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After the armies had withdrawn, the medical workers were paroled to remain at the battlefield to care for the wounded and assist in their exchange or removal to hospitals.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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The Athletic Girl in 1907

Athletic Girl!

As we saw in my last post, this term well described the girls of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. Sports was as important for them during their senior year as it was for the boys of the class. They had participated in gym classes for years, and competed in intramural and extramural sports. Norwalk High School had fielded a girls’ basketball team as early as December 1904, the class of 1907s sophomore year.

What did “Athletic Girl” mean in 1907? Where did the girls of Norwalk High School get the idea that sports were an appropriate feminine pursuit? Let’s take a look.

The “Athletic Girl” of the first decade of the twentieth century was an offshoot of the “New Woman” movement, which flourished the last half of the previous century. It promoted the idea that women, at least in the upper and middle classes, had a place in public life. The “New Woman” was in turn a result of the women’s rights movement that sprang from the antebellum abolitionist and temperance movements. [1]

As they would do in every major war that followed, many women in the North during the Civil War, especially those in the more affluent classes, moved into professions previously reserved for men, such as nursing, and continued to be active in the Abolitionist movement. At the end of that conflict, many men assumed these women would return to domestic pursuits. In reaction, a “New Woman” movement surfaced at Wellesley, Vassar, Smith and other women’s colleges in the east. A component of this movement was the introduction of women’s sports, which grew slowly at first, then exploded during the period 1890 to 1910. [2]

Before the Civil War and immediately afterwards, recreation for women was limited to horseback riding, walking and other non-competitive activities. Around 1870, other sports such as lawn tennis, bicycling, bathing, sleighing, skating and archery were introduced in women’s colleges. Even boxing became a women’s sport, the first match being held in 1876. [3]

In the 1880s, women educators began to be trained in physical education at institutions such as the Sargent School and the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. Graduates of these schools went on to introduce physical exercise programs for women on college campuses around the nation. [4]

Later, competitive team sports, such as field hockey, baseball, track and field, and basketball were added to women’s athletic programs. At first, most colleges limited play to intramural matches, but as time went on, extramural games were added. [5]

Social life at some coed and women’s schools at the beginning of the 20th century began to revolve around competitive sports, and the “Athletic Girl” was extolled as an example of a the truly modern woman. Popular magazines celebrated the “hardy sun-tanned girl,” who competed in sports and spent her summers playing outdoors. [6]

Although there were other careers for women at the turn of the 19th century, many female college graduates went into teaching, and most of them taught at high schools. Because of their experience with sports in college, many of these women were anxious to introduce physical education to their female students. Often, they found a receptive audience in the male educators of that “Progressive Era.” [7]

That’s what happened at Norwalk High School. Women’s basketball was introduced there as early as 1904. [8] And who coached that team? English teacher Minnie Cleghorn, whom we introduced in an earlier post. Where did she gain her interest and expertise in athletics? We’ll find out in my next post.

Sources:

[1] 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; 19.

[2] Squires, Mary-Lou, “Sport and the Cult of ‘True Womanhood’: A Paradox at the Turn of the Century,” in Her Story in Sport: A Historical Anthology of Women in Sport, Ed. Reet Howell, PhD. (Leisure Press, West Point, NY: 1982), 101-105.

[3] Kenney, Karen, “The Realm of Sports and the Athletic Woman: 1850-1900,” in Her Story in Sport: A Historical Anthology of Women in Sport, Ed. Reet Howell, PhD. (Leisure Press, West Point, NY: 1982), 107-140.

[4] Susan K. Cahn, Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Sport; University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield, 2015; 13.

Ibid [5] Kenney, Karen, “The Realm of Sports and the Athletic Woman: 1850-1900,” in Her Story in Sport: A Historical Anthology of Women in Sport, Ed. Reet Howell, PhD.; 107-140.

[6] Susan K. Cahn, Coming on Strong; 7, 18.

[7] 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; 146-147.

[8] “Basketball Friday,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, December 9, 1903, page 1, column

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Summer in the Firelands

As we approach Labor Day, we look back on a summer of outdoor activities and vacation trips. But how did people in the Firelands spend that period between June and September? In those days before the advent of air conditioning, whole families (less fathers who stayed in town to work) would decamp from hot towns and cities to cottages on lakes, at the seashore, or in the mountains. In some parts of the country, this tradition continues, albeit, now only for weekends.

Growing up, I spent part of my summers at “the cottage” in the Firelands, on the shores of Lake Erie, about an hour and a half west of our home in Cleveland. I remember “the cottage” as a musty old building with wide porches set between a cemetery and the lake. I loved the air of family history that permeated the place.

Squirrel House 1972

The Cottage at Oak Bluff in 1972 – as I remember it.

