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At about this minute 150 years ago today Private Christian Zeitler of Company G of the 62nd Pennsylvania infantry stood in line of battle with his comrades, prepared to engage the enemy.  It was two days shy of the second anniversary of his enlistment. He'd joined up in 1861 on the 4th of July.

 photo da2ba456-c23f-4743-b465-f185d9a89b8d_zps3d223eb2.jpg

They had marched 16 miles from Union Mills, Maryland the day before and had spent much of the 2nd getting into position.  They marched into battle with 426 men and officers, meaning the regiment had already been depleted by more than half in their two years of service.

On July 2 they fought in that Civil War rarity, a bayonet battle. Though in earlier wars that sort of hand to hand combat had been common the increased firepower of Civil War weapons made it increasingly rare. Of those remaining 175 were captured, killed or injured that day. Private Zeitler fought for almost another year before being wounded and losing the use of his left arm at Cold Harbor just two weeks shy of retiring from the service.

The photo above is from a memorial poster presented to his family shortly after his death in 1903. The original is in the collection of the Heinz History Center near downtown Pittsburgh. My best guess is the photo was taken about 25 years after his military service. I have no photos of Private Zeitler from the time of his service.

Christian Zeitler was an immigrant from the German principality of Baden. He had been in the United States about 8 years before choosing to fight for his country. He paid for that choice with poverty and pain for the rest of his life but was always proud of his service. He rests in Uniondale Cemetery on the north side of Pittsburgh, an area that was still the separate city of Allegheny at the time of his death. He is in a soldiers plot with comrades from his war days, veterans of his GAR post and two others.

By the way, one of those three GAR posts was comprised of black veterans. Here they lie together without regard for race. Christian Zeitler was my great-great-grandfather. Thursday I shall again visit his grave, but today on the anniversary of his involvement in our country's greatest battle I pause to remember him and his brothers in arms.

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Originally posted to Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 02:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My Great Grandfather Was At Vicksburg-Starving (33+ / 0-)

    On this day my great grandfather was on the Confederate line at Vicksburg, starving and sweating.

    He recounted to my grandmother that when the surrender was complete, Union soldiers brought rations to the surrendered rebels.  As the rebels had no salt for weeks they were unused to the salt preservatives and surrendered soldiers were throwing up all over the city.

    He was exchanged, rejoined his regiment and ended the war in Georgia as part of President Jefferson Davis security detail.

    He came to Texas, married my great grandmother after assuring himself that her family never owned slaves,  raised ten children and died in 1903.

    I became a lawyer, filed and won many Civil Rights cases in Federal Court, which means things may be working out after all.

  •  After doing some of my own (11+ / 0-)

    genealogical research I have to ask myself how many of us here today have great great (or even more) grandfathers, uncles, cousins or other kin who were doing much the same thing 150 years ago...

    a sizable number, I believe.

    Thanks for the thoughtful diary to prod my own thoughts in that direction...

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 03:22:46 PM PDT

    •  I did some research on my great-great uncle (11+ / 0-)

      after I found his Civil War dispatches (for the 116th U.S. Colored Troops) in my parents' attic after my father's death.
      He was in the New York 120th Volunteer Regiment, which lost almost half of its soldiers on July 2 in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg, probably because of the incompetence of General Dan Sickles.
      Almost miraculously, he wasn't wounded.
      In 1864 he transferred out of the reorganized 120th to the U.S. Colored Troops to accept an officer's appointment.
      He was at Lee's surrender but apparently never wrote anything about it.
      His brother, my great-great grandfather, was a Union special agent and had been ambushed and killed by unknown person(s), so when the war was over my g-g uncle went home to the family farm and helped raise his orphaned nephews.
      Today I'm remembering him and all those men who gave so much.
      The men who held the line...

      •  My great-great grandfather... (5+ / 0-)

        ...was wounded at Holly Springs, Miss., fighting for the south. He was 17. Had red hair, according to my grandmother.

        Ta-Nehisi Coates has, over the last 2 years or so, done an outstanding series on the Civil War, concluding that it was not "tragic" because it ended slavery. I'm not sure that he's right, but I'm not sure that he's wrong.

