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WWI Panoramic Unit Photos

August 21, 2015 by | 30 Comments

US Base Hospital number 29
Have you checked out Fold3’s new WWI Panoramic Unit Photos yet? This free collection, via the National World War I Museum, includes a variety of WWI-era panoramic images. Many of the photos are group shots of military units, but there are also group photos of other organizations connected to the military, as well as images of military cemeteries, Navy ships, military camps, and more.

The amount of information available varies per photo, but whenever possible, Fold3 has included the names of the individuals pictured and the description, military unit, location, and date.

Here are a few examples of the photos in this collection:

317th Ammunition, Company G

Interested in seeing more of these panoramic photos? Search or browse within the WWI Panoramic Unit Photos!

Find: WWII Escape from Albania

August 12, 2015 by | 32 Comments

Did you know that among the images of Fold3’s WWII US Air Force Photos collection, you can find pictures of a group of 30 American servicemen and women who escaped from behind enemy lines in Albania in 1943-44?

The group of 13 flight nurses, 13 medics, plus 4 aircrew members set out by plane from Sicily headed to Bari, Italy, on November 8, 1943. But a storm, combined with a run-in with the Germans, forced their C-53 down far from their intended flightpath. When they exited the plane, they were discovered by some anti-German partisans who informed them they were in German-occupied Albania.

Group photo of 10 of the nurses that escaped from Albania
The partisans provided the Americans with food and shelter and agreed to help them escape the country. They walked the Americans from tiny village to tiny village through the mountainous, undeveloped Albanian countryside on a slow, cold trek.

The group was separated in the town of Berat when Germans invaded, but eventually everyone except three of the nurses were reunited. Since the group couldn’t go back to Berat, they had to keep hiking through the snow, narrowly surviving a blizzard.

The group made contact with some British officers in the country, who decided that they’d walk the Americans to the coast to make their escape. They were finally met by an American officer who had been sent into Albania to lead them out, and, under his guidance, in January the group finally made it to the coast and a waiting ship. They had been in Albania for 2 months and had walked somewhere between 600 and 800 miles with little food and no changes of clothing.

The three nurses that had been separated from the group in Berat made it out of Albania too, though not until March, led to safety by the same American officer who had helped the larger group escape.

View photos of the group upon their return to safety on Fold3. The photos include:

You can also view the Missing Air Crew Report from when their plane went down.

Find more records from this and other World War II stories by searching or browsing on Fold3.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow Arrested: August 23, 1861

August 1, 2015 by | 97 Comments

Rose O'Neal Greenhow is suspected of espionage
On August 23, 1861, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a popular society matron and Confederate spy, was arrested at her Washington DC home.

Greenhow, a widow in her 40s at the time of her arrest, had been born in Maryland but spent her teenage years in the capital living with her aunt. She married a well-to-do older man named Dr. Robert Greenhow and the couple and their children lived in Washington DC, Mexico City, and San Francisco before his death in 1854.

Greenhow returned to the capital and expanded her role as an influential hostess, with important friends in political and military circles. When the Civil War started, Greenhow fervently supported the South but chose to remain in Washington. She was recruited to use her position of power in society to spy for the Confederacy and developed an espionage ring of both men and women.

Her most famous piece of spy work was the information she smuggled to PGT Beauregard before the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) in July 1861 alerting him to Union troop numbers and movements. President Jefferson Davis later credited her with helping to win the battle.

Old Capitol Prison
Washington authorities became suspicious of Greenhow’s activities and arrested her on August 23, 1861. She was kept under house arrest until January 1862, when—because she had managed to continue passing on information to the Confederacy—she was moved to Old Capitol Prison. She remained incarcerated until late May, when she was deported to the South and received a warm welcome in Richmond.

Wanting to continue aiding the Confederate cause, Greenhow traveled to Europe, where she appealed to leaders in London and Paris to help the Confederacy. During this time she also published her memoir, which was successful in England.

