Battle of Chickamauga III – A Cup and a Spoon

Previous Post: Chickamauga II: General Nathan Bedford Forest Comes to Breakfast

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In her memoir Little Doctor on the Black Horse, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton does not describe the Battle of Chickamauga because David Benedict did not mention the battle in any of the letters he wrote to his wife. Instead, she added a few pages at the end, as if it were an afterthought. In the right order, this, and the previous two posts about the Battle of Chickamauga should be read after Little Doctor on the Black Horse: Post #4 – A Prisoner of War on this website.

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Battle of Chickamauga – Part II

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton

After the armies had withdrawn, the medical workers were paroled to remain at the battlefield to care for the wounded and assist in their exchange or removal to hospitals. Such desolation! Hillsides scarred, trees shattered or uprooted! But the worst of all the dead, rotting in the late September sun, while overhead the vultures circled with funereal grace. They watched fearfully for friends, and, when possible, buried them. Somewhere on the fought-over ground, David found and carried away with him a coin silver spoon and a gracefully shaped pewter cup, lightly engraved with the Masonic emblem. On the back of the spoon is “Dr. Wm. R. Lemon, 82nd Regt., Ind. Vol.” [1]

Cup and Spoon

Their gruesome duties finished, the medicos were shipped by rail to Atlanta. This trip they spoke of a “running the gauntlet,” for, at every little station the populace gathered to stare and jeer: “So Bragg got you at last, didn’t he! Ya! Ya! Lincoln’s Hirelings!”

Arrived in Atlanta, they were marched through the street to the prison, amidst more jeers. David, as an officer, was allowed to keep his belongings, so that he was able to share his blanket and cup with poor Hyde, who had been stripped of all but the clothes he wore. After a short stay in Atlanta they were sent, by a circuitous route, to Richmond. Here the officers, including Drs. Benedict, Herrick and, probably, Fowler, went to Libby Prison, while Hyde, being non-commissioned was incarcerated in another part of the complex, Pemberton Building, and was, thereafter, unheard of by his regiment and his family, until near the end of the war. His terrible experiences in several different Southern prisons, including, for a long time, Andersonville, make the material of his very interesting book, A Captive of War. [2]

The medical unit of the 17th O.V.I. consisted of Chief Surgeon, Dr. Herrick and two Asst. Surgeons, Dr. Fowler and Benedict. They lived, when in camp, in two small tents, with another small one for kitchen and supply room, and a larger one for a hospital. Also, had an ambulance, with shelves on either side (lengthwise) to hold stretchers. Nurses were privates, assigned to special duty. The steward, Hyde, cared for the supplies and assisted in many ways. When on the march, they rode horseback, with gear in the ambulance and wagon and slept under a sort of pup tent made by slinging a tarp or a pole, or just curled up in a fence corner. [3]

This ends my grandmother’s account of the Battle of Chickamauga. In my next post, we will return to her memoir of Little Doctor on the Black Horse with Post #5: Libby Prison.

 

Editors Notes

[1] I am fortunate to have these items in my possession. The Masonic symbol on the cup is faded, but discernable. A close up photo shows it clearly. Doctor Benedict was a Mason, which may have been what caused him to pick it up.

Cup Inscription

There is no name inscribed on the cup, so I have no clue to whom it belonged, or whether that person survived the battle. The spoon is a different matter, however.

The inscription on the back of the spoon is so worn as to be barely visible to the naked eye. Fortunately, I was able to take a photo with a readable image.

Spoon Inscription

Who was Doctor Lemon? My grandmother did not try to find him, apparently, and in the twentieth century, it was not as easy as it is today to research people. For me, it was as simple as a quick search on Ancestry and Google. I found that Doctor William Harrison Lemon’s story was similar in many ways to Doctor Benedict’s. They were about the same age, and went to medical school at roughly the same time. Both were married and had children. Both survived the war, but Doctor Lemon lived longer. He died in 1923, while Dr. Benedict passed away in 1901. Doctor Lemon also seemed to have been left behind by Union forces at the Battle of Chickamauga. In the only reference to him in a memoir of the regiment by its commander (Hunter, Alf G. History of the Eighty-second Indiana volunteer Infantry: Its Organization, Campaigns and Battles (Indianapolis: W. B. Burford, Printer), 1893, page 89), he is listed as missing after the battle. Whether he was captured, I do not know, but he was mustered out with his regiment at the end of the war, so he did survive (82nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Officers Roster). I wonder if the letters he wrote home to his wife (as I am sure he did) today languish in an attic or closet somewhere in Indiana (or Kansas, where he died). So many stories remain untold! What  a pity! A good starting point to learn more about what I know about Doctor Lemon is his Find a Grave page. If you find something more, please let me know.

 

Doctor William Lemon

Doctor William Lemon – from Find a Grave

 

A Captive of War[2] Captive of War, by Solon Hyde, Hospital Steward with the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was published in 1900 by McClure, Phillips & Company. That version is now available online at Google Books. In 1996, Solon’s great-grandson Neil Thompson republished the book. It is available on Amazon. As an account of what Union prisoners of war experienced during the Civil War, this book cannot be beat. I highly recommend it.