        I like to think that if I'd been living in the south 150 years ago, I'd have refused to fight. I don't know if I'm fooling myself. May depend on my age. At 17, I probably would not have had the insight or gumption to refuse.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 07:25:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was tragic... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HeyMikey, a gilas girl, Phil S 33

          That it took so much bloodshed to end slavery.

          And so much more in the next century to secure civil rights.

          And it's tragic that struggle still must continue today.

          "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

          by Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:45:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  that government of the people... (4+ / 0-)

            by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

            The war was really about democracy.  That is, one side could not win an election and the other side just walk out if they did not like the outcome.  

            After Antietam Lincoln issued the Emancipation proclamation and that was right and historic.  But the Union winning the war and preserving democracy is what made the 14th amendment law for the United States.  It is what made all other civil and human rights progress in our country possible.  

            It is a little before 2pm on July 3 right now.  And all that has happened that is good and right follows from the right side winning the battle.  

      •  There are a number of USCT veterans... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        swampyankee, Phil S 33

        Buried in Allegheny Cemetery about a half mile from my door.

        To me, their service seems especially sacred.

        "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

        by Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:44:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  the soldier I portray when re-enacting (8+ / 0-)

        David Abrahamson, 22nd MA Volunteer Infantry, joined at 18, one of 6,000 Jews who fought for the Union.  He was wounded at Gaines Mill, severely- shot in the mouth, arm and leg; and appears in the Regimental History, joking about his wounds.  He spent time as a prisoner of war, time which my research so far doesn't account for; and in 1864, returned to service as an officer in the 5th MA Colored Cavalry.

        I like to think the I've drawn the same important lessons I have my spiritual culture- love learning, love justice, and seek truth.  Or as Rabbi Hillel said, 2000 years ago, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

        A moment for us all to reflect on.

        "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

        by The Poet Deploreate on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 05:57:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Mine (6+ / 0-)

      was part of an Ohio regiment that was captured by Jubal Early - and nearly starved in a confederate POW camp.

      There is a movie out - copperheads - that seeks to portray those who fought for the North as fanatics.  Anyone who reads accounts of the Civil War would have to agree - what they endured to keep the country together when part wanted to leave was incredible.

      Sometimes fanatics are right.

    •  Sgt Frank Rhodes, Army of the Potomac (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl, seabos84

      His diary is a family heirloom.

      Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx (-8.75,-8.36)

      by alain2112 on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:36:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pretty sure I had a g-g-g uncle in the Union Army (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl

      45th Wisconsin Infantry, if my research is correct.

      Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

      by Linnaeus on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:48:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  3x great uncle (0+ / 0-)

      may have been in a regiment at Gettysburg.  I need to do more research on this.

      2x great grandfather did garrison duty in Ohio. It looks like he didn't get anywhere near the front.

      The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

      by raboof on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:13:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I recently (12+ / 0-)

    discovered that my ggg grandfather Andrew Patterson served in the 26th PA infantry during the Civil War.  I ordered is pension records from the National Archives. The papers arrived yesterday and I discovered that he was wounded at Gettysburg 150 years ago today.  He served almost the entire length of the war and was wounded and captured eight months before the war ended.  He was paroled near the end of the war.

    You have not been forgotten grandpa.

    The War Machine will pry my 25 and 22 year old sons from my cold dead fingers.

    by Momagainstthedraft on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 03:46:18 PM PDT

    •  There's a of reading in those pension records. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phil S 33

      You'll be going at it for a while.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:51:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No kidding (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notthemayor, Phil S 33

        and trying to decipher the handwriting can be a chore.

        I also want to mention my great-grandfather who served in the 9th & 13th Calvary (US) in Missouri.  His name was James B. Payne.  He enlisted when he was 15 and served for 3 years.

        I'm 53 years old and I'm 3 generations removed from the conflict.  I feel a deep connection to this particular g grandfather.  

        The War Machine will pry my 25 and 22 year old sons from my cold dead fingers.

        by Momagainstthedraft on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 10:27:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't grow up... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Phil S 33

          Knowing about my gg-grandfather.  I discovered him via research.

          Proud as I am of his service, the best part of the was meeting some of my unknown relatives nearby.

          "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

          by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:20:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sgt Philip Hamlin (16+ / 0-)

    died at Gettysburg serving with the MN 1st.

    The MN 1st was all but wiped out at Gettysburg.

    His next younger brother died later at Nashville serving with the MN 7th.

