On a hot late summer weekend in north Georgia 145 years ago this week, the Union Army of the United States suffered it's worst defeat of the American Civil War. The one side of my Houseworth family was involved in this conflict in a most personal way.
Both Gilman Houseworth and his younger Brother Henry, were volunteers in the 26th Ohio Volunteer Army:
This battle begin in full on September 19, 1863....145 years ago this Friday. By the time it ended a day and one half later, the Union Army and many of it's regiments were scattered or in disarray, as were the bodies of dead and wounded from both sides. Of the 58,000 Union Troops, 1657 were known dead, 9756 wounded, and another 4757 missing and presumed dead. Among those dead were 18 year old Henry Houseworth, with the wounded was his older brother Gilman, age 20. Both men were my Great-Great Uncles. They were but 2 of 16 known direct Houseworth relatives that served with the Union Army. Others included my Great Grandfather Nelson S. Houseworth(1837-1887), and his diminutive cousin SB "Maish" Houseworth(1846-1944). Maish was the last Civil War Veteran to die in Marion County, Ohio, in 1944, at the age of 98.
Anybody thinking or waxing nostalgic about war, especially this war between brothers and family members, needs only to read the excellent book by Peter Cozzens, from 1996 titled, [The Battle of Chickamauga] "This Terrible Sound"....It is the most detailed story of America's deadliest battle, home or abroad. In addition to the casualty list of the Union, The Confederates did not fare much better. Even though they won the battle. Of the total 66,000 sons of the south fighting in north Georgia that weekend, 2312 lay dead, 14, 674 were wounded, and another 1468 were listed as missing.
A more detailed account of my families participation in the Civil War in general and Chickamauga in particular can be found at my genealogy blog:
Link back to the story on my post of September 20, 2007.
Henry Houseworth never returned to Waldo in Central Ohio...Gilman Houseworth did, but it was not without a price....more on Gilman and his life following Chickamauga can be found at the genealogy blog as well.
A few years ago, in February 2004, returning from delivering a RV in Florida, while driving back to Ohio in the Jeep, I decided to pay the battle site a visit. It was a rainy cold February 15th to be exact. I can tell you the site of the 26th Ohio Battlefield at the Viniard Field would have had a haunted feel no matter the time of year. Even more so on this gray, wet late winter day, you could almost feel the restless souls of the men that fought and died in that bloody battle.....145 years ago this week, the bloodiest battle in American History took place, not on some far away European or Asian land, but right in the American South, where brothers fought cousins, and Americans fought each other. And the real reason they fought has died with those long gone soldiers.
With the political winds of today, are we that far away from another Chickamauga, or worse?
photos- Gilman Houseworth as he looked in 1885/the cover of Cozzens book/and the site at the Chickamauga Battlefield called Viniard Fields, where the 26th took it's stand, as it looked in the winter of 2004.