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Find: Drumming Out

September 16, 2015 by | 58 Comments

Being Drummed out of the Army
Are you familiar with the historical military practice of drumming a soldier out of the army?

This process of dishonorably discharging a soldier had its origins in the British army in the 17th century and was later picked up by the American military. Soldiers could be drummed out for a variety of reasons, from thievery to desertion.

Usually, during a drumming out, the guilty man’s head was shaved, the insignia and buttons taken from his uniform, and a sign detailing his crime hung around his neck. Sometimes he was dressed in felon’s clothes or white feathers were placed above his ears, and other times a rope was put around his neck and he would be led by the smallest drummer boy. The convict would then be marched between the lines of his fellow soldiers to the tune of “Rogue’s March,” and he would be taken to the entrance of the camp, where he was sent on his way with orders to never return.

“Rogue’s March” was often played by drums and fifes, though if they couldn’t be found, a trumpet was sometimes substituted and the process was called being “blown out” of the army. During the Civil War, “Yankee Doodle” was sometimes played instead of “Rogue’s March.”

The point of drumming out a soldier was to make his departure from the military humiliating enough that others would be discouraged from committing the same crime. So in addition to being drummed out, the local newspaper would sometimes write about the man’s crime to make it public. However, drumming out eventually fell out of favor as a punishment, and by World War II it had largely been dropped altogether in the U.S.

On Fold3, you can find a variety of records about drumming out:

  • A photo of a man being drummed out of the Union army for theft
  • A Civil War muster roll abstract for John Riley, listing “drummed out” as the manner in which he left the army; also contains details of his court martial for “absence without leave” and “drunkenness on duty”
  • An excerpt from the General Orders of the Confederate War Department remitting James T. Wilder’s sentence of being drummed out of the army
  • An excerpt from the documents of a Revolutionary War artillery company listing drumming out as one of the permitted sentences of a court martial
  • Veteran describes drumming out process during the Civil WarAn excerpt from the World War II War Diaries observing that “old time practices” of drumming a sailor out of the fleet “have not entirely disappeared but they are not regarded with official favor.”
  • A Revolutionary War diary entry in the Pennsylvania Archives describing a drumming out ceremony
  • A list of crimes and punishments (including drumming out) in a Pennsylvania regiment in the Revolutionary War
  • A newspaper article describing the process of drumming out during the Civil War
  • A newspaper article describing a drumming out ceremony in the British army in 1863

Do you have any stories about ancestors being drummed out of the military? Tell us about it! Or if you’re interested in learning more about drumming out, start a search on Fold3.

American Troops Intervene in Northern Russia: September 4, 1918

September 1, 2015 by | 88 Comments

Location of Allied, Bolshevik, and anti-Bolshevik troops in Siberia
On September 4, 1918, American troops landed in Archangel, northern Russia, as part of an Allied intervention toward the end of World War I; American forces were also sent to Murmansk, near Finland, and to Vladivostok, in eastern Siberia.

Following a Bolshevik takeover of the Russian government in October 1917, Russia signed a peace treaty with the Central Powers in March 1918. With Russia no longer fighting with the Allies, the Eastern Front collapsed, allowing Germany to send troops that had previously been committed in the east to the Western Front, which the Allies were desperate to prevent.

So in the summer of 1918, the Allies sent thousands of troops to Russia, including 5,000 Americans to northern Russia and 8,000 Americans to eastern Siberia. They were tasked with reopening the Eastern Front, which they would try to accomplish by aiding anti-Bolshevik Russian forces (and the Czech Legion, 60,000 former Czech prisoners of war) who were willing to fight against the Central Powers. The troops were also meant to prevent stockpiles of unused supplies the Allies had previously sent to Russia from falling into German or Bolshevik hands.

Distribution of American troops in northern Russia
However, just a few months after the Allied arrival, World War I ended. Despite this, the Allied troops were kept in Russia even though there was no longer a need for a new Eastern Front. Their mission became more nebulous, compounded by the individual allies’ varying motives and priorities.

Morale dwindled among American and other Allied troops stationed in northern Russia, especially after the WWI armistice in November. They often didn’t understand why they had been sent to Russia in the first place, let alone why they were still there when the war was over. As they became increasingly discontent, some Allied forces refused to follow orders, and several mutinies occurred. Finally, in summer 1919, the Americans in north Russia were pulled out, and in April 1920 the last of the American intervention forces were withdrawn from Siberia.

Did you have any relatives involved in the Allied intervention in Russia? Tell us about it! Or you can learn more about the intervention in the collections “US Expeditionary Force, North Russia” and “WWI Supreme War Council” on Fold3.

WWI Panoramic Unit Photos

August 21, 2015 by | 33 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 | 33 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.