[3] This last paragraph seems an awkward end to this account of the Battle of Chickamauga. I wonder if my grandmother intended to write more, but never got around to it.

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harriott-wickham-1915-20-2About the Author: Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton   (1890-1981) was born in Norwalk, Ohio to Frank and Agnes Wickham. Her father was the youngest of twelve children of Frederick and Lucy Wickham, early settlers of the Firelands, and her mother was the great-great granddaughter of Platt and Sarah Benedict, who founded the city of Norwalk. Educated at Norwalk High School and Wooster College, she became a teacher. She marched as a suffragette and worked for the Labor Department during World War I. After the war, she went west to teach school, and became one of the last homesteaders, proving up a property near Wheatland, Wyoming. She married Angus Barton in 1924 and they raised four children on the homestead through the Dust Bowl and World War II. In the late 1940s, she and her Angus moved to Ohio, where they spent the rest of their lives. During the 1950s and ‘60s, she wrote “Little Doctor on the Black Horse,” poetry, and short stories, some which were published in various journals and magazines.

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Battle of Chickamauga II – General Nathan Bedford Forrest Comes to Breakfast

Previous Post: Chickamauga I: Muskets and Medicine

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In her memoir, Little Doctor on the Black Horse, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton does not describe the Battle of Chickamauga, because her grandfather David Benedict did not mention the battle in any of the letters he wrote to his wife. Instead, as if it were an afterthought, she added a few pages about the battle at the end of the memoir. In the right order, this, and my previous post, Battle of Chickamauga I – Muskets and Medicine, should be read after Little Doctor on the Black Horse: Post #4 – A Prisoner of War on this website.

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Battle of Chickamauga – Part II

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton

At sunrise on Monday, two Confederate generals, Forrest [1] and Cheatham, [2] rode into camp, tied their horses and remarked casually that they had come to breakfast. Gen. Cheatham took a cup of coffee and spoke of the pleasure he took in a cup of “choice Ric,” but Forrest (evidently somewhat of a fire-eater), refused the unaccustomed luxury. “not,” he said, “that I do not like coffee and the like, but because we have been deprived of them by the iron heel of a tyrannical government and a damnable blockade. I scorn to indulge until I can do so in an established Confederacy, whose independence has been won by the strong arm of Southern chivalry!”

Gen. Cheatham laughed dryly and passed his cup of more coffee. Later he spoke sadly of the battle, and of the stamina of the Yankee soldiers. “They fought well, gentlemen. All the glory we can claim is that we hold the field; and against such a foe it is a glory. But dearly bought! Our loss is frightful – equal to yours. A fearful cost of life, fearful! The dead looked as if mowed down in swaths!” It was to be many months before the doctors learned the full story of the battle, on whose fringes they had labored so desperately, and heard how their beloved Gen. George Thomas had earned the title: “Rock of Chickamauga.” [3]

Next Post: Chickamauga III: A Cup and a Spoon.

 

Editor’s Notes

 

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest

[1] So my great-great-grandfather David Benedict broke bread (more likely hardtack) with Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. At least that seems most likely. In Captive of War [3], Solon Hyde does not mention Doctor Benedict being of the breakfast party, but I see no reason why he would not have been, being an officer. General Forrest, of course, is renowned (or notorious, depending on your point of view) for his tactical and strategic genius during the Civil War. According to Ulysses S. Grant, he was “that devil Forrest.” After the war, General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed regret that they did not use his talents fully. In Ken Burns documentary about the American Civil War, the late historian Shelby Foote giggled when discussing some of Forrest’s more daring exploits. However, the general’s reputation today is tarnished by his role in the massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow and his membership in the Klu Klux Klan after the war. There is no question what Solon Hyde thought of him. His last words about General Forrest in Captive of War were: “. . . as he rode away, he left on our minds the impression of a man without heart or soul.” Check out the Nathan Bedford Forrest article in Wikipedia for details about his life and Civil War career,

Benjamin Franklin Cheatham

Benjamin Franklin Cheatham

[2] In contrast to his low opinion of General Forrest, Solon Hyde held Major General Cheatham in high regard. Commenting on the general’s remarks about the battle while at breakfast, Solon wrote: “It seemed to touch him as he dwelt upon the carnage, and recalled the battle scenes with an emotion that forced us to acknowledge him a brave man, honest in his conviction of the justness of the cause for which he fought.” Although General Cheatham may have been a better man than General Forrest in Solon’s eyes, history does not treat him as kindly. Near the end of the war, in November of 1864, he was sharply criticized for allowing a Union force to slip by his corps, leading to the disastrous Confederate defeat at the Battle of Franklin the following day. For more about him, see the Wikipedia article, Benjamin F. Cheatham.

