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Using Civil War Pension Records to Trace Calvin Croy’s Wanderings


Calvin Harrison Croy and Sarah Angeline Smith Croy (My father labeled this Buck, about 1898. With the research sited below, more likely 1901.)

I’ve often emphasized  the singular importance of acquiring any Civil War Pension Records of your immediate ancestorswhen doing genealogical research. Well, while working on an article I’m writing—one requiring a careful look at the pension records of seven Croy brothers of Washington County, Ohio —I found one more reason those records are so important. By looking closely, you can track any moves they made over time.

If you look carefully at the address of the applicant on every application (and often there are many) and any doctor’s examination through the years, you can create a very detailed timeline of where your ancestor lived and moved. My great-grandfather, Calvin Croy, was the only brother who left Ohio. I’ve traced his movement through census records and the birthplaces of his children, but the information in his NARA pension records provides so much more detail—and raises a few questions as well.

The timeline below traces the movement of Calvin Croy from when he returns home from the Civil War until his death. Unless noted the information can be found in his pension papers housed at the National Archives.

  1. July 20, 1865-Discharged from Co. B 31st OVI at Louisville, Kentucky
  2. August 1865-1870: Dunbar/Veto, Fairfield Township, Washington County, Ohio
  3. 1872-1884: Coshocton, Coshocton County, Ohio Note: December 12, 1872, Calvin married Sarah Angeline Smith in Coshocton, Coshocton County, Ohio; in pension records Calvin gives, on to separate occasions, 1882 and 1884 as the date he headed west. Son William was born August 5, 1883 in Coshocton, Ohio, hence my estimate.
  4. June 10, 1885-August 1887: Humbolt, Speicer Precinct, Richardson County, Nebraska Note: 1885 Nebraska Census provides start of residency. #4 & 5 show a confusing discrepancy! Son Albert Lloyd born August 11 1887 in Nebraska on census records but Calvin applied for a pension in Taylor, Kansas May 1886 and is listed on the Kansas Grand Army of the Republic Report for January 1, 1887. The Nemaha County, Kansas is right below Richardson County, Nebraska so their home may have been on the border or…?
  5. May 1886-1889: Taylor, Seneca, Nemaha County, Kansas Note: Lists occupation as farmer. A further discrepancy lists Burlingame, Osage County, Kansas as an address in 1889 and son Lloyd’s WWI biography notes his education in Burlingame.
  6. 1890-1894: Pleasanton, Linn County, Ohio Note: 1892 in the Kansas Grand Army of the Republic Report is the first time he lists his occupation as miner and may account for the moves the family made #7-9.
  7. March 1895-September 1895: Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas
  8. June 1896: Taylor, Seneca, Nemaha County, Kansas
  9. 1897-December 1900: Pleasanton, Linn County, Ohio Note: son Justus married Mary Elizabeth Ison December 24, 1900 then moved with family to Oklahoma.
  10. 1901-1905: Buck/Carbon/Krebs, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) Note: these towns, all listed as post offices on pension records during this time period are within 5-10 miles of each other.
  11. 1907- death on June 12, 1922: Henrietta, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma

While imperfect, the information provides a clear picture of a family in motion after leaving Ohio. Only after setting foot in Henrietta did Calvin find roots.

Next week I explore the fabulous SEARCHABLE Missouri County Plat Books and where my grandmother’s mother Gillie Morris[s] was born. But if Missouri is in your blood, go there now!

From the “Rolls” of Washington County: The last two “Croy Boys”

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civil war induction by Hank Cradduck at tt

credit: Hank Craddock

The photo taken at the OGS Society of Civil War Families of Ohio induction ceremony arrived a couple months back. At the time, I was elbow deep in the buckets of information from my trip to Ohio, so just filed it away.

I met Deb Root Shell at this meeting, a serendipitous gift. She pointed me in the direction of the Washington County, Ohio Civil War Rolls tucked away in a manila folder at the Washington County Library Local History and Genealogy Archives. She is in the process of transcribing all of the records into a book. I have already posted transcriptions of five of the seven Croy brothers who served in the Civil War. Today I finish my Washington County posts with the rolls of the last two brothers.

