THE UNFOLDING JOURNEY is a new blog written in association with Legacy Genealogy.

This blog is a blend of disciplines that reveal the rich texture of culture and history that surrounded your ancestors' lives, as well as your own. We will take you beyond just the names, dates, and places to give you the "back story" for the reasons your ancestors thought what they thought and did what they did. We invite you to also visit us at the Legacy Genealogy facebook page at http://facebook.com/legacygenealogy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Civil War History of the 57th Indiana (#15)

Prelude to the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee 

“Gen. Buell had been removed, and he was succeeded by Gen. W. S. Rosecrans, who had recently accomplished such brilliant victories in Mississippi. The news was received with delight by the weary men who had followed their former commander on so many fruitless expeditions. The three divisions commanded by Gen. Crittenden were now known as the left wing of the newly named Army of the Cumberland.

“On Thursday, December 4th, there was a general review of Wood’s division by Gen. Rosecrans, who inspected the men very closely, and seemed much interested in their comfort and general welfare. His manners and conduct toward the men was such that, from the very start, he was respected by all his soldiers. ‘I hope to hear a good account from the 57th,’ said the general, as he took his leave of our regiment.

“Our numbers were largely increased by the arrival of one full company of drafted men from Indiana, who had been sent to the 57th by Gov. Morton.

“Gen. Wood’s division commenced a movement, which would finally end in our return to the city of Nashville. When some distance away, the rebels displayed a flag of truce, and Col. Wood, of the 15th, was sent to hold an interview with them. A short distance in the rear of the flag, were several hundred paroled prisoners and these they wished to send through the lines.

“We remained in camp near Nashville just one month, having arrived on the 26th of November, and left on the 26th of December. This was the first incidence in which we had the privilege of remaining more than two weeks in the same camp. While there, our time was mainly employed in drilling, and procuring the necessary clothing and equipment for a winter campaign. Long before daylight on the 26th, the thousands of camp fires that shone brightly throughout the army and the scenes of activity that prevailed, gave evidence that a move of no small importance was just at hand. The men were ordered to carry, besides their guns and equipment, three days’ rations in haversacks, oil-cloths, and overcoats.

“Riding leisurely along, the new general cast a quick glance, first at the men on one side of the road and then on the other. He wore a large cavalry overcoat, and smoked a cigar when not engaged in conversation.

“On Saturday the 27th, our division had the front. The first duty was to dislodge the enemy from the village, where they were strongly posted. Hascall’s brigade formed in line of battle and moved forward; our brigade being massed immediately in their rear. The force now contesting our advance consisted mainly of cavalry, and their resistance was so obstinate that we were until in the evening driving them to and across Stewart’s Creek. Marching through the wet brush, our clothing was thoroughly drenched from the dripping branches, and constant tramping in the mud and water under foot. From a battery posted on the south bank, they kept up a constant fire, which was responded to by our artillery. As our regiment arrived at the brow of the hill, they were perceived by the rebel gunners who fired a shell which passed the entire length of the regiment, just over the heads of the men. But fortunately, it did not explode until it had passed. Had the first shot been fired only a little lower, it would have made great havoc in our regiment.

“The coming darkness soon put an end to the firing, and the men made preparations to pass the night. Large fires were built of rails, which we now used with an unsparing land. In our front was a large cotton field; and near was a house well filled with fine, clean cotton. This was discovered in due time by the men, and large quantities of it were carried up and used for bedding. Gen. Rosecrans rode over near out camp; and seeing the cotton which we had used, remarked, ‘The men can use it for the night, but it must be returned in the morning.’

“On the December 29th, Generals Wood and Crittenden both came forward, and with field-glasses viewed the rebel position. The enemy had been driven back in such haste that it was supposed, by Gen. Rosecrans, they would not attempt to hold the place with any considerable force. On the morning of the 30th however, the rebels were found to be still in position and, instead of preparing for a retreat, had strengthened their line with a strong force of pickets and sharp-shooters.

