Monday, May 25, 2020

Decoration Day

Here are a few images of antique Decoration Day postcards. There are many more out there but I feel these few from my collection represent and express the reasons for Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Sketch of Rebel Hospitals

This was in the Cincinnati  Enquirer June 2 1863. The full title seems a bit inaccurate, or at least the final line does, but it is a good description of one young patient. 

A Sketch of Rebel Hospitals - The Wounded Artillerymen - What I Saw In a Hospital - Reformation of the System

From the Knoxville (Tenn.)  Whig May 11

On three long rows of narrow cots, on either side of the great hall, are sick and wounded soldiers. On that nearest cot is a mere boy. How listlessly and wearily he gazes through the open window. His hand, lying (ILLEGIBLE, perhaps “outside”) the soiled and stained coverlid, is white as a snow-flake. He raises his pale face from the pillow of straw, and his eyes grow bright when a soft voice pronounces words of sympathy and love. He can move with the utmost difficulty, since his leg, that was crushed by a cannon-ball, was amputated. He does not complain when he shows you the bandaged stump that is left, but his deep sunken eyes and little wrists so thin, with the blue veins so clearly marked, and the dropping fingers tell, with touching eloquence, what the poor soldier boy has suffered. Twice has that sunken limb been subjected to the Surgeon’s knife. It was taken off first at the ankle, just after the battle. The Surgeon hoped to save the rest of the leg, but afterward they found it must be taken off higher up, just above the knee, and the patient sufferer wen through with the agony over again. It would make a woman weep to think over it; but men become accustomed to such incidents, and the fountain of our sympathies have been exhausted by the demands made upon them since this horrible and unnatural war began. 

The Surgeon says he will get well slowly, but he is so listless and pale, and wears a look of such unutterable weariness, that life itself seems burdensome to the wounded soldier. He says he is so tired looking at the long rows of cots with a groaning sick person in each; at the rows of windows, too, down the long hall; he grows weary moving his wasted fingers round and round the figures on the coarse bed-quilt; he wearied of looking at the withered stump of a limb, and wondering how he shall learn to walk with only one leg, and he wearies lying in one position hour after hour and day after day, without turning over. I thought as I watched the pale wan sufferer, that I would like to hang some pictures on the bare wall for the poor boy to look at and think about as he lies without one word of sympathy from any human being. Now gladly would he receive a fresh bunch of flowers from a sister’s or a mother’s hand! He would smile then, and the blood would flow from his heart with something of its wonted vigor. How sad to think that, instead of this, he must lie there through all these bright days of spring-time, and sick and nervous and weak, he must see the patient in the next bed die, he must listen to his ceaseless groans, and witness the horrible agonies and writings of the wretched sufferer. He must see him struggle awhile in the grasp of death, and then borne away to the grave by rude attendants who have become as heartless as familiarity with human woes can make them. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Why not hang every Dutchman captured?

This commentary is from the Cincinnati Enquirer of June 25, 1863, reprinted from a Tennessee newspaper, and likely refers to the failed Streight’s Raid. 

Southern News 
From the Knoxville Register June 12


Of late, in all the battles, and in all the recent incursions made by Federal cavalry, we have found the great mass of Northern soldiers to consist of Dutchmen. The plundering thieves captured by Forrest, who stole half the jewelry and watches in a dozen counties of Alabama, were immaculate Dutchmen. The national order (EDITOR’S NOTE:  perhaps the author meant “odor” but the story clearly said “order.”) of Dutchmen, as distinctive of the race as that which, constantly ascending to heaven, has distended the nostrils of the negro, is as unmistakable as that particular to a pole cat, an old pipe, or a lager-beer saloon. Crimes, thefts, and insults to the women of the South, invariably mark the course of these stinking bodies of animated sour kraut. Rosecrans himself is an unmixed Dutchman, an accursed race which has overrun the vast districts of the country of the North-west. 

It happens that we entertain a greater degree of respect for an Ethiopian in the ranks of the Northern armies then for an odiferous Dutchman, who can have no possible interest in this revolution. 