William P. Croy, late of Coshocton County, first bought land in Washington County on 7 February 1853 from Alexander and Sarah Johnson.[i] There were two parcels, one 40 acre parcel, the west portion of section 32, T 6 R 11 and another 5 acres near Cutler, Ohio. His father, mother, and family joined him there before late 1860. He had married Rebecca Jane Huston in Coshocton County on 14 June 1855.[ii] A child, Anderson, was born 12 July 1856.[iii] He was their only child. The information from the “Rolls” is recorded below.

“William Croy, son of Jacob & Margaret Croy, was born in Carrol Co. Oct. 4th 1836. Went from Fairfield Aug. 9th 1862 in Co “G” 92nd O.V.I. Never sick in Hosp, nor wounded, nor captured. Was detached as wagon master during most of the time after May 10th 1864, & was therefore not with the Regt in its subsequent engagements, and did not see it again till he was mustered out with it near Washington D.C. June 10th 1865 Married, & his one child. m. REBECCA J (?) son Anderson (or Andrew) b. ca 1865”[iv]

The last “Croy boy,” (our family still calls them that) was my great-grandfather, Calvin Harrison Croy. I have written extensively in many posts regarding him and included a few pictures, as well. He didn’t marry until after the Civil War, spending time living with his brother Nathan helping with the farm.[v] He then went to Coshocton to work in his Uncle David’s sawmill where he met Sarah Angeline Smith (more on her and her family in my postings as well).[vi] They married in Coshocton on 12 December 1872.[vii] (An interesting aside: I found a scribbled out intent to marry between Calvin and a Rebecca Huston date 6 June 1866…Don’t you wonder?) Here is what was entered in the Rolls right after the war.

“Calvin Croy, son of Jacob & Margaret Croy, was born in Coshoton Co May 13th 1848. Went from Fairfield, (1st) in Co. “F” 148th O.V.I. Was off duty but a day or two through sickness: Come home & was discharged with the Co. at Marietta. Enlisted (2nd) Feb 17th ’65 in Co. “G” 92nd O.V.I., & was transferred at the discharge of that Regt to Co “B” 31st O.V.I. Was never sick during service, excepting seasickness on the passage from N. York to Beauford N.C. Discharged July 20th 1865, Louisville, Ky.”[viii]

Next week I move back in time to what I discovered about the daughters of Alexander and Susannah Croy, the aunts of the Civil War “Croy Boys.” See you then.

[i] Grantee, William Croy; Grantor Alexander/Sarah Johnson; Washington County Court House, Deed book V 46 Pg 332.
[ii] William Croy/Rebecca Huston Marriage Certificate, 14 July 1855; Court of Common Pleas, Coshocton County, Ohio; Certified Copy privately held by Donna Croy Wright, Tollhouse, California, July 2015.
[iii] Soldier’s Certificate No. 695593, William P. Croy, Corporal, Company G, 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Case Files of Approved Pension applications of Veterans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (Civil War and Later Survivors’ Certificates), 1861-1934; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, p 20 National Archives, Washington, DC
[iv] Handwritten Roll of Honor document, compiled by Charles Strong Perry, 1865, Washington County Public Library, History and Genealogical Archive, 418 Washington St., Marietta, OH. Pg 8.
[v] Year: 1870; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll: M593_1278; Page: 116A; Image: 136035; Family History Library Film: 552777 [accessed thru 27 September 2012]
[vi] Year: 1880; Census Place: Keene, Coshocton, Ohio; Roll: 1003; Family History Film: 1255003; Page: 115C; Enumeration District: 048; Image: 0234 [accessed thru 27 September 2012]
[vii] Calvin Croy/Sarah A Smith Certified Copy of Marriage Record, 12 December 1872; privately held by DeBernardi family. Photo held by Donna Croy Wright, Tollhouse, California.
[viii] Handwritten Roll of Honor document, compiled by Charles Strong Perry, 1865, Washington County Public Library, History and Genealogical Archive, 418 Washington St., Marietta, OH. Pg 9.

Civil War Pension Files: A Priceless Significance

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With so much else, come those wonderful signatures!

