Golden Thread 75 Years are gone, but Old Men will Remember

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Joseph Clovese, 63rd U.S.C.T.
Joseph Clovese of Slidell, La, was 94 years of age at the time of the Last Reunion of the Blue and Gray at Gettysburg. He was one of a very few colored veterans present (the attendance lists I’ve seen do not distinguish the veteran’s color, and I have never seen them named as a group).

Born a slave, on January 30, 1844, on a plantation in St. Bernard Parish, “Uncle Joe” Clovese always said he was “a favorite house-boy” of his master, was taught to read, and kindly treated. But, nonetheless, he ran away at the age of 16 or 17, to the nearest Union camp. He said he was a drummer-boy for a Union regiment for a time, during the siege of Vicksburg, but records of that have not been found. On November 1, 1863, however, Joseph Clovese enlisted, at Vicksburg, for three years in Company C of the 63rd United States Colored Infantry. With one exception, he was recorded as ‘present’ with his company from that time until discharged at De Vall Bluff, Ark., on January 9, 1866. That exception was in July 1864, when he was “on duty with mountain howitzer.” For most of its service, the 63rd was on garrison at and around Natchez.

We are told that following the war he worked on Mississippi river steamboats. He later worked on the crew “stringing the first (?) telegraph wires between New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi.” He became a member of New Orleans’ Abraham Lincoln Post No. 4. This was the first colored post in the Grand Army of the Republic’s Department of the Gulf (Louisiana and Mississippi). In other G.A.R. Departments, colored veterans were allowed to join the organization, either in integrated Posts, or with designated “colored” posts of their own. But, the Department of the Gulf alone refused to admit any colored members. The Abraham Lincoln Post was one of four groups of African-Americans that organized themselves prior to 1888, and then appealed to the National Organization, which forced Gulf Department’s Commander, Capt. Jacob Gray (over his vehement objections) to decree the admittance of qualified colored veterans.***

Joseph Clovese settled eventually in Slidell, La., and I find almost no further mention of him before 1938. After the Gettysburg event, he returned to Louisiana, remaining there another decade, at which time, he moved to Pontiac, Michigan, to live with relatives.
In 1949, with 4-year old Gail Sleeth.
Sixty-some years later she would recall: “He was very nice.
I had never seen a man in a wheelchair before,
so I remember being very curious about the chair.”
(Ah, innocence!)

Earlier that year, Michigan had buried its last Civil War veteran, Department Commander Orlando LeValley. So, when 104-year-old Clovese called the Pontiac Press ... to find the location of the nearest G.A.R. Post, he was told that the Michigan Department had been disbanded following the death of Commander LeValley, and there was no Post for him to join. His transfer card from Abraham Lincoln Post No. 4, was duly deposited with the National Organization and he became a member-at-large.

But news got around: once his presence was known , the community of Pontiac embraced him. “Uncle Joe” Clovese became an instant celebrity.

“Large gatherings were organized for his 105th, 106th and 107th birthdays. Joseph Clovese died at Dearborn Veterans hospital on July 13, 1951. More than 300 people were packed into the small Newman A.M.E. Church for the service. Hundreds more gathered at the grave site in Perry Mount Park cemetery. Oakland County Council of Veterans members served as pall bearers. A firing squad from Selfridge Air Force Base fired the final salute and taps was sounded over the cemetery.”

Just a year after settling in Michigan, Joseph Clovese attended his very first G.A.R. National Encampment, in Indianapolis. The 1949 event was also to be the very last for the great veterans’ organization. There were at the time only 12 living members, six of whom were able to attend.
finalGAR1949 - Edited.jpg
The last G.A.R. National Encampment. Indianapolis, 1949.
(L to R) Theodore A. Penland, Charles L. Chappel, Albert Woolson,
Joseph Clovese, Robert Barrett and James A. Hard.

lastUSCT - Edited.jpg Obituary from the New York Times, June 14, 1951

*** coincidentally, that Louisiana Department Commander, Jacob Gray, was later “Court Martialled” by the G.A.R. for attending the funeral of Jefferson Davis in uniform, and telling other members that if they didn’t attend, too, he’d “make them march with the negroes” at the next Department Encampment.
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John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
I feel I should point out that none of the sketches in this thread of some of the last civil War veterans makes any pretense of being the result of serious "research." Each is, by and large, the result of a few hours "poking around" on the internet, and should by no means taken as definitive or complete. I have taken only the most elementary steps in authenticating the sources, or correlating contradictory ones.

