View Full Version : Ancestors

04-26-2006, 05:06 PM
I am new to this forum, my question is: Do most of the reenactors have ancestors that actually fought on one side or the other.

04-26-2006, 05:22 PM
Most anyone who had ancestors in the U.S. at the time of the civil war by definition had some ancestor who fought in the civil war (blacks likely excepted, but not necessarily). I never really thought about it before, but yes, since I had ancestors here at that time there must surely be someone! I am not very interested in geneology so have never investigated specifically who though. I figure my family's story is about like very many peoples', so by investigating history I am learning more about them, too. My favorite family story is about an aunt of my grandmother's grandmother near Darlington S. Carolina who took the horses and jewelry down to some hiding place near a creek when the Union soldiers were passing by (supposedly Sherman, but who knows how that might have been garbled.) She was a young teenager. It was thought this would just be overnight, but it wound up being a week or longer and everyone was terrified about her fate.

04-27-2006, 10:23 AM
Out of the 21 people on the roster in my local group, 5 had ancestors in the war. Out of the five, one had two ancestors, two share a common ancestor. The other 16 people in the group had ancestors who were still shovelling manure in Europe at the time of the CW.

04-27-2006, 10:46 AM
Because our whole family does a citizen's impression, rather than a military one, we focus on what was going on outside the military structure. While not everyone did have anscestors who directly fought, if you're alive today, I'll guarantee you at least ONE anscestor who was living in the 1861-1865 range. LOL

Our impressions shift to meet the needs of the event scenarios, so we don't portray any particular relative for the most part. For my family, we'd have to be in Kansas to be place/time accurate; for my husband's family, we'd have to be in Scotland and Port Natal, South Africa.

Delia Godric
04-27-2006, 02:48 PM
Are you asking distant or direct ancestors?
In my case either is a yes. I have ggg-grandfathers and ggg-uncles on my father's side that were in the war. Mom's side were Quakers or still in Europe. I have a cousin some number of times removed that was Captian on the Monitor. Silly, I know more about the distant relative than the direct.

Anna Worden

05-10-2006, 08:38 PM
Do most of the reenactors have ancestors that actually fought on one side or the other.

It depends on your definition of ancestor--not all have direct relatives who fought in the war. In my case, I haven't come across a great-great grandfather on either side of my family that fought. I have come across several distant relatives that did however.

That being said, that wasn't my motivation to get involved in this hobby. I grew up with an interest in the American Civil War and reenacting seemed a logical extension of that interest.

Linda Trent
05-27-2006, 01:25 PM
I have a great grandfather who fought in the 117th OVI/1st OHA. And four 2g grandfathers who fought in the war -- all paternal. My mother's side were all corporate officers at Barney Smith Car Works, which built luxury passenger cars, but went to building troop carriers during the war -- they were exempt by occupation. I also have uncles and such, but they're not direct, and I'm assuming you just want direct.

All of my relatives fought for the Union, but at events I generally have to portray a Confederate sympathizer as most of the events I attend require CS civilian portrayals -- though for the 1857 camping trip coming up, I'll be loosely portraying my ggg grandmother.

Linda Trent

05-27-2006, 07:03 PM
I had a G-Grandfather who was in the Mich. 8th Cav. and also a survivor of Andersonville. He lost his life when a child ran into him running around a corner and knocking him down at the age of 86. But he said he was lucky and did live a long and good unike alot of his Pards. I have his orginal discharge paper and some things he had while in Andersonville, priceless!!!

05-27-2006, 10:04 PM
My unit the 8th Illinois Cav. has some members that had some ancestor in the 8th. And then some that were in other groups. I thought my ancestors moved to Canada during the war until I found out that 5 relatives were in the war. I know of one that went to Missouri to join a Cavalry there.

So yes, if the family was in America during the war, it is a very good possiblity someone was fighting.

05-28-2006, 07:44 PM
who fought in the War. 17 were Confederate and 3 were Federal. Almost all were wounded or killed/died.
ew taylor

05-28-2006, 10:38 PM
I had several ancestors who did. Also everyone in my unit did as well except one and his family came over in the early 1900's. Matter of fact most of us had ancestors in the unit we portray.


06-15-2006, 07:40 PM
I have direct ancestors - one being the Captain of the 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery.

Our geneology has been very well documented and we had 137 in the Civil War.

We also had one at Andersonville - Amos Stearns who survived and mustered out.

At Antietam one year we had books for folks to sign designating their ancestors and turned it over to the Park Service...we did this for Gburg one year too.

