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!