Sunday, June 18, 2017

W. B. Rogers- A Near Miss and a Visit from the President

The Dunker church on the Antietam battlefield

The regimental history I found for the 36th Massachusetts records this note about the month of September:

"On Monday, September 15th, Colonel Bowman received from a mounted orderly a note written in pencil, which purported to be an order from General McClellan, signed " R. B. Marcy, Chief of Staff," directing all troops on the road to hurry forward as rapidly as possible. Colonel Bowman doubted the genuineness of this hasty scrawl, and the more so on account of the appearance of suspicious persons about the camp the night before. Not knowing the result of the battle of the previous day and afraid that an attempt might be made to capture his regiment in its isolated position, he decided not to move his command until lie received further instructions or had better information concerning the state of affairs at the front. This delay undoubtedly prevented our participation in the battle of Antietam, which was fought September 17th."
So, only by some confusion about orders did W. B. and his comrades avoid the Battle of Antietam.
The narrative records that they camped some time at Keedysville, then broke camp and passed through Sharpsburg.
"There the Thirty-sixth was assigned to the Third Brigade of the first division of the NinthCorps. In the brigade were the Forty-fifth and One Hundredth (Roundheads) Pennsylvania regiments, to which we -soon became warmlv attached, and with which we were to be associated during nearly our whole period of service. Than these two regiments there were no better in the Ninth Corps ; and our regard for both officers and men increased as common experiences drew us nearer together. Indeed, they became to us almost as brothers, and we have reason to believe that this feeling was mutual. Colonel Welch, of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, commanded the brigade, and General O. B. Willcox, the division."
The entire group marched to an area just above Harper's Ferry, where they made camp.
"By order of General Wilcox. Sunday, September 29th, was observed by the division as a day of special religious service, to give thanks to God for our recent victories in Maryland. The whole division was brought together, and the services were conducted by Chaplain Canfield, of the Thirty-sixth, and other chaplains of New York and Pennsylvania regiments. The band first played"Old Hundred." The 46th Psalm was then read, and a hymn sung to the well-known tune of Balerma. Remarks were then made by four chaplains belonging to the division. The services were very interesting and solemn throughout. In the afternoon Chaplain Canfield preached."
Shortly after this, on October 3, Union troops were reviewed by General McClellan and President Lincoln.
President Lincoln with General McClellan at Sharpsburg reviewing the troops

Camp Forbes Mariland    Sunday Sept 28 /62 (This must be where mail went)
Dear Wife
       I write a few more lines. I almost dispair of hearing from you as I have not received one word to comfort me. I begin to think perhaps you have not received my letters. Charles Farrer has received two and Chaffin and Moore and Davis and Hubbard have received some but not one world from those that are dearer to me than life itself but I comfort myself that there are some on the way as we have been marching and have not been able to get regular mail. We have now got Big and we are in Wilcox division and Burnside corps. We have just come from devine service and it was very comforting there. There were thousands of soldiers present and the different chaplains spoke very encouraging and one made a prayer in German. We could not understand one word.
I am not quite as well as usual. I have got a little touch of bowel complaint but not bad. I have not missed one duty on account of health.
Oh Dear Wife if ever I felt the need of a hope in Christ it has been since I left your blessed influence. I know I have your prayers. Perhaps you would like to know if I wish myself at home. I wish the thing was settled so we could all go home but I would come home just now if I could but if I ever live to come home I think I shall know how to prize a humble quiet home. I have seen a little of a soldiers life. It is not a pleasant life but the cause is a worthy one but there is great sacrifice of life and property but those that stay at home and find fault don’t know the first thing about it. We are encamped between Sharpsburg and Harper’s Ferry about 7 miles from the latter place. There are acres covered with tents. I saw W W Clapp a week ago today. TE Hall came to our camp a few days ago. I did not see him but A. Chaffin saw him. I have seen Henry White twice. He took dinner with me yesterday. He has been out here fourteen months and been in nine battles and is unharmed. We are a brigaded with the 46th and 100th Pennsylvania regiments. They were in the last great battles but we have not seen any fighting yet but don’t know how soon we may. Oh Dear wife how are those Dear little ones and that Dear aged Mother. May God sustain and comfort her. She has the prayers of one undutiful son. I shall never forget her kindness. Tell Eugene to write to me and be kind to you and take care of that little Brother. Give my love to all. Write as often as you can and write about the friends of the other Holden boys as we all feel anxious when a letter comes from there. I hear that Capt. Kelton is dead and is to be brought to Holden to bury. Everyone says he was a brave soldier. I hope you will write all the particulars just as they are in regard to yours and the children’s health and circumstances. We are going to send to have a box sent to the Holden boys. I shall want my undershirts and a pair of woolen mittens with fingers for the forefingers. I will send a little money if I am sure that it will reach you safe. I shall write often and hope you will.
Direct to
Winslow B Rogers Bugler
Compt G 36 Reg’t Mass. Volt
9th Army Corps
Washington, D C

