The Miracle in Savannah

I have a friend at work who is retired Navy and now working as a homicide detective.  He and I have bonded over genealogy and the military.  I know, I have never been truly a military buff, but as I have delved into my genealogy and realize what a presence the military has in my family, I have grown more familiar.  With this in mind, I began thinking about George Wiley Whitehead and the miracle that happened in Savannah, Georgia.

I wrote about him in 2013.  You can read about him here:

https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/george-wiley-whitehead/

 

What I didn’t know at the time was how his company, The Echols Artillery, was a part of a book that recalled their involvement in the War of Northern Aggression, or The War Between the States.

The book, This They Remembered,  written by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Oglethorpe County Chapter, documents four companies who fought in that war.  I have two relatives that are documented in this book, Columbus Augustus Stevens and George Wiley Whitehead both which whom served in the Echols Artillery, and both of whom are my second great grandfathers.

Below is a short timeline as described in the book.

Timeline:

1 March 1862               Echols Artillery organized and mustered in.

19 August 1862            Company ordered to Atlanta, Georgia

6 January 1863             Company received orders to report to General Howell Cobb at Quincy, Florida.

Mid March 1863           Company left Quincy, marching through Tallahassee to Camp Leon then to                                          Brokaw.  (Comprised of a six-gun battery; G.W. Whitehead, 1st Gunner),  Private                                          C.A. Stevens among many soldiers).

27 May 1863                 Company ordered to Ft. Gadsden and Battery Cobbs, both on the Apalachicola                                         River. Conditions here were poor, due to swamp conditions.

January 1864                Company reunited back at Camp Leon.

“In the short space of six months the company had been transformed from the finest and robust body in the service to a company of weak and sallow invalids.  Twelve had already died and many more were stricken never to recover (page 122).”

9 February 1864            One section ordered to Mosely Hall.  Glanders disease, is a contagious, acute or                                           chronic, usually fatal disease of Equidae broke out among the horses.

1 June 1864                    Company ordered to Tallahassee.  The enemy was in Jacksonville.

Late November 1864     Ordered to Savannah, Georgia

“Sherman was approaching Milledgeville on his famous march to the sea (p. 123).”

17 December 1864        G.W. Wounded in Action (G.W. Whitehead Pension Papers)

George Wiley Whitehead

George Wiley Whitehead

“The Echols Artillery was in charge of a siege battery on the Augusta road, where, during the ten days siege they were engaged in firing shot and shell and in return received close attention from the enemy’s sharp-shooters, but so well protected was the battery that the casualties were few, G. W. Whitehead seriously wounded (p. 123).  It is unknown what happened to G.W. Whitehead after he was wounded.  Family lore suggests he was captured by the Union.

This is what Chloe Adams Whitehead wrote for the North Georgia Life in 1965:

“Wounded and left for dead on the battlefield, George regained consciousness to find a Yankee officer standing over him.  He gave the Masonic sign which the office returned.  The Blue Coat carried his wounded Masonic brother to his own camp where he was given medical attention and as soon as George was able to travel, he was exchanged for a Yankee prisoner.  George returned to Oglethorpe and married Cena in 1866 (North Georgia Life, 1965, p.6)”

21 December 1864        Company was withdrawn from Savannah.  The company boarded a train to                                           Pocataligo, Georgia.  For those unfamiliar, this is located very close to                                            Oglethorpe County, where the Echols Artillery formed.

1 January 1865             Company ordered to James Island, Fort Jackson (near Charleston, SC).

17 February 1865          “All the works around Charleston were evacuated, the Echols Artillery going out                                              with the rest, marching all night and encamping at Monk’s Corner (p. 124)”.

Unknown 1865             Company marched from Monk’s Corner to Kingstree to Cheraw, they faced the                                          enemy there, and had to withdraw and marched via Rockingham to Fayettsville,                                          NC.  They then marched in the direction of Raleigh.

16 March 1865              Company along with General Hardee made a stand; however losing a few.

19 March 1865              Company joined General Johnson’s forces at the Battle of Bentonville.  The                                          Union won this battle.

21 March 1865              Company along with General Johnson moved to Smithfield, NC.  The Echols                                          Artillery had been reduced to 43 men.  The effects of two years in Florida made                                          them weak and frail.

