Veterans Day

US_Flag_BacklitNinety-five years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later, after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and to the Korean War, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.

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Hiram Scott’s family gets even larger

1862 ?- Horace ScottIn previous posts, I’ve written about Horace Scott’s (my 3rd-great-grandfather) service in the Civil War, and discovering that his father Hiram Scott (my 4th-great-grandfather) enlisted as well, after Horace fell ill from tuberculosis in 1864. Hiram joined his son in Company C of the 95th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, where he contracted and died of dysentery. From Hiram’s wife’s claim for her widow’s pension, I learned that Horace had a younger brother (Winfield) who was too young to fight in the war and who stayed home in Illinois with his mother.

While looking for more information on Horace and Hiram’s service in Company C of the 95th Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, I came across the Illinois Civil War database, hosted by the Illinois State Archives. Using this database, I discovered that there were not just two Scotts in Company C of the 95th Regiments, but four. There was also a 19-year-old Willard J. Scott and an 18-year-old James H. Scott. Were these yet more brothers of Horace? Scott is not an uncommon name, so I compared the details of the four records (below) to see if I could see any patterns.
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The Civil War claims another ancestor

Chalmette cemeteryThe more I research our family members who were alive during the Civil War, the more I realize just how profoundly the Civil War affected our family. The number of family members who enlisted and fought in the War is impressive enough on its own, but when I tally the number of ancestors who came back wounded or chronically ill, later dying of their injuries, or who died while at war and never returned home, I begin to realize just how horrible that war really was. By any measure, the Civil War was the most devastating war this country has ever experienced: 625,000 deaths (some say as many as 850,000 dead), an average of 600 deaths every day, and a full 2% of the total population killed (not just 2% of fighting-age men; but 2% of the total of men, women, children, the elderly, everyone). Furthermore, two-thirds of these Civil War deaths were due not to combat, but to disease—dysentery, malaria, cholera, pneumonia, measles, typhoid, and tuberculosis were the deadliest of these diseases, causing slow, lingering deaths.

I’ve written several posts about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Horace L. Scott, including one about how he contracted tuberculosis in 1864 (from which he died in 1870) while taking part in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. Horace’s tuberculosis became active around April 1, 1864, and as a result, he was unable to do much besides very light work for the rest of his short life. While he was too sick to fight or even do much work, he was not given a medical discharge. He continued with his unit for another 16 months until he had served his full three years. But last night I discovered he wasn’t the only member of his family fighting in the war.

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In memoriam

Sever Severson's headstone, 1864Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and to honor the American men and women who have died while in military service. Unlike Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. veterans, Memorial Day is specifically set aside to commemorate those who died while serving.

In this post, I’d like to commemorate the sacrifices of family members who have died while in the service of our country. If you know of people I have missed, or if you know of details beyond what I’ve presented here, please let me know in the comments section.

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