Monday, February 28, 2011

My Family in the Civil War

Civil War Canon - James A. Ramage Civil War Museum

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The Civil War or the War of the Rebellion began 150 years ago on April 11th, 1861 with the Battle at Ft. Sumter.  When it was over, there were approximately 620,000 casualties from death and disease.

I had always known that I had a gg-grandfather, Britton Wainright, who died of heat stroke when he was marching to meet John Hunt Morgan of Morgan's Raiders fame. I was able to get extensive documentation of the impact his death had on his family. You can read about him in this previous post.

What I didn't realize at the time was that I actually had four direct ancestors and two siblings of ancestors who served in the war -- all on the Union side. It also seemed to be a family affair. In the case of Britton Wainright, two brother-in-laws also served: Joseph Bickerdyke Darby and Robert Willis Darby. Britton's wife was Mary Elizabeth Darby. These three family members are from my paternal side.

On my maternal side, there were three additional soldiers: my gg-grandfather Charles C. Gross, his brother-in-law, Victor Becker, and Fred Wocher (from a separate branch). Fred Wocher and Victor Becker interest me because Fred lived in Covington, Kentucky and Victor, at one point, served in a Kentucky Cavalry unit. Despite Kentucky's official neutrality in the war, people owned slaves in northern Kentucky and the state was quite divided in its allegiance.

My plan is to post what I know about each of these ancestors over the next couple of weeks.  Their experiences range from no actual fighting to death (in the case of Britton).  Those who fought descend from ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, newly-arrived immigrants from Germany, and one who was born in the United States of immigrants from England.  At least in two of the cases they signed up when Cincinnati was under threat.  In sharing their stories, I hope to honor these men who stepped up to the plate in a war that still impacts our country 150 years later.

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