“We were joined on the right of the pike by troops belonging to Palmer’s division; and the lines thus formed extended on to the west through dense cedar thickets. Our line of battle was near six hundred yards from the line of rifle-pits established by the enemy. Throughout the whole of the day, the 57th remained on the front line in full view of the rebel sharp-shooters, whose balls now and then whistled by our heads, or fell short in the cotton field. Once or twice during the day members of the regiment were struck by spent balls, and slightly bruised. Col. Hines was struck by a Minnie ball that same afternoon. The ball penetrated a memorandum book in his coat pocket on the left side, thus saving him from a severe wound.

“The men of the regiment received no orders for battle - they rarely ever do until it has commenced - though here seemed to be a settled conviction upon the minds of all that they soon would be drowned in the noise of battle. No one now thought of retreating. The Army of the Cumberland would now face the foe upon the field and prove, by deeds of valor, that they could fight.”

(Tennessee, December, 1862)
Excerpts taken from “Annals of the Fifty-Seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry: Marches, Battles, and Incidents of Army Life” written by Asbury L. Kerwood immediately after the war.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


During the first 20 years of mass-produced automobiles, many efforts were made to create a car that was easy to operate and affordable for the average family; few met success. By 1930, another attempt was made. This time by Ferdinand Porsche who had just started an automobile design company. He designed a two-door sedan with lines similar to today’s VW Beetle, but the only company interested in using his design was a German motorcycle manufacturer who wanted to power it with a small motorcycle engine. Porsche’s car could not be adapted to such a small engine and the design lay dormant.

In 1933, Porsche originated a design that looked and operated very much like the Czechoslovakian-built Tatra. This interested Adolph Hitler who called Porsche in and discussed with him his interest in having a small car created for the average German family. At that time only 1 in 50 German families could afford a car. Hitler referred to it as a “volkswagen” or people’s car, and set down his criteria for it. It was to carry five people, cruise at a speed of 62 mph, get at least 33 miles per gallon, and cost the buyer no more than 1,000 Reich Marks. Hitler even provided to Porsche is own personal sketch (shown here) of what the car might look like.

This was an opportunity for Porsche to resurrect his earlier, bypassed small car design. His revised design was named the V1, and there was a convertible version was named V2. The names are uncomfortably similar to the later German rockets. By 1935, the prototypes had been completed and were being driven. The cars had a four cylinder, air-cooled, rear- mounted engine which produced 22.5 horsepower. Remarkably, they were nearly the same engines used in the Volkswagen Beetles several decades later.  

They were put through meticulous testing the following year. Porsche’s company, although private, was still under the control of the National Socialists (NAZI party) and road testing was required to be done by S.S. officers. Within two years a manufacturing plant, as well as an adjacent town to house workers, was constructed. The first models built had front-hinged doors, split rear windows, and larger hoods. The appearance was basically the Beetle we know now.

Just prior to being introduced to the public, Hitler changed the name of the car to the KdF Wagen. KdF stood for “Kraft durch Freude,” or “Strength through Joy.” Ferdinand Porsche hated the name and resented the fact that his design was being used for propaganda; but he was powerless to stop it.

The National Socialist government sold “stamps” to the public that they could use to purchase the automobile when it became available. It was promoted as a car savings program. If a family had accumulated 200 stamps, they could redeem them for a car. Huge amounts of cash were finding their way into the NAZI coffers. World War II broke out and the factory was converted to military vehicle production without ever completing a single KdF Wagen. Years later, people who had collected the stamps sued Volkswagen to get compensation.

During the war, Porsche’s plant was busy building vehicles for the German army. Their 50,000 “Kubelwagens” served the same function as the Allies’ Jeep; and the 16,000 “Schwimmwagens” were the amphibious version, which had a retractable propeller in the rear and was steered with its front tires. Because petroleum was in short supply, Ferdinand Porsche experimented with alternatively fueled engines including a wood/gas hybrid combination and compressed CO2. Sadly, it is estimated by historians that about 15,000 slave laborers were used in producing these military vehicles. This was 80% of the factory’s wartime workforce.