Why not hang every Dutchman captured? We will hereafter hang, or shoot, or imprison for life, all white men taken in command of negroes, and enslave the negroes themselves. This is not too harsh. No human being will assert the contrary. Why, then, should we not hang a Dutchman, who deserves infinitely less of our sympathy than Sambo. The live masses of beer, kraut, tobacco, and rotten cheese, which, on two legs and four, on foot and mounted, go prowling through the South, should be used to manure the sandy plains and barren hillsides of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

Whenever a Dutch regiment adorn(s) the limbs of a Southern forest, daring cavalry raids into the South shall cease.

President Davis need not be specially consulted, and if an accident of this sort should occur to a plundering band like that captured by Forrest, we are not inclined to believe that our President would be greatly disgruntled. 


This may be the most remarkable Civil War newspaper article I have found. I keep thinking “wow!” every time I re-read it. I certainly know that anti-immigrant sentiment existed during the Civil War, just a few years after the Know Nothing/American Party/Nativist movement in the 1850s, but the harsh language, repeated insults, and non-stop stereotypes in this story somewhat shocked me when I first saw it. Maybe I have not studied this subject enough - I have seen immigrant soldiers in the Union Army referred to as “Lincoln’s hirelings” and, of course, ridicule of the performance of some foreign soldiers, such as at Chancellorsville, but I have not found a story quite like this. Especially noteworthy, in my view, are the comparisons to African-Americans, who certainly were not respected in the South. Could this writer have considered anything a worse insult than those comparisons? 

also wonder if any German-language newspapers reprinted this or similar articles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

1863 Kentucky Election Controversy in Campbell County

Location of Campbell County, from

The 1863 Kentucky Gubernatorial election was controversial, with charges of military interference influencing the election’s results. The mention of the Jamestown Precinct refers to the town now called Dayton but I am not certain who “General Smith” was (presumably the same “Smith” listed in “Bramlette, Smith & Co.”) Ironically, the author was also named Smith or at least used that name. 

The controversy did not escape my home of Campbell County, as one letter-writer informed the Cincinnati Enquirer, which published this report on August 13,1863.

The Infamous Election In Kentucky

Newport, Campbell Co., Ky., August 10, 1863

To the Editors of the Enquirer:

I have waited for some days to see if any correspondence would give to the public the ways and means by which the Abolition party, aided by the military carried the State at the election held last Monday.

I now desire to add my mite to the list of outrages recorded in your paper.

My experience at the polls in Jamestown Precinct was of five minutes’ duration, but that was enough to show the drift of matters. Two scoundrels were employed to challenge Democrats, to threaten, to bully, and even knock down, in all of which they had the protection of the soldiers. These latter doing their share in aiding BramletteSmith & Co., by ordering voters from the polls. 

Many a Democrat’s did not attempt to vote, knowing that they would be subject to insult and violence if they did so. So outrages was one of these challengers, that one of the judges, who is also a Deputy Sheriff of Campbell County, called for the sergeant commanding the troops to restrain this rowdy, whereupon the rowdy threatened to take him from his desk, and actually attacked him; the soldiers also rushed at the Sheriff with charged bayonets, and would have killed him had he not drawn back. 

A judge of election calls for aid from the military, they respond by menacing him with bayonet. Had General Smith any thing to do with these outrages? It looks suspicious. 

The Democrats of the free States should be well informed of the methods which Lincoln takes to place his entire  satraps in power in the Sates of Kentucky,  Missouri, Western Virginia and Maryland.


Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, from

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Michael Gabbard Part 2: A Deeper Look

Concluding the series on Civil War soldier Michael Gabbard and his wife Mary Ann, this post will explore the story of his service on the honor guard that escorted Abraham Lincoln’s body from Chicago to Springfield following Lincoln’s assassination.

As I read the story about his presence on Lincoln’s honor guard, it intrigued me more and more. How cool would it be to find a soldier who had such a role in a hugely important moment of American history? 

Soon, however, I began to wonder how true it was. History is full of myths, often to benefit a person’s reputation, which probably is the source of my skepticism, so I decided to look into it a little more before posting it.

I found the honor guard story in a 1979 newspaper article called It Happened Here (see the previous posts), on family history sites, and on a findagrave page that lists a family newsletter as a sourceEven with my uncertainty about how true the this entire story is, I find it to be an interesting tale, a combination of history, memory, and family oral tradition.

