Bonding With the Past
Great stuff on the Iron Brigade in the March issue! I’m a reenactor, and several years ago when I participated in a living history event for the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum, Bill Brewster was kind enough to take a few of us (Scott Cross was present) on a tour of the museum after hours and then down to the vaults. I got to examine many of the relics in the “Pieces of the Iron Brigade” article. As a matter of fact, the museum had just been given the Hardee hat worn by Philander Wright, and it looked far worse in person than it did in the photo in your article. I also saw Lucius Fairchild’s vest along with a red silk handkerchief he had stuffed under the vest to staunch the flow of blood after he had been wounded at Gettysburg. The handkerchief was in very good condition, with a large dark (black) bloodstain. Providing pictures of the artifacts brings one closer to the day-to-day life of the soldier and helps develop a more personal bond to the individuals who fought in the war.
Mark E. Grimm
North Royalton, Ohio
In reference to the image of the color guard of the Iron Brigade’s 2nd Wisconsin Infantry that appeared on pages 22-23 of the March issue, I have the following questions: Would the color guard be comprised of members of Company C? I believe I read somewhere that Company C of every regiment was the color guard. Is it possible to find the names of the men in this picture?
I am asking this question because some of my ancestors were in Company C of the 2nd Wisconsin. James W. Hyde mustered in on August 5, 1862, one of three sons of the widow of Luther A. Hyde, Mary Hyde.
All three of Mary Hyde’s sons died as a result of wounds received in battles during the Civil War. They fought at First Bull Run, Second Bull Run, the Wilderness, Gainesville, Gettysburg and Spotsylvania.
I am proud of the example that these and so many others have left for posterity. Thank you for honoring the men of the Iron Brigade. Keep up the good work.
Editor’s note: Two men are identified in the image. The second man from the right is Color Corporal George W. Holloway, and the third man from the right is Color Sergeant James Gow. Being in the color guard was a great honor, and deserving men throughout each regiments’s 10 companies could be selected. Company C was generally always designated as the color company and placed at the center of each regiment. During an advance into battle, the color guard would march a few paces ahead of Company C, serving as a guide for the entire regiment. The exposed position and the large flags of the color guard made it a conspicuous target, and therefore attrition among the men in the guard and Company C was usually very high, as the fates of your ancestors indicates.
Another Piece of the Brigade
I liked the excellent article “Pieces of the Iron Brigade,” and own an ID disc that belonged to Private John Giesbers of Company E of the 6th Wisconsin. When Giesbers mustered into the regiment on July 16, 1861, he gave his age as 28. He is shown on the July/August 1862 bimonthly return as being “Present,” so he was in the fight at Brawner’s Farm and may have been wearing this disc. John is listed in his service records as “missing in action” and wounded on September 14, 1862, at South Mountain. How his ID disc survived is unknown. Possibly someone in the unit took it from him after he was wounded, or it may have been one of a pair and this one was sent home as a keepsake.
Turning Iron Into Gold
Thank you for the Iron Brigade material in the March 2007 issue. I have read three books on these remarkable men in the past year, but found your article to be, if not as voluminous, more spirited, insightful and memorable than any of those works. The deft treatment of the layout, with the inclusion of equipment, turned iron into gold for me. If anyone thinks that these patriots were just dandies in thigh-length frock coats with white leggings and plumed Hardee hats, your article dispelled that for all time. Congratulations.
Smalls’ Large Inspiration
I work for Vision Quest, located in Franklin, Pa., a program for troubled youth. Vision Quest provides youngsters with extraordinary experiences and relationships that allow them to redefine and reach their highest potential. One of the things we provide the youth with is information about extraordinary people in American history. A few examples are the Buffalo Soldiers, Charles Young and many others. The March 2007 article “The Unstoppable Mr. Smalls” will provide our children with information about another one of our country’s extraordinary men. Our youths truly need to have some heroes to look up to in this day and age, and the article provides a great example of a man they can call a hero.
Couldn’t Be Morton
I 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.
Fleming stated that on the night of April 6, during the Battle of Shiloh, an artillery train (possibly Morton’s Battery) separated the 9th in two. It could not have been Morton’s Battery because Lieutenant John Morton was a prisoner of war at that time, after being captured at Fort Donelson, Tenn.
Morton’s Battery was formed in December 1862 and served under General Nathan B. Forrest for the rest of the war.
I write in reference to Norman Shannon’s article “Canadians Served With Both Sides in the Civil War” in January 2007 America’s Civil War. The claim that 14,000 Canadians died overstates the case.
For the past couple of decades I have been researching those of Canadian birth (i.e., British North American birth) who participated in the American Civil War. I now have on file the names and data of 47,000 individuals. Of the 47,000, some 5,000 perished. That is one man in 10. The number 14,000 presumes a death rate of one man in three. Not even the prison at Elmira, N.Y., let alone the one at Andersonville, Ga., had a death rate that high.
While it is true that Canadians served on both sides, based on my study of the subject, for every Canadian who fought for the South, more than 200 fought for the North. As a matter of interest, of those Canadians who fought for the North, one man in 50 was a Canadian-born black.
That said, the last surviving Canadian-born veteran that I’m aware of was a Confederate. Donat Courville, who was born in Quebec in 1844, served in the 7th Louisiana Cavalry and died in Louisiana in 1943.
Just as a closing point, the last Civil War veteran to die in Canada was an American, George St. Pierre Brooks (no relation). Born a slave in Kentucky in 1845, Brooks died in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1948. During the late unpleasantness, Brooks had served as an irregular with the 7th Ohio Cavalry.
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