    They were my great-grandfather's much older brothers.

    From The Story of Company F, James Wright; MHS

    The First Minnesota was not involved in heavy fighting at Chancellorsville but at Gettysburg Hamlin's company had all they could handle. On the evening of July 2 Company F was detached from the regiment and placed in a hallow to stretch out the defensive line. Here they were in a position to fire on two Confederate brigades and suffered five casualties. They watched with apprehension as one of the brigades headed for the regiment and soon heard terrible gunfire from that direction. Lt Ball was beside himself with worry and decided to send Pvt Almeron Davis to see how the regiment fared. He did not come back so the Lt sent 1st Sgt Hamlin, who he knew would return. When he did he brought the melancholy news that he found Capt Messick in charge of a handful of men with the rest laying on the field or being helped to the hospitals.
    The next morning Company F rejoined the regiment and began to build a barricade, anticipating a frontal attack. Sure enough, at one o'clock a terrific barrage began which was followed by an assault by the cream of the Confederate army, 14,000 strong. This was Pickett's charge. Philip waited with the others for the rebels to come into range and when they did the entire regiment fired as one man. This visably staggered the rebel line in front of them and the survivors drifted to the left. Philip and the rest of his comrades did not wait for orders but bolted left as well to confront the enemy in the open. The flag of the First Minnesota was in the forefront of this movement. and Philip was close at hand. Here, in the open the flag went down and moments later Philip was hit in the neck, leg and chest and died instantly.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:16:00 PM PDT

    •  The Minnesota 1st... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, onanthebarbarian

      Is a story that should be known to everyone.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:52:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Those MN boys must have been (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye, Notthemayor

        nothing but trouble makers. 8^) Did ja know they also fired the first American shots of WWII at 7AM December 7, 1941 at a japanese mini sub just out sied of the enterance to Pearl Harbor.  One of the guns from the USS Ward, crewed mostly by MN volunteers, is on the capital gounds in St. Paul.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 02:07:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm native southerner, born into "a lifetime of (15+ / 0-)

    inherited sadness" (thanks Whiskeytown). My great-great Grandfather was in the 13th SC Regiment and drafted into the Confederate Army. He was wounded at Gettysburg and at Spottsylvania. He was then paroled from the army and survived.

    My view as you can guess from my tagline is Thank God that the confederacy was defeated. There were very few worse causes in history for which men fought than the confederacy's battle to make not only the southern US permanent slave states but also to extend it to Latin America, the Gulf and beyond. Too bad the south won the reconstruction. We were too forgiving IMAO.

    "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

    by shigeru on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:33:56 PM PDT

    •  Northern Politicians were far too willing... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gsbadj, shigeru

      To sell out the freedmen.

      I have a great respect for U.S. Grant.  Besides his military ability I think him one of our most underrated presidents.

      It was nearly a century before another came along with a fraction of his commitment to civil rights.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:56:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've wondered... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Notthemayor

      ... whether and if so how the South could have been ended up being more progressive, less racist after that war, i.e. what form of reconstruction (whether more or less radical) could have had a different result than what we still see to this day.

      Even Davis recognized that Lincoln's assassination was a bad thing for the South; he knew that Johnson was going to give it to the South much harder than Lincoln.  And yet, there were others who were more harsh than Johnson.

      The beloved wife and I went on vacation to SC, GA, NC and VA last summer and saw several war /tours/museums/exhibits/presentations.  I never got a sense of any "damn, that was a bad idea after all."  Rather, it seemed as if a halo of sainthood had descended and still remains over Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis.

      The South doesn't let go.  I'm not saying there should be a massive guilt trip but there ought to be some collective recognition that it was wrong to start that war and that they were wrong on the issue that triggered the whole thing, slavery of other humans.

      My reading of history is that the war was fought over slavery, but that the only way that wealthy slave owners were able to sucker poor whites into risking their lives to protect the "property" of the wealthy was to appeal to Southern Pride, to vague notions of changes to "our way of life" being imposed by a dictatorial invader and to notions of God Him/Herself being on their side.  To some extent, I saw those ideas lingering to this day.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 01:16:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In my heart... (0+ / 0-)

        I believe that Lincoln's determination and political wisdom would have led to a more just peace.

