image_pdfimage_print

Tuesday’s Tip: Multiple Sources Tell the Story of William Anderson Murrell

Civil War pension papers of William Anderson Murrell, 11 July 1910.

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip: Use multiple sources when telling the story of an ancestor. Each one may provide only a small bit of unique information, but together those tidbits can tell a compelling story. You can find more sources by researching the references cited on a website or in a book.

 

We learned more about William Anderson Murrell’s military service by following this tip.

 

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

 

Guerilla warfare was a significant part of the Civil War, and William A. Murrell and his regiment, the Illinois 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, provided heavy guard to the fort and surrounding areas. “The Past and Present of Warren County…” published in 1877 tells more of the story of the 83rd:

 

“…the whole country, especially the banks of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, were infested with guerrillas, [and the company] had daily skirmishes with the enemy, some of them quite severe as at Waverly (Tennessee) and at Garretsburg (Kentucky).”

 

Skirmishes were not all that soldiers on guard duty had to deal with. Battles occurred as well.

 

The 3rd day of February in 1863 likely dawned cold, and possibly there was snow on the ground. By the time the sun was high in the sky, Fort Donelson and its Union forces were attacked by the rebels of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joseph Wheeler, two of the Confederacy’s best commanders. The Confederates had 8,000 men, and William most likely was one of nine companies from the 83rd, plus 1 company from the Illinois 2nd, who were able to hold off the enemy for seven hours of fighting. By 8:30pm that night, the enemy withdrew; they had 800 men killed or wounded. Of the small garrison at the fort, of the 83rd, only 13 paid the ultimate price, and 51 were wounded. The fort was still under control of the Union that evening, despite the “Battle of Dover,” due to the bravery of soldiers like William A. Murrell.

 

After the surprising Confederate loss, it was reported that Forrest told his rival Wheeler, “Tell [General Bragg] that I will be in my coffin before I will fight again under your command.”

 

On 20 September 1863, the right wing of the regiment moved on to Clarksville, Tennessee, but we have not been able to determine if William was a part of this group. He most likely did end up in Clarksville at some point, however, per regimental histories.

 

Despite their hatred for each other, the Confederate officers Forrest and Wheeler were involved together in other battles with Union forces. One of their missions was to disrupt the communications of General Sherman as he marched through the south. The Illinois 83rd out of Clarksville pursued the rebel forces, and were involved in many skirmishes and fights.

 

During 1864, the 83rd Illinois was guarding over 200 miles of Union communications (telegraph, railroad, waterways, roads, etc.), and much heavy patrol duty was required to keep those lines in Union hands. An Adjutant General’s report on the Illinois 83rd told the story of one of the forays after the rebels:

 

“On the morning of the 20th of August, 1864, Captain William M. Turnbull, of Company B, with eleven of his company, left Fort Donelson in pursuit of a party of five guerrillas, who were making their way to the Tennessee River with a lot of horses, but failing to overtake them he was overpowered while returning to his command by a party of guerrillas secreted in the timber, and he and seven of  his men were killed, while one had both his legs broken, but he was afterward cowardly murdered by guerrillas, who found him lying helpless in a barn where some humane citizen had taken him for safety.  But three of the party escaped to tell the sad fate of their companions.”

 

(Wonder if there was any retribution by the guerrillas to the person who had helped the Union soldier to the barn? Sadly, it was highly likely…)

 

We know that William was probably not a part of this event, since he was in Co. H, not Co. B. Some of the young men of Co. B were from Roseville, however, and William may have known them. Even if he did not, hearing this story as the three survivors returned must have been frightening to 23-year old William and his fellow soldiers.

 

The winter of 1864-5 found the regiment in Nashville, Tennessee, on provost duty. This was essentially a ‘military police’ job, requiring them to keep order and discipline within the Union troops of the city.

 

The war was coming to a close, and that meant that William Anderson Murrell and his regiment were about to be mustered out of the Union Army. Colonel Arthur A. Smith, the commanding general of the Illinois 83rd, received the following letter commending his troops:

 

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Nashville, Tenn., May 31, 1865

Colonel A. A. Smith, Commanding Fifth Sub. District Middle Tennessee.