Camp Forbes    Mariland        Monday Sept 29 /62
Dear Wife
I had just sealed the with letter and we have just received a mail this afternoon and I wish you could have seen the anxiety that was manifested and the rejoicing when the name was called and a letter presented. Oh it has done me more good than anything else could have done to hear that you were so comfortable and to know that it came from your Dear hands. I received one from Warren and Herman and two from you and Joel and Eugene. Oh I thank God for them. I am pretty well today. you wrote me in regard to the papers I should like them very much. I think the mail will come more regular than it has done before as we have got Brigaded.  I have written to Warren and Joel and Mother.
Dear wife be careful of your health and not try to do too much. You spoke of my realizing that I had another son. Oh Cassandria that little image is fixed on my mind so that I never shall forget it. Give my love to all. Tell Eugene to write every time you do.
Goodbye for the present.
May Gods blessing rest upon you.
W. B. Rogers
Warren was W.B.'s brother. Joel was the husband of his sister Emeline Bliss Rogers. Hermann was Warren's son and W. B's nephew. W. B. was related either by blood or marriage to several of the Holden boys : Chaffin, Davis and Hubbard all pop up in the family tree.
If there was a letter where Winslow recorded his impressions of the visit by Lincoln and McClellan, it has been lost. The next letter takes up on the march in late October. There is an underlying sense of how things really are in these letters. He talks of a "bowel complaint". Dysentery probably. It was everywhere in the war. He asks for undershirts and mittens. He's cold at night. He's missing home and longing for letters and news of home. He's trying to be cheerful, but you can read between the lines.
So far, they haven't been tested in battle. It won't last, of course.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Blogiversary!

Tapply Family 1927
Yesterday, was the four year anniversary of this blog. Of course, it completely slipped my mind. I know there must have been something over at GeneaBloggers, but I missed that until a message arrived in my inbox. Thanks to you all.

For this blogiversary, we have the picture that piqued my curiosity as a child. This is the Tapply family reunion in 1927 at the family homestead on Pearl Hill Road. We've had a lot of debate back and forth over the years about exactly who all the people are, but you can bet they're all Tapply family somehow.

I'm working on another Civil War post. More to come soon. In the meantime, Happy Blogiversary to me!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Taking an Oral History- The Tapplys

Charles and Ellen Tapply, White Horse Beach, 1931
You may recognize this picture from a previous post. I'm posting again today because the time period is right for what I'm sharing.  Long before I began to do any actual research into the family, I realized how important all the photos, letters, objects and memories are. I had heard someone talk about sitting older relatives down and recording their memories. How I wish I'd started sooner! In 1994 my mother sat down and made two tapes where she recorded things she knew or could remember about both sides of her family. The records and dates are nice, but the memories are priceless. I haven't listened to the tapes since my mother's death- too hard. Listening now I hear things in her voice I never noticed and hear details that didn't resonate with me then. So on Mother's Day, I share this one memory with my Tapply family.
"My earliest memories as a child are tied up with the Tapplys...my mother did have to work during the depths of the Depression. She spent a lot of time going on temporary assignments (she was a secretary) in downtown Fitchburg in offices. I got passed from grandmother to grandmother, but a lot of the time was with my Grandmother Tapply. At that time, they had moved to Pearl Hill, had build a house on Pearl Hill and their youngest son, Bob lived with them. I enjoyed going to visit my Grandmother and Grandfather Tapply. My grandfather, who my mother portrayed as a very stern, patriarchal, somewhat dictatorial father, had mellowed to a bald-headed gentleman with a salt-and-pepper mustache and wire-framed glasses and a brown coat-sweater that he wore most of the time. He loved to hold me on his lap and he was very kind to me and gave me candy. I used to go shopping with my grandmother and grandfather. We drove down from Pearl Hill and parked right beside the Rollstone Church on North Street and Main. I sat in the large, old, black touring car- I think it even had Isinglass windows -that my grandfather drove.
A touring car with Isinglass windows
My grandmother marched herself up Main Street to do her shopping. This woman had borne, bear in mind, 12 children but she was very energetic. She was a small woman with her hair piled up on top of her head -she still wore it long. Sometimes she would take me with her, but most of the time, I sat with my grandfather and watched the world go by. He was a very pleasant man. He died when I was seven year old and he was buried from that same Rollstone Congregational Church."
Somewhat later..1945...but it gives you a sense of the place at that time.


