Civil War Veterans- Confederate and Union

WARNING:  This post contains information about men who fought in the Civil War for both Confederate and Union armies.  Some readers may be uncomfortable with the content. My children inherited genes from both Confederate and Union soldiers.  This post shares the stories of their great-great-great grandfathers:   James T.L. Powell, a soldier in the Confederacy, and Jeremiah Tucker, a Union soldier.
home soldiers.jpg

Display in our living room.  Civil War soldiers were cross-stitched by my sister from a pattern issued during Civil War Centennial, ca. 1961.

James Thomas Lafayette Powell

James T.L. Powell is my husband’s paternal great-great- grandfather.  James T. L. Powell was born on May 13, 1835[1], in Georgia, probably Calhoun County, tentatively identified as the child of Hilliard Powell and Laney Faircloth.[2]  James married Deborah A. C. Daniel on June 28, 1857,in Sumter County, Georgia. [3] By 1860, James, school teacher, and Deborah moved to Calhoun County, Georgia, apparently with no children. [4]

James T.L. Powell enlisted in the Confederate States Army on March 4, 1861, in Morgan, Georgia and served as a private in Company C, 25th Regiment, Georgia Militia. By 1864, he achieved the rank of  2nd lieutenant.    At the Battle of Nashville on December 15 – 16, 1864, captured Confederate soldiers included Lieutenant Powell.  [5]  Transported first to the nearest military camp at Louisville, Kentucky,  James’  journey north continued four days later, on December 20, 1864, to a final destination of Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.  The  500-mile  journey from Nashville to Johnson’s Island probably consisted of travel by both train and on foot.

Powell_civil war records_draft3.jpg

Three of 18 records found in James T L Powell’s Civil War records files

The Prisoner of War Depot at Johnson’s Island consisted of 40 acres and held prisoners from April, 1862 to September, 1865. [6]  Less well known than the infamous Andersonville Prison in Sumter county, Georgia, conditions at over-crowded Johnson’s Island were  similarly desperate.  Ill-clad Confederate prisoners of war also suffered because of not being used to northern winters.[7]  Arriving in December, James shared the same raw conditions as other prisoners.

‘Discharged or paroled’  from Johnson’s Island on June 17, 1865, [8]  James made his way back home to Georgia and reunited with his wife, Deborah, in Calhoun County, Georgia.  The 900-mile trip home coiled through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.    James and Deborah had three children:  Alonzo ‘Alvey’, born about 1866 in Georgia ; James M. born about 1868 in Georgia, and Peter, born about 1871 in Texas. [9] Deborah probably died in Texas.

On April 22, 1877, James married  Catherine Brown, 17-year-old  daughter of R.L. Brown and Marguerite Puckett  in Cherokee County, Texas.[10]  They had three children:  Katherine Deborah , born August 15, 1879, in Cherokee County, Texas ; William B. , born February 19, 1882 in Texas and Jessie , born January, 1889 in Cherokee County, Texas. [11] The younger Katherine and her husband, James Walter Ellerbee, are my husband’s paternal great –grandparents.

James T. L. Powell died on September 27, 1890, and is buried in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. [12]

James TL Powell gravestone.jpg

Find A Grave Memorial ID #67392240.  Photo by Jerry Bohnett, taken ca 2011.

He may have been visiting his children when he died.   His widow married Elias Barker on September 1, 1892, in Cherokee County, Texas.  Mr. Barker died on August 20, 1900, leaving Catherine again a widow.  Catherine Brown Powell Barker died on March 8, 1944, in Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas. [13]

See also:  Johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison,  Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Civil War Prison:     https://johnsonsisland.heidelberg.edu/index.html

Jeremiah Tucker

Jeremiah Tucker is my maternal great-great grandfather.  Jeremiah Tucker was born on September 23, 1839 in New York, child of Thomas W. Tucker and Lavinia Clearwater.[14]   Jeremiah married two times, possibly three – to Margaret, surname either Irwin or Collins, and Allie Traver.  (See Blog posted on April 24, 2017, for some information about Margaret and Allie; report pending).

