Sunday, December 25, 2011

My top 10 Civil War posts of 2011

Van Buren Towle, a private in the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, died shortly after
being paroled from a Confederate POW camp. He was buried at sea.
Because the end of the year isn't complete without a top-10 list, I compiled my own. Here are the 10 most-trafficked posts on John Banks' Civil War blog in 2011:

1. Faces of the Civil War: Van Buren Towle (May 26): It took some digging in the National Archives to tell the story of Towle, a private in the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery who was captured in Virginia in 1864 and sent to the notorious Rebel prisoner-of-war camp in Andersonville, Ga. Amazingly, his brother also was in Andersonville. A document in the Archives confirmed the circumstances of Towle's death after he was paroled from prison. "On board U.S. Transport 'Northern Light," a War Department casualty sheet reads, "and was buried at sea."

Earl Roulette's great-grandfather, William, owned this farmhouse at
Antietam. Many wounded soldiers were treated at the farm.
2. Gettysburg hidden history (May 6): If you know where to look, you'll discover a Gettysburg few ever see. Park volunteer Dick Kolmar helped me find a rock carving in the Spangler Spring meadow made by a North Carolina soldier.

3. Battle of Antietam memories: The Roulettes (May 14): Several years ago, I got to know Earl Roulette, who farmed in Sharpsburg, Md., for decades and whose great-grandfather owned a farm that bordered Bloody Lane at Antietam. Earl, who died in 2008, had a wealth of the knowledge about the battlefield. Many of the relics he and his ancestors collected over the years were donated to the Park Service at Antietam after Earl's death. Hopefully, they will be displayed there someday.

4. Faces of the Civil War: Justus Wellington: (June 5): A private in the 15th Massachusetts, Wellington was killed in the West Woods at Antietam. He's probably buried under a gravestone marked "Unknown" at Antietam National Cemetery in Sharpsburg, Md. The shoemaker from West Brookfield, Mass., was only 24 years old.

5. Faces of the Civil War: George Bronson (June 15): Special thanks to Mary Lou Pavlik of the Torrington (Conn.) Civil War Roundtable who supplied the photo and stories of her great-great grandfather, who was a hospital steward in the 11th Connecticut. His description of the 11th Connecticut's fight across Antietam Creek at Burnside Bridge sticks with me: "I do not know the name of the creek, but I have named it the creek of death," he wrote his wife.
The ornate front of John Griswold's gravestone in
Old Lyme, Conn. The captain in the 11th Connecticut
was mortally wounded at Antietam.

6. Faces of the Civil War; Share your photos, stories (Dec. 10): Care to share a photo of one of your Civil War ancestors? I'd love to tell their story. I enjoyed making the collage of soldier photos.

7. Brothers: Connecticut's Civil War sacrifice (Nov. 30): I have found eight sets of brothers from the state who died during the war, an incredible tragedy. An ancestor of three brothers from Litchfield who were killed during the Civil War e-mailed that their deaths still affect her family today.

8. Faces of the Civil War: John D. Griswold (Nov. 16): A captain in the 11th Connecicut, John Griswold was mortally wounded while attempting to cross Antietam Creek during the Battle of Antietam. Thanks to a descendant, I got into the small, private cemetery to view Griswold's beautiful grave marker.

9. Faces of the Civil War: The Bingham brothers (Nov. 26): A New England antiques dealer supplied much of the information for the story on these brothers from East Haddam, Conn. John Bingham of the 16th Connecticut was only 18 years old when he was killed at Antietam. He served in the 16th with his brother, Wells, who was physically unharmed but no doubt never got over the carnage he witnessed there. Friends of Wells gave him a special gift in memory of his brother 14 years after the 1862 battle.

10. Faces of the Civil War: The Hincks Family (July 31): An ancestor of the Hincks brothers supplied the stories of Elisha, Edward and William Hincks. William won the Medal of Honor for valor at Gettysburg. Brothers Elisha and Edward were wounded at Antietam.

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