Reviewing these tapes has reminded me that it's time to digitize them and put them someplace more safe. That's the project for the summer, I think.
Now a challenge to the Tapply cousins: Oh, how I wish we had done this when Charlie and Bob and Prim and Bea and Bess were all still alive! But it's not too late. I challenge Jon and Mark and all the other Tapply cousins to pick an older relative and sit them down. We still have Janet, Bette, Chuck, Buzz and Launa, Warren, Norm and many others. What could they share?
One of the latest issues of Family Tree Magazine gives some tips for how to interview older relatives who may be shy, or tongue-tied, or who need some prompting:
1. Start with the oldest family members
2. Use old photos to trigger memories
3.  Go off topic - you never know what might pop up.
4. Get it on tape or video

They suggest starting with open ended questions and allow them to ramble.
Tell me about your childhood home.
How did your family celebrate holidays when you were a child?
What is your earliest memory?
For a list of suggested questions, you can read at the magazine site and Ancestry has the full list of tips and explains them further here.
Ok Tapply cousins, I've done my bit and I will share more from those tapes here later. Now it's your turn. Please, please send me an audio file or video to share. Think how priceless these will be.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

W. B. Rogers and the American Civil War- The Story Continues

The Steamer Merrimack
By the end of August, the 36th Massachusetts was as trained as they were ever going to be. A history of the 36th tells us that on September 2nd, they boarded train cars and left for Boston. The narrative tells us this:
"On the arrival of the regiment in Boston the line was again formed, and the Thirty-sixth, receiving a brilliant ovation from the citizens, marched through "Washington street, down State street to Battery wharf, where the steamer " Merrimac," a new and large ocean steamer, was in readiness to receive us. One-half of the steamer had been assigned to the Twentieth Maine, Colonel Adelbert Ames, and his regiment was already on board, having arrived from Portland earlier in the day.
In the crowded condition of the steamer there was, necessarily, some delay in getting the companies into the places to which they were assigned, and also in transferring the horses and baggage ; and it was not until late in the evening that the embarkation was accomplished ; then the steamer dropped out into the stream."
Now if the name "Merrimac" sounds familiar, this is not THAT ship. The Merrimac of great fame was scuttled in Virginia by Union forces, raised by the Confederacy, and plated to become the famed ship in the battle of the Ironclads. There were actually a couple of ships operating under that name at the time and our Merrimack (sic) was only one of them. Thanks to the guys over at the American Civil War Forums, I was able to track down some information on our steamer and the picture above which we believe is the right ship. It served to transport troops all through the Civil War, but came to a sad end in 1887 near Halifax, Nova Scotia when it wrecked in thick fog. Here are the basic facts for this ship, as found by my friends over at the Forum.
And Fortress Monroe or actually, Alexandria, Virginia was the very destination for W.B. and his Holden friends. Conditions on the ship, however, were pretty primitive.
This came from a previous newspaper report, but as you will see, W.B. and company shared their feelings. Keep in mind that I corrected only the basics for clarity. The spelling and grammar are all his.
Aug 14/62 Steamer Merrimac
Dear Wife
We started from Boston yesterday morning and we are on the broad Atlantic and no land in sight. I have been seasick and a great many were sick yesterday. We are crowded most to death. There is a …? Regiment on board which makes about 2500 men. I never experience this before saying he had nowhere to lay his head. I have had to lay on deck as best I could. There is fearful confusion and I hear nothing but oaths and vulgarity. There is nothing for me to enjoy but assurance that there is a friend in Heaven. It is a beautiful morning with no land in sight. We don’t know where we are bound. There are a great many rumors about our destination but I shall be glad to get released from this crowded craft. I feel thankful that I am well and in the hands of a just God who doeth things well. My mind dwells on those dear ones at home. I am thankful you are so far away from such scenes as I have witnessed since I left home. Those in their quiet country homes know but little what there is in this wicked world.  The members of our company seem like Brothers to me. It seems like going home to get with them as it is all the home I can claim at the present. I want to hear from you very much but cannot tell you where to direct your letters. I will write as soon as we get landed if …? And tell you all the news. Kiss the children for me and give my love to all.
From your loving Husband
W. B. Rogers
The regiment sharing the ship, according to the history I read, was the 20th Maine.

