The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Civil War 150th Anniversary

April 11, 2008

Letters from the battlefield

As we get older, our memories fade, eventually dissolving into smoky recollections, if we don’t preserve them in writing.

What price would you pay for a diary written by your great-great-great-grandmother or -grandfather? Imagine how priceless it would be.

Ancestors on my mother’s side, Sgt. George Davidson Bailey and his brother, Cpl. Council Walker Bailey, fought in the Civil War – on Oct. 19, 1864, at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. They, along with 11 other of my Bailey relatives, were part of the Confederate Army, Company H, 60th Infantry Regiment.

I have a book containing two letters written by my great-great-great-grandfather George to his mother from the battlefield. I have read the letters many times and wish he’d written more.

From his letters, I find he was a very strong-willed and principled man. He often wrote about honor and duty to his country, the beloved South!

In one letter, he told his mother that his brother Council was safe and asked her to please not worry. In another, he longed to return home to the farm and kiss his momma on the cheek. He wanted so much to plant crops and just sit on the porch.

George was killed in action; his brother lived. George was buried about 15 miles from where he fell. I found his gravesite.

I walked the same field where he fought. I sat on the split-rail fence overlooking the battlefield, and read his letters again. It was a moving experience.

But what wouldn’t I give for a daily diary of his experiences?

My wish is in vain, there are no more.

Our budding nation learned a great deal from the journals of Lewis and Clark. They detailed their expedition as they navigated this vast uncharted continent.

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Civil War 150th Anniversary
  • Civil War 150th Anniversary PDFs

    June 9, 2011

  • Gettysburg_PVI.JPG PART 4: War nears end with Overland Campaign

    Part IV of a four-part series printing Sundays in June.

    June 25, 2011 3 Photos

  • PART 3: Gettysburg campaign: Not a man faltered

    The second day of 1863 was marked by an arms upgrade to the new .69-caliber rifled musket. Then soldiers – including Westmoreland County native William Ferguson Leslie – encrusted it on Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s infamous Mud March three weeks later.

    June 18, 2011

  • LESLIE.jpg PART 2: Invasion of Maryland: ‘A blizzard of fire’

    As William Ferguson Leslie and the 11th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were making their way through Virginia in autumn of 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was writing his final orders to implement his invasion of Maryland.

    June 12, 2011 3 Photos

  • PART 1: ‘Old Eleventh’: Into the heart of battle

    William Ferguson Leslie was born and raised in the Ligonier Valley, Westmoreland County, and answered President Abraham Lincoln’s appeal for three-year volunteer soldiers to confront the Confederate rebellion.

    June 4, 2011

  • Society sews up period fashion show, dinner

    Period clothing from uniforms to ball gowns will be modeled to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. A Civil War fashion show and dinner, “From the Homefront to the Battlefield,” will be held at 6 p.m. June 11 at the Friedens Lutheran Church, 131 S. Main St.

     

    June 2, 2011

  • book_big.jpg Pupils learn about Civil War through reading program

    In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Cambria County middle school pupils had an opportunity to travel back in time and learn about what life was like during those tumultuous years in American history.

    May 18, 2011 2 Photos

  • hamer_samuel.jpg Local siblings received mercy

    Soldiers from Somerset County came within a whisper of being executed after being captured and imprisoned during the Civil War. They were saved through the efforts of Somerset County Judge Jeremiah S. Black and the mercy of President Abraham Lincoln.

    May 1, 2011 2 Photos

  • civil_war_plaque Somerset County soldier fought on despite wounds

    Tobias Yoder, a Somerset County soldier in the Civil War, was as close to being a super man as anyone might imagine.

    April 23, 2011 1 Photo

  • 54th_statue.jpg Local troops faced VMI’s teen brigade

    “Look! They’re only children!”
    That cry must have rung from the lips of many Union soldiers at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864.
    Among them were members of the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a large part of whom was recruited in Cambria, Somerset and Indiana counties in late summer of 1861.

    April 16, 2011 2 Photos

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