Monday, June 28, 2010

One Hundred Forty Eight Years Ago

By the time the Civil war broke out my Great Grandmother Fannie Lamb’s family had been in New York State for 150 years. In 1863 she was thirteen years old and had three sisters, two brothers and her mother was pregnant. Her father, Harlow D. Lamb was thirty-three years old. His brother, Adin Lamb, was thirty five and also had a wife and children. Late that summer, August 14, 1862, Harlow and his brother Adin were mustered into F Company in Marcellus, New York in the Union Army.

Henry Lamb, either a cousin or a younger brother, was the youngest of the three Lambs to also be mustered into F Company on August 14 and 15, 1862. He was twenty-two years old.

That July, prior to the Lambs’ August, 1862 enlistment, General McClelland’s (USA), four month long Peninsular Campaign that focused on taking Richmond, the Confederate Capital, ended when General Lee (CSA) threw McClelland’s forces back across the Chickahominy in a disastrous rout.

The Seven Days Battles was a series of six major battles fought over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, that drove the Union Army into retreat. These battles were within ear shot of the residents of Richmond and it was not unusual for a Confederate officer to go home for supper. This Northern defeat probably initiated a more urgent recruitment of enlistments in New England and all over the North.

The Lambs were not drafted. The Union draft did not pass into law until March of 1863. The puzzle of why two almost middle aged men with large families would walk off to war may have more to do with their poverty than their patriotism. They could have been, and probably were, “bought”. It was common practice..and pay someone $300 and get them to go fight for you. If you were trying to farm rocky New England ground and having a hard time feeding a family $300 would have been a lot of money.

It was common for men to get a crop in (they enlisted at summer’s end) and figure the “Bonus Money” would last the family until they got back. But they didn’t always get back.

My Grt Grt Grandfather Harlow Lamb’s war lasted about seven months. He died of disease, probably dysentery, at Falmouth, Virginia on March 8, 1863. His brother, Adin, also at Falmouth, Virginia where the Union hospital was located, stuck it out another three weeks and packed up and left.

His record says he deserted and he probably did. He lived to bring his family and children to Missouri and they were all farming in Breckenridge by 1970. He probably also brought some of his brother’s children. My Grt Grandmother Fannie Lamb Stock and her husband, Aaron Stock, also were farming in Breckenridge by 1870 and that is where my Grandfather James Harlow Stock was born, as was his brothers and sister.

Henry, who was just 22 years old when he mustered in, stuck it out through the May 8,1863, Battle of the Wilderness, one of the most horrific of the Civil War battles wherein the woods were set ablaze by gunfire so heavy that it mowed down trees a foot thick. The fire killed more than the gunfire and wounded survivors crawled to save their lives. Many could not crawl fast enough and were burned alive. Henry Lamb was wounded, lived to fight other battles and discharged in 1864.

I believe he went home to his family and remained in New York.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Compassionate Conservatism Defined Conservatively

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." --George W. Bush, Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000.

Well, thanks to the solid Republican "no" block, aided by the invincible Ben Nelson (D-NE), against extending unemployment benefits for the two or three million unemployed people in the country right now, it is even harder for many people to "put food on their families".

For my part, it is a little difficult to work up a good set of tearful apologies for poor old BP, as Sen. Joe Barton(R-Texas) did on the floor of the Senate last week, and at the same time practice tough love on all those unemployed people who, according to Republican ideology, just lay around the shack waiting for that huge windfall of unemployment benefits.