of 1864. His final promotion was to 2nd Lieutenant on May 7, 1864.

The battery remained in the western theater of the war. It participated in Braxton Bragg's Invasion of Kentucky during which it saw action at Perryville. Two of its guns participated in an artillery duel during the battle, while other guns remained closer to the actual town. In the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (ORvolume XVI, part 1, Major General William Hardee's battle report refers to the unit as "a fine battery of 12-pounders, under Captain Semple." A marker noting its role in the battle now stands on the battlefield.

Marker at Perryville, courtesy

After this campaign, the battery remained part of the newly renamed Army of Tennessee. It fought at Murfreesboro and other major battles including Chickamauga.  After that Confederate victory, General D. H. Hill referred to the unit as "Semple's magnificent battery" while praising its performance (report in OR, volume XXIII, part 2.) Generals Patrick Cleburne and S.A.M. Wood also complimented the battery. 

Marker at Chickamauga, courtesy

The battery also saw action during the Atlanta campaign and at Franklin and Nashville. It suffered losses of men and/or horses in several of its engagements, including Perryville.

Late in the war, it was ordered to North Carolina, but eventually surrendered at Augusta, Georgia in April 1865.

Derrill led a long post-war life, marrying twice and having six children. His first wife was Mary Louisa Armistead, whom he wed on December 4, 1865 in Montgomery. They had four sons (Benjamin R, Derrill M, Robert S and Louis Armistead - the first three named for Derrill and his brothers and father, the last with Mary's maiden name as his middle name. Naming children after predecessors seems to have been a Hart family tradition.)   

On the 1870 census, Derrill, Mary and sons Benjamin and Derrill Jr. still lived in Montgomery, but in 1878 they moved to Texas, apparently settling in the town of Weatherford, in Parker County. Benjamin had left home by the time of the 1880 census.

Mary died May 12, 1884 at 39 years of age and was buried in City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford.

Derrill then married S.F. Leach on June 15, 1886, also in Parker County. Her initials probably stood for "Sarah Frances," as other census and family records show him married to a "Sarah" and a "Fannie." Another record seems to confirm this, showing "Frances Leach" as his second wife. "Fannie" was likely a nickname. Derrill and his new bride had two sons, Alonzo and Hardin M. Hart.

In 1900, the family still lived in Weatherford, and all but Alonzo lived there at the time of the 1910 census. 

The website for the Texas State Cemetery  shows that Derrill was a Presbyterian and worked as a farmer. He moved into the Confederate Home for Men, in Austin, on April 14, 1911.


He passed away at the home on May 28, 1914 at age seventy-three and is buried in the state cemetery.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ancestors in the Civil War: the Heralds

In my continuing studies of my family history and the Civil War, I now turn my attention to my maternal grandfather's paternal side. Unfortunately, I do not have any lineal Civil War ancestors from this branch of my family tree, but I have found a few more distant uncles who did serve in the war.

One of these was Thomas Herald, whom I found at this link which shows him as part of Company K of the 14th Kentucky Cavalry.  

Thomas was the brother of one of my three-times great grandfathers and the son of my four-times great grandfather, Alexander Herald,a slaveowner and local justice of the peace in Breathitt County, Kentucky. 

This site notes: "After settling in the Crockettsville area and starting their family, the civil war interrupted their lives and Thomas Herald was enrolled in Company K, 14th Regiment of Kentucky Cavalry on March 7, 1863; and was discharged by reason of expiration of service on March 24, 1864 at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. His record of service shows that he served as a mountain scout and that on a scouting mission to Perry County, where he was exposed to inclement weather and to sleep on the cold ground without blankets developed a chronic health condition and was sent home to recuperate. During this time he was treated by a neighbor and family physician, Dr Anthony Morris and Dr James Riley. Wesley Stamper and Squire Riley were also neighbors in the Crockettsville area."

His records on state that Thomas enlisted on March 17, 1863 at Booneville, Ky., and mustered out March 24, 1864, at Camp Nelson. It also shows him as 5 feet, 11 inches tall, with black eyes, grey hair and a dark complexion. He was listed as "present" in March and April of 1863 and "absent sick" in July and August of the same year. He was a farmer born in Wilkes County, North Carolina. (He also was the son of a slaveowner, born in what became a Confederate state, though he was in Kentucky for most of his life.) It said he was 44 years old, meaning he was born about 1819, though other records for the family show a birth year of 1813. Perhaps he lied about his age so that he would not be too old to be accepted into service, as ages 18 through 45 were considered "military age."

Another page shows he may have originally tried to join Company B, 3rd Battalion of the same regiment on February 28, 1863, but was not mustered into the unit. A comment in the remarks section of this page is not legible. I have seen other ancestors with similar paperwork who ended up in company K of the regiment and a record that notes this unit operated in battalions, so it may have been a case of pre-printed paperwork for one battalion being used at first, then being fixed to standard forms in later record-keeping.