It Happened Here provided some information about Michael’s military service, including the honor guard story in italics below:

It is one of my hobbies to look for common everyday events that are linked to history. Today I discovered one that links the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, April 14, 1865, to the fact that when our members or visitors come into the Co-op office, the first person they usually our receptionist...Mrs. Marjorie Mullins, an Owsley County McIntosh.  Her mother was a Gabbard. 

Per this article, Mrs. Mullins’ aunt Nell typed a twenty-four page “family history from their oral tradition” (emphasis added.This article reprinted part of that history.

The article started with a mention of Michael Gabbard’s wound, as the previous post discussed. Then, He was sent to a prison at Rock Island, Illinois to guard the southern prisoners. While (he was) here, President Lincoln was killed. The body was brought to Chicago. Grandpa was chosen as one of the honor guards to accompany the body from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois and help bury it. In Chicago he met and married Mary Ann Manguin from County Cork, Ireland in the spring of 1865 (Note: “Mangan” is the correct spelling of her name, and they actually married in September 1864 ) 

Michael Gabbard and Mary Ann Manguim lived on Indian Creek in Owsley County (Kentucky.) They had a son, Stephen, who had a daughter, Edna (sister to Nell) that married Charley McIntosh. (Edna was the mother of the Mrs. Mullins mentioned above.)

When your great grandparents married and he was mustered out of the army, they came to Kentucky and built two rooms of the house on Indian Creek where your mother and dad first started housekeeping and where your sister Geneva was born.

His wife's story indicates he spent time at Camp Douglas not Rock Island, but he may have been at both. Both locations are only mentioned in one source each, neither on

I found similar stories about his presence on the honor guard online, first on, where his page states: Michael was a member of the honor guard that accompanied Abraham Lincoln’s body by rail from Chicago to Springfield Illinois for burial. All information from the Gabbard family Newsletter. Article by John Gabbard June 1995.

I also found this story and genealogical information on a family/military history siteThe key section indicated: 

Michael Gabbard - Private   Michael 'Drunk Mike' Gabbard was chosen to escort President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train from Chicago to Springfield, IL.

After the Battle of Perryville, Michael was attached to Camp Chase Ohio to guard Confederate Prisoners.  

Michael and his 8 brothers served within the 8th KY INF.  

This next site tells a similar tale. I suspect each one shared a common source for the honor guard story, but here are the relevant lines from this site:

Four of the sons of Isaac and Jane were in the Union Army during the Civil War: George W., James, Jacob and Michael. James was killed in the battle Lookout Mountain; Michael was wounded in the same battle. Michael was an Honor Guard for Abraham Lincoln's body when it was transported by rail from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois. [Actually 5 sons served - Abel served, too, because he applied for his pension.]

(Note: A quick search indicates that George and Jacob were in the 47th Kentucky Infantry and that Abel joined Michael in the 8th Kentucky. James, however, died in 1859, before the war even began. Still, a family having four brothers in the war is a fascinating story itself (though I don’t know where the previous site got the “8 brothers” figure.) Maybe researching the other three will make a good future project.)

These stories are fairly consistent, and that made me more interested in finding other sources about it. I admittedly did all my research online, and realize I may have missed published works that provide more information, but I thought the search was as thorough as I could reasonably do for this blog. Maybe someone who knows more about the honor guard or other sources will stumble upon these words and help uncover more about this story. I will gladly post corrections of any errors made herein.

I searched under terms like “Lincoln’s honor guard,” “Lincoln honor guard Chicago,” “Gabbard, Lincoln honor guard,” and similar phrases and did find some helpful information. 

Gabbard was in the Veteran Reserve Corps (VRC,) but was a private, not a non-commissioned officer such as a sergeant. 

Another site provides a list of individual names on the honor guard. Gabbard is not on that list, nor is any member of the 8th VRC. 

I did find an image of the program from the public viewing of Lincoln’s body in Chicago, and the website’s description caught my attention: This program for the Chicago funeral includes the names of pall bearers, a mounted honor guard, and general processors. Unfortunately, the list of honor guard members is not legible, even when I save and enlarge it. (Other pages, including Pinterest, show this same image, without the tassels, but are no more readable than this one.) I am not sure Gabbard would have been on a “mounted” honor guard, but I would like to see those names anyway.

