Friday, March 31, 2017

Centennial of Lincoln Statue in Cincinnati

In late 2015, I wrote a series of posts on a statue of Abraham Lincoln that sculptor George Grey Barnard had created. It was revealed and dedicated in a ceremony on March 31, 1917, one hundred years ago from today.

Here is a link to the 3rd story I wrote about this in late 2015. It has links to the first 2 in it.

I recently gave a presentation about this statue and found more details than are in this link, but I have not yet found a way to format that presentation for this blog. The linked stories give a good overview of tbis monument and the controversies surrounding it. Perhaps I will write a more detailed and update version in the future, but this link will be good on this anniversary date of the dedication

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Robert Good, Co. I, 4th Ky Cavalry

This, I hope, will be an interesting story to read. It certainly has been a fascinating one to research and write. I recently found an old piece of ephemera that really intrigued me, so I discussed it in a previous post

The form allowed the payment of a soldier's salary to his wife because he was a prisoner of war. 

The soldier for whose wife it was prepared was Corporal Robert Good of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry, and this post will tell his story that this form uncovered.

According to his file on, Robert was either 34 or 54 years old (more on that later) when he enlisted as a private in Company I of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry on October 16, 1862 for a three-year term, mustering in on October 30. The 4th Kentucky Cavalry was organized in Louisville in late 1862. It stayed in the Western Theater, frequently in Tennessee, and saw action at Chickamauga and in the Atlanta campaign

Robert had been born in Ireland, stood 5'11" tall and had blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion.

Once in the army, he led a career that was far from routine, with experiences such as charges of desertion, possible court-martial, capture, hospitalization, and perhaps even imprisonment in the most infamous Civil War prison of all, Andersonville. Various documents provide insight into some of his adventures, though ther remain some holes requiring speculation and interpretation.

In his file, his story begins with forms reporting that he "deserted at Louisville before 10 Feb 1863," and "deserted, rec'd $27 bounty." Then another form, covering the period March 1 to June 30, 1863, reported he was under arrest, awaiting a general court martial. 

Another document explains the cause of and resolution to this issue, saying his "charge of desertion removed; was while sick permitted to leave camp at Louisville, Ky., on or about Dec. 25, 1862, and go to his home in Louisville, until he recovered; was sick with erysipelas and unable to travel until May 28, 1863 when he left to join his command."

Documents for late 1863 now listed him as "absent, missing in action September 21" and continued showing that through 1864. 

Other records show this was because he had been "captured near Crawfish Springs" (Chickamauga) on September 21, 1863 and taken to a Confederate prison. Exactly how his time as prisoner went is uncertain. The paperwork is confusing and some of the writing is not legible. It appears he was taken to Richmond on September 29 before moving to Danville, Virginia or Americus, Georgia (Andersonville) on December 12, 1863. The form then mentions Andersonville, but "no date given." One word on this form is, unfortunately, illegible. 

He had $5 of U.S. money taken from him. Per a discussion on, he carried this money on him when captured, and the prison quartermaster confiscated it and other personal possessions, keeping a record of these items, at least of the money. They likely offered to trade him Confederate dollars for his U.S. money, as Confederate dollars would be the only money prisoners could use to purchase items like food inside the prison. It also benefited the Confederacy since a Federal dollar was worth more than a Confederate one outside the prison.

I found a second form on that also mentioned the $5 - the microfilm from which this record was taken included "Federal Prisoners of War Confined at Andersonville, Ga, 1864-65" in its title, adding evidence that that was where he was confined. 

Contrary thinking of the location of his imprisonment may be worth the effort, however, as the National Park Service's list of Andersonville prisoners does not list his name, though those records are incomplete per the service's Andersonville website. Unfortunately, the records at Andersonville National Park, available only at the park, also fail to list him, per the response to a research request I sent. (I forwarded them the forms I found and other circumstantial evidence and they said they would look further into it.)

I also found one site showing prisoners in Danville, and his name did not appear on it either. It is hard to know what records of prisoners were kept, and, especially, which ones survived, so his absence on these lists does not necessarily mean he was not there. 

Another issue is that Andersonville did not exist at the time of his capture. Per the Civil War Trust: It was built in early 1864 after Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners in and around Richmond to a place of greater security and more abundant food. During the 14 months it existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements. It did not receive prisoners until February 1864, so where was Robert from mid-December until then? Richmond seems likely, though the mention of Danville confuses things. (That description also makes his survival, if he was there, more remarkable.)

