ADDING VALUE TO YOUR CIVIL WAR BATTLE/CAMPAIGN HISTORY
Part II: Add Human Interest!
Another way to add value to your history of a Civil War battle or campaign is to add more human interest. Give the reader more details about the men who fought. Researching online facilitates this.
Some of the officers and men who participated in the Fourth Offensive at Petersburg struck me as extraordinary. Colonel John Pulford of the 5th Michigan Veteran Volunteer Infantry had already suffered multiple wounds when he endured a broken back in the battle of the Wilderness resulting in partially disabled arms. Nonetheless, Col. Pulford led his regiment at Fussell’s Mill on August 16, 1864, and took command of his brigade when his brigadier, Colonel Calvin A. Craig of the 105th Pennsylvania, the Wildcat Regiment, was mortally wounded. Every man of the 5th Michigan Veteran Volunteers qualified as a hero because they had all reenlisted—the equivalent of soldiers voluntarily serving multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A Confederate officer who comes to mind immediately was Brig. Gen. John R. Cooke of Heth’s Division, A.P. Hill’s Corps. By 1864, General Cooke had endured seven wounds and the pain from them made sleep difficult for him, yet he qualified as one of the outstanding brigadiers in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Men just as remarkable stood in the ranks. Orderly Sergeant Howard Aston of Company F, 13th Ohio Cavalry (dismounted) in Hartranft’s brigade had joined up three times. Discharged from the 97th Ohio Infantry for heart disease, Aston had reenlisted in the 5th Independent Battalion Ohio Cavalry, and when that term of enlistment expired, in the 13th Ohio Cavalry (dismounted) in Willcox’s division of IX Corps, which helped save the day for the Federals at Globe Tavern on August 19, 1864.
Opposite Aston stood Private George S. Bernard of the Petersburg Riflemen, Company E, 12th Virginia Infantry—the Petersburg Regiment—in Weisiger’s Brigade of Mahone’s Division, A.P. Hill’s Corps. Discharged from the 12th Virginia in 1861 because of illness, Bernard in 1862 reenlisted in the Meherrin Grays, which was assigned to the 12th Virginia that year. Wounded and captured at Crampton’s Gap on September 14, 1862, Bernard was exchanged and assigned to recruiting duty. He rejoined his regiment and transferred back to the Petersburg Riflemen in time for the Chancellorsville Campaign and remained in the ranks until February 6, 1865, when he earned a furlough with another wound.
Such officers and men would do any army proud.