With so much else, come those wonderful signatures!

I retreated like a green recruit from the prospect of spending $80 on the Civil War Pension files of my ancestors. It seemed an exorbitant cost, particularly since I faced a line of seven brothers, the sons of my great, great, great-grandparents, all members of two Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiments. But I charged ahead. Well, I didn’t charge but rather crawled forward, ordering four records. And, in the end, I found the sacrifice small. Through them I discovered far more than the surface reward of some genealogical win. I found humanity, and a cost paid out that far exceeded any charge to my account.

Their words, and those of friends, relatives, comrades, and doctors, revealed a landscape strewn with individual fortitude, pain, and heartbreak, one laid bare in the aftermath of war. Like an armchair traveler, I slipped each CD into my computer and travelled back, beyond birth and death dates, into the lives of Robert, David, Greer, and Calvin Croy.

Robert served with Company G of the 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) beginning on the 5th of August 1862, but it was in Georgia at the Battle of Chickamauga that he encountered his life long disability, as he stated in his own hand in the Claimant’s Affidavit (transcribed in own words with punctuation added for clarity).Robert's signature

“…on or about the 20th of September 1863 at the Battle of Chicamanga [Tennessee] I had my hearing of Both Ears affected which at the time was alright[.] Was not treated for it at the time … or Since By a Physician[.] the only treatment I have had was self treatment[.] I had not the means to Enploy Physicians. at the Present time my Right Ear is total deaf and the left Partial.”

A comrade, George L Camp of Seattle, Washington, provided the most vivid account of how Robert lost his hearing.

“At Chickamauga we lay about 50 feet to the right of our Brig[ade] Battery-which were 12 pound pieces[,] and they were double charged most of the time for the entire day of Sunday the 20th of Sept. 1863-and the concussion would nearly raise us from the ground…”

As for his feelings when he filed in August of 1897, he ended one of his affidavits this way.

“the Evidence Called fer July 16, 1891 I cannot furnish for while in Service I never Complained as Some did to get Excused But always tried to do my duty. It would have been Better for me if I had[,] for then I Could of furnished the testimony Called fer”

Arthritis and deterioration of knees, feet, and back were common pension complaints for those of the 92nd who marched on foot from Chickamauga to Atlanta and then up through the Carolinas to Washington DC. The regiment, with the rest of Sherman’s troops, marched approximately 1,500 miles and averaged 15 miles a day through swamps and rough terrain, performing heavy manual labor along the way. Often, even with evidence of hospital stays, the Bureau of Pensions deemed many of these applications invalid. The toll of these decisions impacted whole families.

Calvin joined the 92nd late, at Savannah, to march through the Carolinas at the beginning of 1865.  Still, he entered the field hospital for rheumatism from April 17th to April 30th of 1865. Standing tall at six feet one inch and 156 pounds, he filed for a pension in 1880 and finally earned it commencing in 1890 , not for rheumatism but for a ruptured hernia. This comment by J.B. Sands provides insight into the family’s burden.calvin sig

“He is a coal miner and incapacitated for that kind of work. I know personally that he keeps his boys out of school to help earn a support for his family.”

Tuberculosis, or consumption as people called it at the time, percolated freely in the confined environments where soldiers shared all. The lethal bacteria could lie hidden for years and early symptoms often mimicked other diseases. The close quarters, so new to young men use to open country, provided a perfect incubator.

David, also a part of Company G of the 92nd OVI, filed for a pension on June 27, 1877. The six-foot tall, light-haired, blue-eyed 36 year-old declared that he:david mark

“took cold from exposure on the Steamer being transported with the Reg[iment] from Nashville to Carthage, Tenn. Which settled in his throat and lungs giving him Consumption of the lungs and totally disabling him at the time.”

This statement by N.B. Sisson (?) of Porter, Ohio pleads for understanding of the conditions when determining eligibility.

