Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There Was Nothing Civil About It

Getting back to my Perry ancestors and the Civil War, which is where I was headed last week….
My great-great-great grandfather Joshua Perry & his wife Louvicia Anne Wade Perry had four sons living in 1860:  John I Perry (1837-1864), William Preston Perry (1839-1908), Benjamin Wade Perry (1843-1843), Theodore (or Thadeous) Joshua Perry (1845-1902), and Francis (Frank) Marion Perry (1847-1905).  Frank, so far as I’ve been able to discover, stayed home, but the other three Perry boys, John, WP or Press and Theodore J, enlisted as privates in Company D, 12th Infantry Regiment Georgia ("Calhoun Rifles") on 10 Jun 1861.  I found this information early on in my searches in the indexes American Civil War Regiments, American Civil War Soldiers, U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles and U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 (paid subscription required).

But those are just indexes.  We want documentation.

As bad as much of Georgia is about making records of interest to genealogists available on-line, there is a wonderful resource available for free.  Georgia’s Virtual Vault ( “Digital Treasures from the Georgia Archives”, is produced by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, who is responsible for the Georgia Archives in general.  Slowly but surely they are making accessible many of the resources that could be viewed only in person not too long ago.  This digitization of records is something we should be encouraging all our governments and libraries to actively participate in.  While preservation is the ultimate goal, digitization offers a valuable waypoint, preserving the content of historical documents in a way that transcription never could, so that disaster or age will not forever render them useless. 

Plus, there are so many commercial partners out there who can take on much of the expense of the digitization and indexing of these records.  Such is the case with the Georgia Indigent Soldiers’ Pension Applications and the Widows’ Pension Applications (also known as the Confederate Soldiers’ & Widows’ Pensions).  These documents can provide valuable evidence, corroborating or otherwise, of military service, marriage, death, age and health, and other interesting and important information.  In this case, the Georgia Archives partnered with to produce the images.  At the Georgia’s Virtual Vault site, the access is free. makes them available as part of their US subscription.  I must admit that the indexing and image interface at is superior to the Vault’s site, but it’s nice that the scans of these important documents remain free for the viewing by anyone with an internet connection.

Another valuable set of Civil War documents is on (another fee/subscription site). also has the Confederate Soldiers’ and Widows’ Pension Applications, but as I mentioned last week they have the Confederate Civil War Service Records, too.  These include the so-called Bounty Pay and Receipt Rolls, Unit Rolls, and other documents that provide proof of military service and, when used in conjunction with other sources, can help you to flesh out your ancestors’ lives.  For example, early in my family history research I was told by my mom and her cousin that they heard stories when they were growing up about a Perry who walked home from Virginia at the end of the War and arrived months later barefoot and starving.  While I can’t corroborate the whole story, I did find in the service records that my great-great grandfather, William P. Perry, was captured at Petersburg, VA, on 2 Apr 1865 and “released on oath at Point Lookout, Md., June 16, 1865.”  It’s not hard to imagine him having to make the long walk home from there, through Virginia, North & South Carolina, and across the breadth of Georgia to make it home.  His older brother 2nd Lt. John I. Perry had died the year before during the Wilderness campaign, and he arrived home to find that his father and sister had also died.  A bitter homecoming indeed.

By the way, the title of this post comes from an old Southern expression (say it in your worst, stereotypical Southern drawl), “It was the War Between the States; there weren’t nothin’ civil about it!”  My mother had a history teacher in high school in the 1950's in Savannah who used that expression to correct her students.  I’ve also known people who adamantly call it the “War of Northern Aggression”.  And so it goes.

Here’s your summary:
  • is a wonderful website, but you still need to double-check their data.
  • is another great source of digitized documentation.  Footnote was bought by Ancestry’s parent company last year.
  • If you don’t already have one, get a library card at your local library.  In addition to HeritageQuestOnline, there are other resources you’ll be able to use in your genealogical research.
  • There are a whole lot of Civil War resources coming out now that the sesquicentennial of the war is upon us.  I haven’t personally seen a lot of them yet, but there are already dozens of reviews out there on the blogs and podcasts.  One that looks like a good introductory one is Tracing Your Civil War Ancestors, by David A. Norris, published by the folks at  Family Chronicle Magazine.  I’ll drop more titles on you as I hear about them.
  • I found out that if you click on any of the images in these blog posts you get to see a larger image in another window.

Later y’all,


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