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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.

 

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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.
 
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Friday Funny: “Says She’s a Widow Lady”

1914 G.A.R. Parade in Detroit, Michigan, via Wikipedia. Public domain- Library of Congress.
1914 G.A.R. Parade in Detroit, Michigan, via Wikipedia. Public domain- Library of Congress.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Earlier this week we looked at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) and how it was a large fraternal organization with political clout. A number of our ancestors were GAR members, such as Abram F. Springsteen and Samuel T. Beerbower. (Both would be some-number-of-great uncles in Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling’s line, the number depending on your generations from Anna May.)

An encampment of the GAR was a great time for camaraderie amongst the old Civil War veterans. It was also an opportunity for a sweet but enterprising “widow lady” searching for a little camaraderie of her own.

A headline of “SAYS SHE’S A WIDOW LADY, And Wants a Husband Who Is In High Social Standing” was found in the Elkhart Daily Review, Elkhart, Indiana on 31 August 1899 on the front page. The committee in charge of the September 1899 GAR encampment in Philadelphia received a letter from a 34-year old woman from Marion, Indiana, asking them to give her letter to a widower “high in social standing.” She states that she will be in attendance at the encampment, “…and it would be so lonely for not to know any one there.”

She was pretty specific in her needs [transcribed as written]:

“I would like a jeantleman 38 or 40. He knead not fear me. I am a dressmaker here.”

“Please let it be some who can show me over the city and enjoy myself.”

“I want to have a husband to take me to Chicago next year.”

This was one serious lady! But smart too- there would be a lot of “jeantleman” at the encampment from all over the country, so it would be a big pond to fish in, as they say. They would be like-minded men, too- Northern sympathies, patriotic, and committed to the work and social aspects of the GAR.

Her letter was taken seriously, as the committee knew there would probably be some widowers at the encampment who would be pleased to find a spouse there too. The GAR was a family-based organization, so grown children would sometimes be there as well as the veterans themselves. This was a good thing for the ‘widow lady,’ since it was 34 years since the close of the Civil War- the vets attending would be at least 50 or more. To find her a 38-40 year old husband, it would have to be the son of a veteran- not even our youngest drummer boy, Abram F. Springsteen, would fit her requirements.

The ‘widow lady’ was in luck. The committee replied to her letter with the address of “the Texas farmer who says he has two sons he wants to marry off here…”

We don’t know what the outcome was, and can’t really research it since we do not have the name of the lady. This was, however, a very determined lady, and people married more for economic reasons back then than for love (“you can learn to love him/her”).

The GAR Encampment Committee was hoping for a public wedding to add to the festivities, and my guess is that it probably happened. I suppose we need to add “matchmaking” to the list of missions of the GAR.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Military Monday: Abram F. Springsteen and the G.A.R.
    http://heritageramblings.net/2016/02/01/military-monday-…en-and-the-g-a-r/
  2. “Says She’s a Widow lady” in the 31 August 1899 Elkhart Daily Review, Elkhart, Indiana, p1, via GenealogyBank.com.

 

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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.
 
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Military Monday: Jefferson Springsteen and the GAR Encampment

Grand Army of the Potomac, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1910. Used with kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society, Digital Image Collection. http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc013/id/937/rec/963
Grand Army of the Potomac, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1910. Used with kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society, Digital Image Collection. (Go to website to see a higher resolution picture that can be zoomed.) Abram was working in Washington, DC about this time so he may not be in the picture, though it would seem he likely would have returned to his home town for the reunion. Abram was 50 in 1910. http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc013/id/937/rec/963

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

“Extra Police Force for Next Week” was a headline 29 June 1882 in the Indianapolis Sentinel. The paper reported that the Indianapolis, Indiana Board of Police had determined that reinforcements were required for the upcoming Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Encampment to be held in July.

Interestingly, Jefferson Springsteen, who had served as Chief of Police back in the ’50s- that’s 1850s, you know- and was a detective in later years, was one of the men temporarily added to the force. Jeff, and the 24 others appointed were to be sworn in and receive their orders at the Central Police Station that afternoon.