A Captive of War[3] Harriott’s account of Generals Forrest and Cheatham having breakfast with Union medical officers the day after the Battle of Chickamauga come from Solon Hyde’s book Captive of War, a memoir of the Civil War experiences of Solon Hyde of the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In addition to his descriptions of the Battle of Chickamauga (which includes how Doctor Benedict and he stayed behind with the wounded as the other medical personnel “skedaddled”), Solon tells of his harrowing experiences as a prisoner of war, to include his time at Andersonville. After the war, he assisted Clara Barton in her work to identify the dead at that notorious prison camp. The book was published in 1900 by McClure, Phillips & Company. That version is now available online at Google Books. In 1996, Solon’s great-grandson Neil Thompson republished the book. It is available on Amazon. As an account of what Union prisoners of war experienced during the Civil War, this book cannot be beat. I highly recommend it.

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harriott-wickham-1915-20-2About the Author: Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton   (1890-1981) was born in Norwalk, Ohio to Frank and Agnes Wickham. Her father was the youngest of twelve children of Frederick and Lucy Wickham, early settlers of the Firelands, and her mother was the great-great granddaughter of Platt and Sarah Benedict, who founded the city of Norwalk. Educated at Norwalk High School and Wooster College, she became a teacher. She marched as a suffragette and worked for the Labor Department during World War I. After the war, she went west to teach school, and became one of the last homesteaders, proving up a property near Wheatland, Wyoming. She married Angus Barton in 1924 and they raised four children on the homestead through the Dust Bowl and World War II. In the late 1940s, she and her Angus moved to Ohio, where they spent the rest of their lives. During the 1950s and ‘60s, she wrote “Little Doctor on the Black Horse,” poetry, and short stories, some which were published in various journals and magazines.

 Next Post: Chickamauga III: A Cup and a Spoon.

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Battle of Chickamauga I – Muskets and Medicine

 In her memoir Little Doctor on the Black Horse, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton does not describe the Battle of Chickamauga, because David Benedict did not mention the battle in any of the letters he wrote to his wife. Instead, she added a few pages at the end of the memoir, as if it were an afterthought. In the right order, this, and the two posts that follow should be read after Little Doctor on the Black Horse, Post #4: A Prisoner of War on this website.

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Battle of Chickamauga – Part I

by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton

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There is no account of the Battle of Chickamauga in D. D. B.’s letters, but years later the steward, Solon Hyde wrote a book, A Captive of War [1] in which he told his war experiences. The following is from that book (condensed).

On September 19, 1863, the rising sun was gilding the crests of the north Georgia hills as the 17th O.V.I., Col. Connell commanding, completed a frosty night’s march from the right flank of Rosecrans’ army to the extreme left, and deployed just to the west of the hills that bordered the Chattanooga Road. The blue clad line, tense and quiet as yet, extended some six miles along the front. Then, the boom of cannon; a shell fell nearby. The battle had begun.

 The medics had had the luck to find an excellent hospital site at the foot of a wooded hill, in a grove surrounding a gushing spring whose clear waters were carried in a wooden trough to a log spring house. The supply wagons rushed straw from an old barn, while the doctors, steward and “special duty” soldiers who served as nurses unpacked and arranged instruments and supplies. The red hospital flag was run up and some twenty tents erected. The flood of casualties began. The tents soon filed. Many more lay on heaps of straw throughout the grove, with less severely wounded propped against trees. The overworked ambulances could not keep up with their removal. Throughout the day, the doctors and nurses worked at top speed, bandaging, stitching, administering sedatives (asedetida, valerian, opiates and whiskey) while the bloody heap of amputated arms, feet and legs grew higher.

 

Union Field Hospital

Union Hospital at Savage Station, Virginia – 1862

 

 The surgery of a century ago now sounds fantastically inadequate. Anesthetics were crude, antiseptics still beyond the horizon. No penicillin, no sulfa, no blood bank, no sterilization. Instruments were washed, when and if, in any available water. Chas. Johnson in Muskets and Medicine, says: The frightful handicap of Civil War surgery was a lack of knowledge of asepsis and antiseptics. The surgeon was making use of the very best lights of his day, dangerous as some of them were. [2]

With the dawn (Sunday) the battle resumed. The Rebel line had advanced so far that the Cloud’s Spring hospital site [3] was now to its right and rear, too far behind the fighting to receive so many casualties. But soon the Confederate sharpshooters spied the red flag amidst the trees, and their rifle fire was followed by artillery shells which soon sent doctors and nurses scurrying behind trees or over the hill. David and Hyde took refuge in the spring house.

Wham! A shell struck the ground beyond the hut. The loose straw blazed, the flames spreading toward a tent. Solon grabbed a bucket of water and started for the fire, but a ball close to his head sent him scrambling back to shelter. The lone patient in the tent, whose ankle had been almost severed in the battle, managed to crawl out, his useless foot dangling, and was carried to safety.

