Thursday, June 10, 2021
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
I recently posted another update on the progress on my project, but had a few other thoughts and comments to share.
This entire project has really given me a new perspective on learning about the war. Maybe I've briefly mentioned this idea in a previous post over the past year, but here it is again, in more detail than anything I've written about it before.
Most of the Civil War learning I have done in my life has been by reading books. I also have read magazine articles, newspaper articles, and various online stories, and have watched videos and other similar content and have visited a couple of battlefields and been on tours of those places. I suspect this is pretty standard for most students of topics like this.
In the last couple of years, my reading of books has greatly decreased, for multiple reasons (or excuses) but starting this book project has led me to a different way of learning. Reading so many military records of individual soldiers - mostly on Fold 3, but some on ancestry. com or even civiliwardata.com - has helped me see the story of the war differently - not from the view of generals and leaders or of famous battles of thousands of soldiers, but from the individual stories of so many men. It is true that such stories do populate many Civil War books - mentions of soldiers wounded, captured or perhaps court-martialed - but finding the stories in the files and then researching them for more details just has a completely different feel to it for me. Maybe it is because this is still somewhat new, but I feel like I'm learning more just how the war played out. No, I don't have a better understanding of any individual battle (though, for instance, I had never heard of the First Battle of Murfreesboro before finding a Union soldier captured during it) , but maybe I know more about what the human cost was besides mere numbers and figures.
Also, I think that trying to add some genealogical/demographic information to the military information has added to this feeling I'm trying to describe. I realize my research may not change the interpretation of any battle or famous warrior, but I do feel it can add to the history of Campbell County and perhaps bring more information about at least some of the men who fought during this bloody war that still fascinates so many people 160 years later. It adds a human touch to these (mostly) faceless names - they were born, died, and usually had wives, children, siblings, etc. Of course I knew that intellectually, but finding this information in various records lets it hit more differently than just reading it in somebody else's work.
Perhaps someone not necessarily interested in the details of battles might find some of the genealogy information and stories from civilian lives to be interesting. One soldier I found became a local policeman after the war and then was the first officer from Newport to be killed in the line of duty. He survived years of war, but not his civilian job. I have found a future mayor and some long-time local doctors who fought in the war and other similar stores about civilian lives. I've found several stories similarly interesting and hope to uncover more.
One of my latest lessons was when I found a card in a soldier's file. It was dated for after the war, but concerned the solder's mustering out, which a CMSR had mentioned had not officially occurred. I was trying to figure out when this young soldier had finally left the army, when I found the other document, which mentioned him mustering out "by way of favor."
I wondered if the military had done a "favor" to him by letting be listed as officially mustered out, perhaps because he had enlisted at just 14 years of age. I asked about this on a Facebook group and a long and interesting discussion basically confirmed this was probably the case, though the discussion also mentioned that an old meaning of "favor" was "letter."
Another post-war document in the file officially noted his discharge and the date, and could reasonably be called a "letter," so I do believe the military did not officially discharge him in 1865 after his term expired - or at least did not leave paperwork proving so - and some postwar project, perhaps at the soldier's request, found this error and the "by way of favor" remark and the "letter" in the file basically closed his case and approved his honorable discharge.
In all the files I had reviewed - probably a few hundred by now - I had never seen anything like this, but it was a fascinating find and led to an enjoyable conversation. It also showed me that not everything went as it was supposed to and that even strict military procedure and bureaucracy made and perhaps even corrected mistakes. It was just a new and weird situation to find that phrasing - "by way of favor" - on a form, something I never could have expected to find (though one of the posters in the discussion said he had seen it before. This is not the type of situation most Civil War books discuss or even mention.
I also found a soldier whose two service cards showed him joining two separate regiments on the same day, with a comment about having transferred to one, but a helpful soul confirmed that this soldier had just transferred from one unit to the other without mustering out of the service, so the date he joined the army remained the same. If he had left the service, then rejoined the second regiment, the second form would have included a new date. Perhaps I should have realized that on my own, but now I know.
Anyway, sorry this is not the most organized or formal post, but I wanted to share those thoughts.
Friday, May 7, 2021
Time flies, at least the last few weeks, and I did not realize it had been so long since my last book update. I am still working on a couple more genealogical posts, but wanted to put down at least a few words on my continued progress in the Campbell County Civil War Soldiers. (It will include sailors, but I just use Campbell County Civil War Soldiers to refer to it for brevity's sake.)