 

Dear Colonel – By an order just received the troops of 1862 will be mustered out of services.  Your Regiment will go out under that order.  I am unwilling to part with you and your officers and men without expressing my highest commendation of the soldierly bearing and gentlemanly conduct of all during the time they have been under my command.  At the time when I most needed brave men and steady soldiers to drive Wheeler and Forrest out of the district I was but too happy to avail myself of the services of as many of your Regiment as could be spared for that duty.  And relying greatly upon them I was not disappointed in their deportment.

 

I have not been troubled with complaints against them for disorderly conduct and marauding, but their deportment in the army and community has been brave and soldierly, proving that the brave man and true soldier is always honest and just.  I can truly say I do not know a regiment in the service whose brave and soldierly bearing more fully entitles it to the respect and gratitude of the country than the Eighty-third Infantry, and you and they will take with you, individually and collectively, my sincere thanks for your efficient services and my kindest wishes for your future welfare in all things.

I am, Colonel, very truly, etc.
Lovel H. Rosseau.
Major General Commanding

 

William and his brothers in arms were officially mustered out on 26 June 1865 at Nashville. The were moved to Chicago, Illinois, and received their discharge and final pay on 4 July 1865. What a true day of independence that was for all the soldiers discharged!

 

 ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

 

 One fun and interesting tidbit that we did learn about William’s unit, following today’s tip about exploring a variety of sources:

 

Many of the young men enlisted in Co. C of the 83rd Illinois were from Roseville, Illinois.  So William may have had some dealings with the men in this unit, whether because he knew them personally or because they went out on patrol together, and lived together in the small garrison. One of the soldiers in Co. C, from Pella, Iowa, was Virgil Walter Earp. You might now be thinking of Wyatt Earp, the famous marshall who was involved in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral years later in Tombstone, Arizona. They were actually brothers, but Virgil was the more experienced with guns and had served longer as a lawman. Virgil was officially the City Marshal for Tombstone and a Deputy U.S. Marshal; he made his brother Wyatt an Assistant Deputy before the shootout in 1881, as well as their brother Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday. It may have been Virgil that fired the first shot in the shootout. His brother Wyatt, who spent most of his life as a gambler, got all the glory instead after a fictionalized biography called Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal by Stuart N. Lake was published in 1931.

 

It would be interesting to know William A. Murrell’s reaction when he heard the O.K. Corral shootout story and the name of a member of the Illinois 83rd…

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. 83rd Illinois Infantry Regiment– https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/reg_html/083_reg.html
  2. 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/83rd_Illinois_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment
  3. Civil War Archive- 83rd regiment Infantry– http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unilinf7.htm#83rd
  4. Fort Donelson Battlefield- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson_National_Battlefield
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson
    https://www.nps.gov/fodo/index.htm

  5. Virgil Earp–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil_Earp

 

Click to enlarge any image. Please contact us if you would like an image in higher resolution.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.

Military Monday: William Anderson Murrell

Civil War pension papers of William Anderson Murrell, 20 Feb 1899. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

William Anderson Murrell was a younger brother to our ancestor, Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts. She was the first, and he the fourth, of the children of Wiley Anderson Murrell and Mary Magdalene (Honts) Murrell.

William Anderson Murrell was born 25 May 1841 in Botetourt County, Virginia. We find him with his parents and siblings in the 1850 US Federal Census for District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia; he was just 9 years old. Three years later, William migrated with his family to Warren County, Illinois.

A previous post has mentioned how some of this family’s descendants believe the Murrells may have moved to Illinois as they did not like the pro-slavery stance of most Virginians, and they most likely realized that war would be coming to their own soil if the divisive forces of the slavery and states’ rights issues persisted. We cannot know if states’ rights or slavery was the uppermost issue on their minds, or if just protecting family and assets were of primary importance.  Roseville, in Warren County, Illinois, was a stop on the Underground Railroad for many runaway slaves on their way to freedom in the north or Canada, so the area they chose to settle was anti-slavery. We do know that William took a stand on the issues, as he enlisted in the Union Army on 1 August 1862.

