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MATTOON, Ill. — Two summers ago, Bruce Hannon decided to follow in his great-grand-uncle's footsteps during the Civil War.
In this photo taken Jan. 22, 2012, Bruce Hannon retraces the wartime journey of his great-grand-uncle and Union Army private John Phelan during the Coles County Historical Society annual meeting in Mattoon, Ill. Journal Gazette & Times-Courier,Ken Trevarthan)., AP Photo
The journey covered nearly 3,000 miles through six states. But instead of lacing up his hiking boots, Hannon, a retired professor from the University of Illinois, drove over a two-week period in June 2010 to learn about his family roots firsthand.
"I could have walked that, too, over four years' time, but I'm not sure about sleeping on the ground," Hannon said.
He did it to see what his ancestor and his comrades of the 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment, as well as their commanders, saw as they marched into history during the Civil War.
Louise Caroline Desport (1862 - 1902) was house mother at the Bueavoir house in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 1890s. Louise was my Great Grandmother.
Bueavoir was the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis died in 1889. His daughter, Winnie then inherited the property and when she died in 1898, Varina, Jefferson Davis' widow inherited the property. Mrs. Davis sold the property to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans with two stipulations. The first was that the property be used for a Confederate Veterans Home for the veterans and or their widows at no charge to them. The second stipulation for the sale of the property was that it be used as a memorial to Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Soldier; and that has been done from 1903 until the present time. Beauvoir.org
Louise was house mother, 'took care of the titles,' showed the house around and acted as tour guide after Davis' death.
Louise died in the summer of 1902, at the age of 40, possibly from Yellow Fever.
Her daughter Mary Bridget Vernier (1885 - 1959) spoke of roaming through the 'house with big rooms,' as a small child and remembered helping to polish the silverware. She said the silver was, 'heavy.'
By combing through military records, an Iowa genealogist gets glimpses into the lives and suffering of long-lost relatives.
This tale is, in some ways, a ghost story. Not a yarn wound around a mysterious light or unexplained noises. Instead, it is a tale of how three of my ancestors have taken on a new life through the pages of their Civil War military records.
Genealogists like myself love to spackle names and dates into their charts. But it is through weaving together stories about those ancestors, passed down through generations, that a real picture of them begins to emerge.
I couldn’t do that with the Busch family. That door to the past slammed shut when Anton Busch, my great-great-great-grandfather and a devout Lutheran, disowned his daughter Louise for marrying a Catholic. Louise rarely spoke of her childhood in Dubuque County.
My discovery that Anton, at 52, had volunteered for Iowa’s Greybeard regiment during the Civil War renewed my interest in the family’s mysteries. Then I learned Henry, Anton’s oldest son, had joined the fight. As did Anton’s son-in-law, George Friebertsheiser.
Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s autumn 1862 invasion of Kentucky had reached the outskirts of Louisville and Cincinnati, but he was forced to retreat and regroup. On October 7, the Federal army of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, numbering nearly 55,000, converged on the small crossroads town of Perryville, Kentucky, in three columns. Union forces first skirmished with Rebel cavalry on the Springfield Pike before the fighting became more general, on Peters Hill, as the grayclad infantry arrived. The next day, at dawn, fighting began again around Peters Hill as a Union division advanced up the pike, halting just before the Confederate line. The fighting then stopped for a time. After noon, a Confederate division struck the Union left flank and forced it to fall back.
If your family was living in the United States in the 1860s, chances are good that you're related to someone who served in the Civil War.
Perhaps your great- or great-great-grandfather was among the 2.1 million men mustered in the Union Army or the 800,000 to 900,000 men who were on the Confederate side. Or maybe a great-aunt served as a scout, nurse or spy. She may even have been among the several hundred females who, disguised as men, actually fought on the ground.