Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Very old Veteran Bullies a Very Young Girl?

So much for a post a week, huh? Sorry about my absence last week. I do have a couple of posts I'm trying to perfect, or at least finish :), but here is another story I found in the newspaper about a Civil War veteran i his post-war life

Could this be considered an example of bullying from almost 100 years ago?

Cincinnati Enquirer May  2, 1920

Charles Williams, 98 years old, veteran of the Civil and Indian Wars, residing at 918 Front st, Dayton, Ky filed suit  in Campbell Circuit Court yesterday, against Dorothy Worthington, 9 years old, and her guardian James Worthington, to recover $2,000.

Plaintiff alleges that in 1905  Isabell Plunkett, a relative of the defendants, contracted with him that if he would move into her home and take general charge of her  property, she would devise it to him at her death. He says that in accordance with this agreement, he moved into her home in March 1905. He says that she died in August 19, 1919, whereupon, he says, he ascertained that she had left him only a life estate in the realty and had devised the remainder in fee to her grandniece, Dorothy Worthington, the infant defendant in the case.

H alleges that during his incumbency as caretaker he rendered service to Isabella Plinkett, did housework and nursing, so that there is now due him from the estate the sum of $2,000.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Our Exchanged Prisoners: a Youth's Companion article from 1865

This Youth's Companion article and illustration come from the January 5, 1865 edition of that newspaper.

No more touching scene has occurred during the war than that which was exhibited on the deck of the dispatch boat, when the first of our exchanged prisoners in the last exchange that was made, found themselves once more under the protection of the stars and stripes. A terrible record of suffering was written upon their livid faces, gaunt, skinny limbs and tattered clothes. No words can describe the exultation of these poor sufferers a their release. With shouting and cheering, in almost an ecstasy of happiness, they greeted the old flag, singing

"Rally round the flag, boys, 
From near and from far,
Down with the traitor, 
and up with the star!"

The condition of the released prisoners is thus described by a correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer: One poor fellow showed me his limbs. They were not larger toward the ankle than a man's thumb. It was touching as well as amusing to the bystanders to here their remarks as they came off the boat. One man, jumping up and stamping with this feet, uttered the exclamation as though it came from his very soul, "God bless the piece of land that I'm now on." Another: "Thank God I'm in His country once more." Others would utter like exclamations of joy and gratitude, such as, "O, what a blessed hour is this!" ; "Hurrah for the Union, I'm once more in it!"  "Fourteen months in Dixie, but never a day more!" An Irishman, as he walked off, said, "Sure this is the happiest day since iver I came to Ameriky." 

The information which these men give concerning their sufferings and the cruelty practiced toward them by the rebel authorities almost staggers belief. At Camp Sumter, which is the prisoner camp where they were confined at Andersonville, thirty odd thousand were held during the summer. Very few of these had any shelter from the rain or burning sun.

Their only resort was to dig holes in the ground, and at each end excavate or scoop out the earth from under, so as to afford a partial shelter. Here two would creep for a little relief. 

Their food we need not describe. It is the same old story which we hear from every one who has ever been subject to the tender mercies of the authorities in the South. Their rations were seldom, if ever cooked. Peas and corn meal, or corn meal with an occasional bit of bacon, and in very small portions, were the only articles furnished them.

The sufferings they endured can never be imagined. As I have gone around and sat by their beds in the different wards, and heard their statements of the conditions of the poor fellows who were at Camp Sumter, and at Andersonville, and Camp Lawton, at Millen, Ga., my very heart has ached, and I have had to leave that I might hear no more.

Illustration from the National Park Service

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Veteran and the Young Girl

I found this in the Cincinnati Enquirer from 1913 and found it to be interesting. I like old newspaper stories, even postwar ones like this, so they may be not uncommon among the posts I make, which I hope will be at least weekly. One or two entries every week seems reasonable to me, with more as I find stories that interest me.

This entry is one that may benefit from additional research as I find time.  I posted this on my personal Facebook account and a couple of friends gave me some  help, but I still think it would be nice to know where he is buried and maybe more about his military career. Perhaps that's a project I can add work on over time. One friend found that his full name may be Benjamin Franklin Anderson.

Please note that this story was published in 1913 and listed the woman as then being 45 years old, meaning she was born in 1868. Something is wrong in the story - hopefully they just got her age wrong and the main piece of the story is correct. Also note that this Cincinnati Enquirer story did misspell the city as Pittsburg, not Pittsburgh.

Grateful because a little girl had befriended him at the end of the Civil War when he was in want, B.F. Anderson, old Civil War veteran, whose death occurred at the Soldier's Home in Dayton and who was well known in Newport, where he left an estate valued at $6,000 has made the little girl, now Mrs. William Strutt, 45, of Pittsburg, Pa., his sole heir.