“At Carthage Tenn, winter 62 & 63, Spring 63. The 92 Ohio Vols passed through a severe crisis of grave diseases-Measles, Scurvy, Typhoid fever, and dysentery and diarrhea; at which time for several months the sen[ior] & jun[ior] Surgeons were absent. The jun[ior surgeon] resigning, and so severe were the duties in caring for the sick of the Reg[iment] I am not certain I kept a record of every case of Even severe disease…Defective supplies of vegetables on that frontier caused much disease…These remarks are to enable the department to some Extent understand & appreciate the difficulty; Now of doing (?) justice to the suffering & their widows & orphans.”

Again falling ill and possibly missing action at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, David moved in and out of the field hospital from May of 1863 through January of 1864 with “catarrh, diarrhea, sore feet, typhoid fever, debility, and dysentery.”

David died March 10, 1878, aged 34, never receiving the pension for which he applied. His wife Mary received a Widow’s Pension instead.

David’s brother Greer also suffered from consumption but his story was more complicated and brief. Blue-eyed and brown-haired, at just under 5’8” and four inches shorter than David or Calvin, he volunteered for duty first of the seven brothers, joining F Company of the 36th OVI and serving until:greer sign

“On the 19th day of October 1864 at [the] Battle of Cedar Creek he was shot through the right hip with a minnie ball, from this point was taken to Camden hospital Baltimore & from there discharged.” Writing in strict medical terms, at the time of his discharge, George O. Heldreth, Examining Surgeon, noted[:] The ball entered the right groin and passed out immediately behind the neck of the femur fracturing the margin of the acetabulum, anchylosis of the hip has resulted. The leg is shortened, and in walking the heel does not touch the ground.”

But his brother William tells the larger tale, one infused with a level distress and awe.

“Said Greer Croy was wounded three times. I have seen all of the wounds. It is stated that he was wounded in [the] foot at south mountain which rendered him unable for Duty at the time of the wound. 2nd wounded in the Head at Chicamuga which I understood caused partial Insanity. 3rd Place at Cedar Creek by Gun Shot wounded in hip which made him a cripple for life[.] said Claimant frequently complained of suffering from cough which I fully believe originated in the United States service as I never knew him to be sick or cough Prior to his enlistment. I am an elder Brother of Deceased and know the facts as set forth above. Said Greer Croy was very ambitious & I suppose he thought circumstances compelled him to work[,] & frequently did work more or less at some kinds of Labor[,] when I am satisfied he ought not to have worked.”

Greer died October 28, 1872 of consumption, aged 34, a little over eight years after his injury at Cedar Creek.

Eighty dollars for some pension files? A small price to pay by comparison and invaluable for their insights into human cost of war, of far greater worth than an accounting of dates. I will update you when I receive the last three records of the seven brothers. I anticipate being richer still when I receive them.

My Seven Part Civil War Blog and National Archive Citations

Soldier’s Certificate No. 679496, Robert Croy, Corporal, Company G, 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Case Files of Approved Pension applications of Veternans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (Civil War and Later Survivors’ Certificates), 1861-1934; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Archives, Washington, DC
Soldier’s Certificate No. 928135, Calvin Croy, Private, Company G, 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Case Files of Approved Pension applications of Veterans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (Civil War and Later Survivors’ Certificates), 1861-1934; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Archives, Washington, DC
Soldier’s Certificate No. 679496, David Croy, Corporal, Company G, 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Case Files of Approved Pension applications of Veterans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (Civil War and Later Survivors’ Certificates), 1861-1934; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Archives, Washington, DC
Soldier’s Certificate No. 237291, Greer Croy, Corporal, Company F, 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Case Files of Approved Pension applications of Veterans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (Civil War and Later Survivors’ Certificates), 1861-1934; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Archives, Washington, DC

How Calvin and Sarah Met (or the Geographical History of the Payne, Markley, and Croy Families)


Coshocton County Townships

Coshocton County Townships

Coshocton County, Ohio was formed out of Muskingum County in 1811.

The above map should help process things as we move along. (If I name a township in this post without indicating a county, assume Coshocton County, Ohio.)

 As noted in the previous post, to understand how Calvin Croy and Sarah Angeline Smith met and married, you must follow the couple’s family connections in Coshocton County. We were introduced to Sarah’s mother, Sephronia Payne Smith, and father, Henry Smith, in the last post. In this post I attempt to mine the family relationships of the Sephronia’s family and the Croy family in Coshocton County, Ohio. The goal: explain how the paths of Calvin and Sarah crossed (with some interesting diversions in between.)

