How far back can you take your family tree? If you have worked with genealogy, you might be able to follow that family tree back a long time. Tom and I have been working on our genealogy while we have been here at Chickamauga and Chattanooga.
I started our family tree online several years ago and had not done anything with it for a while. But here at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, we are often asked to look up ancestors of people who come into the park. “My great-great-great grandfather was captured here.” “My great-great-great-great uncle was killed here. Can you tell me where he was fighting?” “My great-great-grandfather fought with the 64th Ohio. Were they here during the battle?” There are a couple of websites that specialize in this sort of thing, and if a person knows the name and state of the ancestor, we can probably find what regiment and whether or not that regiment was here at Chickamauga or Chattanooga. If the ancestor was here, we can find out where the monument or marker for that unit is located on the battlefield.
As far as I can tell, my ancestors were farmers in Ohio at the time of the Civil War and were either too young or too old to serve. There is a family story that one of my great-grandfather’s brothers was going to run away and enlist at the age of 14, but he slept through his friends trying to awaken him to run away.
Tom’s family is a completely different story. He had several great-grandfathers and nine great-great-uncles that fought for the Confederate Army, enlisting in regiments from Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. Tom has been able to find service records that detail where they fought and when they were sick or on leave. Some of them were discharged after short service, but others fought the entire war. Some of them were captured and went to prison camps or were paroled. Tom has really enjoyed finding out more about his southern heritage and I have been adding the service records and information that he finds into our family tree.
For instance, John Henry Hartley (Tom’s great-grandfather) and his brother James enlisted in the CSA Army on August 24, 1861. Both of them were captured at Fort Donelson in Tennessee on February 16, 1862 and sent to a POW camp in Indiana. After being paroled John Henry was captured again at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 and was paroled again. He returned to his unit and continued fighting, surviving to the end of the war. He eventually returned to Mississippi and died in 1912.
It has been fun to work with our genealogy and find all this information about Tom’s ancestors. The military kept good records and all the records are scanned and digitalized now. If you are interested in looking up some of your ancestors with military service, you can start by going to this NPS website or Fold3.