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message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie My hairdresser knows I like the Civil War and is doing some research on a relative of hers that fought in it. She asked me for info and I'll admit I wasn't knowledgable enough to have an answer, so I thought I'd see if anyone here had any ideas.

She has 3 letters written in 1862-1863. Her relative was on the Union side and in the New Orleans area. She does not know his rank or branch but upon closer inspection of the letters noticed a seal on them. It is a crown with 3 points and a ribbon, if I remember correctly. It is not very large or evident, more like a small raised seal of a notary stamp. She is trying to determine what the symbol means. She thought this was perhaps paper from the ship he was on.

A totally random and somewhat vague question, but does anyone have any thoughts?

message 2: by Hartley (new)

Hartley | 10 comments As a member of the Connecticut Civil War Round Table I would like to ask a larger group. May I forward your letter to my Round Table. We had someone recently show and tell about private letters and looking at the watermarks in the paper. As to his regiment I can help but I need to know his name and where he lived. Hartley

message 3: by Valerie (new)

Valerie My hairdresser did say they were raised seals rather than watermarks. His name is William Beebe. I don't know his location for sure, but I believe it is the Groton area. If it helps, his wife was named Mary and his 2 children were also William and Mary. Thank you for any help you can provide!

message 4: by Hartley (new)

Hartley | 10 comments In the 1860 Federal census there was 5 William Beebes in Connecticut. One was in the Middlesex area and the others were in the New London area. Of those in New London, there was

William 40 years old of East Lyme
William H. 43 years old of Lyme
William 29 years old of Waterford
William C. 30 years old of Waterford

I started with those younger Williams and never looked at the two older Williams

The William that was 29 lived with a family of eight by the name of Holms. His occupation was listed as seaman. Interestingly, the neighbor was a Grace Beebe that was also 29 years old and had a house worth $3000.00 and personal property valued at $700.00. This seem like a lot of money from a young single woman.

The other William C. of Waterford, was married to a Mary E. who was 28 years old. They had three children.
Ernest A. 5 years old
Mary E. 4 years old
Elisa J. 2 years old

Their neighbors were Charles Beebe and Dolly both 67 years old and on the other side Horace R. Beebe and Maria with family. I would guess, William C.’s middle name was Charles and this is his father.

William C. and Mary had $900.00 in real estate and $50.00 in personal property. His occupation was sailmaker.

Because I was told the Beebe names were William and Mary, I was thinking this was the family. Waterford is next to Groton, CT.

There were 28 Beebe’s that enlisted from Connecticut in the Civil War. Only two Williams enlisted. One, William enlisted in East Lyme on August 23rd, 1862 and mustered in November 10th of 1862 into 26th Regiment Company C. of the Connecticut Volunteer. He was listed as dying in 1863. Not of combat or wounds but of perhaps a camp disease. This most likely is the 40 year old William from the 1860 census. Imagine going to war at 42.

The other William was a William C. He enlisted from Waterford on January 4th 1864 and mustered in January 4th 1864 into the First Regiment of the Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery. William was wounded August 18th 1864 at Petersburg, Va. And mustered out September 25th 1865.

The problem with this story is that the First Heavy never were further south then Virginia. He did witness the famous mine explosion in July 1864 at Petersburg. The 1st Heavy were there.

After the war, in the 1870 Federal census, William having returned home and has a 2 year old named Hattie. Some of the children have different names. There was a childhood death of Elisa and the birth also of Maria who was 8. Mary E.’s middle name was Ella, because now there is Ella of 13 years which ten years earlier would have been the Mary E. listed before as 4 years old. The difference if ages is caused by when the census was taken and birthdays. It is safe to say this is the same family. His occupation is listed as sail maker again.

message 5: by Hartley (new)

Hartley | 10 comments Valerie
I am not sure if I posted my reply to you right. Check are group discussion

message 6: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Wow, thank you for all the information!

Based on your research and what my hairdresser told me, I would guess that William C. from Waterford is the closest bet. She thought he was probably in his twenties or at least a relatively young man. If I remember correctly, he was a volunteer and sailmaking runs in the family. He mentioned ports in the New Orleans area around 1862-1863, so the dates don't jive, but I'll see if I can get more information. I'll pass along your information and see if she has anything more helpful. Was there anything else on this William of Waterford? Thank you again for your extensive and interesting research.

message 7: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Hartley,

I relayed the above information to my hairdresser and she was very grateful. Like you, she thinks her relative may be William C. I asked her more about the letters and gleaned this additional information:

One letter is dated Dec. 1862 and William says he is in New Orleans. The other two are from June and July 1863 and he says he is in Port Hudson, Louisiana. He talks about a battle and says his company/regiment/whatever he was in was in the rear and that he could hear the bombarding of the batteries. He stated that he was waiting for transport and that he never wanted to be in a war again.