Despite this, it still may be true that he was at Andersonville. More evidence that he possibly was there is in the timing and place of his release. The prison exchange cartel between the USA and CSA had generally broken down, with occasional exceptions, but in August 1864, the two sides agreed to exchange sick and injured men, with the trade taking place on the Savannah River near Fort Pickens starting in mid-November. Robert was paroled on either November 14 at the Savannah River or November 18 at Savannah per his paperwork (two forms have different information), so the timing and location make it seem likely that Robert was indeed part of this exchange. If not, it would be a huge coincidence for him to have been paroled at the same time and place as prisoners from Andersonville.

Craig Swain has a good discussion of this exchange here, noting that the exchanged United States prisoners had originally moved away from Andersonville as part of this process.

After his release, and having served more than a year as a prisoner, Robert was admitted to hospital division number 2 in Annapolis, Maryland on November 25, though the same form states "no later record." Some of his paperwork is again confusing and hard to read, appearing to say his name was not on any hospital rolls, but the specificity of the other forms (naming the hospital ward where he went), the muster rolls and his time in prison lead me to believe he was hospitalized, likely along with many of his fellow ex-prisoners.

A surprising note is in a report of the exchange. Thanks again to Craig for finding it. Lieutenant-Colonel John E. Mulford reported: "I have the honor to inform you that I have up to the present time received over 3,000 of our men. Their physical condition is rather better than I expected, but their personal is worse than anything I have ever seen–filth and rags. It is a great labor to cleanse and clothe them..."(Official Records, Series II, volume 7, p. 1149.) That does not quite fit in the usual picture of emaciated and near-death men leaving Andersonville though some, including Robert, were possibly at least in somewhat poor health.

Muster rolls then reported Robert as "absent, sick in hospital, rec'd 6 months pay" for January and February 1865. The mention of pay presumably refers to the money paid to his wife on the form described in the previous post.

In March, April, May and June, he was listed as "present."

Another form says "July 1865 - Correll Guard" but I have no information as to what that may be.

He mustered out with the regiment on August 21, 1865 at Macon, Georgia. 

When he mustered out, he was now a corporal who had been last paid to February 28, 1864. He owed the government money, apparently $35, though it is barely legible, for "arms, equipment, etc." He apparently had lost one saddle blanket.

On the other hand, he had received $25 in bounty money, but was still owed $75. How much had the promised bounty motivated him to enlist, or how did other factors like patriotism, a search for adventure or his political beliefs also influence his decision? Perhaps his motivation was a combination of the above or something completely different. 

KY Cavalry Marker at Chickamauga, courtesy 

As for his post-military career, the age on the document in his file is the key to what information is available. It appears to be 54 at first glance, but may be 34. It does not look like other "5s" on the same page, but is not a perfect "3" either, though it could be a "3" with the top section not completed. I posted it online and asked friends for help. Some thought it said "54" and others thought "34," so there was no consensus. I've included it here so readers can form their own opinions.

If he was really 54, I can find no further records of him, so I am going to proceed under the assumption (yeah, I know) he was 34 when he enrolled in the final quarter of 1862. This may be wrong, but I did find some information for a Robert Good who was born about 1827 and will use that to add to this story. If I come across information that confirms or refutes this Robert Good being the same as on that document, I will update this blog.

The  only census on which I can find him, that of 1880, shows a Robert Good in Louisville, age 53, giving him a birth year of 1827. It also shows his wife  "Mary," age 40. 

His headstone photo on a find-a-grave shows he was in his 58th year when he died on August 11, 1885, matching the 1827 birth date as estimated on the census, close to the 1828 based on the above form. The headstone lists his wife as "Ellen" on top, underneath his name, but the bottom of the marker shows "erected by his wife Mary." It says Ellen was in her 47th year when she passed away on August 3, 1876. The brief biography on the same page states he married Mary Walsh on December 13, 1877, so Ellen was his first wife and Mary his second, meaning the form, census and graveyard records agree with each other as the form that began my request lists his wife's name name as "Elenora," which is probably the formal name for Ellen. I have not found any record of Mary's burial.

Headstone in Saint John's Cemetery (aka German-Catholic Cemetery) Louisville, courtesy

He was born in Ireland, immigrated to a new country, joined the army to defend that new home and survived imprisonment - Robert Good may not have lived the longest life, or found fame and fortune, but his life certainly did not lack for change or challenges.

