Question of the Week: 5/28-6/3/18

It’s Memorial Day. We think it’s important to remember the “common soldiers” who perished during the Civil War.

In your opinion, is there a particular Civil War soldier we should remember today? Tell us about him (briefly) and why this soldier is important to you.

11 Responses to Question of the Week: 5/28-6/3/18

  1. Gilbert Ely was a Lieutenant. I took interest in him when I acquired a CDV of him and looked up his story. His career was brief and full of unhappiness and controversy, including his wife’s illness, an apparent arrest and subsequent appeal to future President Rutherford B. Hayes.

    His is an example of some of the troubles that some common soldiers faced or caused, without any glory at all.

    Pardon this link, but it will provide more details of his story and keep this post brief.

  2. Charles Gilbert Gould

    Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Gould was one of the first to climb into the trenches of the Confederate forces on April 2, 1865, shot and stabbed by enemy forces, encouraging his comrades to defeat the Confederate forces at the Third Battle of Petersburg.

    1. Captrain Gould hangs on my office wall thanks to Don Troiani’s capture of him leaping into the Confederate trenches.

  3. A bit late, but . . .

    My own ancestor, John Meredith Crutchfield who served in the 60th Va Infantry, and was wounded at the battle of Piedmont. Here’s some of the story from a piece I wrote a while back:

    “A man who would not defend his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.”
    ~ Chief Joseph

    Number 91 on a weathered, lonely, blank headstone; a shared grave with two other men in Richmond’s Oakwood Cemetery. Not much of a tribute for someone who was a POW and died for his country. For 140 years my family knew nothing of what happened to my great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield. We did know that Grandpa Crutchfield left the family farm, walked to Gauley Bridge, Virginia (West VA today) and enlisted with the 60th Virginia Infantry, Company F at the beginning of the war. He was wounded at the Battle of Piedmont in the Shenandoah Valley (just a few minutes from my home here in Augusta County), taken prisoner by the Federals and transported to the infamous POW Camp Morton in Indiana where prisoners received cruel treatment at the hands of Union soldiers.

    Transferred to Chimborazo Hospital in March of 1865 in a prisoner exchange, my grandfather died there on March 28. There, the story ended – or so the family thought. John Crutchfield’s widow died years later not knowing what had become of him. Had he deserted? Had he run off with another woman? Had he been killed in battle? No one knew until the 1950’s when my great aunt discovered the information about the Battle of Piedmont and Chimborazo. But the family still did not know what became of his body. Where was he buried or was he buried? Then I wrote a piece for the Washington Times’ Civil War column detailing some of my grandfather’s story. The story was read by a gentleman in Richmond who was working on the restoration of Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. This cemetery, where many Confederate veterans are buried, had fallen into shameful neglect in recent years. I was contacted by this man and he told me that he knew for a fact that John Meredith Crutchfield was buried at Oakwood – family mystery solved.

  4. Lieutenant John P. McVean was a Canadian who crossed the Niagara River and joined the 49th New York. He earned the Medal of Honor at Second Fredericksburg/Salem Church, and later was killed at the Bloody Angle. He lies in an unknown grave, likely in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.

    Sergeant William Rankin joined up when the 14th New York State Militia was called into service in 1861. He fought in all the regiment’s battles, and two weeks before the unit went home was killed at Spotsylvania. The Brooklyn GAR post was named for him, as he was that well-respected among the Fighting Fourteenth’s veterans. Rankin is buried in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.

    Sergeant John Durham of the 1st Wisconsin, who at Perryville earned the Medal of Honor (one of two on that field) for leadership. As color bearer, he waved the flag over his head as the last Confederate charges broke and ran. Having gotten the attention of his regiment, he moved forward with them following. The rest of the Federals in Starkweather’s brigade followed, rotuing the Confederates and recapturing a lost Federal artillery battery. Durham survived the war.

  5. The private soldier of both sides. He (and a few shes) endured the hardships, the bad food, the worse weather, the fighting, the suffering from wounds and disease, and deaths and are forgotten by almost all but descendants. Mine is Private Felix Kaufmann of the 200th Pennsylvania who married my great aunt after losing a leg in front of Fort Sanders. But there are so many more without descendants or some whose relatives remain ignorant of ancestors who served that deserve a day of remembrance specifically for them.

  6. The soldier that sticks in my mind this past week is an unknown Union soldier that is mentioned by Bruce Catton in his book “Grant Takes Command” on Page 85. This soldier had participated in the famous charge up to Missionary Ridge. This man was visited by a worker from the Christian Commission at a field hospital. The worker asked him where he had been hurt. “Almost up” was the soldier’s reply. The visitor tried to explain what he meant was “in what part are you injured?”. “Almost up to the top” was the soldier’s reply, still caught up in the excitement of the charge. The Commission man checked on his terrible wound. The soldier mourned the fact that his wound prevented him from reaching the top. “He looked up at the civilian, repeated faintly, ‘Almost up,’ and died.” A man like that should be remembered, if only we knew his name.

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