The Payne’s lived in Coshocton County from at least 1820 when Sephronia’s father moved there with his shoe and boot repair business. (More on them in the previous post.) Their children, known and living into adulthood, were Samuel Felch (1810-1868,) Sarah (1812-1903,) Sephronia (1823-1903,) Selena (1826-between 1901-1910,) and William (between 1828-1834-about 1869.) Let’s take a look at the marriages, migration, and life experiences of these children.

The story is the sad but resilient tale of pioneer life. Zerah Payne and Fredrick Markley lived near each other in Tuscarawas Township in 1820. Fredrick Markley, died in 1828 leaving his wife, Rachel, with Nathan (11,) David (9,) Selena (5,) an unknown female, and Catherine (1.) The Payne family had also suffered a loss with Zerah Payne dying in1831. David Markley married Selena Payne on June 9, 1843 (Yes, Selena, just to make it confusing, each family had a Selena.) By 1850 David and Selena lived with her sister, Sephronia Payne Smith and Henry Smith, in Licking County, Ohio just southwest of Pike Township.

The rest of the Markley children connected in some way to the Payne family by 1850. Samuel Felch Payne had first married an Elizabeth Rice in Coshocton on March 4, 1830. Before 1850, Elizabeth died and Samuel then married Selena Markley, September 16, 1850. He likely met Selena Markley because she was living next to (or near) Samuel’s mother Amy Payne in Jackson Township. (Selena Markley is listed in two places in Jackson Township, Dwelling 301 next to Amy Payne who cared for Samuel’s son James, and # 278.) Then, on March 4, 1852 William Payne married Catherine Markley. Following me so far??? Samuel, William, and Selena Payne married Selena, Catherine, and David Markley.

After their marriages, in about 1858, Samuel and William Payne took off with their families to farm in Vincennes, Knox, Indiana. Samuel’s mother Amy Payne had died before 1860. They took the Markley matriarch, Rachel Markley, with them but after 1860 no record exists for her. Their hopes and dreams were not realized in Indiana. Illness ravaged them. On February 10, 1866, Selena Markley Payne died. Then, on January 17, 1868, Samuel Felch Payne died. Their son Gibson died about that time as well. The rest of children were shipped out to family, three to David and Selina and one to Catherine. Finally, in late 1869, William Payne died along with their son, Thomas. Catherine Markley Payne returned home to where everyone now lived in Canal Lewisville along the border of Tuscarawas and Keene Township.

With the deaths of Samuel and William, only the daughters were left. In 1870, two of them, Sephronia Smith and Selina Markley, lived three houses apart and between them lived Samuel Payne’s children Rachel, Eliza, and Burd. In the Smith house lived Sarah Angeline.

Coshocton County and Canal Lewisville figures geographically into the lives of the Croy family as well. In the late 1830’s, as documented in previous posts, Andrew Croy and his sons moved to Coshocton County with the growth of the Eerie/Ohio Canal. Jacob Croy, father of Calvin, lived in Mill Creek and White Eyes Townships. Most important to this story is the brother who stayed and settled in Lafayette Township, David Croy. Woodworking ran in the family. Father Andrew owned a sawmill in White Eyes Township. David, followed his footsteps and worked as a sawyer in White Eyes and Lafayette Townships. His son Robert followed suit, working as a sawyer in 1870 and then as a sawyer in 1880 in Keene Township.

No, I didn’t forget the original title of the post: How Calvin and Sarah met. After the Civil War, Calvin was living with his brother Nathan down in Fairfield Township, Washington County, near Marietta, on the homestead with his father and mother where he is listed as a laborer in 1870. Then his father died in 1872.

As noted two posts back, Calvin had a restless spirit. It is likely that he jumped at the chance to move out from under his older brother’s shadow and go work with his cousin in Keene Township. They may have even formed a business together. At any rate, by 1880 Calvin was working as a sawyer in Keene Township. He and Sarah lived only 24 houses apart from cousin Robert Croy. (How close were they to Canal Lewisville? My grandfather, Justus Croy, born on October 10, 1879 lists Lewisville as his place of birth on the World War I draft card.)