When the war ended, Anderson, with nothing but an honorable discharge, wandered into Pittsburg. He was homeless, penniless and thought himself friendless. Out of employment and without funds he applied to the little girl for aid. She honored him as a hero who had fought for his country and she forthwith took him to her home and with her hands prepared him a beautiful meal. Anderson left her with gratitude in his heart. The years passed. The lintel (sic) girl was married, and settled down in Pittsburg, while the soldier, now an old veteran, accumulated real estate in Newport by hard work. Age left it's mark and the ravages of time caused him to seek the protection of the Soldier's home, but he never forgot the one who needed him when he needed aid. His dying request w that his executor, Lawrence Riedinger of Newport give him a suitable burial, providing carriages for as many if his comrades in arms as desired to accompany his remains to their last resting place and then see that Mrs. Strutt gets the remainder of his estate according to a will that said (sic) that he had deposited in a safety deposit box, which will be opened today by Mr. Riedinger.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, General Ormsby Mitchel

Hat tip to Northern Kentucky Views on Facebook for pointing out that today marks the 204th birthday of the famed Civil War general, educator and astronomer. He was born in Morganfield, Kentucky and the town of Fort Mitchell in Northern Kentucky is one of several places named in his honor.

Please note that the town has 2 "ls" at the end of its name, but there is only one on the end of his. Nobody seems to know why or when that changedc, but even during the war, Cincinnati newspaperws sometimes spelled the forticiatin called Fort Mitchel with the 2 "ls" so it has been a common change for a long time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: How Kentucky Became Southern

How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers and Breeders by MaryJean Wall

Though not a true "Civil War" book, Wall's book discusses Kentucky, it's horse racing industry, it's image and other topics from the Civil War era.  The title is not totally accurate - most of the book is about horse racing and it does not really discuss Kentucky's image as becoming southern until late in the narrative, though once it does, the author does a fine job explaining the treatise and providing examples. I wish the book had more of that type of discussion. 

The book is a bit similar to Anne Marshall's Creating a Confederate Kentucky, especially in discussions of the violence around the state and region and in showing how popular literature ("plantation literature" in Wall's words) contributed to the how peoples round the country came to view the Bluegrass State. Marshall's work, which I admittedly read a couple of years ago,  struck me as being more detailed and is a longer work, but that foes not detract from Wall's fine writing.

Wall's book is well-written and a pleasure to read, perhaps not a surprise given he long time in the field of journalism. It flows well and is a quick read.

One Civil War  related tidbit that stood out to me and that I will remember and maybe use in the future is the role of August Belmont in the horse racing industry. While reading the book, I looked up his name online and found that the Belmont Stakes was named in his honor. 

The Civil War tidbit is that Mr. Belmont was the president of the 1864 Democratic National Convention where General  George B.  McClellan was nominated as that party's Presidential candidate. 

Overall, this is an enjoyable, informative look at pieces of Kentucky's history and image, including horse racing and several if the characters involved in that sport. It does discuss the post-Civil War era more than the war, but the ties of Southern and Confederate images to the state make this a good choice for those interested in that era and/or Kentucky history.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Discussion: Maney 's Confederate Brigade at the Battle ofPerryville

As I mentioned in my recent post, I have been doing more reading in the last several weeks, so I thought I would make a couple of posts about some recent books I have read and enjoyed.

When I started this particular entry, I was going to discuss a few of these books all in one post, but I decided to discuss just one book at this time, as it was one I really enjoyed, and I read it just after my tour at Perryville, which allowed me to enjoy it even more than I would have with different timing. Not only did I have a better understanding of the land and area, but the tour left me we much more knowledge of individually leaders and units that this book discussed. It was great, though unplanned, timing on my part.

Maney's Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville by Stuart Sanders discusses one of the main Confederate units at Perryville, a brigade led by Brigadier General George Maney, discussing in detail its role in the battle, following the attack by Daniel Donaldson's Confederates, much of which started near the area where the modern park entrance and museum are.

Sanders shows how this unit approached a Federal position, now known as the Open Ridge or Parson's Ridge, eventually attacking up the hill and dislodging the Union troops with hard, even hand-to-hand fighting, before continuing the fight down the other side of the hill, through the cornfield and through more severe fighting on Starkweather's Hill.

Sanders does a fine job of describing the fighting, troop movements and terrain, though perhaps my visit to the site helped make this seem more understandable to me. Nevertheless, after reading this book, I felt much more confident in my knowledge of at least this part of the battle, including questions about Maney's behavior during the fight (should he go forward with his troops or stay back with the reserves? ) and placement of individual units, such as the 41st Georgia or 1st Tennessee, among others.

