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Letters From Readers -- March 2007 America's Civil War Magazine

Originally published by America's Civil War magazine. Published Online: February 06, 2007 
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Remember Corporal-Captain Radar on M*A*S*H?
My thanks for publishing the story of my telegrapher great-grandfather, Seargent Prentiss Peabody. There is one small correction that my family would appreciate. I want to point out to your editors the proper spelling of a family name and not a military title.

Peabody's name was Seargent. Note the different spelling from the military title, sergeant. The Peabody family apparently admired someone named Seargent, hence the name. It caused him more than a little confusion in his lifetime. Obituary writers had problems with the name, too. My father, a Vermont newspaper editor, had the name as well, Seargent Peabody Wild, and his son (my older brother, same state) inherited the name Seargent Kendall Wild.

My father's nickname was "Sarge." His main name problem came as a lieutenant in World War I when some people found it hard to understand that the Army had a "Lieutenant Seargent" in its midst. My brother prefers S. Kendall, but every now and then he is required to give his complete name, most recently when he bought a new car. To his surprise, the automobile company sent him a questionnaire addressed to "Sgt. Kendall Wild" and asking for his opinion of their vehicles in either military or law enforcement work.

So you see you are not alone, and the family is used to the confusion. Despite occasionally being called "Wild Bill," I'm really quite calm about it all.

William H. Wild
Dayton, Ohio

Where the Hale Was He?
I was most interested to read J. David Petruzzi's response to Mr. Kennedy's letter in the November 2006 issue regarding Petruzzi's story "Opening the Ball at Gettysburg." My interest was not only because my wife and I recently visited the battlefield but also because of Petruzzi's statement regarding the forward outposts at the Ephraim Wisler home being manned by soldiers of the 8th Illinois Cavalry.

One of those troopers was a private named Hale. It is just possible that he was one of my ancestors. Part of our family history states that my maternal great-grandfather, John Francis Hale, served in an Illinois cavalry unit. No one in the family knows much about his unit's designation or its engagements. At some point in the conflict we know he was taken prisoner and incarcerated at Andersonville, where his eyesight was badly damaged. After the war Hale returned to his home and became a judge.

Our family doesn't know too much more about this man, and I certainly would like to do more research on him now that I'm retired. I would very much like to learn more about Petruzzi's sources and the availability of records, particularly pertaining to the 8th Illinois Cavalry. The possibility that the young Private Hale present at the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg might be my great grandfather is exciting and intriguing.

I enjoy America's Civil War and look forward to every issue, which I read from cover to cover.

James M. Thornburgh
San Diego, Calif.

J.D. Petruzzi responds: The story of your great- grandfather is quite interesting indeed. The private who was with Private Thomas Benton Kelly at Wisler Ridge along the Chambersburg Pike on the morning of July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg was James O. Hale. This is the name with which he is identified in both the regimental roster of the 8th Illinois Cavalry and the way he signed his name on the June 30, 1863, Present For Duty Roster of Company E of the regiment. Therefore, it appears that they are two different men.

Your great-grandfather, it seems, was a member of the 6th Illinois Cavalry. I did a search on the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database (located at www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/) for "John Hale" and came up with a John F. Hale of Company H, 6th Illinois Cavalry. His service record is located in the National Archives at Film No. M539, Roll 36. The 6th Illinois Cavalry served admirably in the Western theater, participating in many battles, skirmishes and raids. If you go to the Web site above and put your grandfather's data into a soldier search, you will get a listing of all Hales in the unit. You can then click on both his name and the regiment for more information.

I would suggest that you acquire his military and pension records — there is likely to be a wealth of information in them that will be of interest to you and your descendants. One of the best and quickest ways to get the records is to visit Broadfoot's site, at http://www.soldiersearch.com/index.html. Make sure you request both his service record and pension record. It's not very expensive, and you will probably get a copy of the records within a week or two. I have used this service to get many service and pension records over the years.

I hope that this information will help you get started on the very rewarding journey of finding out more about your great-grandfather and his cavalry service, as well as the harrowing experience of being confined at Andersonville and his resulting disability. His eyesight problems may very well have been a result of the poor diet, lacking in fruit and vegetables, that he would have experienced there.

If I can be of further help, please just let me know. I would be very interested to hear about the information you find.

Livid About Lincoln
William Marvel's article in the November 2006 issue, "Martyr Under the Microscope," belongs to the realm of fiction. In speaking of Abraham Lincoln's resort to violence, he fails to note that a war in Kansas and Missouri had been raging for 10 years before Lincoln's election.

In acting to defend what he viewed as government property, i.e., Fort Sumter, Lincoln was consistent with his vow not to interfere with the property of slaveholders.
When he finally issued the Emancipation Proclamation after two years of war, he himself admitted that "We must change our tactics or lose the game." He succeeded admirably in keeping European nations from recognizing a slaveholding nation and in depriving the Confederacy of many of its precious slaves as they streamed north.

The supposition that the South might have abolished slavery is ludicrous. The opinions of the collected politicians of the South suggested that "negroes" did not have souls and should be slaves. The reason that Lincoln was elected was that Southern Democrats split the party by demanding a national slave code so they could take their slaves with them anywhere.

