"I play not marches for accepted victors only"

Growing up, when we learned about various American battles in grade-school history, I always felt gypped somehow, because none of my ancestors served in any of those wars. A lot of the other kids could tell stories about someone who had fought in World War II, or more sadly, perhaps a father or mother serving in Vietnam as we spoke. In my family, the men's ages never synced up with either of the World Wars, Korea, nor Vietnam. Of course, now, I realize how fortunate we were.

I remembered this the other day, flipping channels past yet another Civil War documentary--the first wave of who knows how many--as we begin the sesquicentennial of our bloodiest conflict. Now, knowing more about my family, and a good deal more about American history--apologies to Ms Walters (second grade), et al--I can claim some veterans among my ancestors and relations, although we have to go back to the Civil War to find them.

First up, I must mention David Conley (about 1822 - after 1880), maternal third great-grandfather, a farmer who registered for the draft in Richland County, Illinois in July 1863, but never served. He was forty-one years old, after all.

David Conley appears on the fourth line.

Dwight Eaton (4 Dec 1839 - 6 Jun 1925), a paternal third great-grandfather, enlisted as a Private, on 14  November 1864, in the Wisconsin 17th Infantry, Company E. His service included General Sherman's March to the Sea from Atlanta, Georgia; the Chattanooga Campaign, Tennessee; the Carolinas Campaign; and the battle of Goldsboro, North Carolina. His outfit also participated in the "Grand Review" of the Armies that occurred in Washington D C, on 23-24 May, 1865, a tremendous parade and celebration of the end of the war. Within a few weeks, on 14 June 1865, the regiment was disbanded, with losses of two hundred and twenty-one soldiers from a total of just under two thousand. Eaton returned to home life, farming in Wisconsin, and later Minnesota, until his death sixty years later.

A photo of The Grand Review by Mathew Brady.
The Capitol is visible in the background.

Silas W Brown (1836 - 20 Nov 1893), maternal second great-grandfather, had a longer military career than Dwight Eaton's: he served three years, from 20 August 1861 until 23 August 1864. He enlisted as a Private in Company D (the Dowagiac Light Infantry), 6th Infantry Regiment Michigan, upon its inception.The regiment served primarily on the Mississippi River and along the Gulf of Mexico, and based on its excellent service record, was converted from Infantry to Heavy Artillery in July 1863. Many of the regiment's excursions were considered extremely dangerous, and it received commendation for its gallantry and daring. From a beginning with just nine hundred and forty-four soldiers, it reached a high of almost two thousand. Of those, five hundred and fifteen men were killed, and another three hundred and twenty-seven discharged due to severe wounds. Fortunately, Silas W Brown was among the little over fifty percent who survived unharmed. In 1865, he moved to Missouri (perhaps due to his having seen it during the war?) and married Malinda J Carter (30 Jan 1849 - 8 Jan 1924). They lived briefly in Colorado (he is listed on the 1880 Census as a prospector!), then returned to Missouri, where he died in 1893.

The only extant flag of the Michigan 6th Infantry.

My final Civil War relation was not lucky enough to survive: William Hopkins Cherry, third great-grand uncle. An older brother, James Morgan Cherry (11 Jul 1821 - 30 Dec 1898),  and a younger brother, Charles Henry Cherry (7 Jun 1837 - before 1910), both registered for the draft but do not appear to have served.

William Hopkins Cherry enlisted as a Private in Company E, Ohio 63rd Infantry Regiment on 28 August, 1862. He was promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 24 September 1862, then again to Full 1st Lieutenant on 1 June 1863. Most of his time was spent in northern Alabama and Tennessee. He died in a railroad accident near Waverly, Tennessee, while on detached duty with the Engineer Corps. He was returned home to Delaware County, Ohio, where he was buried. Today, there is a re-enactment group honoring the Ohio 63rd.

Was this the recruiting poster that William Hopkins Cherry saw?

William Hopkins CHERRY was born 8 October 1823, in New Haven, Oswego, New York, to John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857) and Clarissa Adams (31 Jan 1791 - 7 Feb 1872), the seventh of their nine children. The family moved to central Ohio sometime in the 1840s, and on 24 December 1849 William Hopkins Cherry married Susan Elizabeth Kirtland (Oct 1826 - 15 Sep 1918), daughter of Hezekiah Lord Kirtland and Elizabeth Haywood McNair. Their wedding was reported in the Sandusky Democratic Mirror of 8 Jan 1850. In the U S Federal Census of that year, the Cherrys were living in Delaware, Ohio, neighbors to the family of Rutherford B Hayes, a Delaware native. William Hopkins Cherry's occupation is listed as clothier, and he lived next door to his brother Samuel Alonzo Cherry, also a clothier. The William Hopkins Cherrys had two boarders, both tailors. By 1860, the Cherrys had moved to Huron, Ohio; the boarders were gone, replaced by the Cherrys' two children: John Wallace Cherry and Clara A[dams?] Cherry, named for William's parents. (The family lived just two doors down from the Wilber family, who have as their boarder the eleven year old Caroline Clarissa Ketchum, his deceased sister's daughter.) After William Hopkins Cherry's death in 1864, his wife never remarried (perhaps because she was financially secure from an inheritance of one thousand dollars she had received from her grandfather in 1843, to say nothing of her military widow's pension), eventually moving to Michigan to live with their son, where she died in 1918.

The Cherry family marker, Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio.
 W H Cherry, along with his parents and five other relatives, is buried here.
Requiescat in pace.

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