Researching Cpl. Gottfried Elo, Co. H, 14th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment

Kingfish

Cadet
Joined
Dec 28, 2020
Gottfried Elo was my 4x great grandfather, and I would love to find out more about him. I know he served in the 14th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, and I also know some of the battles he was in. The main thing I'm trying to find out about is his experience in Libby prison. According to his wife's obituary from 1928 ( I don't think he ever got his own, so he shared it with his wife), he was at one point locked up at Libby prison, and then escaped. One thing that may or may not have to do with this is the fact that he was honorably discharged on December 10, 1863, and then immediately rejoined his regiment the next day as a veteran volunteer. As has been pointed out many times on this forum, Libby prison has no real record database, so it is hard to find information about its prisoners. One thing that makes Gottfried difficult to research is that his name was frequently misspelled. I have seen his first name written as Godfrey or Godfried, and his last name written as Ely or Dlo. I would love to find out when/if he was at Libby prison, and if so, when he was locked up, because I can't really find anything.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
This may not be his complete record, but there is no record here of him being a P.O.W.

Screenshot (14).png
 
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Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
Do you have any information as to the date of his capture or the location of his regiment when he was captured? This information may provide clues. As to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, my understanding has been it was primarily a Prisoner of War facility for Federal officers. There was one famous escape from that prison in February of 1864, in which 109 prisoners escaped. 59 of the prisoners made it to union lines, 48 were recaptured and two drowned. Confederate record keeping was rudimentary on their best days and non-existent on others, so it is doubtful you will find anything useful from what may exist of those. You might request Corporal Elo's records from the National Archives. His muster sheets may give you some of the clues you are missing. Hopefully, as others read this, they may be able to offer more help. Good luck with your research.
 

lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
Welcome from the Researching Your Civil War Ancestry forum! As you can see from the replies you've already gotten, we have lots of folks who enjoy finding information on soldier's service and records. As both @east tennessee roots and @Dave DuBrucq said, the CSA was not great at creating and keeping records. But that doesn't mean we can't try :smile:
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Do you have any information as to the date of his capture or the location of his regiment when he was captured? This information may provide clues. As to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, my understanding has been it was primarily a Prisoner of War facility for Federal officers. There was one famous escape from that prison in February of 1864, in which 109 prisoners escaped. 59 of the prisoners made it to union lines, 48 were recaptured and two drowned. Confederate record keeping was rudimentary on their best days and non-existent on others, so it is doubtful you will find anything useful from what may exist of those. You might request Corporal Elo's records from the National Archives. His muster sheets may give you some of the clues you are missing. Hopefully, as others read this, they may be able to offer more help. Good luck with your research.

Hello Dave, are you by any chance in East Tennessee?
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
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Location
Tennessee
Welcome to the forums. Always glad to see a Tennessean!
Thank you, sir. It is a pleasure to be here and I appreciate the warm welcome. If you ever visit Murfreesboro, I'll be happy to give you the cooks tour of Stone's River, Franklin, Hoover's Gap and a dozen more lesser known sights, like Vaught's Hill and Hurricane Creek. Rippavilla and the Columbia Battlefield are close by as well.
 

Ole Miss

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Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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Kingfish

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Dec 28, 2020
Thank you all for your help. According to the records, 42 members of the regiment were taken as POWs, over half of those during the Battle of Corinth. I don't think he would have been captured there. His Find a Grave page has some info about the battles he was in, but no mention of his imprisonment.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/64332991/godfrey-elo
(He might have gone by Godfrey near the end of his life, which is why his grave says Godfrey.)
There is always the possibility that the obituary was wrong, but it seems like an odd thing to make up. His wife whose obituary he shared was married to him during the Civil War, so I don't know why she would have been confused.
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Like you, my civil war link was foreign born (and usually had his name misspelled), served for Wisconsin, and was imprisoned in Virginia. American records weren't of much help--despite having made a trip out to Madison where the Wisconsin Historical Society has terrific Civil War records. It has an online presence at https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/

However, I found the Norwegian archives contained information sent home to Gjerpen from his friends in WI. You might try local German archives.

Also, it may be that your ancestor did have an obituary--but one that hasn't made the national databases because the town is so small. Why not contact the local historical society? It is likely to have an obituary file. Kansas Historical Society has a database of Civil War vets online at https://www.kshs.org/p/civil-war-veterans-in-kansas/11179 (I couldn't find him listed--but I only tried the obvious).

When you're checking with the local historical society, it might be worthwhile to find out who has the records of the local GAR. Those records frequently contain information about members.

Last straw to grasp at: Pat Young, on this forum, recently had a description of a Civil War exhibit (and museum) in Kenosha, WI. At Carthage College, I think. If you do a search, you'll find it along with earlier posts on the museum.

Edit: on reflection, it wasn't the Norwegian archives. It was the small church in his home area in Norway. But in Norway, the holdings of the churches made their way into the archives so it may be there as well. I don't know about Germany but the system may be similar.
 