        Johnson talked tough but could easily be sweet-talked the old Confederate elites.

        Not surprising perhaps, since he had longed to be one of them.

        Anyone who doesn't believe slavery the cause of that war is fooling themselves.  Sadly, we've still a great many fools in this country.

        "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

        by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 01:31:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The south should acknowledge that the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notthemayor

        war was fought to establish a slave empire and that this was wrong. Period. Regardless of how bravely and skillfully individuals fought the cause was vile. Should today's folks feel guilty about their ancestors - of course not, but acknowledgement of the evil and the evil intent should be included in any recognition of that heroism.

        "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

        by shigeru on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 07:28:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My great-grandfather was at Spottsylvania (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      onanthebarbarian, Notthemayor

      Courthouse (the Battle of Laurel Hill) as a Colonel of 7th Maryland Volunteers. I have his 50 page memoir, written many years later and transcribed by his grandson.

      Unlike in movies, the army had already figured out that leading an infantry charge from the front against entrenched armed troops was folly, and it was more typical to urge the troops forward from behind, with the bugler to signal instructions, because if the lead officer was shot, the regiment would have no leader and be in disarray. And besides, horses were valuable.

      But getting ready to charge up a hill against the rebs, the regiment was already in disarray, so in spite of everything, he mounted his horse and "trooped the line", encouraging the soldiers to make speed up the hill, shoot carefully and not relent. And he assumed position in front of the ranks, raised his sword and gave the order to charge from out front.

      He (and his horse) where shot down 30 yards from the breastworks and he was captured, still alive but injured.
      His horse died protecting him from more rifle fire. While in Confederate custody he was treated relatively well, though his gold watch was stolen.

      He was exchanged about a week later, and two years later as a lawyer in Baltimore his watch arrived in the mail with an apology for having taken it, that that action was "unseemly"...

      He was awarded a significant medal for bravery for his actions, and now his G-G-G Grandson, my son, having heard the stories growing up in a military family, is now a Special Forces Green Beret Combat Medic, just back from Afganistan having helped a lot of wounded and injured...and 150 years ago seems like just the other day...

      Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

      by blindcynic on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 07:46:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lord Buckley's take (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jay C, MoDem, TKO333, Notthemayor, stlsophos

    I don't know enough family genealogy to say whether any ancestor fought in the Civil War; the fact that it was never part of the family history suggests that none did.

    But here's the great Lord Buckley version of the Gettysburg Address anyway, "for those who laid it down and left it there":

    Four big hits and seven licks ago, our before-daddies swung forth upon this sweet groovey land a jumpin' wailin' stompin' swingin' new nation, hip to the cool sweet groove of liberty and solid sent upon the Ace lick that all cats and kiddies, red, white, or blue, is created level in front.

    We are now hung with a king size main-day Civil Drag,
    soundin' whether this nation or any up there nation,
    so hip and so solid sent can stay with it all the way .

    We have stomped out here to the hassle site
    of some of the worst jazz blown in the entire issue.

    Gettys-mother-burg.

    We are here to turn on a small soil stash of the before-mentioned hassle site as a final sweet sod pad for those who laid it down and left it there so that this jumpin' happy beat might blow forever-more.

    And we all dig that this is the straightest lick.

    But diggin' it harder from afar we cannot mellow, we cannot put down the stamp of the lord on this sweet sod because the strong non-stop studs, both diggin' it and dug under it, who hassled here have mellowed it with such a wild mad beat that we can hear it, but we can't touch it.

    Now the world cats will short dig nor long stash in their wigs what we are beatin' our chops around here, but it never can successively shade what they vanced here.

    It is for us the swingin' to pick up the dues of these fine studs who cut out from here and fly it through to endsville. It is hipper for us to be signifyin' to the glorious gig that we can't miss with all these bulgin' eyes, that from all these A-stamp studs we double our love kick, too, that righteous line for which these hard cats sounded the last nth bone of the beat of the bell.

    That we here want it stuck up straight for all to dig that these departed studs shall not have split in vain, and that this nation under the great swingin' Lord shall swing up a whopper of endless Mardi Gras, and that the big law by you straights, from you cats, and for you kiddies shall not be scratched from the big race.

    And there's why I'm a Lincoln Cat.