Here is the artifact: 

No source I found listed Gabbard as part of Lincoln’s honor guard, other than the genealogy websites and the newspaper article. It seems likely that these may have all been based on family oral history like the article mentioned. 

This contrast between family history and official public records leaves me with a few theories as to how this story developed.

1. Michael witnessed the transportation of Lincoln’s body and later described it to someone who shared the story. Over time and many retellings the story mistakenly evolved to include Michael as part of the honor guard.  

2. He did view the honor guard at work, but as time passed and his memory faded, he unintentionally and honestly started believing he was part of it and communicated that to others. He lived until 1902, and memories do fail over time, especially decades.

3. He was part of the honor guard, unofficially or in a small role that went unrecorded. He was in Chicago as part of the VRC, during the right time period. Moving Lincoln’s body was a big deal and possibly required many additional workers beyond the official guards. In that case, the family story could be correct even if no “official records” ever existed to confirm it. 

One message board mentioned a similar possibility: I understand it, each city which had services for Abraham Lincoln had its own set of honorary pallbearers. The honorary pallbearers walked on either side of the coffin as it was carried by the men listed above. I realize this is not the most scholarly source, but the thought was similar to (and more detailed than) mine, so I am sharing it for consideration.

4. He was part of the honor guard, but any records proving so have been lost, destroyed or misplaced over time, or they still exist to prove it, but I have simply not found them.

5. He was not part of the honor guard, but at some point he told someone he was (perhaps to counter his reputation as “Drunk Mike,” or maybe he created this tale while drinking and perhaps bragging about his service) and it became part of family history over time.

6. Someone else created the idea, either intentionally or not, perhaps to help his reputation or to create family pride.

Let me note here that the family history excerpt in the newspaper article  was incorrect t when it claimed Michael was injured at Lookout Mountain as well as with a couple other details, so that leads me to question the accuracy of the rest of it. 

If this is just family legend, many legends do have some basis in truth, even if small, and that may be the case here, despite the apparent lack of other documentation. Perhaps future research (or luck) will uncover further evidence or sources someday.

Overall, the stories of Michael Gabbard and his wife fascinate me and show how family lore can intersect with history.Even if the legends are not always completely true, they are important, especially to that family. Many families likely have their own oral histories whose only sources are the retelling of stories from previous generations. My own family has an undocumented story about  Civil War veteran Henderson Turner walking hundreds of miles home after leaving his regiment, but we cannot even find his name in any records other than the 1890 Veteran’s Census, though he received a veteran’s headstone. 

Michael Gabbard died on August 22, 1902 and was buried in the Esau-Gabbard Cemetery in Owsley County. 

Rest In Peace, soldier. 

Pictures from findagrave

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Michael Gabbard, Part 1: Common Soldier

My previous post explored the life of Mary Ann (Mangan) Gabbard, a nineteenth century woman who was born in Ireland before immigrating to the United States, where she met and married the subject of this post, American soldier Michael Gabbard. Gabbard, a story claims, was a part of the honor guard which accompanied Abraham Lincoln’s body from Chicago to his burial place in Springfield


Michael Gabbard had been born on April 30, 1837, the son of Isaac Hugh and Jane (Isaacs) Gabbard. He married Mary Ann on September 15, 1864, while he was still serving in the Civil War, which he had entered as a private in Company D of the 8th Kentucky Infantry, which he joined in Owsley County on September 24, 1861 for a standard three-year term.

Photos from 

A brief recap of his time in the war is in a photocopy of a newspaper article which was among the documents I received from a cousin who alerted me to his story. The article is entitled It Happened Here, written by Jess  D. Wilson (copyright 1979, Jackson County Recorder, McKee, Ky.) It stated: Margie, as I told you, your great grandpa, Mike Gabbard, was wounded at Look Out Mountain during the Civil War. His entire kneecap was blown away. He used a cane and later a crutch, too. The wound never healed. 

After suffering the knee injury, he transferred to the Veterans Relief Corps (VRC.) His wife’s autobiography says he was in the 7th Regiment of that unit, but the Soldiers and Sailors database indicates he was in Company G of the 8th Regiment, as do forms on Since she did not writ her story until about 1913 (according to a family history page,) it is likely that she misremembered the exact unit number.

