ANTIETAM: A foggy morning at Burnside Bridge.

Although the focus of this blog is Antietam, Gettysburg, photography and stories of common soldiers, I often delve into other topics. I visit battlefields several times a year and always aim to  return home with something fresh and interesting.
27th Connecticut monument in
The Wheatfield at Gettysburg.

What you won't find here: posts on the Confederate flag controversy, re-hashing of battle strategies and stories on major Civil War figures. All that is covered well elsewhere.

If you're a descendant of a Civil War soldier and want to share a copy of a photo, letter or something else you have found in your attic, please give me a shout. And if you're looking for a speaker at your Civil War event, please contact me. Here's my speaking schedule.

I can be reached at jbankstx@comcast.net or post in the comments section below. You may also follow me on Twitter at @johnnybanks or on my Civil War Facebook page, which you can "Like" here.


  1. Your blog popped up on my twitter feed for Civil Medicine. Looks very good. Several of my ancestors served in PA units. My great-father was an assistant surgeon at Gettysburg and beyond. Hailed from Western PA.

  2. Ah, that's neat, historywriter. I am from Western Pa., too. Mount Lebanon. Do you have much info, photo, etc., of your great-grandfather? JB

  3. John, I keep seeing the title to a story about Earle Van Dorn and he is called a "frat boy". I know that maybe you did not write that title. To my knowledge Van Dorn was never in any fraternity and that is, to me, a slur against fraternities. He did not go to any college that I know of, he attended West Point and I do not know of any fraternities allowed there. I do know a fair bit about him because the son of Dr. Petyers was in the UM Class of 1861, so I have looked very hard at those people and their story. I was in a frat for a short time at Ole Miss and I have seen the good and the bad. I am NOT a big fan of fraternities. I DO deal with 1850s and 1860s University of Mississippi students every day in my research on the University in all aspects of the War. I can tell you those "frat boys" have about the same behavior as non frat boys at the University. There at UM in the late 1850s the fraternity participation rate was about 50%. I can show you plenty of scoundrels and heroes in both groups. I have done research for 28 years on UM students in the Civil War for what will be several books:University Greys, Class of 1861, UM students and alumni at Shiloh, Oxford and the University during the War, and several others. I currently give Civil War tours of Oxford and the University with the University's permission. I have worked very hard to find all the fraternity information on these boys that I could. I wish you would get that title changed. I do not mean to jump on you. Trust me, I have made more than my fair amount of mistakes in all my research. Starke Miller

    1. It references his type of behavior -- acted like a "frat boy" -- not that he was in a fraternity.

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  6. Anonymous12:07 AM

    Hello, Mr. Banks,

    Don't know if this may be of interest to you or not.

    This is not a genetic cousin to me, but a married-in relative from another Rogers line. Found these short articles during my years of family research.

    Niles Seth Rogers (1840-1899)
    Find A Grave Memorial# 33423375.

    He was a Connecticut Civil War veteran (Co. F, 26th Regt., Conn. Vol. Infantry), who later worked as a “huckster,” according to 1880 census information. His family line appears to descend from Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower.

    From the "New Haven [CT] Register," Saturday Aug 14, 1880, p. 4:
    "Niles S. Rogers of North Lynn [Lyme], a totally blind veteran soldier, who has been very poor, has just received a pension which dates back to 1863. He will receive between $10,000 and $11,000 in cash and $72 a month for the remainder of his life. He has a wife and several children."
    From the [Boston?] "Traveler- Herald," Saturday September 4, 1880, p. 1 (?):
    "A Blind Soldier Gets His Pension.
    Niles S. Rogers, of North Lyme, a soldier in the late war, has procured, through his attorney, a pension which dates back to 1863, and entitles him to the sum of between $10,000 and $11,000. Application for the pension was first made five or six years ago, and it has been repeated at intervals ever since, until Rogers had given up all hope of receiving it. In addition to the sum named he will receive $72 a month during the rest of his life. He is totally blind, the result of disease contracted while in the army, and is otherwise disabled by a gun-shot wound in the shoulder. He has a wife and several children, and has been very poor. - New London (Conn.) Telegram."

    [The $72/month seems very high to me. - Jim Rogers, Centennial CO, jimmerjam@aol.com]