    "Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous." -- Molly Ivins

    by dumpster on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:59:03 PM PDT

  •  Civil War: the stupidest war ever? (0+ / 0-)

    You’d have to go to South America (maybe the “South” is South America?) to find one as stupid...  
    Can you imagine killing people just because they came from another state—how about relatives?
    A million dead for no reason what so ever—power play!
    A reconstruction that almost start another civil war –and up from slavery and into the cold dead arms of peonage—halaluyah!

    •  Actually it wasn't that stupid (14+ / 0-)

      The great original sin of our country is slavery.  Lincoln, in the second inaugural says the following:

      The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
      That terrible war was the consequence of that terrible.

      [Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security] do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

      by MoDem on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:44:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notthemayor

        ...to this day, regional divisions exist that are largely rooted in racism as well as systematic racism across the country that originated in the South.

        The denouement will come when Hispanics gain a plurality of the population.  Not that there won't be some vicious politics to try to pry them away from the Democrats.

        "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

        by gsbadj on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 01:23:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If you haven't already, you might check out (6+ / 0-)

      Lincoln's "House Divided" speech. It's hard to read that speech and think that the Civil War was about no reason whatsoever.
      Lincoln obviously understood the corrosive effect continued slavery would have on democracy.

      •  Oddly enough (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TRsCousin, Notthemayor

        One of the best books I've read about Lincoln is "Freedom", by William Safire.  Although the author was eloquently despicable, the book offers the gradual and extraordinary insight the re-framed my understanding of how the war was prosecuted. It is about the first two years of the first Lincoln Administration.

        Lincoln's power was in possessing a true moral compass; he invariably understood where the country needed to be on many levels- particularly about slavery.  His political gift was an innate ability to manipulate people into getting there before him, and then reinforcing their belief that it was the right thing to do by putting up enough resistance himself to have them barking at him to do it.

        Extraordinary man, extraordinary story.  I just can't figure out where Safire was hiding this book all those years.

        "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

        by The Poet Deploreate on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 07:22:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We discovered that one of our ancestors... (9+ / 0-)

    fought on both sides.  Several times.  

    He would sign up for a bonus payment, then skip out and go over to the other side for a bonus.  In the end his name (and variations of it) turn up in records on both sides.  He died in the Battle of the Wilderness, but neither side claimed him.

    At least he was not a horse thief.

    Most of the rest of the family that served, did so on one side and with the 50th Eng, and 109th Inf. Most made it home.

    Stupid question hour starts now and ends in five minutes.

    by DrillSgtK on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:18:06 PM PDT

  •  My paternal g-g-grandfather was in the 111th (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fladem, 207wickedgood, Notthemayor, JayBat

    Illinois Regiment.  The 111th was formed in preperation for the March to the Sea under Sherman.  He made it from start to finish, although wounded twice in Georgia.  He did have continuing issues related to service for the remainder of his life.  We have records of his sister applying for aid for his children since he had trouble providing for them.

  •  Diane Rehm today (5+ / 0-)

    Devoted her second hour to 150 years after battle of Gettysburg. I encourage all to read the full transcript, but especially starting about 11:42:

    The other very dark side is an aspect that's been almost forgotten, which is that there were many free blacks in southern Pennsylvania, just above the Mason-Dixon Line. And as Lee's army came in they started kidnapping these people, seizing them in large numbers, as many as 1,000 people were captured, sent back across the Mason-Dixon Line and sold into slavery again.
    Guests were Eleanor Harvey of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Adam Goodheart of Washington College. Also from a studio in Boston, historian and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust and from WVTF in Charlottesville, Va., Ervin Jordan of the University of Virginia. This link will get you to the listen/transcript options. Also, there are 12 hours of live programing from Sunday on C-Span 3. More to come, from what I understand.
  •  My great great grandfather (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fladem, Notthemayor

    was in the union army during the war as I understand it. If the old family story is right, he had his fill of it, and bravely (given the state of medical care at the time) shot himself in the foot. I am proud of his instinct for survival.

    •  Smart guy. (0+ / 0-)

      Though as you said, given the state of medical art...I can't bring myself to call it science...it might have been more dangerous than battle.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:34:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you all for sharing your stories. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fladem, Notthemayor, seabos84

    This is how our ancestors efforts and lives remain alive to us.