10 April 1865                Company was sent in the direction of Raleigh however, they continued westward                                          to Greensboro where a surrender took place.

26 April 1865                Confederate Troops surrender.

27 April 1865                C.A. Stevens was present at last call, but G.W. Whitehead was not.

 

The important thing is that George came home from the war and married Cena Ann Mathews.  In 1889, he completed an application for pension due to his injury in the war.  He was granted $50 per month.  In 1990, the effects of his head injury had left him partially paralyzed and he reapplied for pension and received $100.  In the pension application, his physician wrote in part:

“I hereby certify that one George W. Whitehead was wounded in top of head during the war between the states and at the time he received said wound he complained of a numbness through his whole system.  Which has recurred periodically ever since until about a year ago when this numbness became permanent and brought about a partial paralysis.  He has since that time been entirely helpless and most of the time bedridden (Confederate Pension Applications).”

GWW Pension Papers

GWW Pension Papers

George Wiley Whitehead died 31 May 1891.  He was 62 years old.  He left behind his wife and 7 children.  The youngest child at the time of his death was Theordoric, who was only 8 years old.  If he hadn’t survived the war, I wouldn’t be here today.

CSA Marker for GWW

CSA Marker for GWW

When I write about my ancestors, I feel closer to them.  I believe in telling their stories, our lives are enriched.  Coming home from a war wounded he married a sweet girl, 16 years younger than him.  I wonder what Cena’s parents, Raleigh and Mary Mathews, thought.  Did they approve?  Did he prove to them that although he was wounded he was worthy of her hand in marriage? In addition to farming, George became a county surveyor, as well as a County Commissioner.  We do know that he ended up with lots of land.  In his will, he mentions 270 acres that the Home Place is on; as well as 450 acres that he and Obadiah Stevens; however, it also states some is to be sold to pay off some debts.  The Home Place is still owned by the family.  My Cousin Sara has taken on the huge responsibility of two of our families homes, one in Carlton and the Homeplace in Oglethorpe County.  To her, I am most grateful.

 

 

Sources:

United Daughters of the Confederacy. (1986). This they remembered: The history of the four companies and those in other companies, who went from Oglethorpe County to serve in the War Between the States : the Gilmer Blues, the Oglethorpe Rifles, the Tom Cobb Infantry, the Echols Artillery. Columbus, Ga: Brentwood University Press.

North Georgia Life, The Oglethorpe Echo, February 17, 1965, “The Whitehead Homeplace recalls Rural Life of Yesterday.”

Confederate Pension Applications. Ancestry.com. Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

A Revolutionary Connection

One of the great things about genealogy and these National holidays is that I can put my family in the context of the times.  Therefore, this weekend as we celebrate the birth of our nation 240 years ago, I can marvel in the fact that I know that my ancestor Benjamin Sublett was a patriot fighting England for our Independence.

Benjamin was born to Pierre Louis Soblet and his wife Marte Martain on 23 April 1733 in Goochland, Virginia.  Benjamin is my fifth great-grandfather.  Benjamin was the sixth child born in this union.  His parents were Huguenots.  They fled France to Virginia in 1700.

Benjamin grew up with five brothers and a sister.  Both his parents were deceased prior to the Revolution.  Benjamin married Elizabeth Molly Jordan when he was 29 years old (24 June 1762).  Together they had nine children.

Benjamin was part of a variety of Regiments during the Revolutionary war, including the 5th and 11th Regiment.  According to a Sons of the American Revolution Membership application, Benjamin was first a Private and then a corporal in Captain James Grey’s Company of Foot; he was a Corporal of Major Stephenson’s Company.  He enlisted on 6 December 1776 and was discharged on 9 December 1779.  Benjamin has the distinction of having served under General George Washington at Valley Forge (source: Valley Forge Muster Roll).  He was discharged as a Sergeant (Cameron, 2008).

Muster Roll

Muster Roll

On 20 June 1783, Benjamin received a land grant (200 acres of land) as payment for his service to his country.  It was this land grant that moved the family to Kentucky (Kentucky Secretary of State, 2016).  Benjamin was fifty years old.  It is somewhat unclear exactly when the family moved to Kentucky.  It appears to be between 1788 and 1800. As his youngest daughter Mary Scott Sublett was born in Charlotte, Virginia on 12 February 1788 and his wife died in Kentucky in 1800.  I will have to look at deed records to get a more precise time.