1902 GAR Encampment, Meade Post of Philadelphia, PA, with their tattered battle flags that they still cherished. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.
1902 GAR Encampment, Meade Post of Philadelphia, PA, in Washington, D.C. with their tattered battle flags that they still cherished. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.

Would the patriots who made up the GAR be rabble-rousers? Since the Civil War had ended 37 years earlier, and most of the men were 18-20 or older when they enlisted, the average age was likely 40-50 years old. (No statistics to back that up, but it’s logical and don’t know if that data would exist.) So why extra police?

"Swopping Yarns." October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.
“Swopping Yarns.” October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.

This was not a National Encampment- that occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, that year. Each state had encampments for all the posts in the state, so the Indianapolis event would still draw large crowds.  The GAR had a women’s group too- the “Women’s Relief Corps” or W.R.C. These were mostly the wives of GAR members (or those who were widowed), and family members were allowed to join the reunion as well. So even though it was a state event, a lot of people would attend, especially folks from the smaller towns around.

Additionally, the city of Indianapolis was being shown off- the GAR encampments brought many people and a quite a lot of money into a city. The GAR was around the peak of their membership in the 1890s, thus they were ramping up membership in 1882, so there could be thousands attending. The extra police would help to keep things orderly, and show that Indianapolis was a safe and lovely city to visit. Large crowds always drew pickpockets and a bit of a criminal element, so 25 extra sets of eyes to protect the veterans and their families would be useful.

"The Big Guns." October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.
“The Big Guns.” October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.

Even though the soldiers would be in their 40s or 50s and theoretically stable family men and businessmen, Indiana had mustered a whole unit of Irish volunteers (the 35th, of which Abram was a part during his first enlistment) to serve in the Civil War. The Irish could sometimes use a bit of policing once they got to the pubs or if they BYOB’d, no matter the age. (Just saying’- I have Irish blood too so can say so.) Of course, soldiers were often known for drinking and carousing, but hopefully these folks had changed their ways once they were back in a more civilized world with their loved ones.

There are two great ironies to this story. First, ex-Marshall Jefferson Springsteen had defied Federal law and dragged home his ten-year old son in 1861 when the 35th Indiana Volunteers marched off to war. (Jeff had signed to allow Abram to join, thinking it was to be a Home Guard.) Jeff was smart enough to know that technically Abram was deserting even though he was likely dragged off kicking and screaming. Despite Abram being underage when he enlisted and mustered into the unit, the military did not care- he was officially absent without leave once he left- and in wartime, being AWOL is considered desertion. (See previous ‘Abram Springsteen and His Drum’ posts for more information.) So it was ironic that for the 1882 soldiers’ reunion, Jefferson Springsteen was to uphold the law, and for the military/ex-military, rather than break it.

During the Civil War, Jefferson Springsteen had been required to register for the “Old Man’s Draft” since he was over 40, but he was not called up. His little boy Abram, however, served to help protect the country and liberties enjoyed by the whole Springsteen family, along with the rest of our citizens. Now, the irony was that Jeff would get his opportunity to protect and serve, and this time, care for the veterans who had protected him. Nice turnaround.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Grand Army of the Potomac, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1910, photograph is taken in front of the Indianapolis War Memorial. The base housed a museum, which included a picture of Abram that listed him as the “youngest drummer boy of the Civil War.”
  2. “Extra police force for encampment,” Indianapolis Sentinel [Indiana], IN, 29 June 1882, Volume XXXI, Number 180, Page 8, GenealogyBank.com. Unfortunately the image is copyrighted so I cannot post it here.

 

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.
 
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Abram F. Springsteen and His Civil War Drum- Part 4

Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.
Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Abram Furman Springsteen, the youngest drummer boy in the Civil War (so it was claimed) had his glory in war, but he also had his pain, like all soldiers.

