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23 March 2017


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Typically a lurker cause I have nothing important to add in general, but you may enjoy David Kincaid's rendition of Irish-themed Civil War songs. The Dreadful Engagement is really good and they're on Youtube.


My compliments on your efforts. I just managed to find a copy of my maternal grandfather's Discharge Certificate from the Air Service at Camp Dix, February 23, 1919. I was discharged at Ft. Dix, February 16, 1977. I have it from family members that he was a flight instructor in France. The only thing my uncle remembers for sure is that "He flew Spad's". Have been searching for more info online, but so far no joy.



Thanks. The Bills were English in descent. pl

The Twisted Genius


I'm envious of your genealogist's ability to dig this stuff up. Being able to trace my ancestors this far back (and much further) and with such detail would be a joy. Unfortunately, Lithuanian records took a beating over the centuries. I did find an interesting Facebook group that may offer some help to myself and any other Lithuanians out there. I', sure there are groups like this for most nationalities.


John Minnerath

Trying to track down ancestors 200 years can be a daunting task.
The Wisconsin connection during the WBS is interesting. Prior to the war it was a huge Territory and seems to have been a destination for many northern Europeans.
A GGGF settled in Wisconsin Territory about 1846 having brought his family from the Eifel.
A number of ancestors served in the Union Army.
One, who's last name was Hoven had retired from the Prussian Cavalry and even though must have been fairly old served as a Captain in one of the volunteer Wisconsin cavalry units.
I think I have some info about that period somewhere, but my dusty old brain cells have forgotten where it all is.


My mothers side is well documented. All came over from a small town in the Alto Adige and we have solid records back to 1585. My father's patrilineal heritage is pretty well documented back to Athlone in the old sod. The Yankee star in this was a grandfather who won the medal at the Third Battle of Petersburg (Private Charles Ennis). Paternal Grandma's family is a mystery, German Jews from Mecklenburg.



That's great! I take no credit whatever for my wife's diligent work. She has driven the story of my ancestry back a long way. pl


I find family history quite a bit of fun. Things quickly become real, rather than theoretical, and the distance seems to evaporate. 1864 quickly becomes yesterday.

The Welsh side of the family was full of scoundrels and thieves. The patriarch had the choice of prison or America, and he chose America - bringing his wayward ways with him.

They loved drinking, and singing, (and stealing), but they had little taste for war. Thomas for example, he fled in the midst of First Manassas, running all the way back home to the Valley.

A conscription officer found him there a week later, hiding in a pile of hay.

The Germans were stouter. They fought at the Battle of Kappel, they were there when Zwingli fell, and they rescued the standard, leading the retreat back to Zurich. They were stern warriors of god, and brought their martial ways with them to America.

Michael served in the 63rd Virginia Infantry. He was conscripted in 62 and fought the duration of the war. He was listed on the Confederate Roll of Honor for valor at Chickamauga. What he did, I do not know.



ex-PFC Chuck

A few months ago when I was poking around at the Minnesota History Center I finally learned how my grandfather was fortunate enough to survive the carnage the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment suffered on July 2 in the Battle of Gettysburg. In the official unit history book that I found there I learned that he was in Company C, and that unit had been detached early that day to perform security duties at the division HQ. What very little about him that was passed down to my generation came via my mom, his daughter-in-law. She majored in History at the U of MN (Class of 1921 IIRC) conversed with him about his service, but said she didn't get much out of him. It was her understanding that he didn't like to talk much about it and what little my dad told me about him had nothing to do with the war.

Zachary Smith

No living person can be faulted for their ancestors, but I'm obscurely proud I don't have any who fought for the South.

Wish the same was true for the Revolution - though the females of the family qualify for the DAR more than a dozen ways, there were also an awful lot of folks on the side of the Brits. The only recorded slave-owner was a Revolutionary soldier.

Oddly enough, nobody was in WW1, and there are yet no records of anybody involved in the 1812 war.

Eric Newhill

Mother's family came here from England in the 1600s. Eventually produced George Washington and others who fought in the revolution. Then a few who fought in Lee's army. We even have a museum in Virginia with all of our geneneology (Mary Ball) as well as various documents and items of interest. So that side of the family is all squared away.

Father's side? Who knows? Armenian survivors of lineages wiped out by Turks. They began anew in America. The past was sad and gone. Genetic test suggests fairly pure Armenian and Semitic line since the beginning of recorded history.


