Friday, January 8, 2016

Holbrook line: Washington Eddy and Joseph R. Eddy, Civil War Veterans

When I wrote my last post of 2015, I mentioned that there would be joys and unexpected finds along the way in 2016.  These men are the first fulfillment of that statement.  Who are these men?  They are my great great granduncles, two of the brothers of my great great grandmother, Susan Eddy Stanard.  Their parents were Joseph Brown Eddy (I just learned, in working on this information, that the middle "B" stands for Brown) and Susan Lamphire.  They were both born near Ellington, in Chatauqua County, New York in  1841 (Joseph R) and 1845 (Washington.)  With their parents, they moved to Lee County, Illinois, sometime between 1845 and 1850.  So Illinois would have been the only home these men would have really known, when the Civil War broke out.

Illinois of course was the home of Abraham Lincoln, and Illinois, especially northern Illinois, supported the Civil War with full vim and vigor.  I have tried to imagine what the Eddy family thought, and especially Susan, as two of her boys enlisted in the 7th Illinois Cavalry on September 4, 1861.  Joseph was 20 years old, and perhaps Susan was resigned to the fact that he would enlist.  But Washington was only just 16, far too young, I would think from this viewpoint, for a mama to be resigned to his going off to war.  Perhaps the fact that Jospeh and Washington were to be in the same unit helped to mollify her.  Perhaps Washington lied about his age, and enlisted behind her back.  I guess we'll never know, unless a reader knows more of the family story than I have gathered on a quick internet search.

At any rate, the 7th Illinois Cavalry was a busy, busy  unit.  It appears that they were in training for roughly 10 weeks, and by January 10 had reported for their first service assignments.  They first served in several operations, expeditions, and actions in Missouri, including Bird's Point, Point Pleasant, and New Madrid.  The unit then joined the Army of the Mississippi, and fought in Tennessee and  Mississippi for many months.  Since this was a cavalry unit, many of their assignments were of a reconnaissance nature.  They also pulled guard duty along railroad tracks.  It appears that the largest battle they were involved in during these early months was the battle of Corinth, which took place October 3-4, 1862.

Joseph was discharged from the army on disability on October 15, 1862.  I'd love to know, but am reluctant to spend the money to find out, whether he was suffering from one of the usual sicknesses, or whether he had possibly been wounded at Corinth or in one of the earlier fights and skirmishes.  At any rate, Joseph, the older brother, was home and may have felt guilty for leaving 17 year old Washington behind. Joseph, incidentally, is listed in 1863 on a Lee County draft board list, showing that he had already served.  I haven't figured out whether he was classified as "1", or as "I", which would presumably be for an invalid.  Whichever it was, he was not drafted.

Washington certainly had a chance to see a lot of the southern United States after Joseph was discharged.  The regimental history I found shows that these men were constantly on the move, on scouting expeditions, reconnaissance assignments, and in skirmishes, battles, and sieges until finally in April of 1864, after 2 1/2 years of service, these men were sent home for a furlough that lasted until sometime in June.  I can just imagine some of the conversations the two brothers would have had, probably highlighting whatever good times they could remember while in the presence of their family, and keeping the sadder topics to themselves until they were working together in the barns or the fields.

All too soon it was time for Washington, still just 19 years old, to join his neighbors and return to duty.  The unit got right back into the saddle and was sent on various detachments and expeditions over the next several months.  There was a big battle at Nashville on December 15 and 16, 1864 and then a pursuit of General Hood to the Tennessee River which lasted most of the rest of the month.  It may have been during this time period, (or earlier, or later) that Washington was captured by the Confederates.  I haven't yet been able to find records of when or where the capture took place, but I do know he ended up in Andersonville Prison, the most infamous of the Confederate prison of war camps.  Most men did not survive more than a few months there, so that is the only basis for my speculation of when he was captured.  Perhaps his youth helped him fight off the diseases that killed so many men there, or perhaps he was lucky, or blessed.  The camp was finally liberated in May of 1865, and Washington was mustered out August 22, 1865, undoubtedly a much older man than one would think by his chronological age.

That must have been a glorious homecoming.  We don't know whether Washington went home with his unit or whether he arrived quietly by himself, but either way, the joy of the Eddy family was surely heard all the way to the heavens.  Joseph B. was 62 years old by now and Susan was 55,  and it must have been wonderful to have their son home, no matter what kind of physical shape he was in.

Joseph and Washington each married and apparently raised families.  The "boys" may have developed a wanderlust during their war years, or perhaps it was the possibility of almost free land under the Homestead Act that attracted them, but in the 1870's they each moved to South Dakota.  Washington stayed in or near Woonsocket, S.D. but Joseph went on to Los Angeles, California.  Washington had health problems as he aged and by 1918 was in the Battle Mountain Sanitarium for a couple of months.  He is diagnosed there as having chronic arthritic rheumatism, cardiac hypertrophy, and gastritis.  His physical description, when he was 73, is given as height of 5'8", fair complexion, blue eyes and gray hair.  He could read and write, was a Protestant, and a farmer.  Lennard Eddy is listed as next of kin, a son he may have been living with or near.  Washington lived for several more years, dying in September of 1925.  Joseph may have died about the same time, in Los Angeles, although I have seen an earlier death date for him and I'm not sure which is correct.

I have so much respect for these two men.  "You never know what you don't know until you find out you don't know it" was a common saying in my working life, and it certainly applies to genealogy.  I don't know why the story of these men wasn't passed down through the generations.  I'm "happy genealogy dancing" because now our family knows of more heroes, and because I have more research to do!  If a descendant of either Joseph or Washington happens to read this, I would love to hear from you and learn more about these men, who should be family legends.  My email is happygenealogydancingATgmailDOTcom.