Monday, May 30, 2016

Respect and Remember

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Last Civil War Veterans

The Last Civil War Veterans is an enthralling chronicle of the military and civilian lives of the last surviving Civil War veterans living in the United States. Frank L. Grzyb turned a well-researched listing of the oldest soldiers into an entertaining and engrossing book.

Grzyb organizes by allegiance (Union, Confederate, Border States, and Territories). Grzyb presents the biographies under the subheadings of "Regimental Brief" and "Veteran's Brief." Regimental Brief presents a summary of the soldier's wartime assignments and engagements. Veteran's Brief relates the veteran's life as a civilian in Reconstruction America. The stories include the veteran's picture as an old man.

The stories contain several common themes:

  • The last veterans lived over one hundred. 
  • Most of them outlived their wives and many were married several times.
  • Nearly all of the veterans were teenagers when they joined the war.
  • After the war, most of them returned to or became farmers, factory workers, or common laborers.
  • The men were remarkably healthy and only a few suffered from battle wounds. 
  • The veterans were revered in the community and celebrated at state and national events. 

A few of the veterans were found to be frauds. Some men proclaimed their service to obtain pensions, while others sought the fame associated with being the state's oldest Civil War veteran. The author includes an Appendix with a collection of the longest living survivors from various battles, historic events, and circumstances.

Mr. Grzyb is the author of six other books and numerous articles on the Civil War for newspapers and magazines. He is a member of the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table.

The Last Civil War Veterans is a fine addition to your Civil War library that reveals how men who survived the war became peaceful citizens.

You can order The Last Civil War Veterans from McFarland on their website ( or by phone (800-253-2187).

Title: The Last Civil War Veterans 
Author: Frank L. Grzyb 
Publisher: McFarland 
Pages: 208 
Price: $35.00 Soft Cover

Monday, May 16, 2016

General C. F. Smith at Gettysburg

Maj. Gen. C. F. Smith
Major General Charles F. Smith did not fight at the Battle of Gettysburg. His name does not appear in the many books on the battle and national park. No monument commemorates his contribution to the Union victory. However, acknowledged or not, General Smith was there.

The Battle of Gettysburg

One hundred and twenty-one general officers fought at Gettysburg. Sixty-eight commanded Union units and fifty-three led Confederate troops. Of the 121 generals, sixty-two or fifty-one percent received their commissions at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY.

Artillery Practice at West Point
C. F. Smith served as an assistant tactical instructor (June 25, 1829-September 1, 1831), adjutant (September 1, 1831-April 1, 1838), and Commandant of Cadets (April 1, 1838-September 1, 1842) at the Academy. He was tactics instructor, drill master, and role model for many of the young men who led the northern and southern armies in the Civil War. Of the sixty-two West Point graduates at Gettysburg, Smith taught twenty-nine during his thirteen year tenure at the Academy. That's forty-seven percent of the West Pointers and twenty-four percent of the total. An additional seven officers served under General Smith in the Utah War where he conducted instruction in Tactics. This brings the total to thirty-six men or fifty-eight percent of the West Pointers who Smith helped become future generals.

Maj Gen. John Reynolds
Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock
Ten of the fourteen union major generals were West Point graduates. General Smith taught nine of the ten offices as cadets at the Academy. On the Confederate side, fourteen of the fifteen officers who were major generals or higher were West Pointers. Smith taught six of them at West Point and two of them during the Utah War. Eighty-three percent of the officers at Gettysburg who were major generals or higher were former cadets at the Military Academy and C. F. Smith taught seventy-one percent of these.

Major General Charles F. Smith did not fight at the Battle of Gettysburg, but his former students earned a place of honor on that sacred ground.