William enlisted with other young men from Warren County at Monmouth, Illinois as the 83rd Infantry Illinois Volunteers was being organized. He became a part of Company H (all from Warren Co.) and was enlisted for three years of service.

The 83rd moved out of Monmouth on 25 August 1862, going to Cairo, Illinois via Burlington, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. Cairo (pronounced “CARE-o” by the locals) is across the border from Kentucky and at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, so it was important for the unit to protect Union assets. Guard duty of communications lines was one of their primary missions.

Embarkation of General McClernand’s Brigade at Cairo — the Advance of the Great Mississippi Expedition — January 10, 1862, a wood engraving from a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in Harper’s Weekly, February 1, 1862, via Wikipedia, public domain. (William may have been transported on a similar steamboat.) (Click to enlarge.)
The above scene was from before William arrived in Cairo, and after Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant had taken the southernmost city of Illinois from the Confederates. Grant also took Fort Donelson, along the Cumberland River in Tennessee, in February 1862. As it was just over ten miles from Kentucky, this was a huge strategic win for the Union, and the South was stunned. The Cumberland was a route for men and supplies into Tennessee and the heart of the Confederacy. This battle essentially divided the rebellious states into two sections, making it easier for the Union to attack and control. And that the Union did- Nashville, Tennessee, fell to Grant shortly thereafter. Nashville was an industrial center as well as the capital of Tennessee, and its occupation by the Union also gave them control over much of the Tennessee River. The Union held Nashville throughout the war.

William and his fellow soldiers were moved to Fort Donelson, near Dover, Tennessee, about the 5th of September, 1862.

Part of the lower river battery, overlooking the Cumberland River. Photographed by Hal Jespersen at Fort Donelson, February 2006, via Wikipedia; public domain.

On 20 September 1863, the right wing of the regiment moved on to Clarksville, Tennessee, but we have not been able to determine if William was a part of this group.

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. 83rd Illinois Infantry Regiment–
    https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/reghist.pdf https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/reg_html/083_reg.html
  2. 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/83rd_Illinois_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment
  3. Interestingly, there was a young man named Ransom Roberts in Co. H with William- could he have been a cousin through William’s sister Elizabeth’s marriage to John Roberts? There was a Joseph H. Saylor, also from Roseville- John Roberts’ mother’s maiden name was Saylor/Salyers, so he too may have been a cousin through marriage (or a marriage to be.) More research needed here as neither of these names are known to the author.
  4. Civil War Archive- 83rd regiment Infantry– http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unilinf7.htm#83rd
  5. Fort Donelson Battlefield- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson_National_Battlefield
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson
    https://www.nps.gov/fodo/index.htm

 

Click to enlarge any image. Please contact us if you would like an image in higher resolution.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.

Sorting Saturday: Armed Forces Day

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., 1943, likely taken in boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Edward A. McMurray, Jr., 1943, likely taken in boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Today, the third Saturday in May, is Armed Forces Day in the United States. It is a day to honor our military service members in all five branches of the service: Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army, and Coast Guard. So it was somewhat serendipitous that while sorting through and organizing computer files today, this image surfaced.

Edward A. McMurray, Jr., (1924-2010) served his country proudly in World War II in the Army-Air Corps. He was an aircraft mechanic in the South Pacific.  He told his family that the Marines would go in and take a little Pacific Island from the Japanese, the Army would secure it, the Navy Seebees would bulldoze a landing strip, and the Air Corps pilots landed their airships and mechanics were brought in to service the planes. Barracks, hangars, and supply areas were quickly built, all with a wide strip bulldozed between them and the jungle. They knew the Japanese were often still out in the jungle, as they could hear them at night rustling through the vegetation. If the men had not worked so hard during the hot, stiflingly-humid days with frequent rain showers, sleep might have been a problem with knowing the enemy was just outside the compound, waiting for a chance to attack.