    For what it's worth, my great great great grandfather was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.  His steamer, Diana, was captured by the Confederates in January, 1863 and burned to the waterline.  

    This is what was written by his granddaughter, my great grandmother, in the 1930's in a letter to one of her sons who wanted to know about the family history.

    Best regards to all, and many thanks.

  •  My thanks to all... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, PrahaPartizan, JayBat

    Who responded to this short diary.  I apologize for the post and run but was heading out the door to work.

    I was touched by the comments of those who likewise share in this history, and particularly by those from our friends in the Southern states.

    My main point in writing was not that Christian's experience was unique but how very common it was.

    Many millions of us today are descendants of the men who fought in that war.  Millions more are descended from those freed by it.  

    And just a certainly millions claim lineage from both.

    My other point was this...Christian was an immigrant, perhaps eight year at most in the U.S., when he chose to fight.

    He neither carried the sin of slavery nor the blood of those who founded this country.  Yet he volunteered to fight.  As did millions of other immigrants.  As millions of immigrants do today.

    Worth remembering in these days of debating immigration reform.

    Happy 4th to my friends here.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:24:26 PM PDT

  •  Ancestors on both sides (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor, onanthebarbarian

    A Virginia Cavalryman killed at Malvern Hill, and a Union general who died on the first day of Gettysburg.

    “The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot do so well for themselves”- Lincoln

    by commonscribe on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:43:23 AM PDT

  •  Having just returned from Gettysburg (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aravir, Notthemayor

    The 150th anniversary, re-enactment- I deeply appreciate this posting. Having the chance to live as those soldiers lived, to understand what it meant to sit in reserve while the battle is going on 100 yards in front of you, waiting for deployment...

    It isn't the real thing, it isn't even close to what our contemporary veterans experienced in all of our "entanglements"- we don't really, officially call them wars anymore, because among the many responsibilities Congress has shirked is the responsibility to declare war- but it was profoundly moving.

    I fully believe that we are still fighting that war, on so many levels. Still, like your great-great grandfather, I believe there is something important, and precious at stake- that the outcome truly matters, as much as winning the peace that will follow.

    Huzzah for your great-great grandfather, and his entire generation.

    "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

    by The Poet Deploreate on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 05:43:35 AM PDT

  •  I have stood where Chamberlain held the line (4+ / 0-)

    For me, it is a holy place.  My family, as I used to joke, were Lincoln Republicans.  One of, if not the only, reason I left the party was because the Dixiecrats started taking it over.  Walking from point to point of Pickett's Charge reinforces how foolhardy that charge was.

    My great-great-great uncle died at the battle of Pleasant Hilll, April 9, 1864.  A battle mostly forgotten as the denouement of the failed Red River campaign.  Victors don't spend a lot of time bragging about losses.

    The re-enactment of that battle has the distinction of being the only re-enactment which occurs on the actual site of the battle; the land is privately owned.  I am thinking of going next year for the 150th anniversary.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:08:59 AM PDT

    •  I annoy my conservative friends... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      onanthebarbarian

      (Yes, I have some...though they are trying at times.)

      By calling myself a Lincoln Democrat.

      One of the amazing things about the war is how many men with little previous preparation...like Chamberlain...found themselves at critical points and rose to the occasion.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:31:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My mother's mother's mother's father... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seabos84, Notthemayor

    ... moved from France to Quebec and then to New Orleans in the 1850s. When the war started, he became a captain.  He was captured in 1862 (presumably around the time of the Union occupation of New Orleans).  He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war. When the war ended, and he was freed, he returned to New Orleans, collected his family, and moved to Brooklyn. I wonder how many other former Confederate prisoners of war made a similar move?

    •  I wonder if it's been studied. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jackson L Haveck

      There's a lot of commentary on the black migration out of the South.

      I'm not aware of any on white movement in the war's aftermath though I would think there must be some.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:28:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course there was. (0+ / 0-)

        A branch of my family moved from Norfolk, VA to the Greater New York area some time between 1870 and 1880. (They wound up settling on the New Jersey side of the Hudson.)

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 07:13:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oddly, I have no known relatives who fought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor

    on either side...'course, that could just be a result of my family disowning, snubbing, and losing track of large chunks of itself for decades on end:  I don't know anything about anyone in any of my supposed families  There are not even stories of the civil war era in my family.  I know that my paternal grandmother was slated to be the next ex-plantation matriarch until she took up with my share-cropper paternal grand-dad...but that's actually past where all the stories end.