By the way, when searching your family be careful and check the originals carefully. I found error in the transcription of  townships, names, and households from the original. An 1820 census included two to three townships on each page and all were listed as one township! Needless to say, but I will, my brain is fried. I’m happy to return to fiction for a few days!

And look at this! Written in 1881, this History of Coshocton County contains a hint as to the parentage of Amy Felch, someone I had no definitive information on before. Yes, the piece contains some errors, but not many. And THAT is where I go next, following Zerah Payne and Amy Felch Payne back in time and ancestry. See ya then!

“MARKLEY DAVID, Tuscarawas township; farmer; was born October 13, 1819, in this township; son of Frederick and Rachel (Cartmill) Markley. David’s father came to Coshocton county in 1803 and located in Bethlehem township on the Walhonding river. His ancestors came from Maryland and are of German descent. David’s father died when the boy was but nine years old, from which age Mr. Markley has depended entirely on his own industry and management for success, and it is but just to state here that he has by honest and judicious economy obtained an ample competence for his family and himself, and to do a liberal share in assisting in all charitable and religious enterprises of his neighborhood. He also takes a live interest in education. Mr. Markley was married July 9, 1842, to Miss Selina, daughter of Lera and Ann (Felch) Payne. Mrs. Markley’s grandmother was Sarah Knox, sister of General Knox. They are the parents of fourteen children, nine of whom are deceased, viz: Caroline, William F., Christena Frances, George E., Charles D., Mary Melissa, Judge Harper, Lily May and Edward; and five living, viz: Samuel Asberry, Minerva Catherine, Emma, Annie E. and David, Jr.”

 Information for this post taken from:
  • com census data for Ohio between 1820 and 1880 and Vincennes, Knox, Indiana 1860, 1870 (Yes, I know I didn’t use the “official” style…look back to other posts. I do know how.)
  • Marriage information comes from Marriages, Coshocton County, Ohio, 1811-1930. Provo, UT: Originally compiled by Miriam C. Hunter Coshocton Public Library, 1991.
  • N. Hill, Jr. Ed., History of Coshocton County Ohio: Its Past and Present, (Newark, Ohio: A.A. Graham & Co., 1881) Pg 743
  • Note: repeating family names given for numerous children are Samuel, Asbury, Judge, Justus, Amy

Seven Brothers and the War of Rebellion: Part Six

Maj. Gen. Slocum and staff and army of Georgia passing in review by Mathew Brady

Maj. Gen. Slocum and staff and Army of Georgia passing in review
by Mathew Brady

So what happened to the four brothers serving in the 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company G, after Missionary Ridge? Greer Croy labored in the 36th under Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. Nathan and Calvin, in the 148th, protected the Capital. (see previous post)

Under Sherman, the 92nd would move south. Sherman, promoted by Grant, took command of a “Division of the Mississippi” and, in turn, promoted Major General George H. Thomas, who had distinguished himself in the Chattanooga campaign, to lead the Army of the Cumberland. The taking of Atlanta became their first mission.

Assigned to Thomas, the 92nd moved against Johnston and Hood in the drive to take Atlanta, Georgia. Joining with the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Ohio, they took the center. Later Grant referred to the battles and consequent siege of Atlanta as a “120 day continuous battle.”

During the day and night of September 1-2 of 1864, Hood evacuated Atlanta. He headed north, hoping to join up with Lee. Rather than follow in mass, Sherman divided up the forces of Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland. Half would go after Hood with Thomas. The rest would head south, supporting Sherman’s mission to cut the South’s supply route. The 92nd went south.

The 92nd OVI again acquired new leadership. They now served under Major General Jefferson Columbus Davis in the 14th Army Corp. They marched under General H.W. Slocum and would man the left wing of Sherman’s March to the Sea. But first they would decimate Atlanta’s infrastructure including railroads and manufacturing. They protected churches and hospitals from destruction.