At the time, I was aware that it had been in our family for generations, but had scant knowledge of how it came into the family. Decades later, I found at my mother’s house a story written by my grandmother. Titled, “The Squirrel House,” it filled in the gaps in my knowledge and gave me a glimpse of a time when many families in the Firelands, and across America, would spend their summers at the beach.

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The Squirrel House

by Harriott Barton [1]

About 1892, Judge Charles Wickham [2], Judge Samuel Wildman [3], brother’s-in-law, and Dr. David DeForest Benedict [4]  bought from Mr. Douglas, father of Will Douglas, the property which they named Oak Bluff, because of the huge old oaks that grew along the hilltop. Each of the three owned a front lot upon which he planned to erect a summer cottage. The remainder of the land to the west of the cemetery and south and west of the cottages was held in common. Later they sold the west lot to Captain John Adams [5], brother-in-law of Wickham and Wildman. He built a fourth cottage.

David Benedict - Firelands Pioneer

As this was in the “Horse and Buggy” age, it was necessary to have a stable. So a long, narrow shed was erected facing west, just beyond the south-west corner of the cemetery, close to the entrance from Lake Road. A partition separated the Benedict part from the larger Wickham-Wildman part. There was a wide door on the west side of each room. Between the road and the lake was Common Property — an old peach orchard, neglected, and no longer very productive. Later it was fenced for a pasture. Then it was used for a tennis court.

The Wickham and Wildman cottages were built, I believe, in 1893. On the Benedict lot, overlooking Cranberry Creek, was the old cabin, its floor mostly rotted away; the door sill a good three feet above the badly eroded ground. On my first visit someone lifted me up to look inside. What floor still remained in place was covered with heaps of chewed hickory nuts and acorns. Back in town I chattered about the squirrel’s house, and that became its name.

Harriott Wickham 1893

Harriott at age 3 in 1893, about the time when she named the cottage “Squirrel House”

 

That winter Grandpa and old Bill Mears (uncle of Mrs. George Harkness) cleaned and repaired the old cabin. They put in a new roof and floor . . . Grandpa loved to work with wood. In Norwalk he had a workshop above the chicken house on the slope of the hill behind the garden on Bank Street. They built two partitions in the cabin for a dining room on the west, with the east part cut into two small rooms, the kitchen to the south and a bedroom on the north.

In the front yard they made a large wooden platform about a foot above the ground for a floor for the big four room tent which housed the rest of the family in the summer. Each room held a bed and a wash stand with bowl and pitcher. Wash water was carried up from the lake; drinking water from the Ruggles or the old stone trough south of Ceylon.

The cabin bedroom was reserved for Grandpa and Grandma [6] when she was there. They usually took their vacation in early fall, when there were usually fishing boats on the shore. I now suspect they found more peace and quiet at that time.

Through the summer the place was always full of family! Although Aunt Fannie [7] was till in Colorado, there were still Aunt Lil [8], Mame [9] and my mother [10], also Cousin May [11], our grandmother’s orphaned niece from Canada who married Fred Christian [12], my father’s nephew. May had been a part of the Benedict family for several years.

As the years passed and Grandpa’s tribe increased, he saw the need for larger quarters, so by 1896 he was involved in a new project; bedrooms to complete his house. He personally chose the boards he wanted to use – many for their knots, which he found interesting for their varied designs.

The actual building, I believe, started in the fall of 1896 and finished in the spring of 1897. Again Bill Mears assisted. They erected the frame and fitted the perpendicular siding boards, using sawhorses made during the winter in Grandpa’s workshop. The only clear memory I have of the actual building is it standing back of the house about 30 feet (there was no fence at that time). Grandpa was sitting astride the ridgepole with his snowy hair and beard — he looked just like the Santa Claus on a Christmas card!

Finally, the house was finished! A living room and two bedrooms on the ground floor; upstairs four bedrooms opening onto a narrow hall. The bedrooms’ inner walls were really just partitions, seven feet high. No ceilings up there — to allow for better ventilation. A porch (roofed) ran across the front of the living room along its east side to join a porch in front of the dining-kitchen part, and around the east side, where the steps led down to the back yard and the privy. No doorway was cut between the new part and the kitchen-dining area, in order to keep flies out of the front part of the house.

Oak Bluff c. 1911, 1912 (Susan Orsini)

The Squirrel House, 1911

There was no fireplace, as in other cottages. Grandpa had grown up in a family haunted by the memory of his older brother who, at the age of three, got up too early one morning, caught his night clothes afire, and was burned to death. Some years later my mother had one built in the living room.

Having finished the house and furnished it — largely from the attic at 80 E. — a number of surplus things from the dismantled Deaver home in New Haven [14] were stored there. The little ash stands were the property of Uncle Will Benham [14], who had had a rooming house in Chicago during The Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892-3.