Although they were not in combat, their work itself was inherently dangerous. A pit was dug for scrapping used oil, rags, engine parts, and sometimes the airmen had to get down in there to try to find a needed part or push things closer together so they could continue to add to the pile. One day Ed was taking a break, and the pit caught on fire, possibly from a lit cigarette. He said that he was supposed to have been working in the pit at that time, but was ‘goofing off’ – hard to imagine as he was SUCH a hard worker his whole life, even as a young boy per his mother! Sadly, it was impossible to rescue all the men in the pit, and Ed said the screams and the smell of burning flesh would always remain with him. It must have been horrific for all concerned. Ed may have been just barely 20 when it happened, and although he was a stoic individual, this incident affected him even into his later years.

As Ed was stationed in the South Pacific, they were frequently on board ship, heading to the next small island that had been laboriously taken by our combat troops. Ed said they frequently lost men overboard when it was rough, or sometimes even in calm seas from a misstep on the deck. At night it would have been almost impossible to find a man treading water in the ocean. It was challenging during the day, too, as it often was some time before it was realized that a man was missing. Ed also spoke of the sharks that followed the ships (partly because they threw their waste overboard). It was especially frightening around the Great Barrier Reef of Australia- he said a man did not have much of a chance of survival flailing around in the water there. That being said, they did all go swimming at times off the aft deck of their ship. Ah, the joys of youth and a feeling of immortality, even in wartime.

So thank a Veteran today, and think about those who came before, those who are serving us today, and those who will serve in the future to protect our freedoms. Think about those who did not come back home too, whether they were serving overseas, or on our own land in the French-Indian Wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, or our bloodiest war, the Civil War. We need to honor them all, every day- and especially today, on Armed Forces Day.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Portrait from our family treasure chest of photos.
  2. See also “Veteran’s Day: Honoring Edward A. McMurray, Jr.“, “Military Monday: Edward A. McMurray, Jr. in the Pacific Theater of WWII“, and “Edward A. McMurray, Jr. at the Surrender of Japan, 02 Sep 1945“.

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.

Tombstone Tuesday: Henry Clay Christie

Henry C. Christie, military headstone, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Henry C. Christy, military headstone, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Henry C. Christie, headstone, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Henry C. Christy, headstone, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Henry C. Christie, military monument, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Henry C. Christie, military monument, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Henry C. Christie, military monument, closeup, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
Henry C. Christie, military monument, closeup, in Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa. Posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. All images posted from Find A Grave with kind permission of photographer.
  2. Note that surname is spelled “Christy” on military headstone, but family monument and large military monument spell it, “Christie.”

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2016 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Military Monday: Henry Clay Christie and the 34th Iowa Infantry Volunteers

Enlistment of Henry Clay Christie, August 12, 1862. Civil War Enlistments, 34th Iowa Infantry, Co. D-1, JK 6360.6, A.3, C5, Reel 16, State Historical Society of Iowa.
Enlistment of Henry Clay Christie, August 12, 1862. Civil War Enlistments, 34th Iowa Infantry, Co. D-1, JK 6360.6, A.3, C5, Reel 16, State Historical Society of Iowa.

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Today’s Guest Post is by our cousin Jon Roberts, written 24 August 2015. John has provided all the recent Roberts pictures we have posted from the Lloyd Roberts Family Photo Collection, and we are so happy to have found another cousin and line of the family!

Jon’s line is from John S. Roberts (1805-1875) and Jane (Salyers) Roberts (1806-1880) through their son William Roberts (1827-1891); ‘our’ line is through William’s brother, John S. Roberts (1832-1922).

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

“Henry Clay Christie is my 3rd great uncle, the brother of my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah (Christie) Roberts, who is the grandmother of my paternal grandfather, Lloyd William Roberts.”

The seeds for formation of the 34th Regiment of the Iowa Infantry Volunteers were sown on June 28, 1862 with a message to President Lincoln from the Governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and the President of the Military Board of Kentucky.

