Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day: The Civil War Soldiers in Our Family

: What is the best trick a horse can do?

Known as Decoration Day until 1967, Memorial Day commemorates those who died in US military service. It was first enacted in 1868 to honor Union soldiers of the US Civil War. This war, also called The War Between the States, The War of the Rebellion, (or in the South, The War for Southern Independence or War of the Secession) lasted from 12 Apr 1861 to 9 Apr 1865, four long and terrible years.

Our family's ancestors, all in the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic), were fortunate to return home, marry, and live long lives, although their health was never the same. Along with many other veterans, they suffered the effects of unsanitary conditions, bad hygiene, bad water and bad food. They got cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and dysentery. They had lifelong bouts of malaria, ague, and diarrhea. Twice as many Civil War soldiers died of disease than in battle. 10% (3 million) of the US population served or fought in the Civil War, and 2% (620,000) died — more American casualties than the American Revolution, the War of 1812, World War I, WW II, and the Vietnam War combined.

Grampy's ancestors:
Charles Ithamar Mace (1833-1903) Rye, NH. Private in K Company, 13th NH Infantry. Enlisted 14 Aug 1862, age 29, mustered in 20 Sep 1862. Left NH for Washington, DC, Oct 5. Attached to Casey's Division, Military District of Washington, to Dec, 1862. On duty near Fort Albany, Defense of Washington, till Dec 4, 1862. Marched to Falmouth, Va, Dec 5-9. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va. Dec 11-16; Getty's Night Assault Dec 13, 1862. Burnside's Second Campaign "Mud March" Jan 20-24, 1863. Moved to Newport News, Va., Feb 9. He was discharged 13 March, 1863 in Philadelphia, PA, with a disability discharge for phthisis (tuberculosis). This was also on his death certificate as cause of death. I haven't found a pension record for him. He married in 1864 and had 4 children.

Charles D. Rowe (1839-1913) Oxford County, ME. Private, Co. A, 12th Maine Infantry (on his gravestone in Buckfield, ME). Enlisted 14 Oct 1861, age 22; discharged 7 Dec 1864, Portland, ME. Applied for a pension 20 Jan 1882 for the "chronic diarrhea, malarial poisoning and dyspepsia" he fell ill with in July, 1864. Appling for pension increases many times over the years, he married in 1865, had 9 children.

Grammy's ancestor:
Alexander "Sandy" Donald McDougal (1839-1922) Fort Fairfield, ME. Company K, 1st Maine Cavalry. He walked 40 miles from Fort Fairfield to Houlton to join the Union forces at the start of the war, and enlisted 17 Oct 1861, age 22, at Houlton, ME. Of 245 enlisted men in Co. K, Alexander was one of 7 who served from muster in to muster out. The 1st Maine Cavalry was attached to the Union Army of the Potomac, and K Co. participated in 34 battles. He mustered in at Augusta, ME, 2 Nov 1861 as a Private; traveled to Washington, DC Mar 19-28, 1862; attached to Abercrombie's Brigade, Williams' Division, Banks' 5th Army Corps, and Dept. of the Shenandoah, Mar to May, 1862; attached to Bayard's Cavalry Brigade, Dept. of the Rappahannock, to July, 1862; promoted to Corporal 1 Sep 1862; promoted to Sergeant 1863; re-enlisted 29 Dec 1863; He was at Appomattox Court House April 9, 1865 for the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Southern army. 1 Aug 1865 he mustered out with his regiment; distinguished for gallantry. Alexander passed up a promotion to Lieutenant in favor of a married man with a family, because being single, he didn't need the higher pay as much. This man was killed later in the war.
The History of the First Maine Cavalry 1861-1865 says "During this fight (the battle at Middleburg, Va.) Sergt. McDougall of Co. K received 17 bullet holes in his clothing, and strange to say, escaped unharmed". Company commander Major Myrick said K Co. had the reputation of being "extensively drilled and extremely proficient with the saber. Those terrible weapons were used with awful effect in the magnificent charge at Brandy Station." At the 11th Annual Reunion of the 1st Maine Cavalry, Maj. Myrick remembered Sgt. Alexander McDougall, known as Sandy, "as a brave soldier and as faithful a man as ever rode in the ranks of the 1st Maine and one of the best swordsmen I ever saw." Myrick recalled, "His old comrades remember him also, at St. Mary's Church with his clothing again riddled by bullets, while he was again unharmed."
The 1st Maine lost the greatest number of men killed in action of any Cavalry Regiment in the entire army.
He married in 1865 and had 9 children.
In a testimonial letter for his pension application, his former Captain of Co. K wrote: "I well remember Serg. Alexander MacDougal, who was one of the bravest, truest and most faithful soldiers I ever knew." His pension was granted for "malarial poisoning, pleurisy, fever, vertigo and ague".
He used his pension money to buy a small grocery store on East Main St, in the area of town known as Puddledock, since he was often too weak to perform farm work.
Later in life Alexander was one of the Commanders of GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Kilpatrick Post, No. 61, Fort Fairfield, Maine.

Alexander's younger brother Stephen P. McDougal (1845-1865) Fort Fairfield, ME. Private, Company G, 15th Maine Infantry, died of typhoid in the service. Stephen, age 19, enlisted as a substitute, mustered in 10 Feb 1865 at Bangor, ME for one year. He gave his sign-up bonus money, a large sum for the times, to his parents as a substitute for the work he did to support them. His Regiment was sent to operations in the Shenandoah Valley till Apr. Moved to Washington, D C, April 19-23, on duty there till May 31. On provost duty during Grand Review May 23-24. Moved to Savannah, Ga., May 31-June 4, thence to Georgetown, SC, June 13-14, where he got typhoid fever. Brought north by ship from South Carolina to DeCamp Hospital on David's Island, NY near New York City, he died 10 Oct 1865. He is buried in Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, in the 3-acre area known as the "Union Grounds" with 3,800 other soldiers. Many of these died in local hospitals. Susannah McDougal applied for a widowed mother's pension in 1873 and received $8 a month in recompense for her son's loss of life. She said on her application, "Ever after he was large enough to work, he raised crops in the summer and in the winter made cedar shingles which he sold to buy provisions and necessities for our support."

Photo: Cypress Hills National Cemetery

Alexander's younger brother James A. McDougal (1847 or '48 - ) Family information says he was also in the Civil War. I have found no record of this, or of his life or death.

Today we honor and pay tribute to our 'boys in blue', who marched off to war gaily singing "We Are Coming, Father Abraham, 300,000 Strong" and "Shouting The Battle Cry Of Freedom", but soon changed their song to the haunting lament "We're tenting tonight on the old camp ground, give us a song to cheer". [To hear this song on YouTube, with Civil War photos, type Youtube +"tenting tonight" into the Google search engine.]

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo.
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.

On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead. by Theodore O'Hara

Riddle answer: turn cartwheels


Anonymous said...

Wow! This blog is a wonderful blend of American History and Family History. Thanks for helping us realize the contributions our ancestors made. They sacrificed so much to make a better future for their posterity.
This was a wonderful Memorial Day blog.
Love, L

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for an amazing blog entry for Memorial Day. I celebrated it this year with singing a medley of all the theme songs of the armed forces, not realizing how many of my ancestors I was honoring, too. Thank you for all of your research to bring this blog to life. The pictures,songs, and stories made these ancestors more real to me.
Love, R

Anonymous said...

It ha been my privelege to attend a MacDougal family reunion. It is my treasure to have heard some family tales about Alexander MacDougal. What a miracle to have a tintype photo of him. I am in awe of their life stories. It is strange to be the oldest member of the clan now.
Love, Grampy