On November 15, 1864, they headed for Savannah. Most records show that Slocum’s Army of Georgia, taking the left flank, saw little opposition and less fighting. As with so much of the boy’s Civil War service, the exactly role of Robert, William, Duncan, and David Croy in this controversial march remains unknown.

“They had enjoyed a fine march, having had but little resistance. The stories of the mock Legislature at the State capital, of the luxurious supplies enjoyed all along, and of the constant fun and pranks of “Sherman’s bummers,” rather belonged to that route than ours.” Major General of the Army of the Tennessee, Oliver O. Howard[i]
Sherman's Army removing ammunition from Fort McAllister in Savannah by Samuel A. Cooley

Sherman’s Army removing ammunition from Fort McAllister in Savannah by Samuel A. Cooley

On December 21, 1864, after an 11-day siege, Sherman’s army marched into Savannah. The troops again busied themselves either destroying or confiscating the city’s resources. Meanwhile, the ranks needed replenishing. New volunteers came south over a rough and circuitous route. One of the new members traveling to join up with 92nd, Company G was Calvin Croy.[ii]

Again taking the left flank, Slocum’s army moved north following Confederate General Johnston. At Bentonville, North Carolina, on March 19, 1864, the Confederate forces doubled back, surprising them. They fought through the night and nearly lost their position. In the end, Sherman sent reinforcements and Johnston retreated. They joined forces in Goldsboro and Sherman honored Slocum’s army with its official title, “Army of Georgia.”

On the way to Raleigh, on April 12, 1865, Sherman issued a major message. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox! Image the celebration of the five Croy brothers left in the war. Image the joy in Fairfield Township where their wives, children, parents, and brothers waited, one who was recovering from war wounds. The words of Major General Slocum, written some 20 years after the event, might capture the emotion.

“Thoughts of meeting wives, children, and friends from whom they had been so long separated by the bloody struggle, occupied the minds of all. A happier body of men never before surrounded their campfires than were to be found along the roads leading to Raleigh.”[iii]

Then another event required a second message from Sherman. On the way to negotiate the surrender of Johnston, he learned of the assassination of President Lincoln. Under this veil of sorrow, the troops marched to Washington, D.C., burying soldiers left from earlier battles on the way.

The five Croy brothers participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865, the last great event of the war. In Slocum’s words, it was not the cavalry or mounted generals that won the greatest applause, but the rank and file soldiers, lovingly called “bummers,” who earned the audience’s greatest admiration.

“At the review the men appeared “in their native ugliness” as they appeared on the march through Georgia and the Carolinas. Their pack- mules and horses, with rope bridles or halters, laden with supplies such as they had carried on the march, formed part of the column.” [iv]

Next post: The aftermath

Note: Excellent resource with many primary sources

[i] Howard, Oliver O., Major-General, United States Army, Shermans advance from Atlanta. In Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 4, Century Magazine, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, Inc., 1887, 663-666. (quote from P 164)
[ii] NARA. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 ( T288_105, also Martin R. Andrews, edited and compiled, History of Marietta and Washington county, Ohio and representative citizens, Vol. 1 (Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, 1902) pg 755-756 (Includes interesting accounts of each Ohio regiments service from the perspective of the late 1800’s.)
[iii] Slocum, H. W., Major-General, United States Volunteers. Final operations of Shermans Army. In Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 4, Century Magazine, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, Inc., 1887, 754-758. (quote from p 755)
[iv] Ibid quote from p 758

Seven Brothers and the War of Rebellion: Part Five

Sheridan's Ride at Cedar Creek October 19, 1864 by A.R. Waud

Sheridan’s Ride at Cedar Creek
October 19, 1864 by A.R. Waud

The five Croy boys who fought together on the Western Theatre received new orders. After taking Missionary Ridge in Tennessee and securing the supply lines and strategic placement of Chattanooga, the 92nd with Robert, William, Duncan, and David Croy moved south with Sherman. Having completed the three-year obligation to serve, the 36th was due to disband. They moved north, returning to Ohio.

The Union desperately needed these volunteers to reenlist. They were transported to Columbus where Governor John Broughin garlanded them with acclaim. He also explained an incentive plan. If a significant percent of the regiment reenlisted, they would be honored with the title of “veteran” for their regiment and each man reenlisting would receive a $100 bonus. They squeaked by with the required percentage. On February 15, 1864 329 men were sworn into the 36th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry. Among them was Greer Croy.

