Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our Gallant American Civil War Veterans,
A "Decoration Day" Salute

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Service Medal

The first Union "Decoration Day" (now called Memorial Day) was held in May 1866 by the caring residents of the tiny Finger Lakes village Waterloo, New York.  This remembrance movement aimed to decorate graves with flower arrangements, those the grave-sites of many local military veteran causalities of the late War to Preserve the Union.  Any revisionist claim otherwise by residents of Georgia are false, since Georgia was not readmitted to the Union until 1868... and then tossed out again when Georgia failed to recognize blacks as citizens... and then again readmitted to the Union in 1870 only after finally endorsing the U.S. Constitution 14th Amendment.

The two grandfathers of our paternal Grandmother Elizabeth Rosella (Moegling) Paul were deceased when Elizabeth was born 13 April 1896. These two men are our generation's Great-Great-Grandfathers Private Albert G. Odell and Corporal William Moegling. Both men are military veterans of the American Civil War, gallantly serving to preserve the union with the U.S. Army Infantry.

Private Albert G. Odell (about 1839 - 10 Mar 1892) was born in Schoharie County, New York. His occupation as a young man was farm labor and work as a barrel-maker (a cooper) at his uncle Isaac L. Odell's local cooperage in Summit, Schoharie County, NY. In 1864, Albert enlisted as a U.S. Army private soldier with Schoharie County Company B, 91st Infantry Regiment of New York State Volunteers. His Civil War service with the 91st New York include engagements against rebel forces during the Petersburg Campaign and the Appomattox Campaign. Private Albert Odell's ancestry includes many cousins who are military veterans of the Civil War and over three-dozen Revolutionary War Veteran ancestors.  Grandpa Albert is interred at Bath National Cemetery, Bath, Steuben County, NY. From the official roster of the 91st New York Infantry Regiment:
“ODELL, ALBERT.— Age, 25 years. Enlisted at Albany, [NY] to serve one year, and mustered in as private, Co. B, September 5, 1864; mustered out with detachment; June 10, 1865, near Washington, D.C.”

Corporal William Moegling (about 1812 - 23 Nov 1869) was born in Stuttgart, Germany. William emigrated from Germany to the USA in June 1847, and was almost immediately recruited as an armed service private soldier with the U.S. Army during the Mexican War. His lifelong occupation was as a scourer and dyer, the period process for cleaning garments in what we today call professional dry-cleaning. In 1861, William enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Corporal with Oneida County Company H, 97th Infantry Regiment of New York State Volunteers. His Civil War service include engagements against rebel forces at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, General Pope's Northern Virginia Campaign, Second Battle of Bull Run, Battle of South Mountain, and the Battle of Antietam. Although injured, William remained with his regiment, but likely not directly involved in the mid-December 1862 fighting at the Battle of First Fredericksburg, this due to his documented wounds suffered in previous battles. He received an honorable Disability Discharge from the U.S. Army in early 1863 and was later released from a military hospital near Belle Plain, Virginia. William is interred in a mass-grave at Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica, NY, where in 1916 the remains of nearly all exhumed skeletons were placed following the total removal of Utica's former municipal burial grounds at Potter Street Cemetery. From the official roster of the 97th New York Infantry Regiment:
“MOEGLIN, WILLIAM—Age, 43 years. Enlisted, November 30, 1861, at Utica, [NY] to serve three years; mustered in as corporal, Co. H, December 11, 1861; returned to ranks, no date; discharged for disability, June 11, 1863, at hospital, as Moegling.”

P.S. New York State Department of Military and Naval Affairs official Civil War record errors are often noted.  Surname spelling, age at enlistment, and discharge dates are frequently wrongly recorded.  Such is the case with Corporal William Moegling.  William's birth year is variously recorded in several non-military official documents between 1808-1815. Seems likely that William may have intentionally under stated his physical age at enlistment,  his age likely being about 49 or 50 in 1861. Furthermore, it is likely that no official birth certificates were recorded for the vast majority of Civil War enlisted men.          

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Soldier and Sailor of the Revolutionary War

Frederick Smith grave site, with Revolutionary War Veteran marker and American Flag holder.  

In Haddam, Connecticut, when our 5th Great Grandpa Frederick Smith was born on March First 1760, his father Captain James Smith was aged 21, and his mother the former Miss Mary Hubbard was aged 19. Mary Hubbard Smith and husband Captain James Smith are one pair of our 6th Great Grandparents. As a teenage soldier, their eldest son Frederick Smith served as an enlisted private soldier during the Revolutionary War, part of the fighting Connecticut Militia, with likely service as a soldier in the Revolutionary War Militia Company his dad commanded. Then in 1778, young Frederick served a five-month stint as an able-bodied seaman and privateer aboard the American Brig New Broom, an armed-for-war brig outfitted with 16-guns, then commanded by Captain Israel Bishop sailing from New London, Connecticut. Unfortunately, on October 22, 1778 this good ship and crew of New Broom were captured off Nantucket Shoals by the gallant sailors of two British warships HMS Ariel and HMS Savage. The captured New Broom was redirected by escort to New York City Harbor. Frederick was held as a POW for one month at New York City. Then he and other enlisted sailors were presumably paroled by British authority (naval officers were typically held by the British as POW on one of those dreadful prison ships). Frederick's Revolutionary War military service was then likely over, as a honor-bound condition of his POW parole.

Basic sail configuration of a late 18th century brig

In the summer of 1780, Frederick married the local beauty Miss Sarah Brainerd in ceremony at their mutual hometown Haddam, Connecticut. At some point prior to 1790, his parents Captain James and Mary Hubbard Smith removed their entire family from Haddam, Connecticut to Harpersfield, Delaware County, New York, where they had earlier purchased a couple large lots from the original Colonel John Harper Land Patent. One of these Harpersfield lots was sub-divided by Captain James and Mary Smith to thus give equal farming acreage to each of his four adult sons. One contemporary account states that Captain Smith removed his entire family from Haddam to Delaware County, NY because he did not want his sons to become sailors, a area vocation not then unusual for male residents of Haddam, Connecticut -- then a busy inland port less than twenty miles from Long Island Sound on the navigable Connecticut River.  

The Frederick and Sarah Brainerd Smith marriage produced four children, the eldest a daughter Hannah – she being our 4th Great Grandmother. Following Sarah's untimely death in February 1828, Frederick re-married Ms. Isabella Norton in a local New York State ceremony. He out-lived his second wife Isabella, she passing in 1841. Frederick did not marry a third time, he died a widower on July 17, 1852, in the Hamlet of Jefferson, Schoharie County, NY, USA, passing at the impressive age of 92. Frederick was interred at North Harpersfield Cemetery, North Harpersfield, Delaware County, New York, where his beloved two wives are also interred by his side.

Frederick Smith Family Plot, North Harpersfield Cemetery, Town of Harpersfield, Delaware County, New York, USA.  Second wife Isabella lower left, first wife Sarah is lower center, and Frederick center right (with Memorial American Flag). 

The reconstructed War of 1812 U.S. Brig Niagara,
perhaps 25% larger than a typical Revolutionary War brig
See: Click Here