04 May 2014

Civil War 150th

The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861 and lasted for four years, officially ending on May 9, 1865.  Across the United States commemoration have been held, remembering that 150 years ago our country was torn apart and no aspect of life was untouched.  Many of us had ancestors who fought on one side or the other.  Some of us are fortunate that today we have a detailed record of our ancestors lives during those four years through diaries, letters, photographs and other personal mementos.  Others must piece together what our ancestors lived through by combing enlistment records, newspapers, pension files, and other official records. 

I have four direct ancestors who found in the Civil War, on the Union side:
Alexander Cole (1837 - 1907),  Company I, 140th Ohio Infantry
Jason Linderman (1840 - 1876), Company A, 9th Michigan Infantry
Alonzo John Rutter (1837 - 1910), Company K, 21st Iowa Infantry
Jonathan Shaw (1827 - 1878), Company D, 56th Ohio Infantry

Many of their brothers, brothers-in-laws, cousins, and friends also joined them.  A few distant cousins fought for the Confederacy.  For all of my veterans I needed to weigh through the official records to determine what their experience was like.  Last year I got lucky and a cousin shared a photograph with me of one of my ancestors, Alonzo Rutter, in uniform.

Alonzo John Rutter, ca. 1862
The Rutter brothers' service has long been of special interest to me.  Emerson and Mary (Nichols) Rutter had four surviving children, all boys:

Alonzo John Rutter (1837-1910)
Hollis E. Rutter (1842-1914)
Jubal Adelbert Rutter (1844-1936)
Philip Henry Rutter (1846-1864)

All four brothers fought in the Civil War.  The middle two brothers, Hollis and Jubal, served together in Company I, 2nd Iowa Calvary. The youngest, Philip, was killed in action.  All four brothers would have pension requests filed.  It was in Philip's pension files, first applied by his father, then his mother, that I found some of most amazing records: five original letters written by Philip to his parents.


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