Eric Newhill

Both sides of my family started arriving in N. America in the early 17th Century, 1617 at Quebec and 1620 at Plymouth five on THE BOAT, three signed the Mayflower Compact. The real floodgates opened in the planned colonization at Massachusetts Bay, just dozens of those folk, a lot of them puritan "divines." Many had Norman blood which leads to a lot of other things in Europe. pl


Zachary Smith

We seem to be neighbors. Is that true? You live in Alexandria, Virginia? You are "obscurely proud...?" Are you a New Alexandrian? IOW are you Northern in origin? Perhaps another way to ask the same question is to ask if you would like to have "Appomattox" (the statue) moved? So far, my genealogist wife has not found anyone in my family who was Southern. You don't respect the Confederate Army? Perhaps you don't know enough about them to really have formed an opinion. This wa a citizen army that fought outnumbered, under-equipped, under-supplied and often won and you don't respect them? This must be political, the slavery thing, the supposed treason thing. Your attitude toward the other side is still extant north and south. I don't know how strong it is in the South because Southerners generally are reticent in such matters. As Walker Percy wrote in "Thanatos," "part of Southern culture lies in knowing what not to talk about to outsiders." pl


What small town would that be in Alto Adige? I think Napoleon introduced "Alto Adige". River Adige. I am wondering when her family arrived in the States. Or the Irish side? ...

May I? - association: Mecklenburg, Jewish

Grandma touches on something on a character that fascinated me. The Rabbi of the State of Mecklenburg. A Reform Rabbi. He got in troubles with both the Orthodox and a protestant professor of theology, expert in Hebrew and the "old Testament". The clash of two scholars fascinated me. He is a very, very stern man in writer. ... Anyway, this affair seems to have led to his decision to immigrate to the US. ... later he had to flee from Baltimore again, equally stern abolitionist.

Grandma's family is a mystery, German Jews from Mecklenburg.

You know when her family/she arrived in the States and where they moved? Family name?

...here is a snippet of what triggered the controversy in Mecklenburg

traces the struggle with Delitzsch, the prof of protestant theology, he also was an activist, a missionary. A real clash of characters:

Yes: I wonder now if some followed him from Mecklenburg. Never thought about that. In any case he must have had large German-Jewish congregation. His early texts were still in German. He published a periodical in German too, which people must have read.

Here is his prayer book still in German. Baltimore, 1862:


Hoven had retired from the Prussian Cavalry

Yes, that fits, in the early 18th century the Prussians took over the Rhineland, and thus the Eifel.

Babbling a bit:

The Cologne people managed to finally finish their Cathedral/ Dom under Prussian rule. Finally add century long missing "turrets/little towers as we call them privately.

For me the immigrant this made sense: for centuries the pilgrims didn't really bother if existed or not, they came for the Three Kings after all.


A friend of mine could always see them from the Eifel in clear weather, by the way.

Zachary Smith

This site isn't the easiest for me to log-in-to, so I use the Opera browser with VPN (virtual private network) enabled. This "reports" my location as some mighty strange places; sometimes even Europe. For the record I'm in Indiana.

For most of my life I couldn't understand the ordinary white soldiers in the South - why did they fight and die for an institution so directly opposed to their own interests? Only after reading What This Cruel War Was Over did the motives of the Southern Soldier finally become clear to me. The reason they fought so long and so hard was to protect themselves and most especially their loved ones from the barbaric slaves. Generations of indoctrination had ground that fear into their very marrow.

But now I realized I had no explanation for why the North stayed in the desperate fight and took so many losses. It has taken a lot of reading and digestion of what I've read to reach my current conclusion the North fought for the exact same reason - to protect themselves and their loved ones - from the institution of slavery.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of Dred Scott fame had a larger agenda, and at the outbreak of the Civil War was on the verge of voiding all Northern laws against slavery. This was well reported at the time, and people in the North knew they couldn't possibly compete against slave blacksmiths, factory workers, or any other skilled or unskilled professions. So they were determined to destroy the institution of slavery.

Never mind that the Northern folks were at least as racist as the Southerners - they demonstrated that after the War when they threw the freed blacks to the wolves. Nor were they any more virtuous in other ways - I was shocked to learn that Southern POWs in the North were treated as badly as the captured Union troops had been in the South.

As for the Southern Elites pulling a "Pearl Harbor" at Ft. Sumter, that was a bit of stupidity at least as bad as Japan tackling the US in WW2. Both the Slavers and the Japanese thought themselves to be ten feet tall and their opponents a bunch of sniveling p****** who would quickly beg for terms. When you deliberately stick your hand into a meat grinder, you can't complain a whole hell of a lot when it gets mangled.


In the last Rece I went to, my roomate was very polite and friendly and a descendant of von Stromberg prussian officers and generals. I read diaries of some of his ancestors about WW-I during my high school exam preparations for history class.

It was quite interesting, and they wrote good, even though some of the stuff they noted was rough. When I mentioned that to my roommate he added that his family not only had numerous prussian army generals and officers but that he also had three navy officer ancestors during WW-I (two of whom fell).

In my new Reha I have a patient colleague, another polite and pleasant guy, whose surname is ... Montgomery. I asked him if he was perhaps related to the british general Montgomery. He said that he was canadian and THUS CANNOT be related to the british general ... äahh, ok.



