Sunday, February 3, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month - February 1863 Checkered Allegiances

This month we used the Checkerboard Block to look at split loyalties among families.

In February, 1862, Great Grandfather John and Great Great Uncle Billy with the 82nd have finished the battle of Stones River and set up camp outside Murfreesboro Tennessee. The armies generally wintered in camps, with major actions happening only in the warmer months.

For some personal commentary on the War, I turn to a letter from Great Great Uncle Shepherd to his sister Joanna on the 14th of January, published in From the Hayfields to the Battlefields. Shep was at Fort Pillow where the regiment had been stationed since the end of September, chasing guerrilla  forces in Tennessee and Arkansas:

 "Well, Joanna, the Old Year '62 has gone and left our National difficulty seemingly as bad if not worse than She found it. What will the Year 1863 bring about I wonder? When will this bloody war come to an end? ... I would like to have been at home to enjoy Christmas and New Years with you."

A little later in this letter, Shep asks if Joanna can send "an old singing book (the Melodian), my dictionary and grammer. They would help me to pass off my leasure hours to a better advantage than I can without them.  Joanna, you must not worry about me, I am getting along fine. Enjoy yourselves the best you can...." The Melodian Shep asks for is possibly The Sacred Melodeon, a hymnal first published in 1848.

Shep's regiment, the 52nd Indiana Volunteers, left Fort Pillow on January 23rd, 1863, coming under  the command of General Sherman and participating in the campaign to capture Vicksburg, over 250 miles to the south. From February 3rd until March 2nd, they were on a scouting mission, meeting Rebel resistance at Clinton and Jackson, Mississippi but reaching Meridian by February 14th. On the 16th, they moved back west to Canton Mississippi where they remained until the end of February. A map of the Vicksburg region can be seen at this link.  Meridian is not shown on that map - it is to the east, closer to the Alabama border.

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