Indeed, relying, as I often do, largely on newspaper accounts, strict accuracy can not always be expected. Reporters then, as now, will look to the most readily available sources for their journalism. So, stories about these men are based mainly on interviews with them, or with relatives, who remember what they had been told by them -- rarely on objective research in the actual records. As a result, these stories very often the veterans' own stories as they wanted them to be remembered.

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Nathan Cadwallader
cadwallader100_22 - Edited.jpg
Nathan Cadwallader, Co. H, 55th O.V.I.
in 1938, at 99 years of age, and in 1862, at 22
Nathan Cadwallader was 22 years old when he enlisted at Norwalk, Ohio, for three years, in Company H, 55th Ohio Volunteers. His actual service in the field would be brief, however. His regiment arrived in Grafon, W.Va. late in January, 1862, and first faced the enemy during a February 4-8 expedition to Romney. The Ohio CSRs are not yet online, so I haven't been able to find the exact time, but before summer, Private Nathan Cadwallader had contracted "black measles," a very serious, hemorrhagic form of the disease that is often fatal. Nathan survived, though weakened. He recalls that he was in one of the General Hospitals in Washington when the casualties from Second Bull Run arrived. "I got right up from my sick bed and helped carry them in." Because of his skill at tending the wounded, he would remain in the hospital, working as a nurse, for the remainder of his enlistment.

After the war ... what a life!! I can do no better than to quote at length the Indianapolis Star's February 5, 1939, celebration of his 100th birthday:

Local Man to finish "First Century" of Life Friday
"Enjoyed Every Minute!"
Nathan Cadwallader, who will be 100 years old Friday, has a collection of memories of significant American events and personalities which would fill a five-foot shelf.
What he calls “my first century” has been crowded with action. He was a Union soldier in the Civil War, he chatted once with Abraham Lincoln, he “staked” Thomas Edison to a meal, he watched one of the first railroads in the nation being built.
He has been a “news butch” on a train, a telegraph dispatcher, a farmer, a real-estate man, a businessman and a traveler. Moreover he is believed to be the oldest member of the Masonic order in the United States, both in age and years of membership.
His home at 5226 Broadway will be full of people on his natal day. Members of his lodge, No. 9, in Fairbault, Minn., will come to do him honor and present him with a medal emblematic of his 75 years as a Mason.. Dr. E. E. Luhring, Master of the Fairbault lodge, will head the delegation. Open house will be held from 2 to 4 in the afternoon and 7 to 9 at night, a birthday dinner is being arranged and two radio programs will be devoted to the centenarian.
Visited with Lincoln
One of his prize stories is about the time he visited with President Lincoln.
“A comrade and I went to Washington in 1862. I wanted him to go with me to the White House, but he wouldn’t” he said “I told him I wanted to see Uncle Abe Lincoln. I had the countersign, ‘Potomac,’ and I walked up to a sentinel and gave it to him. He asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted to see Abraham Lincoln. He searched me but all he found was a big copper penny. He sent me on.
“Other sentinels stopped me but I gave them the countersign and I was let into the President’s office. I saluted him and he told me to sit down. He looked at my uniform and said, ‘I see you are one of my boys,’ and I said, ‘yes, I am, but the Confederates call us Lincoln’s hirelings.’
“We chatted a while. When I left he shook hands with me and told me he hoped I got out of the war alive.”
Mr. Cadwallader was working in a railroad telegraph office in Fostoria, O., when he became acquainted with Mr. Edison.
Loaned Edison a Quarter
“Edison walked into the office and asked for the loan of some money to buy some food,” he said, “I gave him a quarter. He said he was a ‘ragged Tom’ and was looking for a job as dispatcher. He got it, and it was not until later that we learned that the fellow’s name was Thomas Alva Edison.”
One of the first railroad tracks ever constructed in the United States ran past the farm of Mr. Cadwallader’s father near Fostoria.
“It was the Mud River Railroad Company,” Mr. Cadwallader said. “It started at a point on Lake erie that is now Sandusky, O., and ran southwest to what is now Dayton, O. It was built entirely by hand and took 12 years to complete.
Ohio was a dense forest then and they had to cut down trees to clear a path for the tracks. It took them almost a year to build the track in the vicinity of my father’s farm. The railroad bought an acre of land from father and the track was about 100 yards from the house. All the land had to be cleared and stumped out. I can see them working there now. When they started the trains over the line, they named the engines. The first one was called the ‘Seneca,’ after Seneca county, O.”
Attended Gettysburg Reunion
Despite his years, Mr. Cadwallader attended the reunion of Union and Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg last year.
“I had a fine time, only most of the fellows I tried to talk to were too hard of hearing," he declared. Until the death of his brother recently, Mr. Cadwallader made annual winter visits to Tarpon Springs, Fla., alone. He shaves himself daily with a straight-edge razor, and boasts that "I never; have had an ache nor pain in my, life." He has a remarkable memory and recites poetry. One of his' poems is "Mortality," which he said was one of Lincoln's favorites! He has a clear voice and his physical condition is the marvel of physicians who have visited in his: home. He does not drink nor use! tobacco.
"I am going to start on the second 100 years pretty soon, now," Mr. Cadwallader declared. Then he added philosophically, "I don't know how many of them I will see, though. One hundred years is a long life, but I've enjoyed every minute of it," Mr. Cadwallader said. “My prescription for longevity is lots of sunshine. I have always believed in getting plenty of sunshine all the time. If you can't get outdoors to get to the sun, have the sun get into your home, it’s the best medicine there is.”
A life Republican, he is certain that “the country is in worse shape now than it was after the Civil War, financially and economically.
He’s looking forward to the gala birthday celebration. “I’ve asked for two turkeys for the dinner because I’m going to be hungry,” he chuckled.
Several Birthday Cakes
He is certain to have several birthday cakes, for friends and organizations already have made plans for them, including several Minnesota groups.
Leaving his father’s farm, he enlisted in the Union army at Peoria when he was 22 years old. After a year in action, illness forced him to quit active duty and he was assigned to hospital work. He was a member of the 55th Ohio Infantry.
He spent most of his life in Minnesota, and came to Indianapolis four years ago. He has outlived all his three sons, and a grand daughter, Mrs. Doris Paulson of Faribault, is the only member of his immediate family now living. The centenarian makes his home with Mr. and Mrs. John Gefhardt. Mrs. Gefhardt is a cousin.
In another interview, a few years earlier, he gave a slightly fuller account of his visit with Lincoln:

