Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for the ‘Civil War’ Category

To Honor Heroic Deeds

In Civil War, Uncategorized on January 5, 2016 at 12:27 am

By Michelle Ann Kratts

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Recently a very precious medal of solid gold, about two inches in diameter, was discovered by someone in southern Illinois.  Photographs were posted on a Civil War website and it was requested that someone give more information.  My heart raced when I saw this…not for the gold…but for the sentiment behind this artifact of Niagara Falls history.  For this beautiful Tiffany and Company medal was a remembrance of one of Niagara’s finest men, Col. Peter A. Porter.

The medal originally was struck in honor of the five men who were present at the Battle of Cold Harbor back in June of 1864.  This medal, in particular, (found in Illinois) had been presented to John Morris Duff of Hartland, New York.  He and the four others served with the 8th Heavy Artillery during the Civil War in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on American soil.  Col. Porter, who was beloved by all of his men, for his humanity and courage, was killed and his body left behind enemy lines.  In a moment of bravery, five of his men volunteered to retrieve his body–all while under fire.  They were able to bring his body back and because of these men Col. Peter A. Porter was returned to Niagara Falls and his body respectfully laid to rest behind the gates of the Porter family plot at Oakwood Cemetery.  Another of Oakwood’s residents, LeRoy Williams, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his involvement in this very feat.

Following the war, the very exclusive Century Club of New York City, of which Col. Porter was a member, presented these men with these special engraved medals.  Below are images of the medal struck for John Morris Duff.

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At present the monetary value of this work of art is unknown, but to those of us who know the story behind the man, Col. Peter A. Porter, and those who served beside him, this is priceless.

 

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One Union Soldier by Beverly Bidak

In Civil War, Family Scrapbook, Finding My Grandfather's War, Off to War on July 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm
Grave of Samuel McGee, courtesy Findagrave

Grave of Samuel McGee, courtesy Findagrave

When I started researching my husband’s and my family histories years ago, it was my intention to give my sons a look into their families past. To help them understand who they are and where they came from. While searching, I have learned that genealogy is not just about names, dates and places. It’s about people, our ancestors, our famlies and how they lived and left their mark.

With the help of a fellow researcher, I have uncovered the story of one interesting person from my past, my paternal great-grandfather. Samuel A. McGee was a third generation American of Scot-Irish descent. He was born on 9 April 1841 in Young Township, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. He was the third of eleven children born to Robert and Catherine (Graffius) McGee and raised on the family farm. He was a farmer and lumberman.

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Samuel was 20 years old. He felt it was his duty to serve his country so he went to Pittsburg and enrolled in the Union Army on 3 September 1861. He was mustered in Company F of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers Infantry as a private on 9 September for a three-year term. The 105th was also known as the Wild Cat Regiment because the men were principally from the Congressional District popularly known as the Wild Cat District embracing the counties of Jefferson, Clarion and Clearfield. The regiment’s field officers were: Amor A. McKnight, Colonel; W.W. Corbett, Lieutenant Colonel; and M.M. Dick, Major. Captain Robert Kirk headed “F” Company.

The regiment was ordered to Washington in October of 1861 and assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division III Corp. in Camp Jameson near Alexandria, Virginia. While in the winter camp, the regiment was carefully and rididly trained. Upon leaving the camp on 17 March 1862, the regiment took part in the siege at Yorktown and the battles of Williamsburg and Fair Oaks. After a month spent on picket duty, the 105th was again in action at Glensdale and Malvern Hill and, by the time it reached Harrison’s Landing, the ranks were so reduced by wounds and sickness that less than 100 men were fit for active duty. The 105th was at Fredericksburg, after which it spent the winter in camp near Brandy Station. In May 1863, the regiment was engaged at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Colonel McKnight and Captain were killed in that battle.

On 3 July 1863, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Samuel A. McGee was wounded when a shell passed through his right thigh. He was treated at a field hospital and then transferred, as a private, to Company G, 11th Regiment, Veterans Reserve Corp (Invalid Corps) where he spent the remainder of his enlistment in the hospital until he was honorably discharged on 8 September 1864.

Samuel returned home and to farming. He married Mary Jane Crawford on 16 August 1866 in Suthersburgh, Pennsylvania. Mary Jane, a teacher, was born 8 March 1843 in Marchand, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Allen and Nancy (Brown) Crawford. The couple set up housekeeping in Bell Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. Samuel and Mary Jane bred and raised five chidren: William Clay (born 21 November 1867), Olive Murtle (born 13 May 1870), Crawford Herbert (born 16 July 1873), Robert Earl (born 2 May 1875) my grandfather, and Alice Bertha (born 2 June 1877).

The war injury disabled Samuel but did not incapacitate him. He stood tall at 5 feet 11 inches although the right leg was a little shorter than the left; he limped and suffered soreness and pain as the years went on. He filed for and received a small disability pension, $2.00 a month, in 1876 and he continued to work his farm and raise his family.

Samuel lost his wife in 1903. In November of 1910 he was admitted to and resided in the National Soldiers’ Home in Elizabeth City Clounty, Virginia, a national home for disabled veteran soldiers. In September 1911, Samuel took a 90 day leave of absence from the home and returned to Mahaffey, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, where he died on 17 November 1911. Samuel A. McGee and Mary Jane (Crawford) McGee are both interred at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Clover Run, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.