Monday, August 19, 2013

I Shall Return!

My dear friends,

I have not forgotten you!  With my wife being gone for the funeral and me trying to get ready to start teaching again next week, I have been busier than a one legged man in an a$$ kicking contest.  I am busier now than I can ever remember being, and that includes the times when I had a heavy case load in my now previous life.

I PROMISE that I will have a Civil War related post for you by the end of the week.  I am elbow deep in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome right now, so the Roman civil wars are the ones that I am working one now.  So Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I don't need you to lend me your ears, but I will gladly accept topic suggestions should you have any.  Post them in the comments below or reply on Google plus.  All will be considered.

My name is Lee Hutch and I have been a busy Civil War Addict.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Death In The Family


My wife's grandmother passed away yesterday morning.  She was sitting in her favorite chair and reading a book at the time.  That is certainly how I want to go.  She lived in a small town in Missouri.  My wife is flying back Monday afternoon.  With my back issues, I am unable to travel long distances and I am having another series of injections on Monday morning.  The Civil War Addict blog with be silent for the next several days.  Please keep my wife and her family in your prayers, if you are religious.  If not, then send us some positive energy.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

From Garryowen to Glory


First let me state that I am still alive.  My wife did read Monday's post and thought it was funny.  So I was allowed to live and post again.  It was a close one.  Hell hath no fury like an angry German redhead.

As some of my loyal readers know by now, I live with five cats.  I have always felt that our animal companions should have "people" names that fit their personality.  So as a History Addict, mine are named after historical/literary personages that suit the cats' personalities.  One of my cats is named George Armstrong Custer, or "Autie" as we call him.  I have had him since he was about 3 weeks old.  He was separated from his mother at way too young an age (and abandoned) and so I took him in and he has been with me ever since.  Because of those circumstances, he did not develop normally and though he grew into a big cat, he is still mentally like a kitten.  He got his name because as I watched him play with my other cat (I only had two at the time), I noticed that Simon would run into the hallway and hide behind the door.  Autie would go barreling along after him only to be ambushed as soon as he rounded the corner.  He never could figure out that Simon was waiting right on the other side of the door.

It is odd that I have a cat named after General Custer.  He is not my favorite general by a long shot.  It isn't because of his battlefield record, which wasn't bad......other than that whole Little Big Horn thing.  His performance in the Civil War is quite remarkable.  I just don't like his personality.  I've just never been a fan of those with enormous egos, be it during the Civil War or today.  I have a framed painting of his last stand hanging above my entertainment center at home.  Every morning I am greeted with Custer's demise.  Not a bad way to start the day!  And it is a reminder to me to always make sure that I know what I am getting in to.

There are other generals with less than stellar personality traits.  Braxton Bragg comes to mind!  Perhaps even McClellan.  So, dear readers, here is my question of the day.  Is there a Civil War person that you would rather run backwards, naked through a cornfield than to have to be locked in a room with?

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.

Autie says share this blog with your friends!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Civil War in My Home


My wife and I have our own Civil War, of sorts.  Most of my ancestors wore the gray.  The few that she has that served during the Civil War wore blue.  Whenever I point out that I have far more ancestors that fought during the War than she did, she usually replies that it doesn't matter since her side won.  I'm sure that getting picked on doesn't bother her.  After all, she is from Missouri.  And she is a Chiefs fan.  However, three of her ancestors served in the 9th Illinois Infantry, and that is the subject of today's post.

Just as I had ancestors who came to this country on the eve of the War, so did my wife.  They came from Germany, the Rhineland to be exact.  Since she has red hair and still has a very German temperament, I have to be on my best behavior at all times.  Anyway, when the war began, Ferdinand Cornman enlisted in the original 3 month regiment that would become the 9th Illinois Infantry.  Once his original enlistment expired, he joined up again, this time bringing his brother Monroe with him.  They were assigned to Company "I".

This is where the story gets strange.  The 9th Illinois saw combat at Shiloh.  Quite a bit of combat.  Many of my ancestors also fought there.  At one point, my ancestors in the 20th Tennessee were directly facing the 9th Illinois.  My 3rd great-grandfather actually traded shots with hers!  Naturally, mine drove hers from the field.  But as she so often points out, they won the war.  A year and a half ago, we visited Shiloh together to see this spot for ourselves.  In my previous visits, I was single and so was only concerned with where my ancestors had been.  We found where this mini Civil War took place.  Think about it, if my ancestors (or hers) were better shots, one of us may not be here today.

I raided the bookstore at the park and purchased a really nice book entitled Eyewitness at the Battle of Shiloh.  While reading through it, I found the following quote on page 40.  It was given by W.J. McMurray of the 20th Tennessee.  He said the following "The Twentieth Tennessee was following the Ninth Illinois so closely that they were on a portion of them before they could form.  A little redheaded Irish boy from Company A and I captured a First Lieutenant and two privates at the second ravine."  My 3rd great grandfather was in Company A.  He was Irish born.  And he had red hair.  Talk about strange.

