Thursday, February 20, 2014

Johnny Shiloh: full movie

A rare Disney film from the 50's about the story of Johnny Clem, one of the most legendary characters in American military history and a tale mostly forgotten.

While the authenticities of the film may not be accurate and the acting is typical of Westerns of the period, I still find it interesting.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Family Ancestor's GAR Pin

This is a souvenir pin from the 31st Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, held in Buffalo New York in 1897. It has a pin attached to the back, so there was likely never any ribbon attached. It may have belonged to my great-great grandfather Johann Peter Nebrich, who was a German immigrant serving in the 21st New York Infantry Regiment, Company K. He was a musician in the Union Army with his 3 brothers. We do have two letters he wrote during the war.  They're written in a form of archaic German that my Dad has only managed to partially decipher.

This is the only known photograph of him. He is the seated one on the right.

Here is some info about the event in 1897 this medal commemorates:

The 31st Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic
Buffalo, New York August 23 - 28, 1897

Nearly 50,000 veterans of the Union Army traveled to Buffalo in August 1897 to remember their Civil War service and be remembered by the host city, Buffalo. There were parades on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the encampment week by various groups, but the biggest was the Grand Parade that began at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Buffalo's 74th Regiment Band led the veterans and dignitaries (including Civil War veteran President McKinley) along a route that began at the Terrace, up Main Street to Chippewa, to Delaware, to North, to the Circle, Porter and ending at Prospect Park. With nearly 50,000 marchers, the parade lasted 6 hours. Over 250,000 Buffalonians and visitors were said to have watched from "windows, streets, and housetops." Note the people on the rooftops above.

J. L. Hudson and Adam, Meldrum, & Anderson were thoroughly decorated to welcome the veterans.

Buffalo organized itself in every way to welcome and entertain the guests. Additional street cars were added to routes and in many cases cars passed in one-minute intervals to handle the traffic. As the Express related, "On the street-cars women as well as men rose and offered their seats. In stores, in hotels, in saloons all others fell back when the veterans appeared.

'They own the country, for they saved it,' said an old woman as she watched old soldiers move to the front, where civilians fell back." 

The Grand Parade passing the decorated Tifft House.

Local citizens responded to a call for rooms with offers to house 60,000, prompting the organizers to plead that this was more than enough space. Some units were housed in schools. Two thousand children were dressed in red, white and blue and arranged in a "living shield" on the day of the Grand Parade, stationed at Delaware and Chippewa. The weather for the entire encampment was perfect.

Entrance to Camp Jewett

The most-talked about topic among veterans after they praised the local hospitality was for "Camp Jewett."

This temporary city of 1,350 tents with a huge reunion tent that would hold 4,000 and all the necessary support and supplemental tents was constructed at Front Park. Over 10,300 veterans registered to stay at the camp, named after the current Buffalo mayor, Edgar B. Jewett, a Civil War veteran and Brigadier General of the 8th Brigade of the New York National Guard. There was a dining hall served by a kitchen with two dozen mammoth ranges, for which quantities of dinnerware had to be delivered in hogsheads.Sutler's tents were on hand to provide blankets, pins, and lager beer which flowed freely throughout the week among the 182 posts assigned tents along temporary streets named after Union generals.

Each night, meetings of veterans called "camp fires" were held in Buffalo churches so that veterans could tell stories, remember comrades who died, and share the horrors of combat still fresh after a generation.

Note: the last encampment of the GAR was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949 and the last member, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at age 109. Today, there are organizations carrying on the memory of the GAR: the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Women's Relief Corps, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic.