Background, Pvt. Thomas Green, Co. B, 11th Massachusetts Volunteers

17 10 2015

Friend Damian Shiels, who runs the site Irish in the American Civil War, sent along this great letter from a member of the 11th Massachusetts, Thomas Green, of Co. B. In addition to the transcription, Damian provided the information below:

For your reference, the file is WC98464, and is from the Dependent Mother’s Pension File of Thomas Greene, 11th Massachusetts, Company B.

Thomas survived his wound, but was posted missing and eventually reported dead at Second Bull Run following the charge of the regiment on that battlefield on 29th August 1862. In terms of family background, Thomas is listed as an 18 year-old laborer in the Mass soldiers and sailors of the Civil War (Vol 1, 749, also attached). He worked in Chandler’s Dry Goods Store in Boston for 2-3 years before the war. He lived with his family in two rooms in a rented tenement building, which cost $1.25 a week. I am virtually 100% positive I have traced them on the 1860 Census, in Boston’s 7th Ward. The affidavits show they lived in rooms rented from the Thompsons, and the census (attached) shows the Thompsons recorded on the same page. They are the only family who match in any case. What is interesting is that Thomas is recorded as 14 when this was enumerated in July 1860, meaning he couldn’t have been more than 15 at Bull Run.

His mother Ann claimed the pension – she lived at 106 Fourth Street in South Boston. She had married Daniel Green in ‘Murrough’, Ireland (there are a few of these, so not sure which one it is) on 10th December 1843. They were in Boston by at least 1850 and Daniel deserted his family in the late 1850s, around 1857. He is described as a ‘miserable shiftless fellow’ in the affidavits.

Reader Will Hickox finds that the Library of Congress has a photo of Pvt. Green here:

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Click for larger image

Thomas Green in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors

Boston Herald, July 28, 1861 (to which Thomas Green refers in his letter)

1860 Census

Preview: S. C. Gwynne, “Rebel Yell”

7 10 2014

downloadOK, so here we have a new release from mainstream publisher Scribner. This will be brief. The author, S. C. Gwynne previously authored Empire of the Summer Moon, a biography of Quanah Parker which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. So from a literary standpoint, he’s no hack. Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson is 575 pages of well-strung-together words. Sources look pretty good, manuscripts, etc. I’ve read selected (by me) passages, and there’s nothing particularly irritating so far. But nothing particularly insightful or surprising, either. For example, go to the section on 2nd Bull Run and look for an explanation of Jackson’s declination to join in/support/or even recognize Longstreet’s assault. You’ll find a paragraph basically putting the onus on Lee. Nothing particularly wrong with that, and most folks who read this, again, well-written biography won’t have a problem with it. But I suspect most folks who read this and similar sites will be looking for more, and probably have read enough on Jackson already (perhaps Robertson’s epic love letter)  that a popular biography is not really something in which they’re interested. If you’re just testing the waters, at the beginning of your studies, or interested in a broad range of biographies (not just Civil War related), this is probably right up your alley. Jaded old folks like me, probably not. This assessment ain’t bad, it ain’t good, it just is.

Nathan Evans

6 03 2014

For more on Evans, see here and here.

Reference Library: Biographical

20 09 2013

I often receive inquiries regarding books – recommendations, suggestions, questions, criticisms. I don’t know if this is because I’ve published quite a few, mostly quantitative reviews/previews both here and in print, or because in some circles I’m thought to own a lot of the little rascals myself (my current count of Civil War books is just over 2,100, which is a lot to some of you, not so many to others, and just-plain-silly to most.) So I thought it might be helpful to those interested to give a little insight into what’s on my shelves – particularly my reference shelves, the ones to which I turn most often. I’ll just list them here with no comment, but know that some are better than others. If you have any comments or questions regarding these volumes, or have any suggestions for possible additions – my wife will likely hunt you down and kill you, slowly and painfully – feel free to use the comments section below. Let’s start here with Biographical Reference works:


Elizabeth Blair Lee

14 11 2010

 The author of this letter in the Resources section, Elizabeth Blair Lee (left, 1818-1906) was the daughter of Francis  Preston Blair, middle sister of Montgomery and Frank Blair, and wife of Union naval officer Samuel Phillips (Phil) Lee (right, 1812-1897).  These portraits were done by noted artist Thomas Sully.

Elizabeth wrote to her husband nearly every day while he was away on duty.  Phil would rise to the temporary rank of rear-admiral during the war, and attain that level permanently again after the war.

Elizabeth and Phil lend their name to the combined Blair-Lee house across the street from the White House – it currently houses visiting heads of state.  The left half of the house was first a wedding gift from Blair Sr. to his daughter and son-in-law.  I wrote a little bit about the Blairs and the house here and here.

You can read a more detailed biography of Elizabeth here.

Col. Simeon B. Gibbons

24 10 2010

Robert Moore has this interesting biographical sketch of Col. Simeon B. Gibbons of the 10th VA Infantry (Smith/Elzey Brigade).  Check it out.

The Curious Case of Richard Welby Carter

24 05 2010

Back in October 2009, a reader requested some information on Richard Welby Carter of the 1st VA Cavalry (you’ll find most of the Carter comments here).  My response:

Per Allardice “Confederate Colonels”, Col. Richard Welby Carter of the 1st VA Cav. died 12/18/1888 in Loudon County and is buried in the Carter family cemetery at “Crendel” in Loudon County. “Carter was widely disliked by officers and men, with such comments as ‘white livered,’ ‘a coward,’ ‘fat and looking greasy.’ He and his regiment broke at Tom’s Brook, largely causing the Confederate rout there.”

That reader – who linked to this somewhat misinformed website – didn’t have any further questions, but over time a couple of others did: Henry A. Truslow and Jim Whitin, who identified themselves as great-grandchildren of Carter.  While their greater argument seems to be that Col. Carter has received the short end of the historical stick, they specifically disputed the death date and burial site of their ancestor.  The correct name of the family estate, they informed me, is “Crednal”, and the correct year of Carter’s death is 1889.  I confirmed that “Crednal” is indeed the correct spelling via this site, and Mr. Truslow provided me with the following photos, saying the date of death was confirmed by family bibles:


So, if I were to write a biographical sketch of Carter, at this point I would go with “Crednal” and “1889”.

Mr. Truslow is interested in any information anyone can provide on his ancestor.  He told me about this article covering the recent family reunion at Crednal.  You’ll see that this branch of the Carter family is related to Robert “King” Carter over whose lands most of the battle of First Bull Run was fought.

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