Thursday, July 21, 2011

Civil War Heroes

This year as we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War I thought I would introduce you to 2 of my ancestors who fought for the Union Forces.  Neither one of my Great-Great Grandfathers did anything newsworthy during their time in the Civil War.  They were common men, fighting for something they both believed in, but to our family they were heroes.  

My Great Great Grandfather, Russell Alcott was born in Upstate NY in 1825.  He was quite the traveler.  In 1849 he went off to California to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush, we're pretty sure he didn't find it!

He also fought in the Mexican war where he collected sea shells on the beach.  (I now realize that keeping everything is genetic - I have those shells in an old box.  They were passed on from generation to generation.  Too bad they weren't gold nuggets!)

At the beginning of the Civil War he was teaching in Michigan.  Evidently he appointed himself captain, enlisted his students and went off to war.  They became part of the 1st Michigan Regiment.  

In the late June 1862 he was injured during a battle and sent home to NY to recuperate. By the middle of August 1862 he was back with his regiment in Washington D.C.  In a letter dated August 17, 1862 he writes to his wife letting her know he had arrived safely.  He goes on to say, speaking of his fellow soldiers who had died: " they fought for freedom and though dead, I cannot believe they have fallen in vain.  It needed a bloody sacrifice to rouse the freemen of the North to the contest.  It needed a blood sacrifice to expiate the deepest, darkest sin of the nation.  The sacrifice has been made. What a terrible sacrifice it has been. "

The next letter he wrote home on August 24 he talks about spilling his ink bottle on his new boots.  This was to be his last letter home.  On August 30, 1862 he was killed in the second battle of Bull Run.

His wife, Cordelia, received a letter informing her of her husbands death " This line is to communicate to you the sad intelligence of the death of your dear husband who fell in the battle of last Saturday...When his body was found, it was discovered that a minnie ball had penetrated through his left side below his heart."  In another letter to her "Your husband was severely wounded and after being captured by the enemy was shot dead on the field in a cowardly and murderous manner by one of the Rebel Ruffians."  The new boots he wrote of were not found with his body.  

I don't have very much information on my other Great-Great Grandfather, John Wright.  He was born in Western NY on October 7, 1828 . About all I know is the regiment he fought with out of western NY.   As you can tell by this photo, he survived the Civil War.  Unfortunately we do not have any of the letters that he may have written home.   

John is my ancestor on my Father's side and I see glimpses of my Dad when I look at this picture.  Especially the high wrinkled forehead!

Take a minute to pause and reflect on the tremendous sacrifices that of all of our ancestors made during the horrible years of the Civil War.  

Hope you are all staying cool! ~Ann  


  1. Wondeful post, Ann.
    I enjoyed reading about your great great grandfathers!

  2. Great post! I know some of mine fought in
    the Civil War and are buried in Missouri.
    Genealogy is so interesting to me, thanks
    so much for sharing.

    Bear Hugs & Blessings~Karen

  3. Hi Ann, what a wonderful post...I had a great uncle in the Civil War and he lived to be among the last 2 Civil War Veterans in our town...
    Thank you for this wonderful interesting post.


  4. What a great history. The story of those shells is so cool. What a treasure to have!



Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm so happy to "meet" you through blog land. ~Ann