Abram beat his drum on a 185 mile march over mostly impassable roads through the Cumberland Mountains in March; part of the journey was through snow. In April they marched to Jonesboro, Georgia, with Abram beating his drum for 4 days while they covered 100 miles, burned bridges and destroyed railroad tracks as they moved.

"The Work of the Firing at Resaca" in The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes, edited by Francis T. Miller, 1911, Review of Reviews, NY, NY, via Archive.org. Public Domain.
“The Work of the Firing at Resaca”- a photo of how the land looked around the area after all calibers of shells and ball had torn up the land; in The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes, edited by Francis T. Miller, 1911, Review of Reviews, NY, NY, via Archive.org. Public Domain. (Click to enlarge.)

The youngest drummer boy and his regiment had joined with General Sherman on his Atlanta Campaign, and after the Battle of Resaca, Abram was ordered to assist the wounded in the field hospitals. Abram’s own words describe what happened next:

“In company with another litter drummer boy, I proceeded at once to my reg and after getting our grub [food], we started back (as we supposed in the direction of the hospital) but in fact in an opposite direction altogether and were soon lost upon the field where we wandered around among the dead and dying until the break of day when we found our way back to the hospital where we remained on duty until the 16th when we moved from Resaca, wading the Ostanaula river and crossing the Cossawattee, overtaking the enemy at Cassville, on the 18th…[we] went into an entrenched position…on the 26th behind which we lay under fire of three batteries… until relieved on the 1st of June. Our loss at this place was 16 wounded.”

Wandering among the dead and wounded in the dark, crossing rivers while trying to keep his drum from getting soaked, laying in a trench for six days while under fire- how his parents would have worried for their little boy!

Abram likely thought his luck had really run out though, when he was captured at Spring Hill, Tennessee. It was after midnight, and they had marched almost continuously for a week. Abram carried his knapsack and drum, keeping a beat to keep the troops moving. Abram continued the story:

“… I became exhausted and was compelled to sit down by the road side this being the first time I had given out since my enlistment. In a short time the troops were out of sight and realizing that it would be useless for me to attempt to overtake them before reaching Franklin, I waited until the wagon train came up when I climbed upon our Regt Baggage Wagon unslung my drum and knapsack and resting my elbow upon the rim of my drum.”

Civil War Wagon Train by Matthew Brady, NARA via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain.
Civil War Wagon Train by Matthew Brady, NARA via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain. Probably a stereoscope photograph. (Click to enlarge.)

“I soon fell asleep but this sweet rest did not last long for after going about a mile or so or just as we reached a place called Spring Hill, Tenn. about 15 miles from Franklin, we were fired upon and surrounded by the enemy a detachment of rebels. When I awoke, and realized fully what had happened, I sprang from the wagon and in so doing by [sic] hat fell from my head and while searching for the same in the darkness, was along with several others captured and at once hurried away from the road into a patch of woods where two of us made our successful break for liberty. We soon found our way back to the road and striking out reached Franklin at day break where I soon rejoined my command… I lost my knapsack, drum and hat. One of the boys provided me with a cap which tho a little large, answered the purpose very well.”

Abram captured a Rebel drum at Ft. Anderson, and they marched into Wilmington, North Carolina on the 23rd of February, 1865. They found a number of Yankee prisoners that had been left behind when they routed the enemy.  Seeing them, Abram was probably even more thankful that he had escaped after his capture- he could have been in a similar situation in a Confederate prison. Of the POWs, Abram reported:

“They were all in a deplorable condition– a good many having been wounded and their wounds not having been properly attended to- were alive with vermin. Among them I met a young man by the name of Albert Lockwood of Indianapolis, Ind. whom I had known since childhood in Indianapolis. I took him in charge, gave him some of my clothing, a blanket and seven dollars in money and also gave him the Rebel drum I had captured at Ft. Anderson to take home for me, he having been furnished transportation to his home in Indianapolis.”

