Thursday, March 25, 2010

On the Track of a Yankee Soldier

For about a year now, I've been on the track of a little Yankee soldier. He's not an ancestor ~ just a young fellow who crossed paths with one of mine. History is so much more intriguing from a personal angle. There's nothing like the family tree to get you digging into the routine events of 150 years ago ~ give or take...

When I first got interested in my young Union soldier, he was just a name and an interesting letter in a pension file. Now, I've found myself in a study of Civil War soldiers, complicated battle campaigns, and northern regimental histories. It's amazing how much documentary evidence is out there, once you start digging. At the beginning of the War, my little Yank was full of beans, tired of drilling, itching to see some battle action, and shrugging off the colonel's scolding should he happen to "cus up eny rusticks." By the end of the War, he'd seen plenty of battle action, was permanently scarred, and had, perhaps, learned to appreciate such rustics for providing "the most tender care" that loyalists in a poor country could bestow.

My guy played a small part in a big struggle and lost a limb for his trouble. While one great-great-grandfather was busy losing a leg under the Confederate flag at Yorktown, my Unionist great-great grandfather was risking life and limb to save a young Yank. That young man went home to Michigan ~ older, wiser, and perhaps with a whole new perspective about the South.

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