Bill West, whose blog is West in New England, has offered a challenge for 12 April 2011, which is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Have you noticed that on the television, they're repeating Ken Burns's "The Civil War," and programs about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln?
Bill asks us to blog about our Civil War ancestors. I have mentioned before my maternal great-great grandfather Charles Reed and my paternal great-great grandfather Matthew Hale Packard. Charles Reed served in a regiment of Indiana infantry, and Matthew Hale Packard in two different regiments of New York cavalry. By profession, Charles Reed was a nineteenth-century jack of all trades, having been a miller, a teacher, and an inventor. Matthew Hale Packard was a carpenter.
Having talked about their service before, tonight I'm going to talk about how the Civil War left them. Both suffered from afflictions common to soldiers during the Civil War, a war in which there were more casualties from disease than from combat. Charles Reed survived with chronic dysentery and all the afflictions that may accompany it, until 1920. He suffered pain and discomfort almost every day of that period of time. When he did die, it was in poverty and as a widow. His daughter Carrie Alice had taken care of him in his final years.
Matthew Hale Packard likewise suffered from chronic illnesses after the war. He did not last as long as Charles Reed, dying in 1881. Both of them were eventually left unable to work. Matthew Hale Packard's wife Emily Hoyt was able to earn a living as a milliner.
Aside from being the date of the start of the Civil War, April 12 is also the day the Russians launched Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961. It is also the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in 1945. I try to find something positive in the day, because April 12 is also my birthday.