After many more long marches and days of beating his drum for his company, Abram and the Indiana Volunteers returned home. It was a joyous homecoming, as would be expected. His mother and oldest sister made him a nice dinner at the late hour of 9 o’clock in the evening. They talked about his experiences and what had gone on with the family while he was gone.

Abram finished his diary with:

“… we all retired but I could not sleep. No indeed, the sounds of the drums and fifes were in my ears and the dear old faces of the boys to whom I had become so attached were constantly before me and I almost regretted that the war was over.”

The drum that Abram carried through most of his service was lost to the Rebs when he was captured at Spring Hill, Tennessee. He probably had use of another drum during his remaining seven months in the service, though he does not mention that in his diary.  In February, 1865, he did send home the Rebel drum he captured, but he was not discharged until 21 June 1865. The men of his company gave him a gift of a drum at some point, and that is the drum he cherished and used for all those years with the G.A.R., for parades, recruitment, etc. It is also the drum seen in all the posts of this series, which has been passed down to the oldest male descendant in each generation.

Addendum: In 1877 Abram was the manager of a band of 16 men called the “Great Western Band.” He also played drum solos for theater performances, including one called, “Lightning Express” for the Mossler Brothers Concert on 29 December 1881 in Indianapolis. His sister-in-law, Jennie (Taylor) Springsteen, sang a song at that same concert.  So Abram continued his interest in drumming throughout his life.

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Hoosier Youngest Civil War Soldier,” by Louis Ludlow, in The Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, page 4, columns 1-3, via GenealogyBank.com.
  2. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, done by family members. Thank you for sharing!
  3. “Mossler Brothers Concert,” in Indianapolis Sentinel, 29 Dec 1881, volume XXX, number 363, page5, via GenealogyBank.com.

 

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Thriller Thursday: Abram F. Springsteen and His Civil War Drum, Part 3

Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.
Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

We left our story with the Springsteen family chasing after their son Abram who was running off to war…

But Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909) must have remembered his own headstrong, daredevil nature at the same age, and he and his wife Anna (Connor) Springsteen (1824-1887) finally relented. They allowed Abram to muster into Company I, 63rd Indiana Volunteers on 29 July 1862. He had turned 12 years old only 24 days earlier.

Anna- and Jeff and the whole family- must have been terribly distraught- they had just lost their youngest son, Joseph Springsteen, at only 22 months old. Now another son was leaving them, and the risk of him not coming back was high.

Abram had quite the adventure as a drummer boy in the Civil War, but he saw horrors as well.  Regiments tried to keep their drummer boys protected, as their drum rolls were one of the few ways to communicate in the chaos and noise of battle. In May of 1864, Abram was ordered off the field at the Battle of Resaca, Georgia by his commanding officer, General Mahlon Manson. Abram lingered, carrying his drum, wanting to be in the thick of it all. An enemy shell knocked Gen. Manson off his horse, and Abram ran to his side, being the first to reach him. Abram probably felt very smug at the service he was able to do after technically disobeying an order.

Battle of Resaca- Union cavalry moving through a gap to attack Confederate infantry. Kurz & Allison, c1889, Library of Congress via Wikipedia. Public domain.
Battle of Resaca- Union cavalry moving through a gap to attack Confederate infantry. Kurz & Allison, c1889, Library of Congress via Wikipedia. Public domain.

Other times, the small size of the drummer boys could be an advantage. Abram told the story that he was to carry dispatches to a forward skirmish line, which was in a very dangerous position. Abrams crawled through a field of cotton, on his hands and knees. The enemy noticed him, and began firing. He jumped up and ran as fast as he could- thankfully the enemy soldiers were not good shots. He was able to safely deliver the important missives and help the Union in their battle with the Rebs.

 

To be continued…

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Hoosier Youngest Civil War Soldier,” by Louis Ludlow, in The Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, page 4, columns 1-3, via GenealogyBank.com.
  2. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, done by family members. Thank you for sharing!

 

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.