As part of the “negotiations,” the 36th received two out of the three things they requested. They would receive a 30-day leave to rest and visit family. They would not receive the Spencer repeating rifles they had seen in use in Tennessee. They would be transferred to serve under George Crook, now Brigadier General of the Kanawha Division of West Virginia.

When Greer Croy arrived home for his thirty days of recuperation in March of 1864, he was greeted by a proud father, relieved and still anxious mother, and two awed brothers, all of them bursting with their own questions. By the time Greer left to join Crook in West Virginia on March 29, 1864, his presence had convinced the last two brothers that they could wait no longer. Well, maybe he had only convinced Calvin. Calvin was young and filled with stories of adventure, and he turned eighteen years of age on May 13th. A regiment formed in that month, but mother Margaret would not send another boy off alone.

On May 2, 1864, Calvin and Nathan Croy, 20 years of age, joined the newly forming 148th OVI for a 100 day term.[i]Their service began in disaster. Barely out of Ohio, the train carrying the boys crashed. It killed a local boy in the regiment and injuring many. Calvin and Nathan went on to Washington, D.C. to man the trenches protecting the Capital. They were mustered out on September 14, 1864. Later Calvin would join his brothers in the 92nd marching through the Carolinas. But for one hundred days all seven of Margaret and Jacob’s boys were in the Civil War together.

At the same time, Crook and Greer’s 36th had received orders to destroy the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad. Traveling light, living off the land, with orders to do no “indiscriminate marauding,” they marched through rain and mud along the Kanawha River, disrupting supply flow and creating havoc for the Confederacy. With the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain in Virginia, they accomplished the shut down that railroad and moved up the Shenandoah Valley.

Lacking supplies and equipment while battling heat, fatigue, and the guerilla tactics of the Rebels, they lingered on the verge of collapse. Then, in August of 1864, Major General Philip Sheridan arrived with 35, 000 troops. They rallied.

The culminating battle came at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. Thinking they now dominated the valley and the front, Sheridan had moved out to focus on Lee. But Major General Early of the Confederacy surprised the Union forces, causing general panic. The 36th held the line, and Sheridan, with word of the danger, returned to rally the troops. Many depict the moment as the now famous, if somewhat overly dramatic, “Sheridan’s Ride.”

There were 5,700 casualties at Cedar Creek with 554 killed. Greer Croy suffered his third and final wound of the war. He was mustered out to go home on March 18, 1865 with a surgeon’s certificate of disability.

Note: For further information (regiment timelines and other interesting facts) (flags of regiments.) (excellent outline of battles, regiments, etc.) and Kenneth P. Werrell, Crook’s Regulars: the 36th Ohio in the War of Rebellion (Christianburg, Virginia, KPW, 2012)

[i] NARA. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 ( T288_105, also Martin R. Andrews, edited and compiled, History of Marietta and Washington county, Ohio and representative citizens, Vol. 1 (Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, 1902) pg 755-756 (Includes interesting accounts of each Ohio regiments service from the perspective of the late 1800’s.)


Treat #4 for a New Year: Ralph Lewis Croy as a boy

Here are two pictures that show Ralph Lewis Croy, my father, as a little boy.

Muriel, Ralph, Calvin Croy

Muriel, Ralph, Calvin Croy

The first, thanks to a special relative, shows Muriel in his WWI uniform and Ralph and Calvin dressed to impress, all for a studio photograph. With hair neatly parted and combed, they stare solemnly into the camera. The photographer shot this picture in about 1917-8, the approximate time that Merle “ran away to join the army.”

The next photograph is a personal favorite. I had searched for it unsuccessfully some years back and recently found it tucked away inside an inconsequential piece of paper.

Ralph Croy, circa 1920

Ralph Croy, circa 1920

Taken perhaps a year or two after the first, it shows Ralph Croy as the resourceful, outdoor loving person I knew but residing in a child’s body. Never leave a card or envelop unopened! Treasures are everywhere.