The undersigned, Governors of States of the Union, impressed with the belief that the citizens of the States which they respectively represent are of one accord in the hearty desire that the recent successes of the Federal arms may be followed up by measures which must insure the speedy restoration of the Union; and believing that in view of the present state of the important military movements now in progress and the reduced condition of our effective forces in the field, resulting from the usual and unavoidable casualties of the service, that the time has arrived for prompt and vigorous measures to be adopted by the people in support of the great interests committed to your charge, we respectfully request, if it meets with your entire approval, that you at once call upon the several States for such number of men as may be required to fill up all military organizations now in the field, and add to the armies heretofore organized such additional number of men as may in your judgment be necessary to garrison and hold all of the numerous cities and military positions that have been captured by our armies, and to speedily crush the rebellion that still exists in several of the Southern States, thus practically restoring to the civilized world our great and good Government. All believe that the decisive moment is near at hand, and to that end the people of the United States are desirous to aid promptly in furnishing all re-enforcements that you may deem needful to sustain our Government.

On July 1, 1862, President Lincoln responded by issuing an Executive Order to call an additional 300,000 troops into service.

To the Governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and the President of the Military Board of Kentucky:

 GENTLEMEN: Fully concurring in the wisdom of the views expressed to me in so patriotic a manner by you in the communication of the 28th day of June, I have decided to call into the service an additional force of 300,000 men. I suggest and recommend that the troops should be chiefly of infantry. The quota of your State would be ___________. I trust that they may be enrolled without delay, so as to bring this unnecessary and injurious civil war to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion. An order fixing the quotas of the respective States will be issued by the War Department to-morrow.

General George Washington Clark, appointed colonel of the 34th Iowa Volunteers. Illustration in History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1903; via Wikipedia, public domain.
General George Washington Clark, appointed colonel of the 34th Iowa Volunteers. Illustration in History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1903; via Wikipedia, public domain.

The 34th Iowa, primarily composed of men from the counties of Decatur, Lucas, Warren, and Wayne, began gathering at Camp Lauman in Burlington, Iowa in August 1862. Henry Clay Christie volunteered for service on August 12, 1862 and was assigned to Company G, which was mostly composed of men from Lucas County. When mustered into service on October 15, 1862, the 34th was composed of 941 men. Its commander was Colonel George W. Clark. During the two months between August and October 1862 when the troops were gathering at Camp Lauman, no less than 600 men were struck with measles and later, pneumonia was prevalent. As a result, many deaths occurred while numerous other men were unfit for duty during their entire time at Camp Lauman.

On November 22, 1862, the 34th was ordered to Helena, Arkansas where General William Tecumseh Sherman was gathering troops in preparation for the engagement against Vicksburg, Mississippi. They arrived December 5th and were assigned to the Third Brigade of the Fourth Division of the Sixteenth Army Corps, commanded by Brigadier General John M. Thayer. Soon after arrival, smallpox broke out among the Regiment. This, coupled with exposure from living in dog tents and weather conditions of heavy rain, numbing cold, and snow, caused many more deaths or rendered many men unfit for duty due to sickness.

Battle of Chickasaw Bayou. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Map by Hal Jespersen www.posix_.comCW
Battle of Chickasaw Bayou. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Map by Hal Jespersen www.posix_.comCW

Sometime between the 34th’s arrival at Helena, Arkansas on December 5th and the order to proceed toward Chickasaw Bayou on December 21st, Henry C. Christie was hospitalized. The muster roll for Company G of the 34th Iowa shows that Henry was hospitalized at Helena, Arkansas on December 21st; therefore, he was one of those unfit for duty and unable to participate in the upcoming battle.

The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou was the opening campaign to capture Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. On December 26th, three Union divisions under General Sherman disembarked at Johnson’s Plantation on the Yazoo River to approach the Vicksburg defenses from the northeast while a fourth landed farther upstream on the 27th. On the 27th, Sherman’s troops pushed their lines forward through the swamps toward Walnut Hills, which were strongly defended. On the 28th, several futile attempts were made to get around these defenses and on December 29th, Sherman ordered a frontal assault which was repulsed with heavy casualties. Sherman then withdrew. To make matters worse, the weather during this period was terrible. One morning, the troops awoke “drenched and almost overwhelmed with a terrific rainstorm, leaving us . . . lying midside deep in pools of cold water.” The Battle was a resounding Union defeat.

