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Prisoner of War: Capture and Release

William McCabe Anderson, 1841-1902

William McCabe Anderson

William Mc Cabe Anderson, former prisoner of war.

 

Today I talk about the contrasting experience of two brothers, one who died and one who was captured and spent a year as a prisoner of war, but returned to live out his life at home.

Erasmus Anderson was the son of my 3x great-grandfather, John Anderson and his first wife, Emma Allison. William was the son of  John Anderson and his second wife, Isabella McCabe Anderson, my 3x great-grandmother.  When her first son was born, Isabella honored her family name by using McCabe for William’s middle name.

 

Two Brothers Go to War

Civil War Regimental Flag

Civil War 16th OVI Regimental Flag

You may have read the letters of Erasmus Anderson, my great-great uncle who served on the Union side in the Civil War and died at Vicksburg.  In his letters, he sometimes refers to his younger half- brother Will (William McCabe Anderson), who was also a soldier. For a time the two served side by side as their respective companies marched together as part of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. William’s obituary hints that he was imprisoned at the infamous Andersonville, and I wanted to get at the actual story of his service and his time as a prisoner of war.

Will enlisted in the army one year earlier than his brother, Erasmus. He was twenty years old and unmarried when Union patriots in Ohio began staging giant rallies to encourage enlistment.  Young Will, who was listed on the census of 1860 as a farm worker on his family farm, did not have any specific plans for his life, and no doubt the war sounded like a great adventure. On September 12, 1861, Will signed up in the same regiment that his brother would later join–16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (16th OVI). William was in Company B, made up entirely of men and boys from Monroe Township of Holmes County.

After gathering at Camp Tiffin in Wooster, Ohio during September and October, the new recruits were loaded onto trains and traveled by rail to Cincinnati’s Camp Dennison. (Follow the link to see two pictures from Camp Dennison.)

I have no letters from William, so have to depend on the newspaper report of the OVI 16.  Captain Theodore D. Wolbach wrote about the Regiment twenty years after the fact.  These wonderfully detailed accounts, published in the Holmes County Republican newspaper under the banner “From the Field” covered every movement of the regiment from 1861 until the surviving soldiers mustered out in 1864.

Not only does Wolbach fill in the details of the battles, but he also gives us sometimes hilarious and sometimes devastating descriptions of the everyday life of the Union Soldiers.  We are fortunate to have those articles, accompanied by additional battle maps, photographs and reams of information on OVI 16 at the website maintained by Michael Wood. I used that website for extensive research while I was writing about Erasmus Anderson, and will not repeat all of the information here.

The Making of a Soldier

In mid December the recruits traveled by boat , railroad and foot to Lexington Kentucky, where they stayed until mid January 1862. ( The beginning of many ‘hurry up and wait’ orders for this regiment.)

During the last half of January, the new recruits were broken in with daily marches of varying lengths, and Wolbach reports several days that they marched all day in the rain. When they arrived at Camp Duncan in Pulaski County, Kentucky (the area called The Wilderness), they spent ten days waiting. After all that marching, this break probably was quite welcome.

More marching through February, until they engaged in their first big battle–the campaign to secure Cumberland Gap.  Will had now been in the army five and a half months, and the regiment saw its first casualty at the end of April, two more months into his life as a soldier. The Cumberland Gap operation took time, and was not firmly in Union hands until June 18, 1862. However, the Rebels did not give up and the Union army found themselves under siege at Cumberland Gap in August until by September 8 and 10, the commander’s order them to withdraw from a hopeless battle.

Brothers Reunite

The now battle-hardened soldiers cheered the arrival of new recruits in October.  It is wonderful to imagine the enthusiasm with which the hardened, muddy, bedraggled Will Anderson welcomed his brother Erasmus, who had recently joined up. They had not seen each other for a year, and there must have been much catching up to do as the younger brother, now having gained the respect due to the tested troops, talked with his older brother whose feet were just beginning to toughen up from the long marches. Not only was this a family reunion, but the companies they belonged to were packed with men from Holmes County–men they knew well–had gone to church and school with–had harvested each others crops–and now were called upon to protect each other’s lives.