I am still working on it and plowing through names, trying to find more that fit on my list. I have about 1,200 confirmed Union soldiers now (a few dozen Confederates, but I honestly haven't worked on that side much in recent months, though it is still part of the plan.) My progress has slowed down, of course, as the most obvious sources dry up and I now look for other sources. I'm currently trying to dig through the list of the men of the 23rd Kentucky Infantry. I have about 120+ of them on my confirmed list so far, but still find a couple more each week. I probably need to do the same with the 53rd Kentucky. I think I have about 140 from that regiment, but need to get that unit on a spreadsheet like I have with the 23rd and go through it name by name, a painstaking, but I think, worthwhile, process. A couple of local home guard units are still on my lists to search.
I also just realized that Jim Reis, a deceased local historian whom I've mentioned before, left some of his research files at the Campbell County Historical Society and those files include folders of his Civil War research, so I need to dig through those pages too in the search of more names. A quick glance dhows some of his notes and some printouts of period newspaper articles.
I realize that I will never find every single name that meets my qualifications, but I am enjoying the search and am hopeful that if I can finish my project, maybe somebody else in the future will improve upon it and uncover more names and sources. Perhaps looking through microfilm records of more Cincinnati newspapers of the time is one area I need to pursue. The Hamilton County Library is not that far from me and they have a large microfilm collection.
I am finding quite a few whose only ties to Campbell County were that they enlisted in Newport, usually at the Newport Barracks. I will not include these in my main project because I am not convinced that is enough of a connection to the county, but I have got 120 or so names on a list that I am trying to keep for curiosity's sake. I am sure there are many more of these men out there, though where to look for them is tough question, but if I stumble across any while doing my research I am trying to record their names (after I check to make sure I cannot find any other county ties to them.) This information might be handy to somebody some day, maybe in telling the story of the Barracks.
I am also getting quite a few of my "stories" done. I have about 60 of them in the "almost done" category - I believe my research, note-taking, organizing and writing of then are virtually complete, though I may go back to change a style on them - I recently decided to add page numbers on each page and I am currently starting to research which fonts would be best. I also have occasionally found additional information on a soldier from an unexpected source, such as research on another soldier, so I have had a few instances where I added the new details to the story, but all-in-all, for these, the main work is done and I am happy with how they are (though I always reserve the right to nitpick them, of course.)
I have several more of these mini-biographies that are in progress. For some, the research is done and I just need to organize the information into a readable story, while others are still in the research and note-taking phase. I also have a list of more names whose stories might be worth exploring too, but I have not started those yet.
Some of these tales are longer than others and I have not gone back and done the math, but I suspect the average story is about 600 words, so for 60 of these documents, that means I have written about 36,000 words, which kind of blows my mind, especially with more to go. That seems like a lot of work to me, and it is, at least compared to what I have previously done for just one project, but it has not felt like work. I guess that is because it is a personal project and I can take my time doing it, with no hard-set deadlines. It is still enjoyable to me. I know many people like to refer to soldiers as ‘heroes,” and i understand that, but these men (and 1 woman) were just normal people too, with normal families, lives, and occasionally recorded problems. There are many good stories waiting to be found and shared.
I have also started experimenting with an idea for a website where I could upload the list of names, their military information and their genealogical data, but my web-designing knowledge is even more miniscule than I realized, even using WordPress or Wix. I'll probably keep trying this again soon, but finding the information and writing the stories are my bigger priorities right now.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
The most surprising find I have (I started to say recently, but maybe I should state ever) made in my family history research, especially as it relates to the Civil War, is a distant tie to a (rightly or wrongly) infamous person of the era, Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was convicted for helping John Wilkes Booth after the actor had assassinated President Lincoln. Mudd escaped the death penalty by one vote and some of his descendants are still fighting to clear his name today, believing he was not part of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln.
When looking back at my family tree, I found an Eleanor Mudd, from Maryland, as one of my great-grandmothers, so I decided to explore that a bit more and found the connection to the doctor. A relationship this distant is not easy to explain, but I've tried to list it below as straight-forward as I can. "X," of course, means "times," and some of the birth dates may be approximate as different sources show different years, especially farther back in years, decades, and centuries.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
My most recent genealogical find confirmed that John Fleming McCormick of Pennsylvania was my 4th great-grandfather, the son of John McCormick who had been born in 1748 in Ireland and died in Pennsylvania in 1844. The elder John, my 5th great great-grandfather, was apparently a Revolutionary War soldier. One report I saw claimed he was an ensign in the 4th company of Pennsylvania militia, Colonel Plunkett's 3rd battalion, 1776. I am not overly familiar with the Revolutionary War military, so that will have to be part of my further research on this piece of family history.