She did says she would bring them in for me to read the next time I see her, but that won't be for another 3 months. If you come up with anything else, please let me know. All your research has been greatly appreciated.

message 8: by Hartley (new)

Hartley | 10 comments I am troubled that the dates do not jive. The Connecticut records are very poor for sailors. Port Hudson was first attacked March 14, 1863 by Admiral Farragut. If the letters you speak of reports about the battle for Port Hudson then either
Mr. William C. Beebe was a sailor.
Mr. William C. Beebe was in another regiment before joining the 1st Heavy.
Mr. William C. Beebe enlisted in another town or state (not likely) .

This weekend at the reenactment, I will ask about the best sources for finding sailor records. Wonderful weekend in Woodbury, The RI could not bring the horses but I saw a rebel mountain guns for the first time. No help on better sailor info then what we have. Added later after weekend

The 1st Heavy started enlistments in May 23 1861, I would have thought if Beebe was going to enlist he would have done sooner than the records show. So perhaps he was a sailor first.

My only source at home shows soldier regiments and of all the Connecticut regiments only these six were in the XIX Corps of Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks Army of the Gulf saw fighting before Port Hudson.

12th Connecticut had 15 men from Waterford
13th Connecticut had 1 man from Waterford
24th Connecticut had 0 men from Waterford
25th Connecticut had 0 men from Waterford
26th Connecticut had 15 men from Waterford
28th Connecticut had 0 men from Waterford

The 12th and 13th were long term enlistments and it was unlikely Beebe would have changed to the 1st Heavy in 1864. The 26th was a nine month tour of duty starting Nov 10, 1862 until Aug 19, 1863. This would have given William four months home with his wife before reenlisting. We could check this by asking to see the enlistment for the 26th. Perhaps we will find his name and correct a gross over sight. The letters are proof he was there. If the daughter in the 1870 census was listed as eight then 1862 sometime was her birthday. So William had to be on leave before that or not in the service for Mary and he to have Maria.

I was surprised you wrote that he wished never to see war again. I was reading this month but did not finish because the author made his point early in the book called Shook over Hell about the comparison of Vietnam vets and Civil War vets with Post War problems. I would guess the last pages would say war in not a good thing to witness.

message 9: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Very interesting information. Record keeping back then, of course, is not what it is today, so that's been my own explanation for some of the information not matching exactly. I am very eager to read the letters for myself. All the information I have is second hand and I would like to see them in person. The best case scenario would be that I could scan them and hang on to the scans for further analysis.

I cannot thank you enough for your help. The fact that you have spent so much time working on this for someone you don't even know speaks volumes about your character. It has been quite the interesting mystery, I'll admit!

message 10: by James (last edited Sep 07, 2009 09:13AM) (new)

James | 25 comments Valerie: Paper was so scarce they wrote on anything they could get their hands on, but if she is looking for his unit she should try:
Pick soldier; then write in his name, infantry, union and let the system show you how many soldiers there were and in what units. Assuming there is more than one... then do google search on the units until she finds the one which was in New Orleans at the time of the letters. The National Archives will have some record of him for her to request.
I did this and there is only one William Beebe that fits. He is in the 26th Connecticut Infantry. From the National Archive:
"26th Regiment, Connecticut Infantry
Organized at Norwich November 10, 1862. Left State for East New York November 12, thence sailed for Ship Island and New Orleans, La., November 29, arriving December 16. Attached to Sherman's Division, Dept. of the Gulf, to January, 1863. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, to August, 1863.

SERVICE.-Duty at Camp Parapet till May, 1863. Moved to Springfield Landing May 20. Siege of Port Hudson May 24-July 9. Assaults on Port Hudson May 27 and June 14. Surrender of Port Hudson July 9. Mustered out August 17, 1863.

Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 51 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 89 Enlisted men by disease. Total 145"

message 11: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Based on that bio, it sounds right on the money. The letters mention Camp Parapet and Port Hudson and the fact that he mustered out shortly after fits with his statement about never wanting to be in a war again.