Colonel Clark described this defeat and the subsequent movement of the men of the 34th in this way:

The hardships and disasters of Sherman’s repulses at Chickasaw Bluffs can never be comprehended by any except the brave and hardy men who were there and survived them. The humiliation and misery, consequent upon a useless and senseless slaughter, were greatly aggravated by the inclemency of the weather. When these unfortunate operations on the Yazoo were ended, we moved out of this loathsome and poisonous stream . . .

Battle of Fort Hindman/ Arkansas Port. Currier & Ives print from Library of Congress via Wikimedia, public domain.
Battle of Fort Hindman/ Arkansas Port. Currier & Ives print from Library of Congress via Wikimedia, public domain.

After Chickasaw Bayou, the Arkansas River Expedition was organized and the 34th was ordered upriver to Arkansas Post, also known as Fort Hindman. This expedition was organized by Major General John Alexander McClernand because Confederate ships used the Fort as a base to launch raids on Union shipping, culminating in the capture of the Blue Wing, a supply ship of munitions meant for General Sherman. The 34th Iowa arrived in the vicinity of Arkansas Post on January 9, 1863. As previously noted, smallpox had broken out in the Regiment and that, along with other diseases that had broken out during the trip up the Mississippi River, had greatly reduced the effective force available for battle.

Naval forces commanded by Rear Admiral David D. Porter opened the battle at approximately 5:30 pm on January 10th by ordering three of his ironclads, Baron DeKalb, Louisville, and Cincinnati, to engage Fort Hindman’s guns. The bombardment did not cease until well after dark. The men of the 34th Iowa marched all night through the woods and swamps to reach their positions about 150 yards from the Fort the next morning, January 11th, where the guns of the Fort were unleashed on them. This artillery exchange continued until approximately noon when orders were issued to begin advancing on the Fort. As the infantry, which included the 34th Iowa, was moving toward the Fort, white flags of surrender appeared around 4:30 pm. After the surrender, nearly 4,800 Confederate soldiers were taken prisoner. The 34th Iowa, along with five companies of the 113th Illinois Regiment, were ordered to transport all prisoners, except commissioned officers, to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois. The officers were transported to Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. One of the Confederate prisoners captured that day was my 2nd great grandfather, Private James Henry Owens who was with the 15th Regiment, Texas Cavalry. James was the grandfather of my maternal grandfather, James Roston Pollard.

The "Lookout," a transport steamer similar to that used to carry Henry Clay Christie and his comrades upriver. This image is the Lookout on the Tennessee River, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865. Matthew Brady, NARA, restored, via Wikimedia; public domain.
The “Lookout,” a transport steamer similar to that used to carry Henry Clay Christie and his comrades-and enemies- upriver. This image is the “Lookout” on the Tennessee River, ca. 1860 – ca. 1865. Image by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, NARA, restored, via Wikimedia; public domain.

The three weeks following the surrender of Fort Hindman were among the worst the 34th Iowa had endured up to that point. The first leg of the trip on the Mississippi River, from Arkansas Post to Benton Barracks in St. Louis, was a horrible ordeal as about 5,500 men (Union soldiers from the 34th Iowa and the 113th Illinois Regiments and their Confederate prisoners) were crammed onto the Sam Gaty, the John J. Row, and the Nebraska – “three of the poorest steamboats in the fleet” according to Colonel Clark. It took two weeks to get to St. Louis, where they were transferred to trains for the reminder of the trip. During that two week period, “the weather [was] colder than it had ever been known” and the men were crowded together “worse than a humane man would crowd cattle on a voyage to the shambles.” Union and Confederate soldiers lay side by side on the floors, sick with fevers, pneumonia, measles, smallpox, and chronic diarrhea. Excretion pails were overflowing and ran along the floors of the cabins. The stench was horrific. Sick men were left at stops in Memphis, Tennessee, Cairo, Illinois, and Arsenal Island, just south of St. Louis. According to Colonel Clark, “the human suffering during the trip exceeded anything I have ever witnessed in the same length of time.” This from a man who has seen plenty of suffering on many battlefields.