Jeremiah served as a private in the 56th New York Infantry Regiment, Company I. [15] His unit defended Washington, D.C., then fought in battles at Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia.  In July, 1863, they reinforced the black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the Fort Wagner, [South Carolina] siege, memorialized in the film, Glory. [16]  From there, the 56th New York continued south to Charleston, South Carolina, where the men mustered out. [17]  During the war, Jeremiah reportedly lost vision in one eye.

Jeremiah_Tucker_civil war records1

Partial service record for Jeremiah Tucker

After discharge, Jeremiah returned to his home in Greene County, New York,  where he married a woman named Margaret in 1867.[18] Together, they raised five children:  William Frederick, born 1868; Millie, born 1870; Augusta, born 1872; Mary E., born 1874; and Thomas George, born 1877.  Their oldest son, William Frederick Tucker, and his wife, Bertha Traver, are my maternal great-grandparents.  Another child, Lavinia, born in 1862 and recorded as ‘daughter’, resided with Jeremiah and Margaret as late as 1880. [19]

Jeremiah Tucker c

Original photograph given to my uncle, Esbon, from my great-aunt Viola. 

After the Civil War, Jeremiah became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.   Jeremiah died on April 16, 1914 at the age of 74 years, 6 months, and 23 days and is buried in his home town of Greenville, Greene county, New York., [20]

Interesting similiarities:

  1. Both men married for a second time after the Civil War.
  2. The first child born after the Civil War became our (my husband’s and mine) great- grandparents.
  3. After the war, both men faced a journey of about 900 miles to return to their homes. I expect that James’ journey was much more difficult than Jeremiah’s.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection/ Journal entry

This post will be seen by some as not politically correct, especially in light of recent events surrounding statues and images of Confederate leaders.  I was disturbed this summer by the acts of vandalism against statues of Confederate leaders. Destruction of property is a crime.  I understand that some are offended and/or uncomfortable with these images and the beliefs represented.  However, the Civil War is part of our American experience, whether we like it or not.  Brave men and women fought for their beliefs on both sides, much as men and women fought in the American Revolution and wars since.  History cannot be erased and is often retold.  Sometimes, we judge our ancestors’ actions according to current morals and ethics.  This can lead to the retelling of history according to standards different than those of the actual time period in which the historical event occurred.  I believe that the perspectives of the actual time period should be considered.

Some may say,  “But, your viewpoint is skewed because your husband’s ancestors fought on the side of the Confederacy.”  Perhaps.  I want my children to be proud of their heritage,  all of their heritage!  So, we proudly display pictures of both Confederate and Union soldiers in our home.  When we visit the grave of James T.L. Powell,  we will place a Confederate flag because he is a Confederate veteran.  And, my children know that they have both Confederate and Union blood flowing in their veins.

Enough of the soapbox.  What did I learn?  The horrors of Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp.  My husband’s family includes others who fought and died for the Confederacy.   The number of slaves owned by my husband’s ancestors varied widely from one to thirty or more.  I learned about the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R, veterans of the Union Army).    I was surprised when I looked up the location of Fort Wagner and immediately made the connection with the film.   I have no information about my mother’s family’s views about black persons although I do not recall ever hearing her say anything discriminatory or derogatory.

A federal law granting benefits to Confederate Civil War veterans passed in 1958. Information and misinformation abounds concerning the language and intent of this law and earlier, related  legislation.  If you are interested, here are three of many websites with information on this issue:

Confederate veterans benefits:   https://www.truthorfiction.com/confederate-soldiers-are-considered-u-s-veterans-under-federal-law/

“Confederate soldiers were not United States veterans.” Blog posted August 24, 2017 by James Howard.  Presents both sides of arguments about Confederate veterans and pardons for them.    https://jameshoward.us/2017/08/24/confederate-soldiers-not-united-states-veterans/

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.  National Park Serive, Department of the Interior. “Confederates in the Cemetery:  Federal Benefits & Stewardship”  :  https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/confederates-in-the-cemetery-federal-benefits-stewardship/

What helped ?  Access to online and print sources.  Careful review of documents revealed new information and insights.  Being open to the stories.  Searching for evidence to support conclusions.

