Sunday, July 12, 2009

You never know what you'll find

What a pleasant, enjoyable and fascinating article I read this afternoon!

This link is to Eric Wittenberg's blog, Rantings of a Civil War Historian. For his entry of July 12, he discusses a Union Cavalryman from Pennsylvania, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Washington Sawyer. I won't repeat the details from his article, but midway through it, he mentions William Francis Corbin and Jefferson McGraw, two Confederate soldiers from my home county of Campbell County Kentucky. In April 1862, they were captured near Rouse's Mill in northern Pendleton County, and charged with being spies.

They were soon thereafter convicted, and, despite pleas to President Abraham Lincoln, were executed by firing squad at Johnson's Island in Colombus Ohio on May 15, 1863. Both are buried in Campbell County, near where I grew up, Corbin in a family cemetery on Washington Trace Road and McGraw at the Flagg Springs Church cemetery.

Here are two more links to provide more details of their demise. The first one is longer and more detailed.

I cannot express the shock and amazement I felt when I saw those two names in the blog I was reading. I had no expectation at all of seeing them, especially in what seemed to be an article about a random soldier. That was one of the bigger surprises I've had online, and especially in the last few weeks since I have started reading some of these blogs. It was just stunning, but at least in a good way.

This is a perfect example of "you never know what you may find" especially with the resources the internet makes available. It is incredible for me to see something so local in such a random blog or article.

I also had not realized how much controversy came about due to their executions. I guess I had stopped reading or learning about their story after their death and burial, but to see that it eventually got to the point where Rooney Lee, the second son of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was involved (in the talks over retaliatory measures from both sides) left me feeling rather shocked as well.

What an unexpected and tremendous find this blog posting was. Seeing this local Northern Kentucky situation discussed "out of the blue" and the impact it had on both sides of the war was simply wonderful. What a great tool the web can be.

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