I will relate this information to my hairdresser. Again, your help and kindness has been greatly appreciated and your knowledge of the subject and how to obtain the information impressive and admirable. Thanks again!

message 12: by Hartley (new)

Hartley | 10 comments I have not used the resource that James has linked. I will after I write this note. There is a discrepancy, the Connecticut Service Record published 1889 shows this William Beebe that was in Company C of the Connecticut 26th dying in August of 1863. We have to dig deeper. Valerie's friend said she believed her family was from sailmakers and her grandparents were William and Mary with 2 children. The 1860 census work supports William C. of Waterford. However, the Service Record does not place William C. in Port Hudson.

message 13: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Thank you both for looking into this for me. I'm not surprised there are some discrepancies, considering that recording keeping wasn't as good as it is now.

message 14: by Jim (last edited May 29, 2010 07:03AM) (new)

Jim | 3 comments Hi Valerie. I have an ancestor who fought with the 26th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment. I also have an original copy of an 1864 book "Catalog of Connecticut Volunteer Organizations With Additional Enlistments and Casualties Compiled from Records in the Adjutant-General's Office" that was published by the Connecticut State Legislature in Hartford. This book lists all Connecticut regiments as of 1864, with complete listings of every soldier in each regiment. On page 756, in the listing for the 26th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company C, there is a listing for a Private William Beebe. He is listed as having come from East Lyme, Connecticut. He enlisted on August 23, 1862 and was honorably discharged on August 17, 1863. After being mustered in and after a brief training period the 26th Connecticut marched to East New York and boarded a steamship that took them to New Orleans, arriving on December 16, 1862 where they became part of the occupying force for New Orleans. They were stationed at Camp Parapet which was on the northern outskirts of the city. Today it is the suburb of Carrolton. The commanding General for all of the forces in the area, including the 26th Connecticut V.I. was William Tecumseh Sherman, who later in the war became infamous for his scorched earth attacks on civilians in Georgia. On May 20, 1863 the 26th Connecticut received new orders and they marched north with a number of other regiments to lay siege to the city of Port Hudson where Confederate
artillery on the bluffs above the Mississippi River prevented Union war ships from steaming up the river to participate in the battle of Vicksburg. During the siege of Port Hudson while the Union forces were bombarding the Confederate fort with artillery fire and sniper fire while trying to starve the garrison out having cut off all resupply, the 26th Connecticut was ordered to make two frontal assault charges, on May 27 and June 14, 1863, across the fields at the walls to try to take the Confederate Fort. Both charges stalled out under the withering rifle fire from the Confederates with substantial killed and wounded, and they were forced to retreat both times. Then, on July 9, 1863, after learning of the fall of Vicksburg, the Confederate commander surrendered the fort since there was no longer any military objective in continuing the fight and losing men on both sides. An interesting fact about this particular battle is that it was the first battle in the war in which African American troops took part in the fighting on the Union side. The Hollywood movie "Glory" that was about the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment recounted a later battle in the war and it was not the first in which African American troops fought on the Union side. Port Hudson's attacking forces included the 1st and 3rd Louisana Infantry Regiments that were comprised of all African American soldiers, inluding their officers (unlike the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment that was commanded by white officers). Another interesting fact is that these Louisiana Union regiments included some of the captured African American soldiers who had previously volunteered for and fought against the Union in Confederate Louisiana Infantry Regiments until the Union defeated the Confederate forces in New Orleans.

As was previously mentioned, the embossed emblem on the paper the letter was written on is likely meaningless. During the War Between the States, paper was very scarce and men would use anything they could get their hands on. They even reused envelopes, turning used ones inside out, or cutting up things like wallpaper and gluing them together with the wallpaper pattern on the inside and the blank side on the outside. Any paper a soldier could get his hands on was instantly 'appropriated' so they could use it for letters and envelopes.

message 15: by Hartley (new)

Hartley | 10 comments Jim, I will check my source again about William of East Lyme dying. However, William C. of Waterford does marry Mary. 31 men served in the 26th from East Lyme. Three were wounded on 05/27/63 one to die from his wound.

message 16: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 160 comments Interesting information, Jim.

message 17: by Jim (last edited May 30, 2010 08:58AM) (new)

Jim | 3 comments If anyone would like me to do a "look-up" in my 1864 book of Connecticut men in the war, just ask. I would be happy to do so.

As was mentioned by others, in addition to loosing men in the fighting, an equally and sometimes greater reason for loss of men during the War Between the States was due to disease. Understanding about how diseases were transmitted back then was not what it is today, and men living in close quarters in camps for long periods of time created situations where disease transmission was a problem. Also, there was another disease problem in some parts of the country such as around New Orleans where the 26th Connecticut was based - malaria. Today we have a hard time believing that there was malaria in the United States, but it was here in some of the southern states with extensive swampy areas and it was a problem around New Orleans. My ancestor in the 26th Connecticut caught it there and I have read his medical records that exist in the National Archives in Washington that describe his having contracted malaria at Camp Parapet, and his struggle with the recurring bouts of its effects for many years after the war.

message 18: by Klink (new)

Klink | 1 comments Valerie:

If yor friend can scan the letters for names, places and regimental data(Reg's State and Number, Company Letter), it can further nail down who this guy definitively was in terms of his Reg and Compsny.

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