I am an incorrigible and completely hopeless history fanatic. Especially the Civil War. No, I do not like, nor agree with, the idea of slavery in any form or fashion. What fascinates me is the 'brother against brother', one nation divided into two pieces, over an ideal. When I was younger, my greatest joy was to participate in Living History re-enactments (both North and South portrayed) around Georgia and Tennessee. I have had the honor of visiting the site of Gettysburg (and yes, I cried nearly the entire time we toured that monumental site) and of being a member of the re-enacting regiment that hosted the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee (let me tell you, if you have never cleared a tree, it is definitely not an easy task!).
I always knew the stories of my family--that there were five brothers who fought in the Civil War in the same battalion. Yet where was the proof? We did not have any paperwork that showed us the actual roster to prove the claim.
Until last night.
I have recently become an avid watcher of the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" and the season finale featured Ashley Judd. If you do not know the premise of this show, basically they take a famous person of our time and research into their family tree, then video the results. Ashley discovered that her three times great-grandfather was not only in the Civil War, but had an emergency field amputation which he survived. As I finished watching, I decided to visit the website and see if I could find previous episodes. During that search, I saw an advertisement for Ancestry.com--they were hosting free Civil War records searches for this week.
Naturally, I simply had to do this!
What I found was astonishing and only opened more questions for me about some of the brothers. Here is a brief commentary on what I discovered: The oldest brother, W.H., and a younger brother, W.B. (seventeen years difference) both enlisted with the Confederate Army on October 25, 1861. A year later, the younger brother was promoted to "full corporal" on May 13. I wonder if that irked his older brother?
On that same day of promotion, two more brothers joined the Confederate Army, James and J.G. (second and third oldest of the boys). They were all four in the 34th Georgia Company C Infantry. J.G. was promoted to "full 4th sergeant" (no date given) and James was promoted to 2nd lieutenant on February 12, 1864.
(A side note: middle brother Thomas was enlisted, but does not have an enlistment date, nor any other information other than promoted to captain and a prisoner of war, though no site given.)
Unfortunately all five brothers ran into a bit of trouble in Vicksburg, Mississippi. They were captured on July 4, 1863 (what an Independence Day that must have been!) and enrolled as prisoners of war. They signed statements claiming they would "not take up arms again against the United States, nor serve in any military police or constabulary force in any Fort, garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, against the United States of America, nor as guard of prisons, depots or stores, nor discharge any duties usually performed by Officers or soldiers, against the United States of America, until duly exchanged by the proper authorities". This was signed the eighth day of July, 1863.
November 1st of that year, they all appear again on Confederate rosters as active military members. What liars they were! (My question also is, did they escape from prison? Were they released? Were they exchanged for other prisoners? What happened so that they were only in prison a short time?)
James was killed after the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee in 1864 (rumor has it that the Union officer in charge was sore about his brother dying at Andersonville Prison and executed any Confederates taken as prisoner--even after being reprimanded to cease these actions, he continued).
W.H. has conflicting information. One paperwork says he survived the war, and another claims that he was killed at the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia in 1864.
Thomas? His listed death date is after the war, but there are no documents to support this.
W.B. survived the War of the States and lived to be an old man. The most interesting one was J.G. Information states that he surrendered to the Union Army in Greensboro, North Carolina on April 26, 1865! He also lived to be an old man.
I think perhaps I will have to try to contact Vicksburg, Mississippi to determine if they have any records. I am nearly dying of curiosity to find out if my relatives were released, or if they were not only liars, but fugitives as well!
History can be so exciting!