Rest in peace, soldier.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pay Form for Prisoner of War

Here is a document that fascinates me since it is the first one of these I have ever seen, or even heard about. I had never before thought about how pay due to captured soldiers was handled. It also leads me to wonder what similar processes have escaped my attention.

This form shows the payment of six months pay (July through December 1863) for Corporal Robert Good. It was payable to his wife Elenora, as Robert was a prisoner-of-war when this form was completed on September 16, 1864. The document is in decent shape, but is fragile as it had been folded for a long time and is starting to tear along the folds. There are also pencil marks on it, as a previous owner apparently thought it was a good idea to write on it. Nonetheless, it does still exist and is still mostly legible, giving some insight into this overlooked detail of the war.

After reviewing the form itself in this post, I  will make another one discussing Robert Good, the soldier it mentions.

Front of form
This is a fairly basic form, with the soldier's information at top, followed by the payment due, listed as $14 per month for 6 months for a total of $84. 

The department paymaster signs it, then it has a spot for Elenora's signature, but in this case she "made her mark" like many people in the nineteenth century did on legal documents.

At the bottom, it has pre-printed instructions. It is, again, pretty straight-forward, but does note: "the certificate to the petition must in all cases be made by a Judge of a Court of U.S. or of a Court of Record of the State in which the applicant is a resident." It was then to be sent to Major William Allen, Chief Paymaster, District of the Cumberland, in Louisville. This was obviously an attempt to combat fraudulent claims, which may have been easy to attempt in a war with so many soldiers being captured.

Back of Form

On the back, the "extract" section gives information from an 1861 War Department order about who could file a claim and receive payments.

The next section was for the swearing in of the claimant, followed by the information about the soldier, including name and when and where captured, using the line "has remained, and still remains, a prisoner in the hands of the so-called Confederate States Government." (my emphasis.)

Following this is the signature and information of the judge making the request. In this case the judge was George W. Johnston of the city court of Louisville. Unfortunately, some of the handwritten information is illegible, though it appears to be legal-ease concerning Elenora's mark and the judge acknowledging it. (Here is a one-sentence story about Judge Johnston still enforcing slavery in a case in Louisville in June of 1865, two months after Robert E. Lee's surrender, as Kentucky had not yet abolished slavery.)

Cover of Form

This next page is the cover page when the form is completely folded. It is printed in "portrait" format while the other pages are "landscape" when unfolded, so I made a separate image of it.

Again, much of the handwriting is illegible, but it identifies the soldier's name, unit, date for which payment is due and the amount due.

Overall, this form may be nothing special, other than its newness to me and its assistance to me in realizing how many such day-to-day happenings I have never considered. I find this document, and the story it helped uncover, to be rather fascinating. I will soon post about the Civil War career of an Irish immigrant and American soldier, Corporal Robert Good of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry, the main subject of this form. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Review: The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs: Lincoln'sGeneral,Master Builder of the Union Army

The Quartermaster: Montgomery C Meigs
By Robert O'Harrow Jr. 
Copyright 2016 Simon & Schuster

It has been quite a while since my last book review, but I have finally finished reading another good book and have put together a few thoughts and comments about it.

The Quartermaster is simply an enjoyable book, featuring a smooth, easy-to-read writing style and flow that make it a fast read. O'Harrow is an investigative journalist and this book reads like a piece of journalistic writing instead of a normal history book, though that means no footnotes or endnotes. It does include  a section called "notes" at the end of the theme offers a glimpse of the sources the author his research seems to have been quite thorough and impressive

It tells a fascinating story about a man who may be one of the more under appreciated and unknown key figures in the Union's victory. Meig's name comes up frequently in general Civil War books, but usually only briefly or as a side story. This  book was the first lengthy treatment of Meigs I have seen, though that perhaps is more an indictment of my reading habits than of Civil War literature in general.     

Meigs was a talented and interesting  man and General. He often was gruff, serious, and perhaps even "self-righteous" as O'Harrow describes, but was also determined, ambitious, fiercely honest and loyal. He was an excellent organizer and manager and showed great creativity in many of his architectural designs and problem solving solutions. He also wanted to be well-known, in his lifetime and later, often leaving markers with his name and title on walls of his many architectural creations,  including the  Washington D.C. Aqueduct, the dome of the U.S. Capitol building and the Pension Office.His  opposition to corruption in the many contracts he entered, and in many of the military situations he witnessed, was a defining feature of his character and reputation. He kept a close eye on the financial   records he controlled and watched others in the military he did not want the government, his government, suffer due to profit-seeking contractors and office holders.