Unfortunately, this newspaper story is untrue, as various observations and information contradict it. One example is that his wife’s autobiography (see my previous post linked at the start of this story) mentions nothing of him being seriously wounded, even as he pushed her on a swing. A man with a blown away kneecap might not be able to do a physical activity, or the wound would at least be noticeable, if as severe as the story described it. Additionally, would a man with a “blown away” kneecap have been able to participate in Lincoln’s honor guard, as he supposedly did? 

Even if Mary Ann  just did not remember that type of detail, or if the honor guard story is not true, a more irrefutable contradiction of this story comes from the timing of events.

The Battle of Lookout Mountain did not take place until November 24, 1863, after the couple had met. She acknowledges he was already in the VRC in Chicago when they met, and records on Fold3 show he had transferred to the VRC on August 5, 1863, after being listed sick on multiple muster rolls. This was three months before his reported wounding. This could be a case of her memory being faulty regarding details, but the dates on the military records confirm that he was in the VRC before the battle where he supposedly was injured. 

I did view pension index cards in his file but admittedly did not spend the time or money to request his pension file, so maybe I am missing key information about his specific ailment, though the earliest date I saw on any of them was 1876. He apparently fell ill more than once and the last illness was severe enough to remove him from his original regiment. This is one detail I wish I had, so perhaps I will request his pension records eventually.

The records I did find show that injury at Lookout Mountain was not the reason he transferred to the VRC as he was not even in that battle, being in the VRC long before that fight took place. (For anyone who may want to look at his paperwork, please note that I found some under “Michael Gabbard” and others under “Micheal Gabbard” on Fold3.)

Another piece of this story that is a bit puzzling is that some of the records on Fold3 seem to contradict each other, based on the dates and information on these documents (though none of these, even the differences, support the idea of him being wounded at Lookout Mountain.) With so many different military forms to complete and so many men involved in the war, such mistakes were probably inevitable.

Here is a recap of the information and dates on the paperwork in his Fold3 file:
Joined for duty Sept 24 1861 Owsley County, 3 years, mustered in  Lebanon Ky Jan 15 1862 

Muster roll cards: 
Sept 24 to Dec 31 1861, present or absent: not stated
Jan & Feb 1862 present
Mar & Apr 1862 present
May & Jun 1862 present
Apr 30 to Aug 31 1862 present
Sept & Oct 1862 present
Aug 31 to Dec 31 1862 absent, at convalescent camp, Nashville
Jan & Feb 1863 present
Mar & Apr 1863 present
Apr 1863 present 
Feb 28 to June 30 1863 absent, sent to convalescent camp, Murfreesboro, TN
July & Aug 1863, absent, left at Murfreesboro TN sick, 1st July 1863
Jun 30 to Oct 31 1863, transferred to the Invalid Corps Aug 5, 1863

Appears on muster-out roll dated Chattanooga TN Nov 17 1864, last paid to Feb 28, 1863,  transferred to Invalid Corps Aug 5, 1863 

Appears on returns (1 card)
Jan 1863 absent sick Dec 26 1862, Nashville
May & June 1863 absent sent to convalescent camp at Murfreesboro TN
July 1863 absent sick, sent to convalescent camp Nashville TN
Aug & Sept 1863, absent sick, sent to convalescent camp, Murfreesboro May 11 1863
Oct 1863, Loss, Aug 5, 1863, Murfreesboro TN (over, but no 2nd page)

Some of the dates showing present or absent do not match other cards, but the main point for this story is that none of them show him available to the 8th Kentucky Infantry at the time of the fight at Lookout Mountain in November 1863.

How exactly his story developed into one saying he suffered a major injury at Lookout Mountain may be lost to history. Did he suffer a knee injury while in the VRC or perhaps in a non-military accident after the war? Did his memory falter or did he fabricate the story and share it? The 1890 Veteran’s Schedule Census does list him having a “damaged limb,” supporting the idea of his knee/leg being injured somehow, but I have found no other source stating how/when/where he was injured or where the Lookout Mountain fight entered the legend. Maybe the pension file would help with that.

The newspaper story quoted previously may partially clarify how this version of his story came into being, as it states: Nell wrote down... a lengthy (24 typed pages) family history from their oral tradition. “Nell” was a granddaughter of Michael and Mary Ann. Since the stories came from family oral history, it is likely that failing memories and mis-worded stories (wording might change with every telling and every attempt to recall them) led to a tale that does not match official records. 

