An Absence of Civil War Ancestry

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Joshism

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Although I have a brother-in-law, father, maternal grandfather, and great-uncle who are/were veterans, in doing my genealogy I've been surprised how few of my direct ancestors were veterans. In particular, I have have zero direct ancestors who served in the American Civil War on either side, although I have found some non-direct relatives (cousins and Nth-great-uncles). It's particularly surprising as every single branch of my ancestry has been in the USA since the 1700s and none of them were living far from the war (ex: Oregon). On the contrary, every single one of them was in a border state or nearly so - mostly in southern KY or eastern WV. One was a doctor; the rest were farmers. A few were in their 40s without any sons that had yet reached adulthood. At least one was in a difficult family situation, another possibly belonged to a pacifist church, and one was apparently incapacitated. It doesn't make me any less interested in the war; I just find it to be a curiosity.
 

Northern Light

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I have been unable to trace any for me either. I have found a few for my husband but they are all 20th cousins 15x removed sort of things. I did find that he has a direct line to Roger Conant, the founder of Salem, and a direct line to William Brewster of Mayflower fame, which was kind of cool, but none to Civil War soldiers.
 

ARW

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Although I have a brother-in-law, father, maternal grandfather, and great-uncle who are/were veterans, in doing my genealogy I've been surprised how few of my direct ancestors were veterans. In particular, I have have zero direct ancestors who served in the American Civil War on either side, although I have found some non-direct relatives (cousins and Nth-great-uncles). It's particularly surprising as every single branch of my ancestry has been in the USA since the 1700s and none of them were living far from the war (ex: Oregon). On the contrary, every single one of them was in a border state or nearly so - mostly in southern KY or eastern WV. One was a doctor; the rest were farmers. A few were in their 40s without any sons that had yet reached adulthood. At least one was in a difficult family situation, another possibly belonged to a pacifist church, and one was apparently incapacitated. It doesn't make me any less interested in the war; I just find it to be a curiosity.
I have 2 of 4 Great Grandfathers who served, the other two were 8 and 1. Also had 3 GG Grandfathers who served. The rest of them were most likely old enough that they did not have too, most being between 40 and 50, although I found many of them on the draft registration. However 21 of their younger brothers served along with 24 nephews (my cousins) that I have found so far.
My wife had a much younger family and only one of her GG Grandfathers was old enough and in fact did serve along with 2 uncles. Some of her family were Mennonite and would not have served due to religious beliefs.
Just curious have you been able to check all the uncles yet? That has been my most recent project.
 
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Cavalry Charger

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Sounds like you've given a lot of reasons for non-participation such as age, occupation, religion, infirmity. No doubt they were all affected by the war even if they didn't participate. Those are often the untold stories and should generate more interest in my opinion.
 

Drew

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Well, I can't hardly find a gg grandfather who was not in the army during the War. Gabor Boritt, a well known Civil War historian, came from Eastern Europe as an immigrant and has no great granddaddies with a dog in the fight at all.

It's not a requirement, to be interested in the Great Mess.
 
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John Hartwell

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I'm in pretty much the same boat. Family's been here since 1632, & no direct military ancestors since gt-gt-gtgdfather Ben Hartwell ran away from the Brits at the Battle of Hampden in 1813 (they started to row ashore & the Yankee militia sort of melted into the wilderness ... rapidly). Plenty before that, though.*


* [Well, gtgdfather Martin Joyce may have served in the ACW (which side is undeterminate) ... & gone back to Ireland before my gdmother was born. But, that's only a family story, with absolutely no supporting evidence I've ever been able to find.]
 
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Drew

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@John Hartwell , believe it or not, my ggg grandfather (who I will not name), was a soldier at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina in 1871, during the American Revolution.

His written narrative survives, in which he said, "my company fled..." He was a funny guy and I think I would have liked him.

The point is, orders were often given to punch the British and then run. Don't interpret "melting away" or anything similar as cowardice - that's what the troops were ordered to do - punch and run.
 

John Hartwell

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@John Hartwell , believe it or not, my ggg grandfather (who I will not name), was a soldier at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina in 1871, during the American Revolution.

His written narrative survives, in which he said, "my company fled..." He was a funny guy and I think I would have liked him.