Suddenly, from beyond the road sounded the blood-curdling Rebel yell, and a group of horsemen burst from the woods. Hyde seized the sheet from the amputating table and waved a bloody flag of truce. The 17th’s hospital had been captured by Col. Scott’s troops of Forrest’s Cavalry! The colonel, upon learning that he had taken a hospital of wounded, both Blue and Gray, at once detailed men to guard and assist, and also took over the Cloud’s home on the hilltop, for additional shelter.

Later a small Union force swooped in, recapturing the site, only to be, themselves, hemmed in and cut to pieces. The doctors went on with their work, too busy to worry about the changes.

Next: Chickamauga II – Nathan Bedford Forrest Comes to Breakfast

 

Editor Footnotes

A Captive of War[1] A Captive of War is a memoir of the Civil War experiences of Solon Hyde of the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In addition to his descriptions of the Battle of Chickamauga (which includes how Doctor Benedict and he stayed behind with the wounded as the other medical personnel “skedaddled”), Solon tells of his harrowing experiences as a prisoner of war, to include his time at Andersonville. After the war, he assisted Clara Barton in her work to identify the dead at that notorious prison camp. The book was published in 1900 by McClure, Phillips & Company. That version is now available online at Google Books. In 1996, Solon’s great-grandson Neil Thompson republished the book. It is available on Amazon. As an account of what Union prisoners of war experienced during the Civil War, this book cannot be beat. I highly recommend it.

Muskets and Medicine[2] Harriet did not include this gruesome passage that proceeds her quote from Muskets and Medicine :  “. . . Captain William Colby . . . was in a comatose state from a bullet that had penetrated his brain through the upper portion of the occipital bone. The first thing our surgeon did was to run his index finger its full length into the wound; and this without even ordinary washing.”

Like Solon Hyde, Charles Johnson was a Hospital Steward during the Civil War, serving in the 130th Illinois Volunteers. After the war, he became a medical doctor, and in 1917 published Muskets and Medicine, an account of his experiences in the war. As with Solon’s Captive of War, it is available online at Google Books. This is a highly readable account of daily life in the Civil War, with a great account of medical practices of the day (pages 123-134). I also recommend it for anyone looking for personal accounts of the war.

 

Chickamauga Hospital Locations

[3] The Cloud House Hospital was located at the far left flank of the Union lines. I found online at “Medical Support at the Battle of Chickamauga,” Chapter 5 of a thesis by someone named Rubenstein (if you know anything about this thesis, please let me know in the comments). A sketch on page 76 (at left) shows the location of Cloud House (top center), and descriptions of the fate of the hospital are on pages 77 and 84-85. An endnote on pages 93-94 also provide a discussion of varying accounts by participants. For those interested in the Battle of Chickamauga, the endnotes provide good sources for further research.

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harriott-wickham-1915-20-2About the Author: Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton   (1890-1981) was born in Norwalk, Ohio to Frank and Agnes Wickham. Her father was the youngest of twelve children of Frederick and Lucy Wickham, early settlers of the Firelands, and her mother was the great-great granddaughter of Platt and Sarah Benedict, who founded the city of Norwalk. Educated at Norwalk High School and Wooster College, she became a teacher. She marched as a suffragette and worked for the Labor Department during World War I. After the war, she went west to teach school, and became one of the last homesteaders, proving up a property near Wheatland, Wyoming. She married Angus Barton in 1924 and they raised four children on the homestead through the Dust Bowl and World War II. In the late 1940s, she and her Angus moved to Ohio, where they spent the rest of their lives. During the 1950s and ‘60s, she wrote “Little Doctor on the Black Horse,” poetry, and short stories, some which were published in various journals and magazines.

Next: Chickamauga II – Nathan Bedford Forrest Comes to Breakfast.

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Hear the Chants Sung Once More

David DeForest BenedictI wrote this article about my great-great grandfather the summer of 2003, while I was living near Charleston, South Carolina. David Benedict was a Union surgeon during the Civil War. Captured at Chickamauga, he was held prisoner at Libby Prison for a few months before being exchanged. He returned to the army before the Battle of Atlanta, then, after the fall of that city, participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Years ago, my grandmother, Harriott Benedict Wickham (member of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907), wrote Little Doctor on the Black Horse, a short history about David Benedict based on her memories of him, and letters he had sent to his wife during the war. One letter that she included in her memoir, describes an excursion David Benedict made to Savannah, Christmas Day 1864.

Over fifteen years ago, I visited Savannah to retrace his steps, and wrote this article to describe my day, reliving history.

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Hear the Chants Sung Once More

by David Barton

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I thought I would go to church today and hear the chants sung once more. After breakfast and fixing up some, the chaplain and I started on foot for the city, 5 mile. We took what was once the R.R. track, as it was better walking.

With these words, David Benedict begins a description in a letter to his wife of his visit to Savannah, Christmas Day, 1864. Because I lived in nearby Charleston, one day I decided to visit Savannah and see if I could find the landmarks my ancestor described on Christmas Day, almost one hundred and thirty-nine years ago. I didn’t go on foot, of course, but did do some ‘fixing up’, putting on a suit and tie.