This explanation might also apply to so the next part of this story as well. The next post will explore the story of Michael Gabbard’s reported role on Lincoln’s honor guard.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Not a Happy Marriage: The Story of Mary Ann (Mangan) Gabbard

A while ago, I began working on a story about a Civil War soldier named Michael Gabbard, who supposedly was on the honor guard transporting Abraham Lincoln’s body from Chicago to Springfield. I planned to do a post exploring that story, but part of the information a cousin gave me about this was a typed autobiographical sketch of this man’s wife, Mary Ann Mangan. I started to use excerpts from it in my post, but the sections related to him and/or the Civil War were much longer and more interesting than I expected, so I realized that her story would make a worthwhile post itself. It provides unique perspectives of life in that era, including how a relationship developed into the life of an immigrant, marriage, family loyalty, even an example of teenage rebellion (not a new concept), and, overall, a life story of one young woman in mid-nineteenth century America. Those interested in studying gender roles or race relations in Kentucky might find parts of this story valuable. (For anyone curious about her entire story, a copy of the full document is Iiamson.)

In my transcription of the pieces of the document relevant to this post, I attempted to correct most spelling/grammar errors, but intentionally left a couple grammar mistakes which I thought added authenticity or a “down-home” feel to this tale, making it read how I imagined she spoke. I have italicized her words below, but added a few links and other details.

Mary Ann Mangan was born March 25, 1848 in Ireland. In her youth, she lived in both Ireland and England, before sailing to the United States in 1858, landing in New York Bay. In New York, “we exchanged our British money for U.S. money. I saw the first Negro I ever saw in New York.” Her family travelled west to Milwaukee. “There I saw my first watermelons, cucumbers and squashes. There I saw the first ear of corn. I didn’t know whether it was hand made or natural.” They eventually moved to Illinois. 

While living in Peru (Illinois,) I attended church and Sunday school regularly. While attending school, I became acquainted with a number of nice young men and girls who were my classmates. In the spring of sixty-one, while on my way to school, I was told the South had seceded and war was inevitable. War was the topic of the day. The war cloud was darkening the northern horizon and the valiant sons of the North were preparing to rush to the awful encounter. 

I quit school, went home, and went to clerk in a store in my home town. The proprietor of the store was a Southern lady and she it was who persuaded me to marry your father, my husband. I stayed with this Southern storekeeper in the summer. When school opened, I would quit the store and go to school. I left the Southern lady and went to work for an old gentleman and his wife. The lady was an invalid. She was very kind to me and I liked to live with her very much.

I was living in Chicago and, with a friend, went to visit the great Senator Douglas’ grave on the bank of Lake Michigan. There was a picnic on the grounds. There were swings. I got into one and my friend was going to swing me when a young man stepped up and said: I’ll swing you if you wish me to. I let him move the swing a short time. Then I said Please stop the swing. He done as I requested. I thanked him and went walking off. It was time to go home. When I was getting to the street car, my acquaintance of the swing was at the car door and asked me if I enjoyed myself. Yes, I answered in a happy, joyous way. My friend who was with me was an old lady and she requested the name of the young man who swang me and had been so nice to her. He gave her his name and address. He promised to get a pass for the lady to go inside of Camp Douglas. The law of the camp was ‘No citizen allowed inside,’ unless some friend was a soldier and on duty there. The young man’s name was Michael Gabbard, Co. G 7th Regt., V.R.C.  Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill.  He got my address and I hadn’t been at home but two days when I got a letter from said Michael. 

And what began in an indifferent acquaintance ended in marriage. I had not been long acquainted with Mike Gabbard when he asked me to marry him. I was not thinking of such a thing. I was young and told him I didn’t want to marry. He was persistent. I went home. Mike wrote to Mother while I was at home, asking her consent. She was furious. She made life so hard for me. I went to my southern friend with my trouble and of course she was for her Southern friend. She persuaded me to leave home and marry him, which I did. If Mother hadn’t been so harsh to me, I wouldn’t have left home and married a strange man. Mother never forgave my Southern friend for what she done in the matter. After I was married and with Mike in Chicago, mother wrote to me to come home and stay with her until Mike got his discharge as Mike could not get a house to move into as the houses in camp were all occupied. Mike consented for me to go. I was but a short time at home when he got a pass for twelve hours, which he lengthened to eight days. When he went back to camp, he was put in the guardhouse four days. It was Christmas time and he had lots of company in the guardhouse. Mother and my good stepfather treated him royally. Aunt Sally and Aunt Kate gave us a dinner as also did Mike’s Southern friend. Mike went back to duty at Chicago. I stayed with Mother.....Mike was at this time waiting for a house to become vacant. At last, the happy time arrived. He notified me to come. He had a house. Well, we got to housekeeping.