I have read two other books that Mr. Sanders has written - Perryville Under Fire: TheAftermath of Kentucky's Largest Civil War Battle   and The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky - and enjoyed them as well, so I do believe that my enjoyment of this book was due to more than my springtime trip to Perryville. I enjoy his writing style and have found his books to be very well-researched, with detailed endnotes as well.

Selfishly, my hope is that the author, or someone else, can manage to write a similar book about the more southern  end of fighting at Perryville, closer to the Bottom House and Doctor's Creek. That would really give me a better understanding of this hard-fought battle often called "the Confederate High Tide in the West," and, possibly an excuse for another trip to this beautiful and hallowed ground.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Still Hanging Around

Yes, I am still here, or maybe I should say I'm baaaaaaack!

A year without posting is shameful and though I will likely touch on some of the reasons (excuses?) for my absence in this and maybe future posts, I do have a few topics to mention today. It will probably not come across as the most prepared or researched posting ever, but I hope it will be evidently honest and straight-forward about some of my life experiences and studies and reasons for such an absence.

First, despite the lack of posting, I have maintained my interest in the Civil War. I still serve as President of the James A Ramage Civil War Museum. My previous post was a preview of our Battery Hooper Days event for 2013, but this post comes just In time to review the 2014 version of this event. It went well, as temperatures were low for August in this part of the land, and the rain stayed away despite cloudy skies.  We had  several new displays inside the museum and out, including a medical tent set-up in our encampment,  a new display on the 1864 election and a re-enactors group from Camp Nelson, portraying Company L of the 12th Regiment U.S Colored Heavy Artillery.  We also had a temporary display of a statue that Civil War veterans donated to a local group of nuns as a thank you for care they had given to their wounds. It is a beautiful statue and we were fortunate to have it on display.

Attendance was a bit lower an usual, at least on Sunday. That was frustrating as we thought we had done a good job of greeting publicity, buy maybe the threatening skies scared some visitors away from a mostly outdoors event. We controlled what we could and are satisfied with our efforts, though we will always look for ways to do even better.

I also continue to volunteer at the Campbell County Historical and Genealogical Society, as acquisitions manager. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2015 and are in the midst of planning a special event on June 27 of next year, so that will require some time and effort on my part as well.

I also am scheduled to give so talk on Abraham Lincoln at the society's January meeting. I am not an experienced public speaker, so that will be a challenge for me, though one I do welcome. As of now, my talk will focus mostly on the 1864 election, the 13th Amendment and Lincoln's Second Inaugural, with some background information about the war's first three years and some of the things that influenced Lincoln as he approached late 1864 and beyond. Hopefully I will be able to do this as a PowerPoint presentation (including finding the equipment to use) as I think that will help me quite a bit.

One of the reasons for my hiatus from posting was, ironically, BHD last year. Preparing for and then going through  It wore me out physically, mentally and emotionally, and just sapped me of my motivation, not only from blogging, but also from basic reading or research also. My job at an insurance company was also extremely busy at this time last year, with lots of mandatory overtime. That did not help me at all.

The good news is that within the past few months, I have started reading much more. I have not dug into much research yet,  but I can feel my desire to do research h and to resume blogging growing as I continue to read more. I think I am back on the right track, and though I cannot promise how much research I will do or how often I will blog, I am confident it will be much more common an in the past year. I have plans to do more cemetery research and with the renovation of the Covington branch of the Kenton Count Library being complete, I should be able to head over there more often too. Book reviews should be another good source of material for me as well. I don't know if I will do full reviews of the books I have read in the last few months, but I know that I will want to post at least some thoughts on a few of them as I did make some good choices in reading material.

Also. I believe that my use of my IPAD, and less use of my desktop computer, has made me less interested in posting such long posts (at least compared to message board or Facebook posts) and I hope I can overcome that excuse as well.

I also should mention that I took a very informative (and fatiguing) walking tour at Perryville in May. I saw parts of the field I had not seen before, and learned quite a bit of new information about the battle. The guides were super knowledgeable and did a fantastic job leading the group,of about 40 people over the many hills and trails in the park.  This tour also influenced some of my reading choices in the weeks that followed, a fortunate occurrence, I do believe as I learned even more and was able to understand what I read better, since I had just been on the ground the authors described. Perhaps I will post a few pictures from that tour, though I continued to focus on cannons and split-rail fences . I also took several shots of open fields and hills, though those may not appear interesting, unless I can attach accurate captions to describe what the show. I will see what I can do about that, as Perryville remains one of my favorite places to visit. I even have been there twice already this year, which is unusual. Hopefully I will make at least one more trip, sometime in the fall of this year.