I wanted to go to St. Paul’s on Madison Square, but could find no one to direct me. Then I saw one that looked like an Episcopal Church but it was not open. Then someone came along, and I found it was the right place, would open soon and the sexton would give me a seat.

St. Johns ChurchI found an Episcopal Church on Madison Square, but it is called Saint John’s, not Saint Paul’s. Perhaps David Benedict got it wrong, or maybe it was a typographical error when the letter was initially copied.

In any event, I believe it is the church he visited. Next door stands the Green-Meldrim House, which is open for tours. General Sherman made this house his headquarters during his stay in Savannah, although I understand he did not move in until after Christmas Day. A tour guide in the house told me there was only one other Episcopal Church in Savannah during the Civil War, Christ Church. But when I told her that David Benedict described the church he attended services in as being Gothic, she said it must be Saint John’s. I went by Christ Church later, and I agree with her. The facade of Christ Church is Greek Revival style, not Gothic like Saint John’s.

It is a nicely furnished church, in Gothic style, inside and out.

Saint John’s is a nicely furnished church, and then church altarsome, with a wonderfully, intricate panel of Christ behind the altar.

The stained-glass windows are nice, although from the date on one, they apparently were not there in 1864 – at least not all of them.

There are great beams in the ceiling and the floors and pews are made of beautiful wood, stained a dark brown. All in all it is, in my judgment, more than simply ‘nicely furnished’.

A good organ and well played. Their singing was tolerable.

The organ was very good. I don’t know if it is the original, but it is large, taking up all of a good-sized gallery above the front entryway. I was impressed with the singing by the present-day congregation as much as David Benedict was of the singing of the congregation when he visited.

One lady tried to overdo herself, I suppose because the church was crowded with Yankee officers. Many citizens were present, both men and women, but not a pretty one amongst them. Perhaps the pretty ones would not condescend to show their graces to this mob of “Lincoln Hirelings” or “Mudsills”. Most of them were dressed in black.

The average age of the present-day congregation is also not young, but the demographics are different than they were in 1864. There were several African American couples present, which I doubt was the case during the Civil War. I didn’t see many ‘pretty ones’. Everyone I spoke to was very friendly. I tried to imagine the scene Christmas Day, 1864. Bearded Union officers and men dressed in uniforms stained from days of marching and battle, sitting among citizens dressed in black. That must have been a stressful service.

The chants were good, the reading of the service good, but he left out the prayer for the president, prayed to it, and around it. I had a nice prayer book, and in the margin I wrote: “This prayer was omitted Dec. 25, 1864”. The preacher was very good.

The chants. I wondered what they were. The service I attended was Morning Prayer, and most of it was sung in a chant. There is more kneeling and bowing in the Episcopal Morning Prayer than in the Roman Catholic Mass. And Morning Prayer doesn’t even include the Eucharist. They have a communion service at noon, but I didn’t stay for that. After the service, a woman told me that St. John’s still uses the old Common Prayer Book. So the service I participated in was what David Benedict would have been familiar with.

The prayer for the president was not omitted from the service I attended. Of course, I did not write anything in the prayer book.

The Episcopal service reminds me of the Methodist Church, which I grew up in. John Wesley’s Church of England background is much in evidence in Methodism. An interesting side note, in 1836, John Wesley was pastor of Christ Church, the Episcopal Church I mentioned above. This was before he left the Anglican Communion and established the Methodist Church.

The preacher the day I visited the church was also good. He is The Reverend Gavin Dunbar, who is the vicar of the parish. He spoke clearly and persuasively – and long. I’m afraid I can’t remember all that he said.

After church I went to the Pulaski Monument, where I met the chaplain. The inscription reads: ‘Pulaski, the Heroic Pole, who fell, mortally wounded, while fighting for American Liberty, 9th Oct. 1779.’

Pulaski monumentPulaski Monument is not in Pulaski Square, that would make too much sense. It is in Monterey Square, which is an equal distance south of the church. It is an imposing monument: a tall, white obelisk, with a statue of a woman on top. The inscription is on the opposite side from Madison Square and reads just as David Benedict reported. I tried to picture him standing in front of it, carefully copying it down so he could enter it correctly in his letter to his wife.

The square would have been different one hundred thirty years ago, when David Benedict stood there. It was winter then, so the weather was much different than the stifling humidity I experienced. Also, the ravages and privations of war would have stripped the area of the many trees that now grace this pretty square.

After lunch, I drove back to Charleston, happy I had made the trip to Savannah. By retracing the steps of my ancestor and worshiping in the same church he had, I felt a connection to him and his time.

 

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Norwalk, Ohio in the Civil War

On this, the anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, we’ll take a look at the role of soldiers from Norwalk, Ohio in that struggle.