The Porsche plant was naturally a prime target for Allied air strikes and was partially destroyed. After the cessation of fighting, the plant was captured by American forces then turned over to the British, in whose zone it was located. The British were very interested in bringing the plant back on line to satisfy their need for light transportation vehicles. Using mostly undamaged spare parts lying around the factory, the workers produced 2,000 cars in the six months to the end of 1945.

In 1946, 10,000 cars were built. It was the British who named the company Volkswagen, and renamed the workers’ town Wolfsburg (today a center for automobile design and testing). But the British government was not interested in running the operation themselves. They tried to get Ford Motors to take it over but they refused. French and British companies were likewise not interested. Finally in 1949, the British government turned control of Volkswagen over to the German government.

Production at Volkswagen increased dramatically. They began to make “transporters” which we know as VW vans or buses. They subcontracted out the production of convertibles to the German company Karmann (remember the popular Karmann Ghia?). They began exporting the Beetles around Europe, then overseas, as early as 1950. The “standard” Beetle was a dull grey color, lacked synchromesh transmissions, and no chrome (outside or inside). The exports were available in several colors, had chrome, and extras like radios. By 1960, Volkswagen had manufacturing plants around the world.

Today, the VW Group owns Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and 50% of Porsche. Once upon a time the company could have been had for a song.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


On a warm Saturday afternoon on June 24, 1374, in the German city of Aachen, a number of people gathered and began to dance in the street. As they gyrated, twitched, and jumped (without any music), some began to experience hallucinations. These folks danced uncontrollably until they collapsed on the ground in exhaustion. Historians and psychologists believed this to be the first large scale outbreak of “Dancing Mania.”

Aachen did not represent the only manifestation of this behavior however. Dancing Mania, a predominantly social phenomenon, occurred across Europe. Other Dancing Mania expressions were soon witnessed to Cologne, Strasbourg, Metz, and Flanders. Within two years, it had been seen all over Germany as well as in France, Holland, Luxembourg, and Italy. It existed off and on for almost 300 years.

Some dancers would not only twist and twirl for hours but for days, and a few for weeks. They would frequently wear bizarre and colorful clothing and carry wooden sticks. Some would dance naked and make obscene gestures. Others pretended to be animals, leaping and hopping around. It was noted by observers that the dancers hated the color red, which dove them to violence. Most sang, some screamed, others laughed or cried. Occasionally there was musical accompaniment. 

Their activity was not without consequences. Many experienced chest pains, convulsions, hyperventilation, and of course physical exhaustion. Some underwent heart attacks and died. Visions and hallucinations were frequently reported. Dancing Mania affected individuals and groups; men and women (and even children). Some of the dancing groups numbered several thousand people.

So what’s going on?

There is no agreement among researchers as to the cause behind Dancing Mania. It was originally called the “Dancing Plague” and people of the time believed that the condition was a curse placed on them by either St. Vitus or St. John. Hence it was also named “St. Vitus’ Dance” or “St. John’s Dance.” Praying to these saints would eventually lift the dancing curse and the people could resume their normal lives.

Dancing Mania is also synonymous with “Tarantism” in which victims believe they had been poisoned by the bite of a tarantula (which are now known to be non-poisonous). The only known antidote was to dance, which separated the venom from the blood. Others around them sometimes joined the dancing thinking that their own healed bites had been reanimated by the experience of the new victim. All would dance a “tarantella” to cure the afflicted.

There are four contemporary theories about what was really happening. The first is that a form of physical illness was affecting the dancers. The theory is that they were suffering from ergot poisoning. Ergot is caused by a fungus which invades developing kernels of rye grain under warm and wet conditions. A disease called “Convulsive Ergotism” (commonly known as “St. Anthony’s Fire”) is caused by the ingestion of rye eaten as cereal or as an ingredient of bread. LSD is also a derivative of ergot. Symptoms include a crawling sensation on the skin and vivid hallucinations. But this alone cannot explain all of the dancers’ behaviors. Other physical explanations include epilepsy, typhus, and encephalitis; but these wouldn’t occur simultaneously in a large group.

