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Civil War Times: May 1997 Letters

9/23/1997 • Civil War Times Archives

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Civil War Times
Civil War Times

Grant’s Illinois Home

I read with interest the story about Grant’s Tomb (“News,” May 1997) and how it’s fallen into disrepair. There has been a dispute between the state of New York and the Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, and she has told officials there, if they can’t keep it up, we’ll take him back and do a better job of it. Grant’s home is in Galena, Illinois. A committee there keeps it up, and there are tours.

Michele Parisi
Chicago, Illinois

Harrowing Account

Because my ancestor served in the 43d Ohio Infantry, I was excited to find the excerpt from Peter Cozzens’s book about the fight for Battery Robinett (“Moving into Dead Men’s Shoes,” May 1997). The excerpt is one of the most harrowing descriptions of Civil War combat I have read.

There is one small discrepancy: the text that reads Colonel J.L.K. Smith of the 43d “fell to the ground, dead.” The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion reports that Smith clung to life for more than a week, finally expiring on October 12, 1862.

Nick Lennard
Lambertville, Michigan

A Friend In Pennsylvania

On February 24, 1997, a letter written by Jerry Dyer of York, Pennsylvania, appeared in the Sun in Baltimore. Mr. Dyer wrote so poignantly about the “little Confederate flags that fluttered in the wind” over the graves of those who died in a prisoner-of-war camp in Elmira, New York. As a descendant of a Confederate soldier who was wounded and taken prisoner on September 29, 1864, at Fort Gilmer, Virginia, I appreciate Mr. Dyer’s understanding of the suffering that those Elmira prisoners endured and that they died no less honorable deaths than Union prisoners.

The recent controversy in Maryland over the use of the Confederate flag on the license plates of the Sons of Confederate Veterans continues. Many of us use it only as a symbol of honor and respect for our ancestors and our Southern heritage, not as a symbol of hatred, violence, and racism. It is comforting to know that those of us who are Confederate advocates have a friend in Pennsylvania.

Marcene Dolgoff
Baltimore, Maryland

Save Brandy Station

Brandy Station (“News,” May 1997) near Culpeper, Virginia, was supposedly the site of the largest cavalry battle during the Civil War. I resided in the Culpeper area for two years and never could find out much about it from the natives except that the land was privately owned. Some commercial excavation there unearthed the remains of a Civil War soldier, and it was rumored there could be others, but no more was mentioned of it.

The Smithsonian Institution removed the remains, and during the rest of my residence there, no more was made public of the event. If this was the site of such a battle, I cannot believe the state of Virginia didn’t make any efforts to preserve at least a portion of it for posterity.

Willard Edwards, Jr.
Apalachin, New York

Motley Crew

As a footnote to Ethan S. Rafuse’s “Save the Constitution” (May 1997), Rear Admiral Charles E. Clark wrote in his memoir My Fifty Years in the Navy about the voyage of “Old Ironsides” from Annapolis: “Never did a man-of-war sail with such a motley crew! There were midshipmen from all four classes, about twenty-five sailors, and two companies of the 8th Massachusetts from Marblehead and Salem–if I remember rightly–the one in blue uniforms and the other in zouave costumes. I suppose these companies were selected because there were so many seafaring men among them. I know when we got outside the Capes, we found them very handy, below and aloft.”

Patrick E. Purcell
Wayne, Pennsylvania

Plea From Australia

By a stroke of extreme luck I discovered a copy of your magazine in a shop in a village in the state of Queensland, Australia. For years I have been trying to find details about my great-grandfather, Charles T. Liernur, who was a captain engineer in the Confederate army, but it is very difficult when you live on the other side of the world.

In 1983, the museum department of the city of Mobile, Alabama, gave me copies of letters and telegrams sent to him when he was employed in the defense of Mobile. Before the war my great-grandfather lived in Whistler, outside Mobile, and served as an engineer for the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. He apparently helped to build Fort Appalachee, Alabama. It has been said he was taken prisoner and kept on an island; I don’t know where. The New York Library has a book about civil engineering projects that he wrote after the war.

Could it be that among your readers someone could give me some details, if not about Captain Liernur, then on the Corps of Engineers that was involved in the defense of the Mississippi River?

C.W. Ray
Lot 3, 301 Blackall Range Road
Woombye, Queensland, Australia 4559

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