“I went to the White House and told the guard on duty that I wished to talk to the President. ‘Can you give me the countersign?’ he asked. ‘You bet I can,’ I told him, and I repeated the day’s password, ‘Potomac River.’
“I was then ushered into the President’s office, and I was immediately impressed with the sincere bearing of the President.
“‘Mr. Lincoln, my President,’ I said when I shook his hand. ‘You’re the first man I ever voted for.’
“‘I can tell you are one of my boys,’ the President answered, ‘because you wear their uniform. We’re in a bad situation,’ the President said to me, and we’ll all have to stick together.’ Then the President’s face grew sad, and he said, ‘I truly regret that so many of the boys will have to die.’”
Nathan Cadwallader died in Indianapolis, on February 19, 1942, at the age of 103.
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John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Charles A. Miles, U. S. Engineers

miles - Edited.jpg Charles A. Miles, 1939, age 93

Charles A. Miles was, born in Royalston , Mass. , April 30, 1846 , son of Noah and Sophia (Nichols) Miles. He was was proud of his military heritage, his grandfather, John, having fought at Concord Bridge and Bunker Hill, and his father served during the War of 1812. Charles had wanted to enlist since the war began but had held back, at the plea of his mother. Two brothers had already died in the war: one at Williamsburg and another at Fair Oaks. But, in the spring of 1865, with the war virtually over, he felt it was his last chance.

“I was 19 years old, and tired of shoeing horses in New Hampshire [where he was apprenticed to a blacksmith], so I ran away to Boston looking to enlist.” [It was on the first day of April, 1865, that he] “made an April Fool of myself. … Somebody said, ‘Join the Engineers, they get the best pay and have the easiest work,’ so I did. I’m still looking for the practical joker who made that statement. It was the hardest work I ever did in my life! … We dug ditches, and shot mules and picked up prisoners. I went to the Dry Tortugas as a prison guard. I guarded Dr. Mudd, who set Booth’s leg after the Lincoln assassination. No, don't ask, it was too long ago, I don’t recall what he looked like or what he said,” [claimed 93 year old Miles at a banquet held in his honor on Nov. 10, 1939.]

