Monday, July 11, 2011

Civil War Ancestry Research and The Official Records

I stayed home from work today with a pulled muscle in my neck, so I ended up reading a lot of 'The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies' and researching my ancestor; Pvt William Henry Stiner of Company E, 2nd Tennessee Mounted Infantry (US). You can learn more about him here. The Official Records are online here thanks to Cornell University. So far I've found 24 pages worth of records and correspondence regarding the 2nd Tennessee. I'm pretty sure my wife thinks I'm secretly writing a book.

Pvt William Henry Stiner

As noted in my first post about him, he was captured at the battle of Rogersville TN. Below are a few excerpts from his Regiment commanders report of the battle:

No. 2
Report of Major Daniel A. Carpenter, Second Tennessee (mounted) Infantry.
Knoxville, Tennessee,
September 14, 1864.

Sir: Having but recently been released from a rebel prison, I have the honor to embrace the earliest opportunity to submit the following report of the affair which fled to the capture of a large part of the Second East Tennessee Mounted Infantry on the 6th of November last: ...

...By this time Colonel Garrard arrived; he had lost his hat and was, seemingly, very much excited. He stated the rebels were coming from Rogersville, and ordered me to move with my regiment in that direction, to the edge of the Woods, and advance two companies as skirmishers. Colonel Garrard accompanied me, pointing out the position he wished my regiment to occupy. He requested me to tie my horses and put as many men in the fight as I could; that we would not try to escape, but whip the rebels if possible; ordering me to hold the position assigned me at all hazards until further orders from him. I ordered Captain Cariis to move forward with companies C, G, and B as skirmishers. He did so, and soon met the enemy and commenced a brisk skirmish, driving them back some 300 yards. I then ordered Captain Cams to return to me.
At or near this time the rebels charged and captured the two guns east of Creek near the house of Mr. Russell. They then moved toward our camp. The Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was formed near the camp and supporting the two guns yet remaining in our possession. Colonel Garrard sent me orders to send three companies to support the two guns. I started three companies under command of Captain Cams; when he got in sight of the point ordered to, he discovered the rebels had taken the guns. They (the rebels) raised the yell and commenced advancing from every direction on my position. I sent an orderly to inform Colonel Garrard if he did not assist me I would soon be completely surrounded. By this time Captain Cams returned; he had been cut off from me by the rebels, and very nearly the whole of the three companies captured. Captain Cams informed me that Colonel Garrard and the whole of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry had left the field, and were across the Holston River...

...When the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry left the field they, the two companies and 50 detailed men, were compelled to fall back to my position. A number of them were captured in returning. At this time I did not have more than 200 men who had ammunition, and was completely surrounded by at least 4,000 rebels, who were within 75 yards of us, demanding a surrender. They had already possession of my horses, and were killing and wounding my men at a fearful rate. I summoned the officers of my regiment and consulted with them as to what measures best to adopt. All instantly agreed that a surrender was the only thing possible, so I at once surrendered myself and command. William Russell, of Company A, was shot and killed after we had grounded arms.
The officers and men of Captain Phillips (Second Illinois) battery discharged their duty nobly.
We were marched the whole of the night following our capture. During that night a number of the men effected their escape...


DeanM said...

Great stuff - sorry about your injury, but it sounds like you used your time off from work very productively. Your ancestor was a brave man - a dragoon, it sounds like. Anyway, I like how they spoke & wrote back then, "Hold the position all hazards..." and, "...not try to escape, but whip the rebels if possible." I think you could write a great book too. Regards, Dean

Captain Richard's miniature Civil War said...

Josiah, is that your collection of books??, pretty impressive. I like the new look of your blog.

Josiah M said...

I agree, Dean. Modern English is way too casual!

I WISH it was my collection, Captain Richard! But, I just found that picture online.

joe5mc said...

Good stuff, Josiah. Is there anything better than digging through the complete records.

Back before the internet made it more home friendly, I used to spend hours in the UNC University library. They had a complete set of the records. I looked into buying a set myself, but they run about $2,000.

Josiah M said...

I agree. I love reading other peoples written work on the Civil War, and I'm sure that a large amount of research went into their work. But reading letters and reports from the soldiers that were there seems to give a better understanding of the actual people involved, and bring it to life so to say.

I've considered trying to buy a few of the volumes- especially any that pertain to my ancestors. I don't think I could ever convince my wife to let me buy a whole set. (And then where would I put it anyways?)

Eamon Bisbee said...

Josiah, I am related to Major Daniel Carpenter, in fact there is a painting of him hanging in my grandfather's home. I am very interested in history, especially the Civil War, and I would be very grateful if you could send me the full text of his report, or a link to it. my email address is mrtumnus1@hotmail dot com

JM said...

Eamon Bisbee,
E-mail sent. Let me know if I can help in any other way!

Drew Gruber said...

Can you please contact me about this image of Pvt William Henry Stiner? Thanks
drewagruber at gmail dot com

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