Norwalk actually fielded a regiment in the Civil War, the 55th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I), [1] which was organized from September to December 1861 at Camp McClellan in Norwalk. [2]

The 55th O.V.I. was not at Appomattox with Grant on April 9, 1865, though. The day of Lee’s surrender, they were in North Carolina with General Sherman’s armies. Their war would not end until April 25, with the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston’s army at Bennett Place in Durham County, North Carolina. [3]

 

Bennett Place

A restoration of Bennett Place, North Carolina, site of the surrender of the largest number of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.

 

Another citizen of Norwalk with General Sherman’s armies on April 9th, 1865 was my great-great grandfather, David Benedict. But he was not serving in the 55th O.V.I. He was a surgeon with the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. [4]

David Benedict had been with the army since the beginning of the war. Captured at Chickamauga, he was held prisoner at Libby Prison for a few months before being exchanged. He returned to his regiment before the Battle of Atlanta, then, after the fall of that city, participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea. The army finished their march across Georgia on December 21st, 1864 when they accepted the surrender of the city of Savannah. A few days later, on Christmas Day, David Benedict went into the city from his camp in the outskirts to attend church and do a bit of sightseeing. He wrote a letter to his wife that evening, describing his day.

 

David DeForest Benedict

Doctor David Benedict

 

Years ago, I visited Savannah, and, using his letter as a guide, followed my great-great grandfather’s steps as he travelled through the city that Christmas Day so many years ago. In my next post, Hear the Chants Sung Once More, I’ll describe what I found.

 

Footnotes:

[1] For a history of the 55th O.V.I, see 55th Ohio Volunteer Regiment, on Wikipedia. A comprehensive bibliography is at 55th Ohio Infantry, compiled by Larry Stevens.

[2] Camp McClellan was located somewhere on the banks of the east branch of the Huron River; exactly where, I do not know. See Camp McClellan (Norwalk, Ohio), at Ohio Civil War Central for a description of the history of the camp.

[3] An account of the Confederate surrender is at Bennett Place, on Wikipedia.

[4] A history of the 17th O.V.I is at 17th Ohio Infantry on Wikipedia. A roster listing David Benedict is online at The Civil War Index: 17th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry  page 537.

 

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Minnie Cleghorn: Life in the Fortress – 1907

In my last post, we explored how Suzan Rose Benedict experience with women’s athletics while attending Smith College from 1891 to 1895 might have influenced fellow Norwalk High School teacher Minnie Cleghorn to start a girls’ physical education program. Today, we’ll check in with Miss Cleghorn to see how she fared with her athletic program at Norwalk High School, and with her life in general.

When Millie began the school year the fall of 1906, it was without her very good friend Suzan Benedict, who was now back at Smith College as an Assistant in Mathematics. This was Suzan’s first year teaching at Smith. The previous year, she had earned a Masters in Mathematics at Columbia University in New York City. [1]

How do I know that Suzan and Millie were very good friends. Well, for one thing, in 1906, Millie was living in Suzan’s house at 80 Seminary Street in Norwalk, known as “The Fortress” to the young people of the time, and had been since at least 1904. [2] And she continued to live there after Suzan left for Columbia. Not only were they good friends, they were business partners, too. In addition to teaching mathematics at Norwalk High School, Suzan was a realtor, and in 1901, she and Millie went in together with other teachers at Norwalk High School to buy land in a new development north of town. [3]

 

80 Seminary - 1880

“The Fortress,” 80 Seminary Street, Norwalk, Ohio, 1881. Doctor David Benedict stands on the front lawn. His wife Harriott is sitting on the front steps. Suzan Rose Benedict and her friends play croquet to the left of the house. Sadly, this stately home was torn down around 1995 after a fire.

In 1907, Minnie was forty-three years old. Since 1897, her first year at the high school, she had lived in Norwalk during the school year, visiting her mother and father in Wellington often, and spending her summer vacations there. [4]

I do not know where Minnie lived when she first arrived in Norwalk, but by 1904, she had taken up residence in the Benedict home at 80 Seminary Street. [5] Perhaps she had moved in before, but that is the earliest mention I can find of her being there. On June 11, 1900, she was not listed as a resident when Census enumerator Fred Husted visited the home. [6]

If in 1907, Suzan Benedict was not living at 80 Seminary, who was? David Benedict had died of a heart attack in 1901, [7] but his wife Harriott was still alive, although I believe that at this time she suffered from what has been called the “Benedict Curse:” Alzheimer’s.” [8] Mrs. Benedict’s caregiver would have been her eldest daughter Mary, who like Suzan and Minnie, had never married, and a granddaughter, Eleanor who was a sister of Harriott Wickham, Class of 1907. [9] A few years earlier, another Benedict daughter, Hattie, had moved into the house with her husband William Benham. [10]

After she started living in the Benedict home, Minnie became more active in the Norwalk community. At school, she led the high school orchestra, and was the sponsor of the school newspaper. Outside school, she became active in the Women’s Temperance Union and the Junior Auxiliary at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and organized a book club that met weekly at the Benedict home. [11]

Of most interest to us, is her involvement in athletics. Sometime, soon after she arrived at the school, she took over the girls’ athletic program. Or more likely, instead of taking it over, she started it. The only photo I have of her is a group shot of her “in the ranks” among her student in the 1906 girls’ gym class as they did calisthenics, probably Swedish Gymnastics, which involves light calisthenics, and was popular at Smith College when Suzan Benedict attended there.