The point is, orders were often given to punch the British and then run. Don't interpret "melting away" or anything similar as cowardice - that's what the troops were ordered to do - punch and run.
Oh, I'm not ashamed for him. Not exactly singing his praises, either. But, I must admit a certain sympathy for the utterly unprepared, utterly untrained, poorly-armed, worse led, utterly over-matched, and fleet-footed. A couple of companies did stand for a little while before spiking their guns and hightailing it.

He who is in the battle slain
Will never rise to fight again.
But he who fights and runs away
Will live to fight another day.

PS: Ben wrote some great music, though.
 

ARW

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Oh, I'm not ashamed for him. Not exactly singing his praises, either. But, I must admit a certain sympathy for the utterly unprepared, utterly untrained, poorly-armed, worse led, utterly over-matched, and fleet-footed. A couple of companies did stand for a little while before spiking their guns and hightailing it.

He who is in the battle slain
Will never rise to fight again.
But he who fights and runs away
Will live to fight another day.

PS: Ben wrote some great music, though.
I always consider that "Strategic Redeployment "
 
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Patrick H

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Although I have a brother-in-law, father, maternal grandfather, and great-uncle who are/were veterans, in doing my genealogy I've been surprised how few of my direct ancestors were veterans. In particular, I have have zero direct ancestors who served in the American Civil War on either side, although I have found some non-direct relatives (cousins and Nth-great-uncles). It's particularly surprising as every single branch of my ancestry has been in the USA since the 1700s and none of them were living far from the war (ex: Oregon). On the contrary, every single one of them was in a border state or nearly so - mostly in southern KY or eastern WV. One was a doctor; the rest were farmers. A few were in their 40s without any sons that had yet reached adulthood. At least one was in a difficult family situation, another possibly belonged to a pacifist church, and one was apparently incapacitated. It doesn't make me any less interested in the war; I just find it to be a curiosity.
I wouldn't worry about it at all. Either none of your ancestors served (in uniform, but they might have served otherwise), or you simply have a gap in the records. Either way, I doubt that your situation is unique.

I can only find one ancestor who served, and yet I know there were so many of them living all at the same time, and I know they served one side or the other. I just can't find evidence of it.
 

lelliott19

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Well, gtgdfather Martin Joyce may have served in the ACW (which side is undeterminate)
Where was he living at the time? And where and what year was he born? On the CS side, I found several men named Martin Joyce in LA regiments, 1 in GA, 1 in NC and one who served in Co A 10th TN (CS) and in the 23rd Illinois Infantry. On the Union side, there's the one from TN who swapped sides to IL, and about 6-8 more men named Martin Joyce in regiments from TN, KY, CT, OH, and PA. Maybe we can figure out if one of them is your great grandfather?
 
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SeaSoldier

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They say: that those who fight a war will have sons that fight the next war, those who do not fight, will have sons that do not fight.
At the start of a war, the age of the combatants is generally 18 - about 35. So, yes, some families do not have children who are too young to fight and they themselves are too old.
 

Bruce Vail

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I found no military Civil War service when I looked only at my direct paternal line. I found a mess of Confederates when I looked at my wife's extended family. Also found a distant relative in my mother's family.

It's fun to research and find the closest relatives, even if they aren't really very close.
 

major bill

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Only direct ancestor was mr gggrandfather. He died in Missouri. To tell the truth I have never really researched him much.
 
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SeaSoldier

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One has 1 set of parents, 2 set of grand parents and 4 sets of great grandparents, The doubling goes on as one backs up each generation of ones family tree. Also the number of cousins and uncles increases as family size usually increases. If an ancestors unit can be identified along with dates of service, other military histories of that organization can give the researcher some idea of what the ancestor may have been employed doing. Dates of arrival of the ancestor can certainly speak to what war they may have been called upon to fight. Ancestors arriving in 1600 or even early 1700s could probably have children that fought in the American Revolution. Immigrants arriving prior to 1861 may or may not have been in service during the Civil War. It is all very interesting. I have found several amusing stories of ancestors - none related to the military. It is satisfying to fill out one lineage chart. The "cherry" is finding a story to go along with that name.
 
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