Upon her return to the United States, her ship, the Condor, was spotted trying to run the blockade outside Wilmington, North Carolina, on October 1, 1864. In its attempts to escape the Union gunboat, the Condor ran aground on a sandbar. Anxious to escape, Greenhow and a couple other passengers set out in a lifeboat, but it overturned in the rough water. Greenhow drowned, and when her body was discovered the following day, she was laid out in state in Wilmington and buried there.

Want to learn more about Rose O’Neal Greenhow or other Civil War spies? Start a search on Fold3.

Numbered Record Books

July 22, 2015 by | 16 Comments

Do you have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War? Try looking for them in the Numbered Record Books from Fold3’s Revolutionary War Collection.

Numbered Record BooksThe 199-volume Numbered Record Books collection, from microfilm at the National Archives, contains miscellaneous records from the Revolutionary War, falling into three main categories: military operations and service, pay and settlement of accounts, and supplies.

The records in these books were originally compiled by the War Department from a wide variety of sources over time and then arbitrarily bound into volumes and numbered. Since the volume numbers don’t indicate any preexisting relationship between the books, Fold3 has arranged them by subject matter rather than consecutive volume numbers, similar to the organization devised by the National Archives.

Because the Numbered Record Books are grouped together by subject, the easiest way to find ancestors mentioned in them is by searching the collection for the person’s name rather than manually browsing. For a much more in depth discussion of the background and content of the Numbered Record Books and how to use them, read the National Archives pamphlet for the collection.

Types of records that make up the collection include:

  1. Records of Military Operations and Service
    • Commissions and resignations
    • Oaths of allegiance, fidelity, and office
    • Officers and enlisted men
    • Orderly books
    • Miscellaneous volumes
  2. Records of Pay and Settlement of Accounts
    • Final settlement certificates
    • Letter books of the Paymaster General, Commissioner of Army Accounts, and other officials
    • Miscellaneous volumes
  3. Supply Records
    • Commissary General of Stores and Provisions Department
    • Disbursements in the Quartermaster General’s Department
    • Distribution of supplies in Virginia
    • Letters of Samuel Hodgdon, Commissary General of Military Stores Department
    • Letters of Samuel Hodgdon, officer in the Military Stores Department
    • Letters received of Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering
    • Military stores received and delivered at Philadelphia
    • Military stores received and delivered at various places
    • Miscellaneous activities or supplies of the Commissary General of Military Stores Department
    • Quartermaster supplies or activities of officers of the Quartermaster General’s Department
    • Receipt books of Samuel Hodgdon, Commissary General of Military Stores Department
    • Various books of Samuel Hodgdon, Commissary General of Military Stores Department
    • Volumes of estimates

Have you found any of your ancestors in the Numbered Record Books? Let us know about it! You can also search for your ancestors in Fold3’s other titles in the Revolutionary War Collection.

Find: Ice Cream on the USS Kitty Hawk

July 15, 2015 by | 34 Comments

July is national Ice Cream Month. To get you in the spirit, here’s a fun story found in Fold3’s WWII War Diaries collection. It tells of the popularity of ice cream on board the USS Kitty Hawk during World War II:

One of the amusing stories in this connection concerns a passenger who requested ice cream at 1600 of our first afternoon underway, homeward bound. The operator of the Ship’s Service Store ice cream plant informed this passenger that the ice cream was sold out but that some more was being mixed which would be fairly hard by 1900. The passenger replied as follows: “As long as I have waited two years for ice cream, I guess I can wait another three hours.” So, like waiting to purchase a ticket to the World Series, the Marine waited until he got his ice cream, though he missed his dinner to do it.

Making ice cream in China. 1944.
Lines of men waiting for ice cream became so long that they interfered with the cleaning of the mess hall and crew’s compartment. Owing to this the ice cream stand is opened only for a few hours each day. We have managed to shorten the lines by reducing the sales of ice cream by the scoop and by putting it in quart cartons and #10 tins. […] For one man to eat a quart of ice cream is common; for two men to polish off a #10 tin, a little more than three quarts, is not unusual; but six passengers had the largest appetite who, between them, have been reserving a five gallon container every day for the past four days. Yesterday two of them dropped out but the four remaining took their five gallons of ice cream without turning a hair.