 

1906-nhs-girls-gym

Minnie Cleghorn (third from right in white blouse) during a 1906 girls’ gym class in school hall on the 3rd Floor of Norwalk High School.

By 1904, Minnie had organized girls’ basketball teams that competed in intramural and extramural matches at Norwalk High School. [12] Although women’s college teams played Senda Berenson’s “line game rules,” high schools were more likely to play a five-player boys’ game, often named the ‘YMCA game.” Many high schools also allowed “interference rules,” where players could block and attempt to take the ball away. Most high schools in the Midwest played the YMCA game using interference rules. [13] Norwalk newspaper articles of the girls’ games reported rosters with five positions, two forwards, a center, and two guards, so I assume the Norwalk team followed the norm and played by YMCA rules.

That’s the story of Minnie Cleghorn’s life in Norwalk High School, and her involvement in fostering the Athletic Girl at the school, as I know it. To conclude this series on the Athletic Girl, in my next post we’ll take a look at Minnie’s legacy at Norwalk High School, and how she impacted the future lives of her female students.

Footnotes:

[1] “About College,” (Smith College Monthly, Volume 13, Number 1, October 1906) p. 66. Also: Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke, Pioneering Wemen in American Mathematics: the pre-194 PhD’s(American Mathematical Society, 2009), 27, and Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke, “Supplementary Material for Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD’s,” 74:  http://www.ams.org/publications/authors/books/postpub/hmath-34-PioneeringWomen.pdf. Suzan Benedict remained at Smith College the remainder of her life, rising to Chairman of the Mathematics Department. In 1914, she was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and was Class Dean at Smith for the Class of 1926. A summary of her life is at “Suzan Rose Benedict” in Wikipedia.

[2] “The Norwalk Directory,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, April 1, 1904, page 5, column 2.

[3] “Greater Norwalk is Assured,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 6, 1901, page 1, column 4.

[4] Minnie’s father James Cleghorn died in 1899. His obituary is at “Wellington,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 10, 1899, page 4, column 2.

[5] “The Norwalk Directory,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, April 1, 1904, page 5, column 2.

[6] 1900 US Federal Census: Kenton Ward 2, Huron County, Ohio; Roll: T623 1288; Page: 10B; 11 Jun 1900.

[7] See “Post # 17 The Later Years,” part of the Little Doctor on the Black Horse series on this website for an account of David Benedict’s last years and his death.

[8] I often heard stories of the “Benedict curse” while growing up; most of the Benedict daughters were afflicted by it, as were generations after them (to include my father). However, if Harriott Benedict suffered from Alzheimer’s, it probably should be called the “Deaver Curse” (her maiden name). I have been told by family that she suffered from this horrible disease, and that account seems to be supported by a diary entry written on the day of her death in 1909: I am glad that I am among the elder children, so that I can remember Grandmother as she was before this sickness.

[9] Mary (Mamie) Benedict, never married. Her niece Eleanor Wickham (my godmother), lived with her aunt from a young age under strange circumstances, as explained by Eleanor’s sister, Harriott Wickham (my grandmother), in a 1976 diary entry. The reason for [my mother’s] illness was caused by their stealing Eleanor from her – when I, as a little tot was very sick, & Eleanor was sent over to her grandmothers, where Aunt Mamie became so attached to her that she went in a tizzy when they tried to take her home Aunt Lil finally came over & told Mother that she was being very selfish not to let “poor Mamie” keep her’ & that she was taking her back as Mother had another child & she (Mama) was being very cruel to “poor Mamie,” who (incidentally) was driving them all crazy with her crying. Grandpa & Grandma (who had always spoiled “poor Mamie”) would not interfere – as, of course they should have!

It was their fault that poor Mamie was so spoiled. She had been a seven month baby, but was a perfectly healthy person (physically) though not (I think) mentally. Not mentally deficient, but never really grew up! – to stand on her own feet. Too timid – she just got her way by crying – and making everyone uncomfortable.  I was shy as a young child, but Mama made me stay in her clothes closet “if I had to cry.” She would say “I’m just not going to let you grow up like your Aunt Mame!” I never have been able to cry since, except in private – and not often then! I feel reasonably sure, also, that she (Aunt Mame) infected Eleanor with her unreasonable distrust of men! If she had grown up in her own home, I think E. would probably have married. When I was growing up, we visited Aunt Eleanor at 80 Seminary Street many Sunday afternoons. I remember her as an elderly, rather aloof woman who spoke with the same flat unemotional voice as my grandmother, but lacked her warmth of spirit.