One of John Fleming's sons was William Taylor McCormick, my 3 times great-grandfather and another was Alexander McCormick, my 3 times great-grand-uncle. I surprisingly found that Alexander was a private in company B of the 9th Minnesota Infantry in the Civil War. Finding another Civil War soldier in my family tree was a fun surprise, but in Minnesota? Wow - double shock.
Alexander was born on November 25, 1817 in Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania.
On November 25, 1858, he married Drucilla Perkins in St. Anthony, Minnesota. The 1860 census showed that they had two daughters, though one was thirteen years old, so perhaps he had had a previous marriage. It showed his occupation as minister.
Alexander then enlisted in the 9th Minnesota on August 20 1862 in Minneapolis. He served a three-year term and mustered out on June 7, 1865
The 9th Minnesota was not a regiment familiar to me, so I looked it up, wondering if it had been at any famous battles - maybe I had a second family member at Gettysburg or perhaps one at Vicksburg? - but I found out that its service was not like that of the regiments other of my ancestors had joined.
In its early existence, its companies spent time at various frontier posts in conflicts against Native Americans. According to one source, Alexander's Company B participated in campaigns against the Sioux in Minnesota in August and September of 1862.
In late 1863, the regiment began being part of the war against the Confederacy, spending time in Missouri and throughout the Western Theater of the Civil War. One article describes their service, including their combat in two battles against the men of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate victory at Brice's Crossroads and then a Union success at Tupelo.
In December of 1864 these men fought during the Union's smashing victory at Nashville. Alexander and his comrades then aided in the capture of the city of Mobile,Alabama in early 1865 and mustered out of the service in August of that year.
Alexander passed away on January 14, 1877 in Knob Noster, Missouri, but I have not yet found where he is buried.
Saturday, February 20, 2021
My last couple of posts here have concerned genealogy and the war, and I have a couple more of a similar nature started, but I wanted to take a few minutes to update my previously mentioned plans to write a book about Civil War Soldiers from my home of Campbell County.
I am still working on this, and, like much of the study of history, the more information I find, the more sources to search I discover. It's like digging a bottomless pit at times.
Right now, I'm referring to this simply as "my project" because I'm starting to feel there simply is to much information to fit into a book like I had originally hoped. I have over 1,000 confirmed Union soldiers, and all of these include at least some of the following details: unit, rank, company and genealogical data like birth and death dates and places and burial places. I simply don't think it is feasible to include all of this - plus more I am certain I will find - into one reasonably sized book, especially combined with the stories I want to tell of some of these individuals. I keep finding interesting tales that I want to share - mostly military, but a few from their civilian lives as well. For instance, I looked up the file of one soldier last night and one of the first documents I found was a form stating that a company would provide him with an artificial limb, on the government account. I have also found that at least three of these soldiers testified in a famous murder trial in the county in 1896. That is the kind of information I want to find and share.
Currently, I believe an interesting approach would be to upload the soldier names and information to a website, either an existing one or one created just for this project. This would provide plenty of space, as well as allow for future additions as I (or others) find more information and corrections of any errors that show up in this work. I could also add links to information about the various units or battles or to individual findagrave.com records. (I currently have more than 700 graves on my virtual cemetery for this project.) Or maybe I could add photos of some of the enlistment forms or other interesting documents I find in various files. That flexibility and versatility are traits a book would not provide.
Anyway, I'm sure I will keep thinking about the end game, but I'm still finding more names and details every day. I'm currently going through the roster of the 23rd Kentucky Infantry to find more men from that unit who had Campbell County ties. I've found quite a few that did not turn up on other sources, but there are almost 1,300 names on the regimental roster, so this is quite a daunting task. Then I'll need to do the same for the 42nd Kentucky and maybe the 41st, two “enrolled militia” groups of several hundred men from Northern Kentucky.
It is a lot of work and no end is in sight, but I'm still enjoying it and learning quite a bit. My past Civil War study has been through reading books and articles, watching documentaries, visiting Perryville and conversations with other people, including my my volunteering at the Ramage Museum, but this way of studying - by looking at the records and lives of individual soldiers - provides me a much different perspective. Instead of reading published books about injuries, captures and military discipline, I'm now uncovering those reports in the files. This is truly history from the "bottom up" and is another way this project is quite satisfying and enjoyable. The local connection and discovery of connections between soldiers (For instance, I found one doctor whose postwar life included time on the Pension Review Board and later uncovered a sailor whose file included pension forms with that doctor’s name as part of it) only make it better.