Having finished the house and furnished it, Grandpa decided that, to protect it from dripping bathers, there should be a bathhouse; so he proceeded to build one! — on the slope of the bluff just west of the steps down to the beach. The south side of the shed-like building rested on a shelf-like cut in the slope up from the beach (the south part of which was higher and much drier than now). The north part of the shed-like building rested on tall posts resting on stones set into the beach. A north-south partition divided it into rooms — ladies to the east, with a door onto the stairway; the men’s room (to the west) going onto a plank walk between the building and the hillside. Each room had a window, a table and hooks on the wall. It saved many a wet trail in the house!

scan0012

At the beach – 1908

It was at about this time that Aunt Fannie, her husband [15] having died very suddenly, returned to Norwalk with her three children, Benedict [16], Mary [17] and Agnes [18] and became part of the summer household in the cottage. I’ve often wondered how our three mothers put up with us!

Eleanor, Harriott, Ben Hottel 1

Harriott (bottom left) her cousin Ben and sister Eleanor

By this time Grandpa’s angina had become much more severe. The last year he came to the lake he began having very sudden and severe attacks of pain in his chest. As he insisted upon being quite active, I was assigned the task of keeping an eye on him.

I was nine years old by then and had been very devoted to Grandpa. The problem was that he did not want to be considered an invalid and kept telling me not to follow him. One day he collapsed in the drive back of the Wildman cottage. I came running up and he was a bit cross about it, saying he was just tired and was resting! and he wished I would stop following him.

I was, of course, old enough to understand that he as in great pain, but determined to keep going. And he did until the next January when, overnight, he died suddenly at the age of 68.

If he could look in on Oak Bluff now, more than seventy years later, I’m sure that he would be happy that some of his family are still enjoying, as he did, The Place on the Lake.

 

Genealogical Notes

When reading old stories like “The Squirrel House,” do you often wonder who all these people the author mentions are? Who are “Aunt Lil,” and “Grandma,” and “Judge Charles Wickham” and all the rest of these people Harriott Barton mentions in passing?

Well, I have the answers to those questions for you. Below are the full names of everyone mentioned in “The Squirrel House,” along with their relationship to Harriott. Click on the links for a WeRelate Wiki article that describes their lives. Let me know if you have additional information about any of these people, and I’ll update their article. Or you can  join WeRelate Wiki and update it yourself! That’s the beauty of Wikis–collaboration!

[1] Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton (1890-1981). Author of “The Squirrel House.” Daughter of Agnes and Frank Wickham.

[2] Charles Preston Wickham (1836-1925). Eldest brother of Frank Wickham. Civil War veteran, judge, and U.S. Congressman.

[3] Samuel A Wildman (1846-1934). Brother of Charles Wickham’s wife Emma. Civil War veteran and judge.

[4] David DeForrest Benedict (1833-1901). Harriott Wickham Barton’s grandfather. Surgeon in the Civil War where he was captured at the Battle of Chickamauga.

[5] John Adams (1843-1927). Civil War veteran. Husband of Mary Wildman, Samuel Wildman’s sister.

[6] Harriott Deaver Benedict (1835-1909). Harriott Wickham Barton’s grandmother. David Benedict’s wife.

[7] Fannie Buckingham Benedict Hottel (1863-1940). Daughter of David and Harriott Benedict. Harriott Wickham Barton’s aunt.

[8] Ellen Eliza Benedict Wickham (1868-1942). Daughter of David and Harriott Benedict. Harriott Wickham Barton’s aunt.

[9] Mary Deaver Benedict (1857-1931). Daughter of David and Harriott Benedict. Harriott Wickham Barton’s aunt.

[10] Agnes Caroline Benedict Wickham (1861-1934). Daughter of David and Harriott Benedict. Harriott Wickham Barton’s mother.

[11] Mabel (May) Curtis Christian (1868-1911). Ward of David and Harriott Benedict. Married Fred Christian.

[12] Fred Christian (1866-1935). Son of Katherine Wickham Christian, sister of Charles Preston Wickham. Married May Curtis.

[13] Homestead of James Deaver and Harriott Shaon Deaver in North Fairfield, Ohio. Parents of Harriott Deaver Benedict and Harriot Wickham Barton’s grandparents.

[14] William Benham (1858-1923). Second husband of Harriott Benedict Benham, eldest daughter of David and Harriott Benedict. Harriott Wickham Barton’s aunt.

[15] Andrew Hottel (1852-1899). Husband of Fanny Benedict Hottel. Harriott Wickham Barton’s uncle.

[16] David Benjamin Hottel (1890-1955). Son of Andrew and Fanny Hottel. Harriott Wickham Barton’s cousin.

[18] Mary Hottel (1895-1981). Daughter of Andrew and Fanny Hottel. Harriott Wickham Barton’s cousin.

[19] Agnes Hottel (1897-1983). Daughter of Andrew and Fanny Hottel. Harriott Wickham Barton’s cousin.

 

For additional information about Oak Bluff and the Benedict and Wickham families, check out Family, by Ian Frazier.

 

 

 

 

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