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Rose O’Neal Greenhow Arrested: August 23, 1861

August 1, 2015 by | 13 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 | 33 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.

New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts

June 18, 2015 by | 5 Comments

Regiment information for the 2nd Mounted Rifles
Do you have New York ancestors? If so, take some time to explore Fold3’s new collection of New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts.

Like its title suggests, this collection, from microfilm at the New York State Archives, is made up of abstracts compiled from original muster rolls for New York volunteer units (mostly infantry but also some cavalry, artillery, engineers, and USCT) from the Civil War. In addition to information on individual soldiers, the collection also may contain regiment information—including lists of officers—and the occasional unit history. The information in the collection is organized by regiment, then soldier surname.

Information on the abstract forms may include the soldier’s name, date of enlistment, age, place of enlistment, grade, company, regiment, reason for leaving, promotions, participation in engagements, wounds, and physical appearance. Miscellaneous documents related to the soldier’s service are also occasionally included with their abstract, such as enlistment papers, certificates of discharge, reversals of desertion charges, grade adjustments, name clarifications, mustering out notifications, and many others.

Let’s take a look at an example of one of the muster roll abstracts and see what we can learn:

From Andrew Langmade’s abstract we see that he was born in Yorkshire, New York, on 24 May 1848 to parents William and Laura. A farmer by trade, on 12 December 1861, at age 21, Langmade enlisted at Yorkshire for a period of three years. He was mustered in on either 26 or 29 March 1862 as a sergeant in Company K of the 105th Infantry. He served in the battles of Antietam and Second Bull Run and was promoted in either October or December of 1862. In March 1863, he was transferred to Company K of the 94th NY Infantry. He was taken prisoner at Gettysburg in July 1863 but wasn’t paroled until August 1864. He was finally discharged 26 April 1865.

Muster roll abstract for George H Dore

You can find all sorts of fascinating details in the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, such as that Urbane Lyon played in a brigade band, that Alexander Klaucke enlisted under an assumed name, that George Dore was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing a Confederate flag, or that Robert McLaughlin was held as a prisoner of war at the infamous Andersonville Prison.

Want to begin looking for your New York Civil War ancestors? Get started searching or browsing the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts here.

Find: War Dogs of World War II

June 12, 2015 by | 62 Comments

WWII Dogs
Unlike many other countries, when the United States entered World War II, they didn’t have a canine corps. But the military came to believe that dogs would prove an asset, so in 1942 a war dog program was introduced. Since the country was already at war, the military needed a large number of dogs right away, so they asked Americans to volunteer their pet dogs for service in the Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard.

In the beginning, they accepted almost any kind of medium- to larger-size dog, but they eventually found that some breeds were better for service than others and limited the accepted breeds mainly to German Shepherds, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies, Giant Schnauzers, Airedale Terriers, Rottweilers, Huskies, Malamutes, Eskimo dogs and mutts that were predominantly any of those breeds.

Americans volunteered almost 20,000 of their beloved pets, but only about half of that number were accepted and trained. Of those, only around 2,000 were finally sent overseas; the rest were used stateside.

The vast majority of dogs the military accepted were trained as sentry dogs. These dogs were used as guard dogs at various types of military installations and by the Coast Guard to patrol shorelines. Also highly valued, by both the Army and the Marines, were scout dogs. These dogs went ahead of patrols and silently alerted their handlers if they sensed anyone nearby.

There were other types of dogs trained by the military, but they were used less than sentry and scout dogs. These included sled and pack dogs, mine detection dogs, and messenger dogs.

Sled dogs at work in AlaskaAfter the war ended, the dogs were “demilitarized” and taught to socialize and act like normal dogs again. Dogs that successfully completed that process were sent back to their original owners—if the owners still wanted them. If the dogs were unwanted, they were either adopted by their former handlers or sold to new families. Want to see these war dogs? On Fold3, you can find a few photos of WWII’s canine soldiers and the men who worked with them:

  • A photo of “Ricky,” half collie, half shepherd, of the 6th War Dog Platoon, crawling into mouth of a cave on Iwo Jima
  • A photo of a Huskie sled team helping to rescue the crew of a downed Douglas C-47 in Alaska
  • A photo of Casimir P. “Casey” Gorajec of the U.S. Army’s Canine Corps in New Caledonia

Learn more about Word War II topics in Fold3’s World War II Collection!