Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
A woman's image from Virginia's map, 1864, one foot on the vanquished foe. So many foes lay claimed and buried, sons vanished from mothers' lives, it seems the most incongruous image of which you could dream.
With our 'Day' nearly here, a Mother's Day thread filled with patriotic or touching tributes to motherhood seems mandatory. The thing is, while researching something ( someone ) else, I could not get his mother out of my head. Well, she was my grgrgrgrandmother Magdalena, home in West Penn, Schuylkill County Pennsylvania in July, 1863. Salinda, 23 year old wife and mother of David P. Steigerwalt's children, Franklin and Allen, three and four years old was waiting too. Mothers had a bad war.
June 15th, 1863. Lincoln puts out an emergency call for to state militia. Troops, to meet Lee's threatened invasion. Maria Magdalena wouldn't see son David Peter again. Salinda, raised David's two children alone. What I do wish to know is how many graves of mother's sons are scattered over our country? David left home despite wife and children, joining two brother already in uniform, in pursuit of Lee's army. Brother Lewis, 116th Pennsylvania had survived Gettysburg's rivers of blood. Aaron and Joseph were in uniform too. They came home.
Maria Magdalena, pre-war. That's Peter, neither wondering, when this was taken, which son would vanish under the soil of another state.
I do not think anyone ever found David P's grave. Several years ago, too late for Magdelena and Salinda, the 2 mothers, our family found him. Well, someone did, for us.
An awfully kind woman had been visiting Gettysburg College's Special Collections. Her relative, like David P. and Moyer had endured the 173rd Pennsylvania's hot, Virginia July. This wonderful stranger resolved to track down Private Steigerwalt's relatives. The map? We'll get there, be sure.
Here's a snip from just one map of the war- a small part of Virginia containing Goose Creek.
Bull Run, Warrenton, Leesburg, Centerville, Bristoe Station, Fairfax Courthouse-other names not listed- who is here, left behind in war's awful wake? Will we ever know? Please no one turn this into a Union v Confederate thread. David Peter was Union militia. So, what? He, like anyone mother's son in that war, was born just that, and mourned as just that.
Mothers, this Sunday, as pancakes drown in syrup and another year's artifacts hang on the fridge, can maybe join hands over the war. Over any war- for the loss of sons and daughters, too, who never came home.