So when we say food will win the war, we, of course, mean the term to include milk and ice cream. A Distinguished Service Cross and an extra scoop of bran for the contented cow.

For more ice cream fun, check out the WWII photos below:

Love ice cream too? Find more stories and photos about ice cream in the military by searching for “ice cream” on Fold3.

First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas): July 21, 1861

July 1, 2015 by | 228 Comments

Manassas and its vicinity
On July 21, 1861, the Confederates defeated the Union army in the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), the first major conflict of the Civil War.

In the months following the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, there was increasing political pressure in the North for the Union army to launch an attack against the Rebels and quickly end the war. Despite General Irvin McDowell‘s concerns that his troops weren’t prepared, he made plans to attack the Confederate forces gathered along Bull Run stream, near Manassas Junction, Virginia, about 25 miles from Washington DC.

McDowell and his approximately 30,000 troops left Washington DC on July 16, slowly making their way to Centreville, Virginia. Once at Centreville, McDowell delayed for two days, unknowingly allowing time for thousands more Confederate troops under Joseph Johnston to join the main force under PGT Beauregard, bringing the Confederates’ total forces to roughly the same number as the Union’s.

Portrait of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell, officer of the Federal Army

McDowell’s plan was to send half his troops in a feint at the Confederate center, while the other half of his force would come from upstream to attack the Confederates’ left flank. Despite problems with synchronizing the two parts of the attack, at first it seemed like the Union would carry the day. However, a strong Confederate defense at Henry House Hill on the Confederate left, as well as a crucial attack on the Union right flank, helped turn the tide of the battle (and it was there that Thomas J. Jackson received his immortal nickname, “Stonewall”). The Union retreat soon turned to panic, and troops fled in chaos back to Washington, as did the spectators from the capital who had come to observe the battle.

Dead on battlefield at 1st Bull Run (Manassas)
The casualties were shockingly high, though they would pale in comparison to those of later battles. Estimates vary, but the Union suffered about 481 dead, 1,011 wounded, and 1,216 missing (many of them taken prisoner), while the Confederates experienced 387 dead, 1,582 wounded, and 12 missing.

Though a disaster for the Union and a triumph for the Confederacy, the battle signaled to both sides that the war would be longer and bloodier than either had anticipated.

Did you have ancestors who served in the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)? Tell us about it! If you want to learn more about the battle, start a search on Fold3.

Free Access to the Revolutionary War Collection

July 1, 2015 by | 7 Comments

Revolutionary War Signing for Payment Vouchers
As we celebrate America’s independence this month, learn more about the people who made it possible by exploring Fold3’s Revolutionary War Collection for free July 1st to 15th.

Popular titles for finding Revolutionary War ancestors include:

If you’re interested in the historical aspects of the war, you can explore the captured vessels prize cases, Revolutionary War Milestone Documents, the Pennsylvania Archives, Constitutional Convention Records, and the papers and records of the Continental Congress, among others.

Full access to the Revolutionary War collection can help you find even more information on the people or events you’re researching. For example, let’s say you’re researching your ancestor James Morris of Connecticut. You can learn from his Revolutionary War pension file that he served in the Battle of Germantown, where he was taken prisoner of war for three years.

George WashingtonBut your research doesn’t have to stop there. If you wanted to discover more about Morris than you found in his pension file, you could look in the Revolutionary War Rolls to find him listed on a muster roll during his time as a prisoner. If you were interested in learning more what Morris’s time as a prisoner of war may have been like, you could search for accounts of other Revolutionary War POWs—in places like the pension files, the Pennsylvania Archives, the papers of the Continental Congress, and elsewhere.

Or if you’d rather flesh out your understanding of the battle Morris was captured in, then you could read George Washington’s own account of the Battle of Germantown in the papers of the Continental Congress.

There’s a lot to discover in the Revolutionary War Collection. Start your own exploration here.