The day after Christmas, a steamboat took the troops to the Johnson plantation beside the Chickasaw Bayou. The battle that started the next day, the opening of the campaign against Vicksburg Mississippi,  was hopelessly difficult.  The 16th Regiment’s beloved Col. DeCourcey an Englishman who had volunteered service with the Union, did not believe his troops should have been given orders to make a suicidal attack on a bluff on December 29. The Southerners had brought in reinforcements and commanded the high ground  But General William Tecumseh Sherman was reported to have said, “We are going to lose 5000 at Vicksburg. We might as well lose them now.”

A Disaster for the Union

Sherman’s later report on the battle still rankled twenty years later when Wolbach wrote in the Holmes County Republican that he must correct the record.  It was not true that the men of the 16th were not up to the job and refused to follow orders to attack. Rather, they did everything they were called upon to do until they were pinned down by such devastating fire that they could not move.

By January 2, 1863 Sherman had decided further attempts were useless, and he ordered the troops to withdraw.

208 Union men were killed, 1005 wounded and 563 captured or missing. The South lost 63 dead, 104 wounded and 10 dead. It was a devastating defeat for the Union, and a warning that Grant’s plan to capture Vicksburg was not going to be easy.

William is a Prisoner of War

On January 5, 1863, Erasmus wrote home that he hoped that William was taken prisoner (rather than being killed.) He had no idea of the fate of his brother, who had been captured on December 29 and held in Pearl River Bridge camp, near Jackson Mississippi, where he was held as a prisoner of war until November the following year. The camp was built in and around a covered bridge. The prisoners of war were not allowed blankets. They could not build fires for warmth or cooking, or light candles because of fear of fire. Although that camp caused much illness and many deaths–probably including a lingering lung ailment for William,–the camp at Jackson was nowhere near the horror of Andersonville (Fort Sumpter).  See a sketch of the unusual setting here.

Sad News Greets His Release a Year Later

On November 10, 1863, the men who had been captured were released to join their comrades in Algiers, Louisiana  There, Wolbach reports, the men had a good time catching oysters and clams in the bays. Perhaps William survived because he was young and used to hard living.

Surely Will would have written to his family, and learned from them that his brother Erasmus had died at Vicksburg May 22, 1863, five months after Will’s capture. Sad news to follow the joy of his own release from the prisoner of war camp.

I lose track of Will’s wartime path at this point, although I know that some of the men who had been held as a prisoner of war were given a furlough and rested at home for some months before returning to their regiments.  I do know that Will continued to serve until the OVI 16 was dismissed on November 4, 1864.

Did he see further battles after being held as a prisoner of war? Did he join the enormous march in Washington D.C. to celebrate the end of the war? That I do not know.

I will write more later about Will and his life before and after the war.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Leonard Guy Anderson, who is the son of
  • Joseph Anderson, who is the son of
  • John Anderson and Isabelle McCabe Anderson, the parents  of
  • William McCabe Anderson

Notes on Research

United States Federal Census, 1860, Ohio, Holmes County, Monroe Township.

United States Federal Census , Veteran’s  Schedule, Ohio, Holmes County Monroe Township The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Number: M123; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Record Group Number: 15; Census Year: 1890

Holmes County (Ohio) Republican, series entitled Camp & Field, by Capt. Theodore David Wolbach. Published Feb 24, 1881 to August 17, 1882.  Accessed at the website dedicated to the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 

Letters from Erasmus Anderson, from copies provided by a relative, published at Ancestors in Aprons.

Visiting Cemeteries to Bring Life

Three years ago, some members of my family gathered in Sudbury Massachusetts to pay homage to ancestors–where they had lived and where they now lie under weathered gray stones. While there, we stayed at the  Longfellow’s Wayside Inn–in the building first built by our ancestor David How.  Numerous How/Howes,  Stones,  Bents, and other pioneers in this land were our ancestors and we discovered their names carved in stone again and again as we went visiting cemeteries.