He had joined Company B, U. S. Engineers, and would serve out his full three year enlistment, being discharged as a sergeant, on April 1, 1868, at Jefferson Barracks in Lemay, Missouri . Besides his time in the Dry Tortugas, he served in Virginia, helping repair roads, bridges, and other infrastructure destroyed during the war, before being transferred to the west.

After his discharge, Miles moved to Dorchester, Mass., where he learned the Wheelwright’s trade. He married in 1870, and had two sons before removing to the town of Stoughton, Mass., in 1906. [A milk wagon built by Charles A. Miles in 1910, survives in Stoughton to this day.]

Charles A. Miles joined Stoughton’s Albert St. John Chambre Post No. 72, G. A. R. on June 15, 1907. During the next 30 years, he held every office in the post, and was the post's last Commander (1933-39). From 1935 on, he was Post 72's only surviving member. Nonetheless, he was chosen Commander of the G. A. R.'s Department of Massachusetts in 1939, by which time there were barely 100 G. A. R. members left in Massachusetts.

In a 1939 interview, he was described as
“A vigorous man for his age, with twinkling blue eyes and an immaculate white goatee. Mr Miles has two or three recipes for good health. He took a drink or two before he was 16, at about the time he was ‘bound out’ to a blacksmith in New Hampshire without pay, and then quit drinking for good. He has avoided overeating all his long life. ‘And the important thing is, don’t be crabbed, don’t be a grouch,’ he declares.”

But, in the Fall of 1940, he suffered a heart attack, and was admitted into the U.S. Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Mass. He died there on December 10. The Stoughton Sentinel says in its obituary:

"Since his retirement he has been interested in the well being of the entire community. He has survived nearly 100 of his comrades and for the last few years has carried on bravely the Grand Army affairs as a lone soldier, though many aides around him supported him in his work.
“He was a good soldier in times of peace as in war; a man of sterling qualities; had administered personally to his fellow comrades of neighboring towns. He started in his Post career here as a private, served in many offices and was to be its last Commander, hence Post 72, G. A. R., leaves a wonderful heritage as an outstanding organization in this town.
“He was honored in 1939 as Department Commander of the Massachusetts Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, with less than 100 comrades surviving at that time. Commander Miles was always modest in speaking of his service in the army and only at the last banquet given him by the Post 72, G. A. R.” Associates, on Armistice eve, 1939, did anyone hear him tell of his service."
miles3.jpgCharles A. Miles' simple bronze marker in Evergreen Cemetery, Stoughton, Mass.
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John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
James Whitecloud (1840-1940)

James Whitecloud (often written as two words) was an elderly man of rather unassuming appearance when he arrived in Gettysburg on June 28, 1938, and, according to his grandson, David, who accompanied him, nobody seemed to notice -- until he dressed for the occasion.
Chief James Whitecloud, supported by Army Medical Corpsmen,
at Gettysburg, July 3, 1938.
Beside him is his grandson and successor as Chief,
David Whitecloud
[U.S. Signal Corps photo No.109321]​

James Whitecloud (or The-gro-wo-nung) had been born in Nebraska Territory on May 15th, 1840. His father was Ma-Has Ka, Known as Francis Whitecloud, Chief of the Iowa Nation, who was leader of fourteen Iowa who went Europe with George Catlin in 1845-6. He was also the subject of one of Catlin’s most well known portraits:
“The White Cloud Head Chief of the Iowa”
[The bear claw necklace seen in the Catlin portrait
is the same one worn by James Whitecloud
at Gettysburg in 1938
James’ mother, Mary Many Days, was a daughter of Joseph Robidoux, a French fur trader and founder of St. Louis, Mo., and his Shoshone wife. Thus she, and her children, were Métis.

James attended the Iowa Mission School at Highland, Ks, where he received what he called “a fair education.” In January, 1864, he enlisted as a scout in Company K, 14th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. The descriptive roll lists him as a single farmer, 5’5” tall, with black hair and eyes, and “copper” complexion. At the time the regiment was “actively engaged in scouting, picket and other duties” out of Fort Smith, Ark. The following month, they joined on an expedition into Choctaw country. During Gen Steele’s Camden Expedition (April-May), James first saw action at Prairie d’Ann, Poison Spring and Jenkins’ Ferry.