The assertion that peace efforts from the South were rebuffed is false. The truth is that every Southern delegation balked at the president's demand that they recognize the authority of the U.S. government and return to the Union.

I have frequently heard similar arguments from unreconstructed Southerners, but I expected better of a respected historian.

Jack Brooks
Pittsboro, N.C.

Just Love It
Just a word to tell you that I love America's Civil War Magazine. Once I start reading it and looking at the old pictures, I can't put it down. Keep up the good work.

Theresa Brosch
Romulus, Mich
.

MONITOR MUSINGS
Stuck in the Wrong Geer

Your cover stories in the November 2006 issue on USS Monitor were excellent. In the photo spread "Revealing Monitor's Secrets," however, the name of the ship's fireman was misspelled.

I'm referring to the comments made by George "Greer" regarding the use of hair tonic bottles to smuggle alcohol aboard the ship. The quote was juxtaposed with fragments of such a bottle recovered from the turret. George's last name was actually "Geer."

I know for sure because I'm one of his descendants. Geer's letters were published in 2000 in The Monitor Chronicles, edited by William Marvel.

George Geer
President, Housatonic
Civil War Round Table
Derby, Conn.

Thank You, NOAA
Editor's note: America's Civil War would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the ongoing project to recover and conserve relics of Monitor. We somehow failed to note NOAA's contribution in the November issue, and we apologize for that. Without NOAA's assistance, the project would not have occurred, and we all hold NOAA in our debt for preserving Monitor for current and future generations to study and enjoy.

Monitoring the Progress
(This letter was sent to the Mariner's Museum, home of USS Monitor, and kindly forwarded to America's Civil War by the museum.)

What great reading about USS Monitor in America's Civil War. We've been trying to keep track of the Monitor's progress and can't wait till our next trip back to Virginia and the Mariner's Museum. My wife's family lives in the Baltimore, Md., area and being real lovers of history — especially the Civil War era — we have to visit all appropriate sites — especially Monitor's new home.

Last visit for us was about two years ago when the turret had recently been submerged in the large round water-filled tank. We were able to get some nice views of the turret and are wondering if indeed it is still in water or at times in and out of water?

This gets me to one of my questions. The article "Revealing Monitor's Secrets," by David Krop, has some super photos of the turret — especially inside views — i.e., P. 35, bottom left and P. 36, bottom right (showing the two cannons — this is great!) and P. 37, bottom center of wall with dents.

I have several "Monitor-related" views for personal display, and would like some more. I wondered about the chance of getting colored copies of these photos. They are super!

Curt Johnson
Astoria, Ore.

9th Tennessee Infantry
I just enjoyed reading the September 2006 issue, especially the article by James R. Fleming regarding the 9th Tennessee Infantry. My great-grandfather, Edward W. Jacobs, served in Company F from May 1861 until May 1862.

Mr. Fleming stated that on the night of April 6 during the Battle of Shiloh an artillery train (possibly Morton's Battery) separated the 9th into two groups. It could not have been Morton's Battery because Lieutenant John Morton was at that time a prisoner of war after being captured at Fort Donelson. Morton's Battery was formed in December 1862 and served under General Nathan B. Forrest for the rest of the war.

Alex McCollum
Memphis, Tenn.

17th North Carolina
By the most unusual coincidence I saw the November issue in the grocery store and decided to get it for my brother. He has always been a Civil War buff. As I looked through it I saw your very interesting article on the 17th North Carolina Regiment by Robert K. Krick.

Adoniram Judson Cobb, my great-grandfather on my mother's side, served in the same regiment as a corporal and was taken prisoner along with the men in the picture accompanying the article. I've done some research, but often wonder what actions the regiment was involved in.

Everyone in the family always was of the opinion that he was discharged because of an eye injury in 1862. But among some old papers I found a very eloquent letter his father Robert Batten Cobb had written to Ado­niram's wife Bettie later in the war that referenced the fact that Adoniram was in prison again in Newport News. I have his signed oaths, and know that he was provided transportation back to Hertford County, N.C.

After some research, I found a roster list of some regiments at East Carolina University in Greenville. Adoniram's name was not listed again, but I found an Andrew J. Cobb as lieutenant in Company A of the 15th Battalion. I got both Adoniram's and Andrew's war records from Washington. The physical descriptions are the same for both — 6 feet tall, fair hair and blue eyes. Perhaps a clerk just could not spell Adoniram and wrote Andrew. Most of the time he would sign as A.J. Cobb anyway. It's a bit of a mystery.

Carol C. Smith
Crisfield, Md.

Editor's note: Sounds like you have already followed the approach that J.D. Petruzzi recommends on P. 9. Try looking at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History for more information about those regiments. I would also suggest that you investigate the resources available in Cobb's home county — a historical society, for example. Sometimes it takes dogged research before the answer is apparent.


Send letters to America's Civil War Editor, Weider History Group, 741 Miller Dr., SE, Suite D-2, Leesburg, VA 20175, or e-mail to AmericasCivilWar@historynet.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited. America's Civil War welcomes editorial submissions but assumes no responsibility for the loss or damage of unsolicited material. Material to be returned should be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Send SASE for our author's guidelines.



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