Military Land Grant

Military Land Grant

Benjamin died around 1815-1816* and is buried in Highland Cemetery, Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky.  He was 82 years old.

*There seems to be some confusion on his date of death.  The marker indicates 1809; however, there seems to be information that there was a will dated 19 May 1815 where he bequeathed his property to his son Benjamin Branch Sublett.  His will was probated February 1816 (Source: Allen, 2008).

Benjamin Sublett Tombstone

Benjamin Sublett Tombstone

Sources:

Valley Forge Muster Roll, Retrieved on 3 of July, 2016 at     http://valleyforgemusterroll.org/muster.asp?id=VA33806

Allen, Cameron, The Sublett (Soblet) Family of Manakintown, King William Parish Virginia, 45th Anniversary Edition, 2008.

Kentucky Secretary of State, Military Register and Land Records, retrieved on July 4, 2016 at http://apps.sos.ky.gov/land/military/revwar/Revdetail.asp?Type=v&warrant=0899.0

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards!  Happy 4th of July!

Remembrance Poppies

Has it really been three years?

I got an email from Word Press stating that it has been three years I have been blogging.  I know now that the goal I set for myself was unrealistic.  What really happens when I decide to write a blog, is I have to go research the missing pieces.  This in itself is a great exercise because it focuses my attention on the subject at hand.  However, what it also does is slow things way down.  It takes a lot of time to explore backwards.  I want to have some facts but I also wish for some character sketches as well.  But please know if I am not blogging I am still doing the research that I love and uncovering the mysteries of our families past.

 

Today is Memorial Day, as I sit here and type, I am thinking of all my ancestors that fought in the wars of our country.  I also think of all the men and women who have served.  Whatever you do today, take a minute of quiet reflection and think about all the soldiers we have lost during our wars.  Then take a minute to think of the multitude of family members they left behind.  There have been great poems and memorials written and constructed to remember the fallen.

Below is the poem, In Flanders Fields, by Major John McCrae, a Canadian Doctor and Artillery Commander.  It is believed he wrote this poem after giving a burial service for his friend during a battle of WWI.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Found on http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

 

Moina Belle Michael, an American teacher, wrote a poem in response to In Flanders Field.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2

She then conceived of the idea of wearing poppy flowers as a way to remember and commemorate the fallen soldiers and also to benefit them with the sale of poppies.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

If you see a Veteran today asking for a donation, offering you a plastic poppy flower, you will know the true reason for this gesture.

Who are the fallen heroes in your life?  Take a moment today to remember them, I know I will.

 

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day was not always Memorial Day. It started out as Decoration Day. A day dedicated to decorating the graves of the civil war dead.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

– James A. Garfield, May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery

(Source: http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/memorial-day/history/)

At least three of my Great-Grandfathers fought in the Civil War, George Wiley Whitehead, Columbus Augustus Stevens and George Bland Sublett. Two other Great Grandfathers were German and not in the US at the time. I still have to do some research on the other three, but since they lived in Virginia during the Civil War, I am thinking maybe they did as well. However, I will try to refrain from searching for that now, and focus on this blog. I had several others fight in both the Great World Wars.

My Grand Uncle, George Stevens Whitehead, was a Rhodes Scholar, and left the United States in 1916 for Balliol College, in Oxford England. He and many others left school in 1917 in order to join cause. In fact, when we were visiting our Georgia relatives last week, we read a series of letters written to Papa (Walter Everett) by George. One of them included a message from King George V, about the great duty they had to their country.

While thinking about the great sacrifices my ancestors made so that we could live in a free and democratic society, I am engulfed in patriotism. I am deeply humbled by their acts of courage. I honor them by paying tribute to these brave individuals. Today, we raised our flag and bowed our heads for those brave soldiers and their families that made the ultimate sacrifice. I write this blog and think about the individuals in my family that have given so freely of themselves so that I can be free.

Therefore, whether you raised a flag, run in a Memorial Day run, or wear poppy red, we will remember the valor of the dead. 

Below are the men in my family that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Larry Whitehead

Larry Whitehead


Fred Whitehead

Fred Whitehead


Walter E. Whitehead

Walter E. Whitehead