    Show me the whisky stains on the floor
    Show me an old drunkard as he stumbles to the door
    And I'll see a young man with so many reasons why...
    ...and there, but for FORTUNE, go you - or I... - thanks, Phil

    by chmood on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:10:34 AM PDT

    •  I knew nothing growing up. (0+ / 0-)

      My parents were divorced.

      Both of them had parents who divorced.

      At some point I simply decided that knowing these things mattered and set out to find them.

      Christian was my first big surprise but there have been others.  Some good, some bad, but all I feel better for the knowing.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:26:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting to hear people's family connections (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor

    Thanks for this diary.

    I sometimes look back and think how history would have been different if Lee had won this battle.  It's very possible that the war would have been changed entirely, the South could have won, and how Lincoln could have gone on to be remembered as the worst President in history.

    •  I've never believed... (0+ / 0-)

      That a Union defeat would have left Washington uncovered for Lee to march in and demand surrender, as some people do.

      But the change in the political calculus could have been huge following a big Southern victory on Union soil.

      And of course Lincoln's reelection was hardly assured till Sherman took Atlanta.

      But though I'm no fan of General McClellan I doubt that President McClellan would have simply surrendered.  He would probably have offered a choice of reunion with slavery or continued war.

      Of all the possible outcomes, I think the nightmare of reunion with slavery was the worst.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:41:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lee might have taken Washington (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notthemayor

        Even with the strong defenses for Washington, Lee was extremely bold, aggressive, and successful.  The Union Army wouldhave been in disarray.  i wouldn't count Lee out in that circumstance.

        But even without taking Washington he would be much more free to re-supply off the North and move about at will for a while and really take the war to the North.  And the mere threat of an attack on Washington or other Northern cities could have caused a crisis forcing Lincoln to either resign or sue for peace.

        •  I don't think that Lee... (0+ / 0-)

          Was crazy enough to bash his army to bits against Washington's defenses.

          Even Pickett's charge...foolhardy in retrospect...was the result of Lee's lack of reliable intelligence and the topography on the battlefield that let the General badly misguided on how many troops he faced.

          But I definitely agree that with you that victory there could have altered the political calculus enough to make Southern victory possible.

          However...remember that as Lee marches triumphantly from Gettysburg on the Mississippi Grant has just slashed the Confederacy in two.

          Through that lens I definitely see a longer war...with a very uncertain outcome.

          I'm glad we didn't have to find out.

          "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

          by Notthemayor on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 01:28:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Gettysburg was a deliberate distraction (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Notthemayor

      and a failed attempt to pull Union forces away from Vicksburg.

      Once the Confederacy lost Vicksburg, it was irrevocably doomed. Even winning at Gettysburg would have made no difference.

      But Gettysburg gets all the attention and all the drama, and Vicksburg is largely forgotten.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 07:15:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Vicksburg... (0+ / 0-)

        Was the most impactful military action of the war.  Grant's genius and determination there cements his place as the greatest commander of that war.

        And possibly in all U.S. history.

        "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

        by Notthemayor on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:41:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My great-grandfather was a boy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor

    growing up on a farm near York, PA in 1863.  Before the battle of Gettysburg, the Louisiana Tigers occupied his farm for several weeks.  When they were leaving for Gettysburg my ancestor asked where they were going and they replied, "We're going straight to hell!"  In fighting on East Cemetery Hill on July 2, the Tigers managed to capture a Union battery, but were forced to retreat in a counterattack.  They lost 56 out of 235 men in the battle.  

  •  My Great Great Grandfather was in the 89th Ohio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor

    Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Two great great uncles were in the 29th Illinois Volunteer Regiment.  Another great great grandfather was in an Illinois Volunteer Regiment that I have not yet identified yet.

    One great great uncle is buried in the Corinth MS National Cemetery and the other is buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery.  There were both in the battles of Forts Henry and Donaldson and then Shiloh.

    The two great great grandfathers survived the war and are ended up buried near each other by the civil war monument here.

    The 89th Ohio was involved in Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the battles around Atlanta, Sherman's March, and finally the Grand Review in DC before being mustered out.