He also was anxious for any opportunity to hold a field command instead of his official duties, and this story demonstrates how he found such an opportunity, though not for long.

The Quartermaster is a fine book overall. It is a pleasant read, very informative and tells an enjoyable story of a very important man in the Union cause. In the pre-war years he was on good terms with Jefferson Davis and during the war became a trusted adviser to men like Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton, and his department was respected by William Sherman. Would the Federal armed forces have still managed to win the war without Meigs' in place as Quartermaster General? We will never know for sure, but this book does show that this one man did make a difference for his side. 

I enjoyed  this book very much and gladly recommend it to anyone interested in the Civil War.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Confederate Monument, Cynthiana, Ky

Two weeks ago,  I visited Battle Grove Cemetery in Cynthiana, Kentucky and finally was able to see the Confederate Monument and burial section. The monument is showing its age, but is still impressive, and the arrangement of headstones in a wide circle around it quickly caught my eye. It is visually striking, even beautiful.

Here are some pictures I took of this section. I will return to get other angles and to try to get a good image of the inscriptions on it, but thought I would share these shots for now, and throw in another plug to support the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation.

I had heard about this monument years ago, and am glad I finally made time to view it.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Post 600. Really?

I started working \on another post - which I may post later today, or perhaps in a day or two - and noticed that I have published 599 posts so far, so I decided to make this post to acknowledge post 600.

I started this blog in June of 2009, so it has been over 7 years, including a couple of long droughts without any posts, but I still think 600 is an impressive number. I certainly never realized I would blog for this long or make so many entries. I still may not make as many posts as I would ideally like to, but they are still fun to do. It feels great when I have a "voila!" moment and find something I want to post, even if it is just a link to a group I support or a reprint of an old newspaper article I find to be  interesting.

I do not do as many "editorial" type of opinion pieces as I expected to when I started this, but perhaps I will find a few more topics about which to pontificate here as this year rolls along.  I also want to do more reading again and post more book reviews. I am currently reading a good book and hope to finish it soon and offer my thoughts on it. Book reviews are pretty fun to write, though I admit that over the years I have read a couple of really bad books and I just do not review them. I do not want to be so critical in my reviews, though I will offer constructive criticisms in the reviews I do publish. Those other books I referenced  just did not have much good to review and I feel more comfortable just skipping them here.

Another thing that has come to mind is whether or not I want to change the design? I like the current look, especially all the blue color, but I have had this same look since late 2011, I believe, and I wonder if I want to change it. I changed it a few times in the first couple of years, but not recently. Do I want to change just to make a change, or just leave good enough alone? I don't know, but I'm sure I will think about it some more. Maybe I will make a change by June, when the anniversary of my first post here approaches.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Inauguration of President Lincoln, from the Youth's Companion

I just posted a story about a reaction to Lincoln's First Inaugural, so here is a look at some reaction to his Second Inaugural Address. This brief story is from the newspaper called the Youth's Companion, of March 9, 1865.This will likely be the last in my posts about the election/inaugural from the last few months.

It is a bit strange that this article does not mention the address Lincoln gave that March 4th day, but here is a link to his second inaugural, which some people consider Lincoln's greatest speech. The article did, however, manage to mention religious freedom.
On the last day of the past week a ceremony both grand and impressive took place at Washington. Pres. Lincoln was at noon of that day inaugurated as president of the United States for another term of four years. Amidst the applause of those assembled to witness the ceremony, he came forward and took the oath of office. This was administered to him by Chief Justice Chase, in a  manner that was deeply impressive. For the second time Mr. Lincoln swore to be true to the Constitution and the Union, to faithfully perform the duties of his  high office, and to protect religious liberty and laws throughout our land. Four years since he stood on the steps of the Capital to accept the same high trust. Then there were fears of disturbance, and threatenings from desperate, traitorous men, and many troops were called out to prevent violence and to protect the president. But he did not falter, nor did he hesitate boldly to proclaim what he intended to do for the preservation of the Union. And now that the four years of his first term have passed away he comes forward again to devote himself to the nation. He has honestly performed his duties during his term of office, and how thankful should we all be that we have had such a man at the head of affairs. May God bless Mr. Lincoln, and give him strength to carry on through the next four years of his office as faithfully as he had done hitherto. His position is one of great anxiety and care, and his duties are many and hard to bear. Let us all, then, pray that God will aid him in the performance of them, and the end of the coming four years will see us a happy, prosperous and peaceful people.

image courtesy