In 1862, the third Cornman brother, Horatio, enlisted.  He finished the war as a Sergeant.  Ferdinand, the first to answer the call to arms, was killed at Moalton, Alabama on March 21, 1864.  Monroe survived the war.  The 9th Illinois was a good unit with an excellent combat reputation.  It does make me happy to be associated with them, even though it may be by marriage.  Still, my ancestors drove hers from the field at Shiloh, regardless of the outcome of the war!

My name is Lee Hutch and I will be a dead Civil War Addict if my wife reads this post.

Photo taken by the aforementioned redhead.  Use at your own peril.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

From Huddled Masses to Heroes


Two posts ago, I referenced some of my Irish ancestors.  Really, all I have is Irish ancestors, so it is more of a matter of picking which once to reference at a given point.  Anyway, since many of us come to an appreciation of the Civil War based on our ancestor's experiences, I thought that sharing some of my ancestors' stories might be an appropriate topic of today's post.  If it turns out to be too lengthy, please forgive me in advance.

Let us travel back in time to the year 1845.  I had relatives living in numerous Irish Counties. (Antrim, Galway, Clare, Wexford, Cork, Fermanagh, and Mayo)  This post will focus on those leaving from Galway and Wexford.  At that time, my family lived as tenant farmers, as did much of the Irish peasants.  I hate to use that term since they weren't peasants prior to the occupation and exploitation of their country by a foreign government. Nonetheless, they were treated as second class citizens in their own country.  Those in Galway were Irish speaking and unable to read and write.  Those in Wexford spoke both Irish and English and had enough schooling to be able to write their names at least.  Their lives were hard.  But they carried on as their ancestors had done and their descendants, myself included, still do.  Then disaster struck.

We now know that the blight that attacked the potato crops in Ireland probably originated in North America, an irony not lost on me.  Some accounts from the west of Ireland say that they countryside was covered in a fog the night before the blight was first discovered in 1845.  Since it is mentioned in several sources, it might very well be true, thought that had nothing to do with the blight itself.  I can only imagine the horror experienced by my family when they found their crops had been ruined by this unknown enemy.  The first year did not effect the entire crop in the whole country, and so there was enough left to carry on.  And then it came again.  And again.  And again.  Soon, starvation and disease ravaged the countryside.  Scenes like the below were all too familiar

I don't know at what point my family decided to leave.  I don't know for sure if it was an actual choice or if they were evicted.  Regardless, they made their way down roads littered with corpses, sometimes witnessing starving dogs eating the human remains, only to book a passage on a ship that would turn out to be a almost as dangerous as remaining behind in Ireland.  The Coffin Ships that they sailed on were not meant for comfort.  In fact, some of the same ships that carried the Irish to America a few years before had carried slaves from Africa.  And in similar conditions.  My family would have spent most of their time below decks in truly disgusting conditions.  Imagine people who were already weakened from the hunger or disease crammed into a small space that rocked back and forth constantly.  They lived, ate, and slept in absolute filth.  The space reeking of unwashed bodies, vomit, urine, feces, and above all, death.  It was not abnormal for as many as a third of the passengers to die on this trip.  It has been said by smarter people than I that if you could walk from Cork to New York City along the body of the Atlantic that you could so so without ever stepping on the ocean floor.  You could just step from one Irish body to another the entire way.

These two branches of my family arrived in the United States but in two different locations.  One ship landed in New Orleans and one in New York.  My family who came in through New Orleans fared a little better than those who arrived in New York.  Though they faced hardships, it was nowhere near as bad as what my family faced in New York.  The following cartoon is just one of many.  (And keep in mind this one was published in 1871!)

But when war came, they threw in their lot with their adopted part of the country.  I really doubt the enlisted "for the cause" as it were.  They didn't seem like that kind of people really.  My great-grandmother told me once that the reason her grandfather enlisted was so that he could learn useful skills.  (She knew him and that quote is directly from him.)  I always wondered what that meant.  He was a child when he came over with his family on the New Orleans trip.  I later found at what.  He was an active Fenian.  His service saw him at all of the major battles in the Western Theater and he came through it all without a scratch.  Talk about luck of the Irish!  On the New York side, my third great grandfather, who also made the trip as a teenager, enlisted in the 160th New York Infantry and was killed in Louisiana.  He is buried in the National Cemetery in Baton Rouge.  He gave his life for a country that, at the time, scorned and ridiculed him in the manner of the cartoon above.

I don't know why I am making this lengthy post.  I don't know if you are even still reading it at this point.  My ancestors were tough, proud people.  They fought against the English invaders of their country and they fought for their respective sides here in the United States as well.  England tried to eradicate them from the face of the earth.  The United States was less than welcoming.  But they survived.  And as a consequence, I am here today because of that strength.  Allow me to close with a quote from the book Paddy's Lament by Thomas Gallagher.  You will find it on page 295.  When speaking of the perseverance of the Irish immigrant, he said the following "But whatever name he goes by now.....he will forever, with his battered high hat, ragged swallow-tailed coat, dangling breeches, and bare feet, haunt not only Irish memory, but also the halls and chambers of Westminster Palace, where Parliament tried for so long, without success, to do him in."

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict who only hopes that I can live in a manner to bring honor to my ancestors.