I am terribly behind in the 52 Ancestors challenge from Amy Johnson CrowBetter late than never might not be a really good excuse when we’re talking about visiting cemeteries (Ha, Ha)–but it is the best I can do at the moment.

Sudbury Cemetery

Our little group of relatives visited the Sudbury old cemetery, where we saw a memorial to those who battled during King Philip’s war. Visiting New England cemeteries will teach you the history of the area. If you don’t come from New England, you may not even have heard of King Philip’s war, but here in one of the Puritan villages of New England that was tragically affected, the memories are as fresh as are the battles of the Revolution. Our ancestor Samuel How’s house and barn were burned down and other ancestors lost family members in the battles around Sudbury.

Sudbury Cemetery

Memorial to those who lost lives in Indian Wars Sudbury Cemetery

The wording of the memorial hints at the devastation.

“This monument is erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town of Sudbury in grateful remembrance of the services and sufferings of the founders of the state and especially in honor of Capt. S. Wadsworth of Milton. Capt. Brocklebank of Rowley. Lieut. Sharp of Brookline. and twenty-six others, men of their command, who fell near this spot on the 18th of April 1676, while defending the frontier settlements against the allied Indian forces of Philip of Pokanoket.  1852.”

Sudbury Cemetery

Monument to Sudbury men who died in King Philips War

Old Burial Ground in Rutland Massachusetts

I later took a side trip to Rutland where I discovered a forest of old gray stones.  Here while visiting cemeteries, I found more  familiar names and a memorial to those who had given their lives in the French and Indian war or the Revolution, the list included two ancestors, both named Samuel Stone.

Rutland Cemetery

Rutland Cemetery with old tree. The stones stretch back into the surrounding woods.

Memorial to Rutland's war dead

Rutland Cemetery Memorial to those who died in French-Indian War and Revolution.

“Killed or Died in Service. Not All Interred here.

French-Indian War  J. Phelps, I. Stone

Revolutionary War R. Forbus Jr., N. Laughton, I Metcalf, W. Moore, A. Phelps, B. Reed, G. Smith, S. [Samuel] Stone, Jr., S.[Samuel] Stone 3rd.”

The final two names are Samuel Stone Jr. and Samuel Stone 3rd.

Lt. Samuel Stone, 3rd , my 1st cousin 6 times removed also had a son who served in the Revolution. There are so many Samuel Stones and so many served in the militia pre-Revolution or during the revolution, that the “Jr.” and numbers are not much help. I have a Samuel Stone Jr. on my tree, but he died in Lexington rather than Rutland, so may fit the description of “not all interred here.” The Samuel Stone Jr. may refer to the son of “the 3rd,” and I have very little information on him.

On the other hand, I am quite familiar with another Samuel Stone Jr. Our 6th great-grandfather, Capt. Samuel Stone lived and died in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is the grandfather of Lt. Samuel Stone 3rd.  And you think YOU are confused???

Confusion aside, I did, however, find the gravestone in Rutland for the one designated here as “3rd.”

Lt. Samuel Stone

Lt. Samuel Stone, who died in 1775, probably not in battle, although he fought in the Revolution.

The gravestone reads:

“In memory of Lieut. Samuel Stone who decd December the 10th 1775 in the 40th year of his Age. A Kind husband and Tender Parent. Reader Behold as you pass by, as you are living so [was I], as I am now, so you must be ___________ ____ ____ Death [&] Follow [me].”

Sudbury Revolutionary War Cemetery

Sudbury Evolutionary War Cemetery

One of our family members at the entrance to Sudbury’s Revolutionary War Cemetery.

Our family group visited the Sudbury Revolutionary War cemetery where our family of Howe descendants, including a newly discovered cousin, the director of the Sudbury History Museum, gathered around the grave of our 1st cousin, 6 times removed, Col. Ezekiel Howe.

We felt close to this Ezekiel because he was the son of David Howe, our 6th great-grandfather who built the Howe (later Wayside) Inn where we were staying. Ezekiel took over the Inn when David Howe died.  His son  Ezekiel Jr., grew up at the Inn.  There is a story that Ezekiel Jr. ran the entire distance from Sudbury to Concord when the alarm went up about the battle at Concord Bridge. He was 19 at the time.

