Another Side, Another Story; A Union Descendant’s Story
As we have become very acquainted to in the last 2-3 weeks, the Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the army Robert E. Lee commanded during the war is the basis for the flag that is seen today as a symbol of bigotry, and ignorant pride in a savage history. However, my family has a history on the other side.
I have been interested in my family’s ancestry for a long time. Just last year though, I learned that my Maternal Grandfather’s Great Grandfather fought as part of the Union Army, under the 199th Regiment, Pennsylvania volunteers.
However, it wasn’t until tonight, that finally out of curiosity, I did find out the history, which I will detail as I found below.
The unit was first formed in Philadelphia in September and October of 1864, under Col. James C. Briscoe, Lt. Col. Ambrose A. Lechler, and Major William A. F. Gehr. Later in October, they were moved to Deep Bottom Landing, VA having duties in the Trenches before the Fall of Richmond. They were attached to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps, Army of the James. Late in the same month, Letchler was discharged, and replaced by a Captain Robert P. Hughes. In December, they were moved, to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 24th Army Corps.
What blew my mind tonight, was the history the next year for the unit my Ancestor fought in.
On April 2nd, 1865, the 199th fought in the Third Battle of Peterburg, at the Assault of the closely grouped Forts Gregg and Whitworth, and shortly thereafter participating in the Fall of Petersburg. Lee order a Retreat.
Thus began the final moments of the war. They took part in the pursuit of Lee, fighting in the Battle of Rice’s Station under General John Gibbon. Combined with the defeat at nearby Sailor’s Creek, Longstreet was forced back to Farmsville.
Of course, all of you can see where we are going. The Surrender at Appomattox Court House. After the War, it was merged with 188th Pennsylvania under Col. Briscoe, and occupied various areas of Virginia. They were mustered out of Service in December of 1865.
A more detailed history can be found here, and his detailed in a book by Samuel P. Bates, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65. I myself will now be looking for the book.
This does bring a new light to the Confederate Flag for me. Not only did my 3xGreat-Grandfather fight to bring down the Confederacy, he actually saw the flag come down at Lee’s Surrender. To see the Flag come back up is a disgusting slap in the face at the memories of so many Unionists, who fought, sometimes and died to see the Confederacy be made what should have been a footnote in history.
My ancestor, he lived after the war, living until 1931. He lived during the first 22 years of my Great-Grandmothers life, and a year before my Grandfather was born. I was able know and meet my great-grandmother. She died in 2001, 2 weeks after 9/11. I had last seen her in 1998, and by the time she died, a disease had robbed her of her memories.
As an aside.
And, I apologize for the way have acted at times. It is very easy to forget on the Internet that there are people and faces behind the usernames and avatars. I am definitely trying my best to make progress, but I slip up a lot, and more so recently, as I have been told I should keep issues to myself. And issues are piling up. I will keep trying, and I hope to get better. It may take some time though.