[10] William Benham was Hattie’s second husband. Her first marriage was Henry Owen in 1881. Henry suffered from tuberculosis, so the couple moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where Henry was superintendent of the water works. In 1885, they returned to Norwalk for his father’s funeral, and he contracted pneumonia and died. Hattie remained in Norwalk after his death, and in 1897 married William Benham. The couple lived in William’s home on Main Street until sometime before 1905 when they moved into the Benedict home at 80 Seminary Street. Hattie never had children. See her WeRelate person page for details of her life.

[11] Around 1904, articles mentioning Minnie’s extracurricular activities began appearing in Norwalk newspapers. For instance: reading club, “Among the Clubs,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, November 7, 1905, page 3, column 4; advisor to the high school newspaper, “High School Newspaper,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, November 23, 1905, page 4, column 3; temperance society involvement, “Temperance Service,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, November 25, 1905, page 1, column 6; and member of the Norwalk lady’s orchestra, “Ladies Rehearse,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, April 6, 1905, page 1, column 3.

[12] “Norwalk Girl Won,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, December 19, 1904, page 2, column 3. Eleanor Wickham played in this game.

[13] Robert Pruter, “Chapter 8: The New Athletic Girl and Interscholastic Sports”, The Rise of American High School Sports and the Search for Control: 1880-1930, Syracuse University, 2013; 149.

 

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Suzan Rose Benedict at Smith College

In my last post, we followed the dark–and tragic–path of Suzan Rose Benedict in her journey from Norwalk, Ohio to Smith College. In this post, we’ll see how she fared at Smith, and how her experiences with women’s athletics might have influenced Millie Cleghorn when she introduced girls’ physical education at Norwalk High School.

In the fall of 1891, at the age of eighteen, Suzan joined the Class of 1895 at Smith College. [1] The school already had a long tradition of  promoting women’s athletics, but physical education for women there was about to make a dramatic change. The year she arrived, the college had just opened the Alumnae Gymnasium, with Swedish gymnastic equipment and a swimming pool, and outside the gym, a tennis court. [2] Physical education was mandatory, so I expect that Suzan took part, despite her heavy course load in science, mathematics and foreign language (German).

But did she participate in organized sports? I have found no record in the college archives that she did, but do know that she played sports in Norwalk. In the photo below, clipped from the image in the header of this website of her home in 1881, she and her friends are playing croquet beside the house. From later diary entries of her niece Harriott Wickham, I believe Suzan also enjoyed tennis.

Suzan Benedict and Friends Playing Tennis

Suzan Benedict playing croquet with friends in 1881

Halfway through Suzan’s first year at Smith, the gymnastics teacher fell ill and had to leave. In her place, in January 1892 the college hired Senda Bernenson, a recent graduate of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. Senda was energetic and immediately became popular with students and fellow faculty at Smith. Her goal was to develop the best physical education program possible.

At that time, in addition to gymnastics, for many years students and faculty had enjoyed horseback riding, hiking, boating, swimming, bowling, fencing, roller skating, golf and other more individual pursuits. Tennis and baseball were also played, but the rules for those games did not allow for much competition. True competitive team sports were not considered proper for women at the school.

The same month Senda arrived at Smith, James Naismith, an instructor at the YMCA Training School at Springfield, Massachusetts, published an article describing the rules of a new game he had invented the previous year: basketball. According to her later account, after reading this article, Senda revised the rules Naismith described in his article to avoid physical roughness, and introduced the game to her students that spring.

Basketball was a big hit, and the freshman-sophomore match quickly became one of the most popular events of the year. A fellow student of Suzan Benedict’s in the Class of 1895 described one of these matches in her journal.

“The balconies were filled with spectators and the cheering and shouting was something tremendous. The Freshman held one side, decorated with lavender in every shade and shape, while the opposite side was radiant in the brilliant green of ’95 . . .  when Miss Martin [student captain] received the golden S the girls raised her on their shoulders and marched with her about the hall.” [2]

Suzan Rose Benedict

Suzan Benedict around 1890

I have found no record of who played for the class of 1895, so I do not know if Suzan Benedict was on the field. But I have no doubt that she was in the gymnasium the night of the game described above. After graduating in the spring of 1895 with a Bachelors in Chemistry, she returned to Norwalk and began teaching mathematics in the high school that fall. [3] Although she did not, to my knowledge, teach physical education, she must have remembered fondly those exciting basketball games at Smith, and shared those memories with her colleagues.

So, when Minnie Cleghorn arrived at Norwalk High School two years later, she had a source of inspiration to guide her as she introduced physical education there. We’ll see how that turned out in my next post: Minnie Cleghorn: Life in the Fortress – 1907.

 

Sources:

[1] “Suzan Rose Benedict,” Wikipedia

[2] Betty Spears, “Senda Berenson Abbott: New Woman: New Sport;” A Century of Women’s Basketball: From Frailty to Final Four, edited by Joan S. Hult and Marianna Trekel; National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, 1907, Reston, VA; 21, 27.

[3] Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke, “Supplementary Material for Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD’s,” 74:  http://www.ams.org/publications/authors/books/postpub/hmath-34-PioneeringWomen.pdf

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