Lorrie Stearns Proal
9th Mass/12th Georgia

bill watson
06-17-2006, 01:29 PM
No, not all reenactors have ancestors who fought in the war. I believe most do not, and I also believe there are quite a few who don't have any idea if they had ancestors in the war or not.

06-17-2006, 09:25 PM
I became interested in the Civil War because of where I live (Middletown, MD). Studying the Civil War got me interested in family genealogy. Looking on the NPS Civil War Soldier and Sailor's list, I found one soldier with the same name as my great, great, great, great grandfather. He was Parshall Keeney of the 50th PA Vol. Inf., Co. K. I ordered his complete military service record from the National Archives. He was a young man, not my grandfather, rather my g-g-g-g grandfather's nephew who had the same name. He was wounded at the Battle of South Mountain, Sept. 14, 1862 and died soon after from his wounds. South Mountain is less than five miles from where I live. Parshall presented a puzzle as to where he was finally buried. Family history had him buried in Fredericksburg, VA. I suspected with a severe mortal wound, he did not travel that far. Fredericksburg, VA is often confused with Frederick, MD which is just east of South Mountain. With the help of the staff of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, I found Parshall Keeney (written Purcell Kinney) admitted into a hospital in Frederick, MD where he died 18 Oct 1862. He was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick and reburied at Antietam under the name Partial Kennedy. As a result of this documented research, Antietam National Cemetery is applying to have his headstone changed to his actual given name. I couldn't have imagined a more interesting genealogical foray--and if I do nothing else in life, I have at least helped reunite one Civil War soldier back with his family and his name.

As it turns out, I have three great uncles and over twenty great cousins who fought in various cav. and inf. regiments from PA and NY. Just about all the fighting-aged men in the towns where my family lived enlisted. My direct ancestors were all older men or children or women keeping up the farms short handed. This research has made me realize on a very personal level the impact of the Civil War on the history of my family and my country.

06-17-2006, 09:50 PM
I did not mention in my last post about my ancestors-- I am a reenactor, but not currently with the PA or NY units my family served under. I am either representing a private in the US Signal Corps or Confederate artillery. Indeed, I was just at a reenactment where I bumped into reenactors representing a unit several of my ancestors fought and died serving. When I told them about my family members and invited a conversation on their regiment, I was told by their so-called soldiers "we're the party regiment" "don't know anything about the regiment, I just keep the beer cold or drink it before it gets warm". I am so proud these men represent my family members--NOT!

I am,


Audrey Scanlan

bill watson
06-21-2006, 05:00 PM
"don't know anything about the regiment, I just keep the beer cold or drink it before it gets warm".

I'd find that beer and adulterate it with unspeakable biological material. :-)

"Doc" Nelson
11-28-2006, 09:34 PM
. . . most of the guys in my unit have an ancestor or 2 that had fought on either side during the War.

My 3rd-Great Grandfather entered into service in 1863 as a Surgeon and, was assigned to the 4th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He remained on the 4th GA's roster, as the Surgeon, until paroled in May of 1865.

Prior to the War, he was a Blacksmith/Gunsmith. As a Gunsmith, he made the "Nelson Rifle", these were said to be the most accurate rifles of the time. They were also said to have been used extensively by the Confederate Army but, I have yet to find any information supporting this. I'm still researching it. He has a town named after him, "Nelson, Georgia".

11-29-2006, 08:48 AM
I have 2 Yankee gg-grandfathers--Armstrong Abbott (59th Indiana Infantry) and Byrd Franklin (65th Kentucky Enrolled Militia), 1 Confederate gg-grandfather--Reuben Henderson Morgan (Scott Count (VA) Militia), a few gx-uncles on both sides, and well over 100 cousins (a few times removed) on both sides. Most were from Scott County, VA, and nearby areas of VA and KY, an area that was deeply divided. For example, Byrd's wife Susannah (Strong) Franklin was the niece of my gg-uncle Hiram F. Strong, a surgeon with one of John Hunt Morgan's units. There were numerous Strongs on both sides of the conflict.
Mick Cole

11-29-2006, 05:33 PM
My ancestor served in the 1st New York Inf., Quartermaster Robert G. Walmsley...one of the first to answer the call. He was my great x4 uncle, on my fathers side, moms' side is all Greek and Italian so we can assume nothing there :razz:. I have his discharge papers, CDV collection showing many members of the 1st, ID'd, with Brady and "Union Photographic Gallery, Newport News, VA" backmarks, and a large portion of the flag of the USS Cumberland, sunk by the CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, he traded for it from a pard who got it somehow. Also at one point we had a sketch of him done in pencil by a soldier who admired him...and it was brought into school for show and tell by a close (nameless) relative and never returned :shock:.