folkarchivist

On finding a Confederate soldier in my tree

In Painter, US Civil War on March 28, 2010 at 8:05 AM

I admit I know very little about the US Civil War other than that it involved emancipation of the black slaves and Abraham Lincoln.  So when I searched, and surprisingly found, for my great-great-grandfather in the Civil War soldier database I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d found.  He was listed as a Prisoner of War, so it listed where he was captured (not far from his home in Missouri) as well as when, and how/when he was discharged.  I dutifully took notes.

Then I thought I should figure out this Confederate-Union thing.  I was assuming that my ancestors felt the same way I do, that slavery is bad.  I was wrong.

Samuel was a confederate soldier.  As was his brother William.  And many of their neighbours.  And for the first time in 30 years of family research, I was a little disappointed in my ancestors.

I thought I should find out more about his regiment, “Porter’s Regiment”.  Most of what I found seems to be based on a regimental history by Mr. Mudd (I wonder if he was any relation to the Dr. Mudd who fixed up Abraham Lincoln’s assinator, John Wilkes Booth, which gave rise to the saying “his name is mud”?).  While Colonel Porter’s regiment was officially part of the army, they were at times, by some, considered Bushwackers as they employed guerilla warfare.  Colonel Porter was killed in Jan/Feb 1863–both Samuel and William were captured in 1862.

None of this information made me feel any better about my ancestors and I, who pride myself on being open-minded, find myself with quite a challenge.  How do I reconcile my ancestor’s beliefs with who I am (and are they rolling over in their graves with the knowledge of me as their descendant)?  I suspect I will have to do quite a bit more research on the US Civil War, in particular Missouri’s role in it, to help with that reconciliation.  What a difference 150 years and 4 generations can make!

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  1. it isn’t necessarily that they were slave owners or even agreed with it, but they may have been against the government trying to step in and decide for them. perhaps it isn’t about the slavery, but about the ability to have them. no one likes it when the government decides for them and in this case, they were stepping into an established practise and making drastic changes in the life of the southern states. concider it a statement against change and governmental controls?

  2. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)

    http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/

    Author of Back to the Homeplace

    http://thehomeplaceseries.blogspot.com/

  3. It would be so interesting to “walk a mile in their shoes”, going back to that time and seeing all the different aspects of the situation. Ah, if only someone would invent such a machine… I, too, have looked back at various ancestors and wondered “What were they thinking!!??” but all we can do is give them the benefit of the doubt, and accept them as they were.

    I really enjoyed your blog – looking forward to reading more!

  4. Great blog! Welcome to the geneablogger family. I’m fairly new myself but really enjoy the daily themes and prompts.

    I can’t wait to read more of your blog.

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