The second theory posits that the dancing was a social phenomenon resulting from the stress and tension of the Middle Ages. Certainly there were plagues, wars, religious persecutions, poverty, and natural calamities. Psychologists call this “shared stress.” The dancers were attempting to experience jubilation and visions to take their mind off their problems.

Some historians contend that the Dancing Mania was staged. Some religious cults of that time in Europe were rebelling against the Catholic Church and trying to return to ancient Roman rituals. Since the open exercise of these rituals was banned by the church, they could still be practiced without responsibility by apparent uncontrollable Dancing Mania.

The final theory is that the dancers (at least many of them) were in fact quite psychologically disturbed. It may have been the earliest observed form of mass psychogenic illness, or mass hysteria. This is where a group of people exhibit similar physical symptoms, without any known physical cause, that affect their behavior through the influence of others. But some dancers were treated brutally if they refused to join the dancing, so they did. Others may have just wanted to go along with the crowd.

Dancing Mania seems to have died out around 1650 (maybe they just didn’t have any good music to dance to). But is it really gone forever? Some contemporary behaviors exhibit similar characteristics. There are people today who see themselves as part of a unique subculture; groups whose behavior appears bizarre to the mainstream, and who may be using pharmaceuticals to trigger hallucinations. Not to mention the “shared stress” most people feel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


When the United States expanded westward in the first half of the 19th Century, people encountered terrains and climates unknown in the east. The mountains were taller and more rugged; the prairies were drier and dustier.

Since there were no roads, soldiers and civilians were forced to travel on horseback with their supplies on pack mules. Railroads were still a generation away. After the end of the Mexican-American War, several million square miles of land were added to the United States, much of it desert and mountains. This took a dreadful toll on the horses and mules upon which the Army depended.

Several Army officers, who were familiar with the use of camels in other countries, suggested that they may fare better that the traditional mounts. This was met by ridicule by some but others were interested in exploring the idea. Major Henry Wayne was able to convince Jefferson Davis, a senator from Mississippi, that camels should be given a try. Davis was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs and in 1852, he was appointed Secretary of War. An important ally, Davis saw that the time had come to take action.

Congress appropriated $30,000 to procure some camels, and Major Wayne was sent to Saharan Africa to make the arrangements. He quickly learned about the camel trade: One-humped camels (Arabian) were best for riding and two-humped camels (Bactrian) were best for carrying loads. In Egypt, he found healthy and plentiful camels. Thirty-three were purchased and, along with several drovers, were brought back to Texas in 1856 (forty-four more arrived several months later). They were taken to Camp Verde, 60 miles west of San Antonio.

The following year, the U.S. Camel Corps was formed. Under the command of Wayne and Edward Beale, the Corps conducted a survey of unexplored territory between El Paso and the Colorado River. The skeptics among the party were won over by the camel’s performance.

Beale reported to Congress, “The harder the test they (the camels) are put to, the more fully they seem to justify all that can be said of them. They pack water for days under a hot sun and never get a drop; they pack heavy burdens of corn and oats for months and never get a grain; and on the bitter greasewood and other worthless shrubs, not only subsist, but keep fat. . . I look forward to the day when every mail route across the continent will be conducted and worked altogether with this economical and noble brute.”

In 1858, the new Secretary of War John Floyd urged Congress to authorize the purchase of 1,000 more camels. Congress did not accept his recommendation, being preoccupied with the growing tensions between northern and southern states.

Sadly, Congress did not fully appreciate the role of the camel in the Army. They were rarely used. In 1863, the Camel Corps was dissolved and the stock was sold off to zoos, circuses, and miners. Many were just released into the desert. Feral camels continued to reproduce in the wild and were seen for years; the last sighting was in 1941. Some people believe that they are still out there, somewhere.

Among the many legends associated with feral camels is the tale of the “Red Ghost.” The first incident was in 1883, when a woman was discovered trampled by some beast, which left clumps of its reddish fur in a nearby thorn bush and huge hoof prints in the mud. Several days later, a large animal wildly careened into a tent in which two miners lay sleeping. It left behind hoof prints twice the size of those left by horses, and strands of red fur.

