Saturday, February 20, 2021

Update on my Campbell County Civil War Soldiers Project

 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 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.

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