An Alexander Herald also served in the war, but several people with that name lived in the area at the time. This link provides a clue about which one it was. It shows that the Alexander in the war was born in 1840, meaning he was Thomas' son, based on family records I have seen. This Alexander was also the grandson of another Alexander Herald (Thomas' father) and the nephew of Alexander Herald Junior. I think he had at least one cousin named Alexandet as well. The younger Alexander also joined Company K of the14th Kentucky Cavalry. Records on show that he joined in Breathitt County on December 15, 1862 (the 1890 census shows October 10 as his joined date) for 1 year and mustered in at Irvine, Ky.  on February 13, 1863. He mustered out on March 24, 1864 at Camp Nelson. He had received $25 of bounty money, but had last been paid on August 31, 1863. He owed the government $8.99 for "arms, equipment, etc," which a note indicates consisted of: 1 curb bridle, 1 halter, 1 pair of spurs, 1 cartridge box, 1 cap pouch, 1 waist belt and 1 gunsling. He had a clothing account of $78.95. I thought this was what he owed the government for his uniform, but I saw one explanation of service records that said that was what the government owed the soldier.

The roster of the 3 Forks Battalion, of the Kentucky State Troops (or home guards, a Union group) also lists a Thomas Herald as a corporal who had joined the unit November 1, 1864 in Crockettsville, Ky., mustered in on February 19, 1865 and mustered out on July 17, 1865 in Irvine,Ky. (I have attached a copy of one page of this document.) Was this the same Thomas? does not provide any answers to this. I suspect this may have been his son Thomas Jr. (brother of Alexander.) The 1890 Veterans' Census on Heritage Quest seems to confirm this, listing both Thomas and a "Thomas T. Herrald (sic)" with the latter having been in Kentucky infantry from November 1864 to July 1865, matching the dates on the list of the 3 Forks Battalion. The first link in this post shows the younger Thomas as "Thomas 'Tete' Herald," so that middle name matches the initial on the 1890 record. (The 1890 census shows the older Thomas as being in the 14th Infantry starting in 1862, instead of cavalry and 1864, but those appear to be errors.) 

Roger Herald, brother of Alexander and Thomas Jr., was also a private on this roster. His joined send mustered dates and places matched those of Thomas Jr. 

This means that Thomas Sr. and three of his sons all served in the war all on the Union side. I have to wonder what Thomas Sr.'s wife Elizabeth thought of this, though at least Thomas Jr. and Roger did not join until their father and brother had mustered out of the service.

John Herald, bother of Thomas Sr. and uncle of Thomas Jr., Alexander and Roger, also served as a private in the same unit, with the same joining and mustering in and out information.

At one point I thought it was strange that men like these from a slave-holding family would fight for the union, but I was wrong. Abolition was not an official goal of the Union early in the war and many Kentuckians thought slavery may be safer in the Union than out of it. That belief was among the reasons Kentucky stayed in the Union and a sense of betrayal developed among some people after the Emancipation Proclamation became official and the 13th Amendment passed, adding to the "seceded after the war" stigma that became attached to the state.

The 14th Kentucky Cavalry and the 3 Forks Battalion both served in the Eastern Kentucky region during their time in the war, battling Confederate guerillas. It was not a glorious time, but shows their support for the Union cause.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Quick Look Back and Look Forward

As I try to look ahead to the blessings, hopes and opportunities of another new year, I start by looking back a bit. In recent weeks, I have found a few leads to stories on various individual soldiers, their service and their lives. I have posted a couple and am working on others. These stories take longer to research, write and proofread than transcribing an article, offering opinions or reviewing a book, but also tend to be more enjoyable and even more educational to me. Not only do I learn their individual stories, but it helps me realize just how many different people were involved in the war, he many lives were affected, how many personal narratives occurred. That seems like a fairly obvious point, but finding and telling these tales, each one different, really drives that home for me. It really is different to write such entries instead of just reading somebody else's work. I guess it's a feeling of ownership, with perhaps a developing sense of familiarity with the subject. Hopefully I can find more such projects as the new year proceeds.

2015 was a good year for the blog, I believe, especially the last few months. I am happy with several research projects I finished, such as the posts on John Rankin and John Parker, the study on the George Grey Barnard statue of Abraham Lincoln and the connection I found between a Kentucky basketball player and the Civil War. My hope is to continue to find such interesting stories and to be able to do more such research and writing.

Anyway, 2016 is now here and perhaps even a history blogger should take time to look forward. I have some good research already started and hope it continues to progress nicely. I would like to average at least one post per week (though I will try to avoid posting just to say I met some quota.) I cannot know for sure where my obsession will go during this year, but am ready to find out what stories pop up and what ideas fill my mind along the way. Family history in the war will likely be one topic I continue to explore, as will the roles of Kentucky and the Cincinnati area in the conflict. Hopefully I can take the time to make some short trips (Perryville, Richmond, Ky., Mill Springs are possibilities) and offer perspectives on those or other places. Reading more books and reviewing those books are other goals I would like to accomplish. 

Well, that's enough for now. As always, time itself will tell how things go. 

Happy New Year to all who visit and read this blog. I thank you all for your support and wish you the best in 2016 and beyond.