Saturday, April 9, 2011

Civil War Stories

I have discovered several Civil War stories as I have researched my family history and I'm certain I have others that are yet to be discovered. As the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War fast approaches Bill West at West in New England has issued a challenge:

Did you have ancestors in America on 12Apr 1861? If so, where were they and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them and their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of illness? On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on BOTH sides? How did the women left at home cope, or did any of them find ways to help the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern plantations and if so when were they freed? Or were they freemen of color who enlisted to fight?

Most of my paternal family was living in Canada or England and I have no idea if or how the Civil War may have affected them. My 2nd great-grandfather, Michael Kelly lived in Adams, Jefferson, New York. I believe he is the Michael Kelly that served in two units of the New York Heavy Artillery. Thanks to Patti Browning of Consanguinity I have a pension file number now I need to convince myself to part with $75 to order the file. I also need to look into the local history of the period and the history of the units he served with.

On my maternal side, serving from the Carlisle family of Buchanan, Michigan were brothers Ashley and Orville Carlisle and their step-mother Hannah. I will be sharing letters written by family members during the war and learning more about the locations that the war took each of them. I was shocked to learn that a fourth member of the family, Arabella Carlisle who was born in 1857, accompanied Hannah to the hospital where she was stationed. The family lost their home during the war and one daughter was forced to work away from home which set her on an interesting course for life. After the war Hannah Carlisle and her step-daughter, Tamerson Carlisle worked for the Freedmen's Bureau as teachers.

My cousin, Abraham Jay Buckles, had been abandoned by his father and was being raised by his grandparents when he enlisted in June 1861 at the age of 14. On 5 May 1864 at Wilderness, Virginia he was wounded several times and lost a leg. After loosing his leg he was forced to find a way to support himself other than by farming. He studied law and ended his career as a Superior Court Judge in California. On  4 Dec 1893 he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

My 2nd great-grandfather, James Madison Graham, had abandoned his family and was living in California in 1860. I very much doubt that he served in the war but at least one of the sons that he left behind did. I'd like to learn more about the service of Luther W Graham and his life after the war. At the end of his life he was living in the National Soldiers Home in Sawtell, California.

My great-grandfather, Joseph Camfield was 14 at the start of the war and his father, Michael Camfield was in his 40's. I have no idea if either served and I have not located the family on the 1860 census. I'd like to know if they moved from New York to Illinois before, during or after the war and if the war affected their decision. Michael's brother-in-law, Anthony B. Wisner, did serve and died of disease at the very end of the war, leaving a widow and at least three daughters. His widow and two of his daughters left Michigan and returned to New York after his death. How different would their lives have been if Anthony had lived?

Then there was a more distant cousin, Edward Carlisle Boynton. He had retired from the military after a distinguished career and was teaching at the University of Mississippi when the war started. He returned to New York and duty as Quarter Master at West Point.

I have only recently started exploring my Virginia Roots. I think it is quite likely that I had cousins who remained in Virginia and perhaps fought for the Confederacy.

I'm looking forward to learning more about the war and my family and also how what I discover compares to the stories shared by others.


Donna Hague Wendt said...

Hi Apple,
Enjoyed reading about your Civil War relations, I'll have to write something about mine if I can get it together. Thanks! Donna

Bill West said...

Amazing people, Apple, Especially Abraham Buckles! I can't imaine being 15 years old and having to deal with a leg lost in war.

Thanks for sending this to the Challenge!

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Very interesting, Apple! I hadn't seen the Civil War Challenge, but will dive in and try to do the same for my family! Many were already located in what was the west then, and I have no idea if they went back and tried to serve. I know that two of my great grandfather's did, one for a much longer period, as a blacksmith, his trade, and I don't know about the other.

Your ancestor that lost a leg so young certainly made lemonade out of lemons! Courageous!