Based on muster rolls for the 34th, it appears Henry was picked up at Helena, Arkansas while the 34th was on the way to Benton Barracks with the POWs and was one of those left at Arsenal Island. One muster roll states he was “left sick at Small Pox Hospital, Arsenal Island, St Louis, MO, Jany 27, 63.” A hospital record notes that Henry was admitted to Small Pox U.S.A. General Hospital, St. Louis, MO on January 24, 1863 with complaints of varioloid and chronic diarrhea. Thus, for the portion of the trip described in the preceding paragraph, it appears both my 3rd great Uncle Henry and 2nd great grandfather James were together, though it cannot be established whether or not they were on the same steamboat.

Muster rolls then indicate Henry was discharged from the hospital on March 26, 1863 and discharged from military service in Saint Louis on March 30, 1863. He died in Jackson Township, Monroe County, Iowa less than a month later on April 25, 1863 and is buried at Evans Cemetery, Monroe County, Iowa, plot EVA019.

GAR Index for Henry Clay Christie, CAR-C00, Pol-H-1216, Microfilm #1570123 State Historical Society of Iowa Library.
GAR Index for Henry Clay Christie, CAR-C00, Pol-H-1216, Microfilm #1570123
State Historical Society of Iowa Library.

 

An additional note: Any soldier would much prefer to pass to the next world surrounded by his loving family, rather than in a horrible military hospital with strangers. Henry C. Christie was granted this, and his family was most likely very happy to have him for even that short month he survived his enlistment. He was buried where others in the family were later laid to rest. Had Henry been one of the 470 soldiers who died at the smallpox hospital on Arsenal Island, he would have been buried there. The wooden headboards used to mark the graves of those soldiers were washed away by floods over the years as the Mississippi River rose in its annual cycles. The bodies were reinterred later at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Sadly they could not be individually identified since their markers had washed away; they were buried as “Unknown Soldiers.”

It must have been a comfort to the Christie family to know that that their soldier, their boy, was instead ‘resting quietly’ in the cemetery near them in Iowa.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, The Abraham Lincoln Association http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idxc=lincoln;rgn=div1;view=text;idno=lincoln5;node=lincoln5%3A657.
  2. “The American Presidency Project,” University of California – Santa Barbara http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=69811.
  3. Iowa and the Rebellion: History of the Troops Furnished by the State of Iowa to the Volunteer Armies of the Union, Which Conquered the Great Southern Rebellion of 1861-5, Lurton Dunham Ingersoll, author, 1867. (p624-639, available on GoogleBooks via https://books.google.com/books?id=oVs7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA624&lpg=PA624&dq=camp+lauman+burlington&source=bl&ots=-N5MU0zmBs&sig=meRh5pcFZa-wJJ-DE12JcUfs2Ik&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiV4MuuyPrKAhUHgj4KHdzZCfIQ6AEIKzAC#v=onepage&q&f=false
  4. Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol V, 32-48, Regiments, E 507.3, I64, Guy E. Logan, author, State Historical Society of Iowa.
  5. “Chickasaw Bayou,” National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program via http://www.nps.gov/abpp/battles/ms003.htm.
  6. The Thirty-Fourth Iowa Regiment: Brief History, 1892, J. S. Clark, Historian of the Regiment.
  7. Iowa Colonels and Regiments: Being a History of Iowa Regiments in the War of the Rebellion; and Containing a Description of the Battles in Which They Have Fought, 1865, Captain A. A. Stuart, Seventeenth Iowa Infantry.
  8. “Chickasaw Bayou” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chickasaw_Bayou).
  1. “American Civil War: Major General John McClernand” via http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/UnionLeaders/p/American-Civil-War-Major-General-John-Mcclernand.htm
  1. “American Civil War: Battle of Arkansas Post” via http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/civilwar/p/arkansaspost.htm
  1. “The Battle of Arkansas Post: Stepping Stone to Vicksburg,” Civil War Trust via http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/navy-hub/navy-history/the-battle-of-arkansas-post.html
  1. GAR Index, CAR-C00, Pol-H-1216, Microfilm #1570123, State Historical Society of Iowa.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.