More sightings occurred, and eventually the creature was recognized as a camel. A rancher reported that the animal carried a rider, but the rider did not appear to be alive. Later, the beast was spotted by a group of prospectors. Something fell from its back and rolled away. The men eagerly retrieved the object. It turned out to be a human skull. The Red Ghost and its now headless rider continued to terrorize the populace for the next ten years. When it was finally shot and killed in 1893, there was no grisly rider to be found. Only the camel knows what really happened.

(note: Early camels actually originated in North America but were driven out by climate changes and hunting by early humans. They mostly migrated to Asia and Africa; some went to South America and became llamas. One hundred and fifty years ago they were reintroduced to North America by the U.S. Camel Corps.) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012


The control of fire is probably the most important discovery made, and skill learned, in the history of human beings.

Fire has certainly been known of for almost 800,000 years ago. Lightning strikes were the most commonly observed event causing fire to result. Mankind’s first use of fire may have started when someone bravely lifted a burning branch from a tree that had been struck by lightning. This is generally called the “opportunistic” use of fire; using it when and where natural forces ignited flammable substances. Fire was probably used in this way for about 400,000 years before it was brought under control.

The controlled use of fire was an invention of the Early Stone Age. The earliest evidence of its use was in Israel where charred wood and seeds were recovered from a site dated about 750,000 years ago. This has been met with skepticism in recent years as being too early. It is suspected to be only opportunistic use. The examination of sites in Europe and China indicate that habitual use of fire more likely began about 300,000 or 400,000 years ago.

How early man learned to control fire is still largely unknown. Some ancient religions profess that man was given fire by God directly or through rebellious angels and demigods. Greek mythology says that Prometheus stole fire from Zeus, the king of the Gods, and gave it to man to make him competitive with the animals; who were endowed with more strength and speed. For his transgressions, Prometheus paid a high price.

The first deliberately constructed fireplaces/hearths represent the first proof that fire was under control. They can be found in South Africa and Israel dating between 200,000 and 125,000 years ago.

So, what effect did the controlled use of fire have on the evolution of mankind?

The influence of fire on the PHYSICAL evolution of the human species has been a heated controversy for years. Some scientists believe that cooked food provided the human body with more calories and therefore more energy. This allowed a shift of body resources away from digestion (causing the digestive system to shrink in size) and toward the brain, increasing its size and human intelligence as well. They also thought that, because of cooked meat, the human jaw got smaller resulting in fewer and smaller teeth. Other scientists disagree. While they admit that cooked food did contribute to a healthier body, the other physical changes mentioned would have had to occur over a much longer period of time.

There is no controversy about the effect of the controlled use of fire on CULTURAL evolution however.  Fire was used to provide heat, cook plants and animals, burn clay for ceramics, and heat treat stone to make tools. In its portable state, fire was used to bring light after dark in order to extend the work day, clear forests for planting, ward off dangerous animals and insects, and to wage war. The controlled use of fire “ignited” an explosion of things that mankind was able to do. It allowed early cultures and civilizations to develop.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Hiram Ulysses Grant (his true name) is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted men in the history of the United States. Today, many of the things people believe about Grant are distorted: that he callously sent his men to their deaths in war (which was never his intention), that he drank heavily (which was untrue), and that he led a corrupt administration (although he was not responsible for the actions of others).

What is mentioned less often is that he was a faithful and devoted family man, a true friend in times of hardship, a brilliant strategist, an inspiring leader, a great writer, and even a fine artist. Among the many facets of Grant’s life, we have chosen just four to give you a true sense of the man. These are just glimpses of his empathy, friendship, bravery, and keen intelligence.

Young Ulysses loved horses.

As a boy, he was what we would call a “horse whisperer.” Any horse brought to the boy, regardless of its temperament, could be calmed and ridden by Ulysses in a matter of a few minutes. While at West Point, Grant was considered the best cadet rider ever seen. During the Mexican War, Grant had to ride between the regiments under enemy fire on several occasions. He would ride “Indian style” clutching the horse’s side, with one arm around its neck and one leg on the saddle. Captain Ulysses Grant was a fearless rider and the finest equestrian other officers had ever seen.

