Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Sky is Blue

Today I was looking into where my third great grandfather, Miles Price, was in the Civil War.  I have his pension file, but I wanted to know where he was and what he saw during his time in the war, so I’d ordered his service records and was analyzing them.  There wasn’t much to it, except for a few notes here and there, but piecing it together using regiment histories and the magic of Google, I found some really neat things. 

I am fascinated by the battles that he was likely in and the road he traveled, but also by the pride I am finding in myself for him.  Before this, I would say, “My 3rd great grandfather was in the Civil War” but it was a bit empty.  It’s much like saying that the sky is blue, but once you start learning about the atmosphere and space and come to learn HOW the sky is blue, you say, “The sky is blue,” in a whole different way.

My 3rd great grandfather was in the Civil War.  Lincoln made an initial call for volunteers on April 14, 1861 for 75,000 men under a ninety day term of service.  On May 3, 1861 the call was for 45,000 for three year enlistments.  Miles enlisted on May 9, 1861 for a three-year term.  I mapped his locations in the war and logged them here:

My 3rg great grandfather was in the 16th Illinois Infantry, before going to the Pioneer Corps.  He was camped at Edgefield, TN for awhile and likely during this time, this drawing was made.  His likeness may be among these men.

My 3rd great grandfather was transferred from the 16th Illinois Infantry to the Pioneer Corps.  As Philip Shiman, a Civil War author noted, “The regimental colonels detached their best, most talented men, in the expectation that they could use their pioneers as they saw fit.  It should be considered to be quite a compliment to your great grandfather that he should have been selected for the Pioneer Brigade.  It meant that his colonel thought highly of him.”  At the end of the Pioneer Brigade’s time, they were offered to reenlist to the Veteran Volunteer Engineers for the Army of the Cumberland and offered the pay grade that the Engineer Corps received.  They spent the last year of the war around Chattanooga, TN constructing forts, building reserve magazines, implementing waterworks and hauling and rafting lumber.

My 3rd great grandfather named his son Charles Sumner Price.  For years I was looking for a Sumner in the family line, and it may still be there, but it MAY be that my grandfather admired Charles Sumner.  As I was learning all about the Civil War, I came across his name.  Charles Sumner was a politician and a huge antislavery advocate.  He was a leader of the Radical Republicans in the US Senate and wanted the ex-Confederates to be punished and all men to be treated entirely equally.  He was more radically fair than Lincoln, opposing him for wanting only 2/3rd vote to the African Americans.  I’m hoping I don’t find a Sumner in my tree and that my 3rd great grandfather admired Charles Sumner back when he likely wasn’t a popular man to admire.

My 3rd great grandfather likely knew the sound of a real Rebel Yell.  In the 1930s there were two recordings made by former Confederate soldiers.  You can find these on YouTube and on the internet, but I imagine that hearing that cry coming from hundreds, even thousands of soldiers coming at you would eventually lead you to the anti-Pavlovian response, striking your guts to shivering at just the sound.  Did Grandpa have that feeling when he heard it?  Did he have nightmares about it?

My 3rd great grandfather fought in the Battle of New Madrid, Siege of Corinth, Battle of Chattanooga, the Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of Stones River, and the Tullahoma Campaign.  So many experiences and I’m sure not all were bad, but it’s hard to imagine otherwise.

Thank you, Miles Price, for making me take wonder at the blue sky and the Civil War.

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