  •  Thank you for a nice remembrance.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor
  •  Garry Wills: " Lincon at Gettysburg: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor

    The Words that Remade America" The battle inspired the address, and in its 245 words, Lincoln literally reshaped the ideals of the country, and its influence grows even to today. Lincoln asserts that as the prior document, written by the founders themselves at risk of their lives, is the true touchstone of Freedom, not just for white but black and women and gays, and the disabled. The extension of freedom since 1863 is due entirely to this successful legal, moral and ethical position taken by Lincoln.

    Is one of my favorite books of all time. Its dense, its scholarly and its somber, but you get a full sense of why these Union men would fight so hard, to the death, to certain injury, sacrificing en masse, as the Minnesota 1st did at Cemetary Hill on July 3.

    Wills asserts that Lincoln's entire career was engineered by himself for this moment; to Declare the United States based on the founding document The Declaration of Independence, and not the US Constitution. To claim this was a stroke of legal genius, Wills points out. It is a philosophical text demarcing the rights of man for the present and forever, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, while to Lincoln, the Constitution is a mere legal framework which only partly and insufficiently fulfills the ideals of the Declaration.

    That was radical then, and its radical now. On the 150th Anniversary of the battle, its good to remember that the American Civil War settled once and for all a question which had haunted humans since antiquity. And he did it in a short address in November 1863 on the battlefield at Gettysburg.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:40:52 PM PDT

    •  I read it a couple of times... (0+ / 0-)

      And I probably should dig it up and do it again sometime.

      If America was a religion Lincoln would be its Christ.

      "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

      by Notthemayor on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 01:44:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My Only Civil War Ancestor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notthemayor

    All of my ancestors came from Norway. Seven of my eight great grandparents came to America between about 1890 and 1910, which was after the Civil War, of course.

    However, one guy, Seymour Hansson Johnson, was a private in Company A, 32nd Wisconsin infantry, which was involved in the siege of Atlanta and Sherman‘s March to the Sea. Seymour was my father’s mother’s mother’s father. So, he’s my great great grandfather.

    I wrote about some of my ancestors in this DKos diary: My Norwegian Ancestors. Here’s a little about Seymour (taken from that diary, but edited slightly):

    Seymour was born 29 Dec 1841 near Ringerike, Norway, and died 14 Nov 1915 (or possibly 1911?). Married Lena Jacobson. Four children (of which two died as infants).

    Seymour’s parents, Hans and Ingeborg, came to Wisconsin from Norway in 1854. Incidentally, if you’ve ever wondered why so many Norwegians went to Wisconsin and Minnesota, here’s the answer. It was cheaper to go to Canada and then follow the Great Lakes to the Midwest than it was to go to New York City and get on a train to the Midwest. Quebec is closer to Norway than NYC. The boat fares were cheaper.

    Seymour was 13 years old in 1854 when his parents brought him to Wisconsin. Six years later, in 1860, he’s 19 years old and the Civil War begins (but he is listed with his family in the 1860 Wisconsin census). He joined the 32nd Wisconsin Infantry, Company A. I can’t imagine that he spoke very good English, but they gave him a uniform and a gun and he ended up in Sherman’s march to the sea. He didn’t get killed and he returned to Wisconsin to marry his sweetheart, Lena. His older brother, John Johnson, died in 1864 (I don’t have the details, but I’m pretty sure he died in the war).

    Seymour ended up selling farm implements (and he got a U.S. patent for a cleverly designed plow for breaking up prairie land). Seymour’s daughter Stella Johnson married Olav H. Hegge (great grandparents of mine). Olav was a medical doctor who founded both the hospital and the savings and loan in Austin, Minnesota (home of the Hormel Spam factory!). O.H. Hegge was also a friend of the Mayo brothers (who founded a famous clinic in a neighboring town). When I was young, I remember meeting the grandchildren (or maybe they were great-grandchildren) of the Mayos.

    So that’s my story. I’ve done quite a lot of work on my family tree. One of these days, I’ll delve into the details of exactly what Company A of the 32nd Wisconsin did during the war. Google has lots of links.

    I have a photo of Seymour in his later years (I’m guessing he’s about 50 or so). I haven’t scanned it into the computer yet. With family trees there’s always a long list of things to do and things to do more research about.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:45:22 PM PDT

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