Zachary Smith

Indiana? Have you ever lived in the South? What I get from you is that you found a book that told you that the poor, ignorant Confederate soldiers fought the Union Army for four years from fear of a servile revolt. IMO this is a bit like "priest shopping." In the RC church this is the business of going from priest to priest until you find one who tells you what you want to hear. Well, in your theory the soldiers must have been damned ignorant. I remember the narrative of the surgeon of the Army of the
Potomac (Union) who wrote that by 1864 you could look out across a day or two old battlefield and tell which were the Confederate dead because they did not swell. They had too little fat in their bodies to swell, but still they fought on. They must have been really afraid of those slaves. pl

John Minnerath

My Grandfather, who was 74 when I was born, always made a point of insisting the family came from Lorraine. I do know there was a branch of my Dad's family in Normandy.
Some distant cousins got interested in the genealogy and passed what they found to me. Copies of old documents I have show many ancestors from 1600's to 1700's being from an area around the town of Hillesheim.

Eric Newhill

That is a most impressive background.

I always wondered why the puritans selected the NE, with it's harsh weather and poor soil, instead of the more pleasant climate of the South, like my non-puritan ancestors.

A touch of masochism in the religious attitude?


Eric Newhill

The Pilgrims at Plymouth were supposed to go to Virginia but they sailed too late in the year and N. Atlantic weather caused them to end their journey in New England. A lot of them died during their winter spent on the Mayflower and they all would have died IMO if they had not had the help of friendly Indians who had experience of Europeans from working for English cod fisherman on the now Maine coast. They spoke English and one had been to Europe. I don't know why the planned Puritan colony went to Massachusetts Bay ten years later. Perhaps it wa because they know that the Pilgrims had survived. pl


I have a copy of U.S. Grant's memoirs. When the U.S. Army went into Mexico in 1846, he was assigned a quartermaster. The OIC of the engineers was Captain Robert E. Lee. It is both fascinating and heartbreaking to read how so many in the Civil War previously served together wearing Union blue.

Lee was offered command of the Union Army. It seems to me what most tipped the scales for him and so many others in U.S. uniform was the thought of riding into their home states and towns as invaders. On the lighter side, here is a bit from Grant's memoirs--

"When Camargo was reached, we found a city of tents outside the Mexican hamlet. I was detailed to act as quartermaster and commissary to the regiment. The teams that had proven abundantly sufficient to transport all supplies from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande over the level prairies of Texas, were entirely inadequate to the needs of the reinforced army in a mountainous country. to obviate the deficiency, pack mules were hired, with Mexicans to pack and drive them. I had charge of the few wagons allotted to the 4th infantry and of the pack train to supplement them. There were not men enough in the army to manage that train without the help of Mexicans who had learned how. As it was the difficulty was great enough. The troops would take up their march at an early hour each day. After they had started, the tents and cooking utensils had to be made into packages, so that they could be lashed to the backs of the mules. Sheet-iron kettles, tent-poles, and the mess chests were inconvenient articles to transport in that way. It took several hours to get ready to start each morning, and by the time we were ready some of the mules first loaded would be tired of standing so long with their loads on their backs. Sometimes one would start to run, bowing his back and kicking up until he scattered his load; others would lie down and try to disarrange their loads by attempting to get on the top of them by rolling on them; others with tent-poles for part of their loads would manage to run a tent-pole on one side of a sapling while they would take the other. I am not aware of ever having used a profane explicative in my life; but I would have the charity to excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack mules at the time."

2Lt U.S. Grant Camargo, Mexico
August, 1846

Excerpt from Ulysses S. Grant—Memoirs and Selected Letters
ISBN 978-0-94045058-5



Lt. Grant was quartermaster officer of the 4th US Infantry Regiment. Captain RE Lee was the staff engineer for Winfield Scott, not OIC of "the engineers." This was a senior staff position in which Lee was responsible for all route reconnaissance for the army, planning of encampments, etc. I believe that Lt. McClellan worked for Lee in Mexico. When Grant asked at Appomattox if Lee remembered him from Mexico Lee said that he regretted that he did not. Lee Resigned from the US Army when Lincoln called for volunteers to suppress rebellion in the seceded states. He said that he could not raise his hand against his relatives and friends. He went home and then Governor Letcher asked if he would command Virginia's forces, Virginia not then having joined the confederacy. pl



Thanks for filling the correct details. I was pressed for time and doing my best from memory. I guess my main point was just how it has always struck me how many served together and then wound up on opposite sides.


Hillesheim, is of course further south. That's Vulkaneifel (Vulkan=vulkano) The Southern part of the Eifel that's Rhineland-Palatinate. Images:


Definitively too far to see the little towers on the horizon. ;)

Ok, Normandy and Lorraine. I stop babbling.

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