Mother hated to see me go very much and I hated to leave her and my good old stepfather. He and mother came to the train to see me off and bid me goodbye. That was the last time I ever saw my stepfather. I parted with him forever; he was a good man. Mike liked him. I went to housekeeping in Camp Douglas, Chicago. I liked to keep house very much. There was three young men, soldiers, of Mike’s company, (who) boarded with us.  We enjoyed their company very much. One was a New Yorker, one was an Indianan, and one was a Canadian. They were cultured gentlemen, and we enjoyed their company very much. (Let me say here, your Father was well liked by all his comrades.) In the latter part of sixty-five, the war was over. The prisoners were all discharged, and gone home. And the soldiers wanted to be discharged also. They had enough of war, such a cruel war.  They wanted to follow their peaceful avocations of life. 

Mike got his discharge from service at Chicago, Ill. Your Father received two honorable discharges. We left Chicago in the latter part of Nov, 1865, arrived on Lexington, Ky., and stopped at the Broadway Hotel. Took the stage next day for Richmond, Ky., stayed over night at the Webster Hotel. Next day took the stage to Irvine, Ky. We arrived in Irvine on Sunday evening, the landlady was not at home when we arrived at the Iiamson House, our hostess being a colored lady. She took charge of my things, waiting on me very politely. In the mean time, plying me with questions. She asked me where I was from, and when I told her I was from the North, she asked me if she was free. I told her “yes! You’re as free as I am.”  She gave me an earnest look, threw her arms up over her head and shouted “Thank you Lord. I’ll just stay with them through Christmas.” Her mistress had told her she was not free in order to get her work. She was a good cook and her place couldn’t easily be filled. The landlady got very angry at me for telling her black woman she was free. I had no apology to make to the landlady. 

Mike and I walked to Proctor, stayed all night at an old acquaintance of Mike’s, Frank Daugherty. Next day we started to walk to Booneville Ky.

She then writes more about her life before concluding with the following revealing, especially sad lines: 

Married at Chicago in September 15th - 1864
Michael Gabbard of Booneville Ky to Mary A Mangan of Henry, Illinois.

The marriage was performed by a Justice of the Peace. His name was Charles Chilson. I kept his business card a long time after I came to Ky. It was not a happy marriage with me but I remained true to my obligations as a wife and as a mother. I done the best I could for my children, whom I dearly loved. They are all married and in homes of their own and I am in the evening of life. I wish to live in quiet until I reach the Home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 

A family history site claims Michael may have been known as “Drunk Mike,” perhaps the cause of the unhappiness, and my cousin wondered if he may have been shell-shocked or had what we now call post-tramautic stress disorder, especially since he had been serioysly injured in the war (thus his presence in the Veterans Reserve Corps.) Could such a condition have led him to the bottle? 

I find it extremely interesting - perhaps even suspicious - that this account makes no mention of her husband as part of Lincoln’s honor guard. Could she have forgotten this information from about 50 years earlier? Any memoirs or reports written so long after an event or time may include faulty memories. (For instance, she noted Michael I. The 7th regiment, VRC, but re olds show he was in the 8th. That was likely a slip of the memory on her part.) Another possibility is that the nature of the marriage may have discouraged her from praising him, but she did make other positive comments about him, so her intentionally omitting the honor guard situation seems improbable. The document does not read as though she was bitter, nor that  she intended to discredit him. It makes no mention of his supposed fondness for the bottle and only includes that one line about unhappiness.

I do wonder about this omission because if her husband was on that honor guard, that would have seemed like an important piece of his life, but maybe it was not important to her. Otherwise, did she not believe he was on the honor guard? Was he truly part of that unit? If not, where did the story come from? In the next post, I will explore this part of their story more. 