Ezekial Howe

Sudbury Historian,and family members visit Ezekiel Howe.

Unfortunately, other than his name, and death year–1796–this stone is unreadable.

My sister and I and our cousin could not resist paying a separate homage to Ezekiel Jr.’s wife Sarah, also known as Sally. We thought about the poet John Milton’s line,”they also serve who only stand and wait,” which applies to so many of the women of these villages of New England during the 1770s.

Sarah Howe

3 cousins gather with the stone of Sarah (Sally) Howe, wife of Ezekiel Howe Jr.

“Erected in memory of Mrs. Sarah How wife of Mr. Ezekial How who died July 13, 1812 in the 53 year of her age.”

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury, Massachusetts

Expecting to find some of my oldest ancestors, I also visited the Sudbury Old North Cemetery (now located in the town of Wayland). I particularly wanted to visit the grave of (Leut.) Samuel How, my 7th great-grandfather, and the father of David How. Samuel had his fingers in many pies in the development of Sudbury and surrounding communities–you can read about his wheeling and dealing here. Unfortunately, I did not locate his grave, although I have a picture of his stone from Find A Grave.com.  Samuel How was one more ancestor who was a soldier in the pre-Revolution days.

Samuel How

Samuel How, Old North Graveyard, Sudbury, MA. Photo by Charles Waid on FindaGrave.

“Here lies the body of Lieutenant Samuel How Aged 70 years Died April Ye 15th 1715.”

Old North Cemetery

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury/Wayland.

Despite the disappointment that sometimes accompanies visiting cemeteries, I found Old North fascinating.The interesting things I discovered included a separate burial ground for Native Americans–not seen in many cemeteries, and stones so old that a tree that grew between them, enfolded them in its trunk.

Old North Cemetery

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury Tree grown into tombstones

I am grateful for the nudge from the 52 Ancestors prompts to look back at my ‘visiting cemetery’ pictures.  I realized that I had a treasure trove of photos (there are many, many more than I had room for here) and I had not done anything with them.  By “anything” I mean I intend to transcribe the inscriptions, label them properly in my computer files, add them to the gallery of ancestors on my family tree at Ancestry, and check at Find a Grave to see if I have photos or information to add there. For too long, I have been a freeloader at Find a Grave–using it for my research, but rarely making additions to the information.  Now I have a chance to add some value.

I have submitted the two memorials–Sudbury’s to those who served in Kind Philip’s War and Rutland’s to those killed in the French-Indian Wars or the Revolution to the Honor Roll Project. Follow that link to see this effort to keep the names alive that are listed on the many memorials in this country and others.

That’s how visiting cemeteries can help you bring life to a cemetery.

Elizabeth Stahler Kaser, Who’s Your Daddy?

Making  assumptions about Elizabeth Stahler Kaser did not work out so well.

BACKPEDALING

At the beginning of the year, I announced that I would turn my attention to my father’s line because I know far less about the ancestors on his side, than on my mother’s.

I still intend to keep the vow to concentrated on my father’s line, but I need to “bark up a new branch” because I jumped to a conclusion that has proved to be wrong.

As a visual aid, I recently printed out poster-style family trees of Harriette Anderson (Kaser) and Paul Kaser.  It vividly demonstrates why I should concentrate on my father’s side of the family.

(Please pardon the quality, but names are not important at this point.  I just want to illustrate the relative size of known ancestors at this point.

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson Kaser Pedigree Chart 11 generations. Two more not shown.

Paul Kaser Pedigree Chart

Paul Kaser Pedigree Chart, five generations.

In January, I also announced that I would be starting with the known–the parents of Elizabeth Stahler Kaser who married Joseph Kaser.  Then I proceeded to spend three months researching the families of Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich. I assumed they were Elizabeth’s parents.

I WAS WRONG!

TRUST BUT VERIFY

The feeble “evidence” for most of my father’s line comes from a history about the family of Joseph Kaser. From that book, which does include some references, I determined that Joseph Kaser’s wife was Elizabeth Stahler from Pennsylvania. I wrote about Elizabeth Stahler Kaser hereAnd about Joseph here.

