Honoring Family Veterans
The Civil War
Our family on both sides has a long history of military service. On my side of the family, the earliest service I know of is my great-great Uncle Aaron Lanning who served in the Civil war in the 122nd Infantry Division, Company D. He left an account of his life in diary form. Here are some excerpts:
Mr. Lincoln then called for seventy-five thousand volunteer soldiers to save the Union. The call was quickly filled. … it was thought that seventy-five thousand would be sufficient,. But the first general engagement at Bull Run, Virginia resulted in a complete rout for our green Union soldiers. Then it was plain that we were facing a great war.
More volunteers were called for, and the response was rapid. The Confederates moved their Capital to Richmond, Virginia. Some battles were fought, but with no definite results in 1861…
In 1862…Still more troops were called for. At that time I was not quite seventeen years old, but I had a strong desire to join the army, but my parents said I was too young. But my desire was so great to take part in what I thought would be the destruction of slavery, that finally my parents yielded, but not without sobs and tears on the part of my mother. Early in August, 1862, a company was being enlisted at Brighton, Illinois, for three years or during the war. My name was entered on the list…
On the morning of August 11, 1862, we assembled at the Brighton depot to depart. Before leaving home, my mother gave me a pocket Bible with the request that I read it; and I promised. The depot platform was thronged with parents, relatives, and friends of the boys. And we were nearly all boys. I can think of but four who were married. It was a solemn assemblage bidding us good bye. It might be for years and it might be forever. As the train began to move with us there were cheers, waving of hats and handkerchiefs. And there were also tears. The train bore us to Carlinville, Illinois, where we were sworn into the service. We were taken to the fair ground and installed into the horse and cattle stalls and given a few forkfuls of straw for beds.
Though his account has tinges of bravado, war realities are impossible to gloss over. He goes on to describe the privations and horrors of wartime. No rations, going hungry, marching through snow with tattered boots and later suffering heat prostration. They endured mud and mosquitoes. Some drowned fording swollen rivers. Some froze to death. Many of his friends and fellow soldiers died of disease. He suffered what sounds to me like dysentery from drinking river water. Some were captured. Of his friends captured, all but one (Jake Sell) died in Georgia’s Andersonville Prison. Later on he describes bloody battles, marching through fields of dead men and dead horses, and surgeons with knives, saws, and baskets full of amputated limbs.
He was “mustered” out on July 17th, 1865. He entered the war a 16-year-old in 1862, spending three years in the army witnessing things no one but especially a teenager should see. I’m sure a photo of him exists somewhere as he didn’t die until March 12, 1935, but I don’t have a copy.
Wars from WWI-to the present
Our family on both my husband’s side and mine has continued to serve in most wars and conflicts since that time. The next I know of was my husband’s grandfather who was a flight instructor at Kelly Field in Texas during “The War to End all Wars”–if only it had.
No photographs but not forgotten…
We have other family members for whom I’m unable to find photos, John Harp, Sr. (my uncle) served with my dad, stayed in the Oregon National Guard attaining the rank of Major. His son, John Jr. also served in the Vietnam Era. My husband’s uncles, Cecil Tanner, Doug Tanner, Sr., and Robert Samuel Yarborough, all served in WWII. My husband’s side also had Cantrell “Judge” Webb, Cpl. Illinois National Guard, 124th Field Artillery was gassed at St. Michael, meuse-Argonne sector, July 1918, to my knowledge he and my Uncle Russell (who died of mesothelioma, secondary to asbestos exposure on ships) were the only family members to actually die in or from their military service.
That is a long list. If you are still with me by this point, I thank you for helping me honor the veterans in our family. Do you have veterans in your family? Do you do anything special to thank them?
Thank a Veteran today.
Have a good caregiving day,
I knew I’d forget someone Robert McFadden, my cousin, career Marine since he was 18. Currently serving in Korea. He is the son of John Russell McFadden who is pictured above.