Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

When I first started this blog two years ago my first memorial day post featured Theodore O'Hara's famous poem, "Bivouac of the Dead." The full text can be found here, but the first lines are:

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dreams alarms;
No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

O'Hara wrote the poem to memorialize Kentucky troops killed at Buena Vista during the Mexican War. His Civil War service was mainly staff work. He was at Shiloh with Albert Sidney Johnston, then ended up with Breckinridge by the time of Stones River. I think he later served with Joe Johnston but am not positive about that.

Part of his poem appears on plaques at national cemeteries. One of the most moving national cemeteries I've been to is Andersonville. So I've decided that the rest of this week will be a tour of Andersonville, from the stockade to the cemetery.

I would also like to take this opportunity to mention my relatives who served in the army.

My GGG grandfathers and uncles:

Jacob Goll, 24th Wisconsin, Co. C. Enlisted 1 August 1862. Murdered 25 October 1864 at Marietta, GA.

Friedrich Goehring, 9th Wisconsin, Co. A. Enlisted 17 Sepetmber 1861. Mustered out 3 December 1864.

Frederick Illian, 37th Wisconsin, Co. G. Drafted 21 October 1864. Mustered out 27 July 1865.

Henry Kneibes, 6th Wisconsin, Co. I. Drafted 21 October 1864. Mustered out 14 July 1865.

Henry Kneibes was Frederick Illian's brother in law and lived on Frederick's farm. Frederick was 44 when he was drafted with 7 children at home, the youngest was only a year old. His wife's parents also lived with them. The oldest child was 16 so he was some help on the farm but I've got to imagine that his military service was one of the hardest time periods for his wife.

Additionally, Robert Meisinger (my grandfather) served on the USS Hope and USS Thistle during WW2. His father Louis served in the 150th Machinegun Battalion (Rainbow Division) in WW1. My GG Uncle Alexander Kurtz was in the Coastal Artillery in WW1 headed to Europe when a submarine sunk his troop transport ship and he was killed. A few years my uncle gave me Alexander's hunting shotgun and one of Alexanders' brothers engraved the stock with the particulars of his death.

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