Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beeks line: "Uncle" George Botkin, Civil War veteran

I don't usually write about people who aren't direct ancestors, but I make an exception if I find a truly interesting story.  This one qualifies, in my opinion. 

George Botkin was born February 9, 1831 in Ohio, probably Shelby County although I haven't found records yet.  His parents were George and Elizabeth Featheringill Botkin.  He was the youngest of at least 10 children, and George Sr died in 1832, when George was just a baby.  He came with his mother and other Botkin family members (including his sister, Charity Botkin who married Jackson Wise) to southern Wabash county. 

In fact, George actually settled in Pleasant Township, Grant County, where he married Mary Jane McClure in 1858.  By the 1860 census, there were two children, George W, who was 3, and Robert, who was 1.There was also a person named Charly Winters, who was 22, a laborer, and apparently an Indian.  The census is very faint and hard to read for this township, but I think it says "Indian" in the "race" column; I could be wrong about that. 

George's life changed dramatically when the Civil War broke out.  He was one of those brave men who enlisted for duty..  On August 16, 1862 he enlisted in the 101st Indiana Infantry Regiment at Wabash, Indiana, and was assigned to company F.  This was part of the Army of the Ohio in 1862, but in 1863, it became attached to the Army of the Cumberland.  One of their first assignments was in the Defense of Cincinnati, when it appeared that there might be an invasion by the Confederates. 

It may have been about this time that George saw another, equally interesting, opportunity.  He transferred to a group known as the "Mississippi Marine Brigade", a unit of the army command operating under the direction of the U.S. Navy.  It consisted of artillery, cavalry, and infantry, and a fleet of boats for transportation.  This is a little known story of the Civil War, probably because few records have survived.  The brigade participated in the Vicksburg Campaign, reaching the area above Vicksburg on May 29, 1863.  Some of the unit engaged in various skirmishes while others built a fort directly across the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, and then occupied it.  They were instrumental in helping bring the siege, or campaign, to a  successful conclusion. 

I've not yet learned more of their history, or what they did during the next two years of the war.  Because this was a loose group and control shifted back and forth between the Navy and the Army, their records are poorly kept.  I've not yet found a discharge date for George, or whether or not he was wounded, or any hint of a pension record.  I have found someone by his name who ended up in a soldier's home in Ohio, but I'm not convinced this is our George.  There was another George in the Civil War from Ohio, and this is more likely to be the George referred to in the soldier's home.

The only record I've found of George for sure was in the 1880 census in Montgomery County, Kansas, where he is listed with Mary Jane, and Robert, a name undeciphered, and James.  There is also a comment that George W (son) is not living at home.  After that, I can find nothing. 

However, what we do know of George and his life is fascinating.  Who knew that a Beeks ancestor was involved in the Civil War, let alone part of such a unique unit?  I would love to hear his stories, and to find out what became of him.  He's another relative to honor for his service to our country, and it's neat to find him in the Beeks family line.

I certainly want to thank T.J. Hunnicutt at the Wabash Historical Museum, for sending me the clues that led me on a search of George's service, and of his life.  I would not have stumbled on this story without him!