The Kansas Adjutant General’s report summarized the regiment's service:

“A review of the duty performed by the 14th Kansas Cavalry, during the two years of its history, will show that the part it performed in subduing the great rebellion, was of an important and onerous character. For the most part it served in a region of country destitute of supplies, and so far from a base that it was a great portion of the time on diminished rations of subsistence and forage. The men endured many privations in consequence, and the horses were soon lost from the same cause.​
“While mounted, the men were almost constantly in the saddle, for they entered the service at a time when the power and force of the rebellion seemed to have culminated, and when our troops were kept in ceaseless activity to prevent any advantage from being taken by an unscrupulous foe. The 14th Kansas Cavalry did its part well in defending the line of the Arkansas river, and in all the important campaigns and expeditions undertaken by the troops serving in the Department of Arkansas from December, 1863, to June, 1865.”​
The same year James Whitecloud had returned from the war, he was chosen as Head Chief of the Iowa Nation, a position he would hold until his death in 1940. He was allocated, for his own use, 160 acres of land in northeast Brown County, on the Iowa Reservation. It included a three-room European style house, a barn, well, and other outbuildings, as well as a traditional bark house. 100 acres of that land were in cultivation.

On Feb. 28, 1867, he married Wy-to-hum-gra-mee (Pumpkin vine), who remained his principal wife until her death in 1914 (she would be universally known as “Granny Louise.”) But, following Indian custom, he also, from time to time, had other wives during the same period -- three of them, divorcing each after 2 to 8 years of marriage.
He always seemed to be surrounded by “a cloud of White Clouds.” At a State Fair in the city of White Cloud, Ks (named for his father), there were dozens of his ‘kith and kin’ in the Indian Parade:

“At this fair four generations of Whiteclouds were in the street parade. James Whitecloud, Louis his son, Dan, Louis’ son and baby Jim Whitecloud now four years old. James Whitecloud is hailed as the head chief by the Iowa Indians. He and his household have royal blood in their veins.​
By his side Rachel, his granddaughter … her mount was one of the famous Campbell horses and none better could be found. Next came three more Whiteclouds. Little Jim was sweet widing with his aunt Sarah and his own mother, Mary, who is a full blooded Indian. He was dressed in beads and feathers and rides his own pony.​

And there were many more there: Iowa, Sac, as well as Métis families, all related to him.

When he first heard of the planned Gettysburg reunion, Chief Whitecloud was eager to go. He had not been East for many years. And, when he heard President Roosevelt would attend, he looked forward to meeting “the other Chief.” He was a popular figure in his regalia, and he spent hours talking to visitors at the Reunion, telling them the story of his people. And, he did shake hands with the President. On July 3rd, he had a spell of weakness from the heat, and was treated at the Army Medical Corps field hospital set up at the reunion. But, he did not need hospitalization. This was the occasion of the photograph above,vwith the supporting medics.

Returning home to the Reservation, Chief Whitecloud started to really feel his years. “I’m so glad I went,” he told his grandchildren. In May, 1940, all the Iowa Nation celebrated his 100th birthday with him. Just two months later, on July 16th, he passed away … the last, it was said, Native American veteran of the Civil War.

James and Louise White Cloud were buried Tesson cemetery, near the northeast corner of Brown County. Note, there is a Spanish War Veterans flag-holder by his grave, this appears to be misplaced.

SOURCES: [for a more detailed hist.]étis

Sabetha Herald (Ks), Sept. 9, 1914
State of Kansas, Adjutant General's Report, 1865
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2nd Lieutenant
Feb 18, 2017
What a wonderful face! ... with magnificent hook-nose and wide, toothless smile. That’s 95-year-old Joshua Henry, of Sabetha, Kansas in 1938, but born in Upper Turkey Foot (I kid you not!), Somerset Co., Pa. on July 2, 1842
Yep. I've been there. Upper Turkey Foot Township is a largely undeveloped rural area near the Mason-Dixon Line.

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Can someone find information on Confederate James Robert Paul, who was apparently 105 at the reunion?
I just need his birth and death date…
I'm looking. Haven't found a death date. I do find this, however:
40&crop=3340_5316_688_805&rotation=0&ts=1633306048.jpg[Charlotte Observer (NC), 2 July 1938]
Though I do suspect Mr Barnes may be off in his calculations by a decade or so. I'll look into it.

EDITED to add: William A. Barnes died at the Fort Miley Veterans' Hospital in San Francisco on 22 August 1940. Hospital records gave his date of birth as 25 December 1834, making him 105 years old at the time of his death.
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