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lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
Like you, my civil war link was foreign born (and usually had his name misspelled), served for Wisconsin, and was imprisoned in Virginia. American records weren't of much help--despite having made a trip out to Madison where the Wisconsin Historical Society has terrific Civil War records. It has an online presence at https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/

However, I found the Norwegian archives contained information sent home to Gjerpen from his friends in WI. You might try local German archives.

Also, it may be that your ancestor did have an obituary--but one that hasn't made the national databases because the town is so small. Why not contact the local historical society? It is likely to have an obituary file. Kansas Historical Society has a database of Civil War vets online at https://www.kshs.org/p/civil-war-veterans-in-kansas/11179 (I couldn't find him listed--but I only tried the obvious).

When you're checking with the local historical society, it might be worthwhile to find out who has the records of the local GAR. Those records frequently contain information about members.

Last straw to grasp at: Pat Young, on this forum, recently had a description of a Civil War exhibit (and museum) in Kenosha, WI. At Carthage College, I think. If you do a search, you'll find it along with earlier posts on the museum.

Edit: on reflection, it wasn't the Norwegian archives. It was the small church in his home area in Norway. But in Norway, the holdings of the churches made their way into the archives so it may be there as well. I don't know about Germany but the system may be similar.
I'm very impressed at the lengths you went to to get this info!
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
You might request Corporal Elo's records from the National Archives.
An excellent suggestion! However, when I requested the records for my ACW relative, the search also unearthed the information that he had ordered a new uniform but was captured before the clothing was paid for. I ignored a subtle hint that I was liable. A work colleague advised me that I should have said that I would pay the few dollars involved only in exchange for a brand new Union uniform! 😂
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I'm very impressed at the lengths you went to to get this info!
Thank you but only the Madison trip was done only for this one individual (and I had such a good time in Madison that I wasn't devastated by my poor result). Most of the suggestions come from my civil war project--I tracked the personal (as well as military) lives of these men--some of whom had the bad taste 😊to leave Maine and had to be tracked down to other areas of the country. There was a regular path of sources that I could follow. Too many people don't understand how little (relatively speaking) is online and that plogging through local sources is necessary; I had neither the funding nor the time to visit all the places these men went so I made use of telephone, email and written letters. In all the tracking research I did, I never once encountered anyone who was less than marvelous.
 

Kingfish

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Joined
Dec 28, 2020
Wow! Thank you so much for looking into this. Unfortunately, due to the current situation, ordering veteran's records from the National Archives is hard, as they have shut down many of their offices. As you have recommended to me, though, there are a few other resources I still need to try. Also, while this probably won't help, I should probably post his shared obituary to give more context to the situation.

"Gottfried Elo enlisted in the Union army at the very beginning of the Civil War, and served his country to the close of the conflict enduring the unspeakable privations and hardships of army life, even to imprisonment in Libby prison, and sunstroke in the swamps, after escaping from Libby prison. He died August 12, 1875, leaving his young wife with seven young children."

Unfortunately, I have no idea which paper this was printed in.
 

Ole Miss

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Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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Kingfish I have found a few references that might be of interest and assistance to you in your search.
As I find others I will send them to you
Regards
David

1) The 14th Wisconsin was in the 2nd Brigade of the 6th Division of Grant's Army of West Tennessee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Corinth_Union_order_of_battle)
2) The losses for the 14th Wisconsin do not indicaqqqqqqted a large number of soldiers being POW just listing 21. (Official Records of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume XVII, Part 1,
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924077728248&view=1up&seq=192&q1=175
Page 176)
3) Fourteenth Wisconsin Vet. Vol. Infantry, October 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th, 1862 at the battle of Corinth, (https://content.wisconsinhistory.org/digital/collection/quiner/id/52575/rec/4)
 

Ole Miss

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Kingfish here are a couple of more possible sources which I have from a long delayed thread on the 14th Wisconsin at Shiloh. I need to get going. If I can help any further let me know.
Regards
David

1)
The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records

Series 1, Volume XVII, Part 1 which contains the Official Reports of officers commanding. Since Lieutenant-Colonel McDermott either did not submit an Official Report or it may be lost, I would recommend reading the reports of his commanding officers:

a) Brigadier General Thomas McKean, 6
th Division Commander Pages 335-341

b) Brigadier General John McArthur, 1
st & 3rd Brigades Commander Pages 344-346

c) Colonel John Oliver, 2
nd Brigade Commander Pages 351-356

d) Lieutenant-Colonel McDermott, Commander of the 15
th Michigan---Since the 14th was on this unit’s flank---this report should be informative Pages 357-358

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924077728248&view=1up&seq=374&q1=mcdermott

1) Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865. Volume I.
(https://content.wisconsinhistory.org/digital/collection/quiner/id/49822/)
 

Bob Velke

Private
Official Vendor
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Jan 25, 2014
His widow, Cresenz Scherrer, applied for (and later received) a pension based on his service while she was living in Kansas on 7 June 1890. The full pension file at the National Archives will include some details of his service and perhaps some discussion of his time at Libby Prison.

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