Steamer Merimack
Saturday Sept 6 /62
Dear Wife
We are sailing up the Potomac and have been confined on board this old craft since Tuesday night. We are packed in like a lot of hogs. I shall be glad to get ashore oncemore. I can be thankful that it is as well as it is.
I feel first rate. the scenery this morning is ….(?). we are continually passing vessels of different kinds and we can see plantations and huts which makes it very pleasant as we have been out of sight of land for two days and I haven’t heard much but profanity. Oh how can men be regardless of their accountability to God. If ever I felt to rejoice in Christ and pray for his grace to sustain me it has been for the last few days. Oh we know not how to realize the comforts of home until we are deprived of them. We expect we are going to land at Alexandria some time but we know not what is before us but there is a friend that will go with me if I put my trust is him and I can pray for those Dear ones at home.
Oh pray that I may see you once more. I am not homesick because I feel that I came here to discharge my duty and hope I shall have strength and courage to do it.
Tell Eugene that I often think of him. Kiss little Ned for me. Give my love to Joel and tell him I am looking on Old Virginia soil at this moment. Give my love to all relatives and friends.
I must leave off writing. there is so much confusion and crowding I cannot half write. I will write again as soon as we get located and tell you where to direct you letters. Yours Truly
                                                                                                W. B. Rogers
So here is the route taken, by the history of the regiment I found and by W.B.'s letters. They boarded the City of Norwich and landed in Washington on around September 7, 1862.
The route of the Merrimack
At the point they reached Washington, they were assigned to the command of General Burnside in the 9th Corps. Here the history skips around a lot from my account by W.B.. There was a great deal of marching in which they just barely escaped taking part in  the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of South Mountain.

They marched from Leesburg, Virginia, to Brookeville, Maryland and on to Unity, to Damascus, to New Market and then just beyond Frederick to Middletown where they camped briefly. 

From Middletown they made camp in Keedysville, Maryland. This is where we take up the last letter for this time from W.B..
Keedysville, Maryland      Sept 16/62

Dear Wife
I have just been looking at your and Eugene’s miniatures and am wondering how you are and what you are doing. Oh if I could spend this Sabbath with you and the little ones but I feel that God is watching over you. we don’t know how to prize God’s blessings until we are deprived of them. I hope I shall be more grateful to him and better discharge my duty to him. I hope you will never cease to pray for me. I never shall for you and pray that I may be permitted to return to you unharmed. My health has been very good ever since I left home. I never shall forget that morning when last I saw you and those Dear little ones. All is very uncertain in this world. If we live as we should we shall soon be at rest. (the rest of this letter seems to be lost)
The 36th had just done a tremendous amount of marching around, yet he doesn't mention it at all. Of course, we don't know what the missing part of the last letter held.
Now I'm wondering. Was that little "fairy album" of miniatures that I had and sent on to the cousins the album W. B. took to war? Eugene would have been 9 at this time and "little Ned", my great-grandfather, was less than a month old. It sounds like he "just" got to look on Ned before he marched off to war. He's been near two very big battles, but hasn't entered the battlefield yet. He sounds homesick, but making the best of his situation. This is what soldiers do. More to come....