What didn’t help? My negative reaction to those who seem to want to erase the Civil War from U.S. history, or water the history down to a version that is ‘politically correct’ according to today’s standards.  This formed the impetus for me to write this post. Incomplete sources and citations.

Summary:   This post describes two ancestors –men who fought for the Confederacy (Ellerbee family) and Union (Tucker family).  Individual stories grew from genealogical and historical records.  The post ends with a short rant about recent attacks on statues of Confederate leaders. I realize that genealogy blogs are not the usual place for political commentary and I recognize my own subjectivity on this subject.

[1] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed & printed 29 November 2012), memorial page for J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240, citing Wallace Cemetery (Evelyn, De Soto Parish, Louisiana), memorial created by Jerry & Donna Bohnett, photograph by Jerry & Donna Bohnett.

[2] Coolnethead, “Powell Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/42063713/person/20387548981/facts  : accessed 9 November 2017); “Hilliard Powell”,  birth and death data undocumented.

[3] “Sumter County, Georgia Marriage Book, 1850-1857”,  marriage record for James TL Powell & Deborah A. C. Daniel, Book 3, page 218.  Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives (http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/countyfilm/id/289112/rec/3  : accessed, downloaded & printed 24 March 2017), citing The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd District, p. 47 (penned), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

[5] “Carded records showing military service of soldiers who fought in the Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903-1927, documenting the period 1861-1865; ” entry for James L. L Powell (18 pages); digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com :  accessed, downloaded & printed, 8 November 2017);  ; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M266, record group 109, state Georgia, roll 0386.

[6] Depot of Prisoners of War on Johnson’s Island, Ohio.  (http://www.johnsonsisland.org/history.htm  : accessed, printed & downloaded 14 Nov 2011).

[7] James I. Robertson, Jr.  The Civil War: Tenting tonight.  The soldier’s life. (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1884), 113, 115.

[8] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.  Carded records, compiled service record, James T. L. Powell, Lt., Co. C, 25th  Regiment Georgia Infantry, Civil War, RG 109, NARA-Washington, D.C.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, pop. sch., Militia District 626, p. 55 (penned), p. 585 (stamped), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

[10] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

[11] Death certificates for Katherine Deborah Powell & William B. Powell, personal files of Susan Posten Ellerbee.  “Jessie Booker”, step-daughter listed with ‘Elide & Catherine Booker” in 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, pop.sch., Justice Pct 8, p. 284 (stamped), dwelling 16, family 16, Jessie Booker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1619.

[12] Find A Grave, J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240.

[13]  Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 9 November 2017); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982”, Austin, Texas.

[14] Jeremiah Tucker, death certificate (copy of original certificate stamped ‘for genealogical research only’),  no. 22078 (16 April 1914), New York Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[15]“Abstracts from original muster rolls for New York State infantry units involved in the Civil War: 56th Infantry,” New York State Archives; entry for Jeremiah G. Tucker; Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed 9 November 2017); citing New York State Archives, Digital Collections, Records of Military Service, Civil War, (http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/).

[16] Glory, directed by Edward Zwick (1989, Hollywood, California: TriStar Productions).

[17] “56th Infantry Regiment, Civil War,” NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center (https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/56thInf/56thInfMain.htm:   accessed 8 November 2017 ); citing The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 — records of the regiments in the Union army — cyclopedia of battles — memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. Volume II.

[18] 1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[19] 1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (penned), dwelling #1, family #1, Lavinia Tucker age 18; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[20] Jeremiah Tucker, Greenville, Greene county, New York; death certificate no. 22078 (16 April 1914).

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