I'm honestly a bit surprised I've been able to gather so much information in one place so far and am more confident than ever that this endeavor will be a positive contribution both to the history of the Civil War and the history of Campbell County. I cannot wait to share it, but as I keep finding more sources, the farther away that goal seems to be, but so be it. I knew this was not a quick work when I started it and even though I may have underestimated how much information was available, I also underestimated how much I would joy this way of researching.
Monday, February 8, 2021
Another Civil War ancestor recently came to my attention, this time my 3rd great-granduncle, Benjamin McIntosh, the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather Nimrod McIntosh, who served in the 7th Kentucky Infantry and the Veterans' Relief Corps. A third McIntosh brother, Richard, was injured while also serving in the same company as Benjamin. Here is a post I made about those two McIntoshes a few years ago.
Benjamin was born in the mid-to-late 1840s, as records shows his birth date anywhere from 1843 to 1847. He signed up as a Private in his unit, enlisting on December 18, 1862 in Irvine, Kentucky.
His service records show him present on all the available muster rolls, but he did have some of his salary deducted to pay for replacement equipment such as bridles, a halter, spurs, a cartridge box and a waist belt.
A note found in some family papers claimed he had been with General U.S. Grant's forces at Vicksburg, but that appears to be a myth, as the 14th Kentucky remained in Eastern Kentucky while he was in the service.
In one of those coincidences that make genealogy - and history in general - more complicated - another man with a similar name- Benjamin E. McIntosh - was in compamy H of the same 14th Kentucky Cavalry.
"My" Benjamin eventually mustered out at Camp Nelson on March 24, 1864.
He did marry and have a family. The 1870 census shows his wife as Louisa (her name is illegible on the 1880 record) and as of the 1880 census, the couple had seven children
Benjamin died on April 23, 1930 in Stanton, Powell County, Kentucky, and he was buried in Stanton Cemetery.
Rest in peace, uncle.
Friday, January 22, 2021
One of many twists and turns my current project - which I hope will end up with a book in a few years - has taken is the discovery of some distant ancestors who fit the criteria of Campbell Countians who served in the war.
This came to light when a local person responded to a query I had published asking for information on such soldiers. She sent me information about William Orlando Tarvin (a separate post focusing on him is in the works, but he apparently went by "Orlando," so I will refer to him that way) and while I was reviewing it, I realized that I had some Tarvins in my family tree, so I looked him up and found out he was a second cousin, five times removed. His great-grandfather was Reverend George Tarvin, who was also my six times great-grandfather. (I note that Reverend George's mother was Eleanor Mudd, so I suppose I now need to investigate her family to see if she was related to Dr. Samuel Mudd of Lincoln Assassination fame. My first glance shows that it is a possible, perhaps likely, connection, but I wish to investigate it more and will post it here if I confirm it.)
I had some other Tarvins on my list of Campbell County soldiers, so I started looking into them. Alonzo and Alvin Tarvin turned out to be Orlando's brothers, making their link to me blatantly obvious. Then, as I was confirming their units, I found Edward B. Tarvin, who apparently was another of these brothers, though records on him are not as clear.
I turned my attention to the other Tarvins on my list, and they all had the same relationship as Orlando and his brothers - their great-grandfather was also Reverend George Tarvin.
Orlando served in company F of the 53rd Kentucky while Edward was in Company C of that regiment; Alvin and Alonzo joined company I of the 23rd Kentucky.
Their cousin William Charles Tarvin also was in company I of the 23rd, as was Abijah Tarvin, but another cousin, George Washington Tarvin (brother of Abijah) joined company C of the 53rd.
Another pair of bother Tarvins, Richard Lemuel and James Donovan, served in company H of the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry.
I suppose my next step will be to investigate their records on Fold3 to see if they had any special adventures or assignments and to study their regiments more, though I already have seen the 23rd and 53rd Kentucky in my book project quite frequently as they were locally raised units. (I'm still not 100% certain if the 53rd is the 53rd Infantry, 53rd Mounted Infantry or 53rd Infantry (Mounted) or if it matters that much in the big picture.)
As with all things genealogical, other records may show different details (birth or death dates, etc.) for some of these men, but I believe I at least have the relationships correct, though "never say never" in genealogy.
I also have learned about a new ancestor on my mother's side and will write about it soon enough.
This ancestor chart - or many others readily available through an internet search- is helpful in figuring out relationships once you have determined the common ancestor. Charts like this have helped me a lot in my genealogy work.
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