The lack of a name for her “Southern friend” also puzzles me, but 50 years is a long time so her memory may have failed or she felt it too insignificant to include.

Mary Ann (Mangan) Gabbard passed away on November 14, 1923 and was buried in the Elihu Reynolds Cemetery in Cow Creek, Owsley County, Kentucky. Her husband had died in 1902 and was buried in the Esau-Gabbard Cemetery in Ricetown, Owsley County. Was her burial in a different cemetery due to her unhappiness with the marriage? Or was her spouse buried in a family cemetery which ran out of room before she died? 

One of their granddaughters, Edna Gabbard, married Charlie McIntosh. My family tree includes a McIntosh line (including a direct ancestor in the war) though any relation to this particular family is likely quite distant. That might be a genealogy project for the future.  

I will continue to work on the story about her husband Michael Gabbard and will post it when it is ready. 

These undated photos are from

Michael and Mary Ann Gabbard

Mary Ann Gabbard

Headstone of Mary Ann (Mangan) Gabbard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Quick Book Review: The Battle Rages Higher: The Union’s Fifteenth Kentucky Infantry

By Kirk C. Jenkins
Copyright 2003
The University Press of Kentucky

I finally have finished another book, as my reading continues to be slower than it should, so I thought I’d post a few thoughts about it. It has been a while since I did a book review. 

The Battle Rages Higher is a fine book,well-written with a readable and enjoyable narrative. Jenkins’ writing style is a good fit for this subject.

I had heard about the 15th Kentucky during my trips to Perryville, where I stood on and near the hallowed ground where they fought near the Bottom House. I have been there several times but that was about all I had heard of this unit. Once I saw this book, it was only natural for me to read it, though I wish I had done so years ago. Still, it is better late than never - I am glad to have read thus work.

This book is a basic regimental history, tracing the unit from its formation and following it into the many battles and campaigns in which it fought, including Perryville, Stone’s River,  Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign and more. A few of its  men were even sent to in Andersonville and though three of them survived that prison, two of the survivors ended up on the doomed ship Sultana. Private Milton Davis somehow lived through that disaster after years of war then Andersonville. That fascinates me.

Jenkins discusses the various battles and campaigns in good detail, using letters, official records and other sources for information and details to discuss the men, their leaders and their army.  It comes across as a well-researched book that provides an in-depth review of the regiment.

This book is from 2003, so plenty of  other scholarship has taken place in the years since then. I’m admittedly not expert enough to know what newer studies might add to Jenkins’ work, but this is an enjoyable and informative book that I do recommend others read. I knew of the 15th Kentucky’s fight at Perryville, but that is only a small part of this unit’s story, a tale like that of many regiments - marching, camping, fighting and various hardships in the field, away from home and family.

One surprise I received from this book was that several members of it were from, lived in, died in or are buried in my home of Campbell County, with a couple others from neighboring counties. I had never heard or expected that. At least one of these soldiers lies at rest in the same cemetery as my paternal grandparents. This entire section with the biographies of the unit’s soldiers is a terrific piece of this book, even for the many men with no connection so local to me.

The discovery of these men (most in Companies H or I) will likely lead me to a future project looking into their lives more deeply. Jenkins does include a sentence or two about each and perhaps his work will form the majority of my idea, but maybe I can find more information about at least a few of these men, or even pictures of headstones. This is something I will work on, though I am not yet sure of the format. Perhaps I will do a separate post for each name, finishing each one as I can or maybe I will do one or two longer posts focusing n several men at a time, or all at once. I have no clue on the timing of this, but I started a draft with a list of the names from the book, so that is at least a start. 

Another piece that might only interest me was that this unit mustered into the army in the small town of New Haven, Kentucky. This meant little to me, except for referring to that town  in a fairly recent post I made, but, more unexpectedly, during my recent trip to Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, I passed through New Haven just before arriving in Hodgenville. Had I read the early part of the book more recently or planned m6 trip more in advance, I might have realized how near those towns are to each other, but I did not and seeing the “Welcome to New Haven” sign did catch me off-guard. That is just another small connection th3 book made to my life.

The Battle Rages Higher is a very good book about a Kentucky unit full of Kentucky men, and their many war-time experiences. It certainly belongs on Civil War bookshelves and in the hands of readers.

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