He had six different mounts during the Civil War. His favorite was Cincinnati, a magnificent “War Horse” standing seventeen hands high, who he rode for the final two years of the war. Cincinnati was considered by most as the fastest “four-mile” thoroughbred in the country. The only other person Grant would allow to ride Cincinnati was Abraham Lincoln. The President would ride him every time he visited Grant’s field headquarters. 

Grant and Lincoln; a brief but true friendship.

An act of Congress, on February 26, 1864, the new rank of Lieutenant General was authorized. Two days later, President Lincoln nominated Grant as the first man to receive this highest title; Congress confirmed the appointment the next day. A week later, the President gave an evening reception at the White House. At 9:30 p.m., a commotion near the entrance drew everyone’s attention - General Grant had entered. He had just arrived from the front and wanted to pay his respects.

Lincoln immediately recognized Grant from photographs. With a big smile, he said loudly, “Why, here is General Grant! Well, this is a great pleasure, I assure you!” The President grabbed the General by the hand and shook it vigorously for several minutes. Grant’s eyes turned upward toward Lincoln. The President, eight inches taller, looked down, beaming. It was the first time the two men had ever met.

The two were different in appearance but they shared similar backgrounds. Both were from humble origins, they had risen from the common people, had learned from personal adversity, and possessed a unique common sense. They formed a close friendship that, unfortunately, lasted only one more year until Lincoln’s assassination.

Doing what was required during the Civil War.

Union General Horace Porter wrote, “Grant was the only man I ever saw who could go through a battle without flinching. He never lacked courage, never dodged. He wouldn’t as much as wink when bullets went whizzing by. He had iron nerves. He was never hurt by a bullet, despite his exposure.”

There is no question that Ulysses Grant was the most successful commander during the Civil War. But Grant had a reputation of being a cold-hearted killer on the battlefield; a man unmoved by the deaths of thousands of men under his command. Some believe that he had no compassion. Much of this has been historical misinterpretation; he did what was necessary to be done just as Sherman, Patton, MacArthur, and Eisenhower did.

The late Civil War historian, Shelby Foote, wrote, “Grant, after that first night in the Wilderness, went to his tent, broke down, and cried very hard. Some of the staff members said they’d never seen a man so unstrung. Well, he didn’t cry until the battle was over, and he wasn’t crying when it began again the next day. It just shows you the tension that he lived with without letting it affect him.”

His opponents on the battlefield also held high regard and admiration for Grant. John B. Gordon, the legendary Confederate General, wrote after the war, “General Grant’s truly great qualities - his modesty, his freedom from every trace of vain-glory or ostentation, his magnanimity in victory, his genuine sympathy for his brave and sensitive foe, and his inflexible resolve to protect Confederates against any assault will give him a place in history no less renowned and more to be envied than any other man.”

A literary masterpiece.

In May of 1884, the brokerage firm of which Grant was a silent partner fails. He falls into a prolonged depression. Four months later, an illness in his throat is diagnosed as cancer. Now penniless and dying, Ulysses Grant turns to the only thing that will provide for his family after his death - he begins to write his memoirs. Within six months, the cancer has spread. He is in extreme pain and can only take in liquid food in small portions. He is down to 120 lbs. Grant is racing against the clock to finish his book.

On July 19, 1885, he finishes his “Memoirs.” Four days later, he dies surrounded by his family. Sales of the book are astounding and the profits provide for his wife, Julia, for the rest of her life.

Ulysses Grant’s Memoirs is today judged a classic American biography; and perhaps the greatest book ever written by a former President. As a military journal, it is considered the finest since Julius Caesar’s Commentaries, two thousand years earlier. Mark Twain said on several occasions that Grant’s book is the book that he himself wished he had written. Twain reflected, “General Grant was just a man, just a human being, just an author. The fact remains and cannot be dislodged that his book is a great, unique and unapproachable literary masterpiece.”