A distant cousin who is related to my father’s maternal line, the Butts/Butz family, long ago had told me about the Goshenhoppen Register–a record of itinerant Catholic priests. The Butts family were Catholics.  The Kasers that I knew of were not.  However, she found an Elizabeth Stahler in the Goshenhoppen Register, along with her birth and baptism in 1775 and her parents, Adam Stahler and Eva Maria Henrich.  This was good new indeed, I thought. Although I did wonder at whether she changed religion just to marry Joseph, or what was happening there.

In hindsight, I should have looked for additional confirmation before proceeding down that particular rabbit hole.  But I dug up what I could, which was not much, and explored the lives of her children and Joseph’s will to help fill in some blanks.

WHY I TRUST THE GRAVESTONE

When I found her on Find a Grave–complete with a picture of her gravestone in Nashville, Ohio, it seemed strange.  I knew that Joseph and Elizabeth  Kaser had lived in Clark, Ohio, and Joseph, who died several years before she did, was buried at the Zion Reform German church in New Bedford Ohio. Many Kasers are interred at New Bedford.  However, Exploring their children’s lives and Joseph’s will points to evidence that Elizabeth spent her declining years in Nashville with her youngest son. In addition, I have no doubt that this is Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth, because their tombstones are identical in style. The same stone carver made their stones, even though they are in different parts of Holmes and adjacent Coshocton Counties in Ohio.

The tombstone says Elizabeth Kaser was born August 5, 1777–NOT 1775 as in the Catholic birth and baptism records.  Tombstones are not perfect, but in this case, I am inclined to believe the tombstone’s date.  My problem–I had found that Find a Grave reference a couple years ago.  Why did I ignore it?  Just because it was inconvenient?  I need to slow down.

WHAT I DON’T KNOW

The key to learning sometimes is realizing what you do not know.  Earlier, I assumed that the Kaser history was right about Elizabeth’s maiden name and I assumed that my distant cousin was right about her baptism and birth records in a Catholic Church register. I thought I knew those things.  Now, I have to admit that I don’t really know her parentage or her birth place.

I have found a Pennsylvania marriage record for an Elizabeth Stahler who married a man whose name is described as Fye (but I believe it is probably Frye). That tells me there was indeed at least one other Elizabeth Stahler in eastern Pennsylvania.  However, I have not found a marriage record for Joseph and Elizabeth Kaser.

So I don’t know:

  • Elizabeth’s maiden name (although the Kaser History has proven reliable on that score, and odds are it actually is Stahler.) [With new evidence, I now believe the Kaser history was wrong even about the surname of Joseph’s wife.]
  • The date and place she and Joseph were married.
  • Who her parents are and where she came from in Pennsylvania.

The basic information!

NEXT STEPS

While I looked through the Lutheran/Reform church records of Pennsylvania some time ago, I was not looking for the name Stahler, so I need to go back to those records.  It appears that they are not on line, so I will have to go to the Family History Center at an LDS church to peruse them.  If I am lucky, a marriage license will show up.[In fact, I need to stop focusing on Stahler all together.}

But what if even the Kaser history is wrong and her last name is not even Stahler?  Although I do not generally look at other people’s family trees and I never depend on them for answers, they can lead to new sources and sometimes a contact with the tree owner can be useful. So I need to contact people whose family trees show Joseph Kaser(1776) and his wife  Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, I have corrected as much as possible in the posts on Ancestors in Aprons. I have decided to let the posts I wrote about Adam Stahler, Eva Maria Henrich and Christian and Margaret Henrich stay on Ancestors in Aprons. Although I do not need information about the Stahlers and the Henrichs since they are not related to Elizabeth Kaser, there are many people out there looking for information about Stahlers and Henrichs and they might get something out of my research.

Oh yeah–just to keep things interesting, one of Joseph and Elizabeth’s sons–George, who is my great-great grandfather–also married a woman whose last name is Stahler. I am making no assumptions about her! [And in fact her name might be Stehler instead. Or something else close to Stahler. Open mind!]