Tag Archives: affleck family

Bio Sketch: Mary (Howard) Little Affleck (1809-1891), bearer of many sorrows

Mary Howard was born March 6, 1809, in Belmont County, Ohio, a daughter of Horton Howard (1770-1833) and his third wife Hannah Hastings (1774-1833).[1]

On September 21, 1827, in Franklin County, Ohio, Mary Howard married Harvey D. Little (1803-1833). On October 2, 1828, Mary was disowned by the Alum Creek Monthly Meeting for marrying contrary to discipline.[2]

Mary (Howard) Little's signature, 1831

Mary (Howard) Little’s signature, 1831 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 35, Folder 3)

Harvey Deming Little was born in 1803 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and came to Columbus, Ohio, with his parents around 1816. He apprenticed to a printer and was a newspaper editor and publisher for a few years, before turning to the practice of law around the time of his marriage. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the newspaper business, managing the Eclectic and Medical Botanist, a major proponent of his father-in-law Horton Howard’s An Improved System of Botanic Medicine.[3] Harvey also wrote many published poems, some of which were published in a St. Clairsville, Ohio, newspaper under the pseudonym “Velasques.”[4]

Harvey D. Little's signature, 1827

Harvey D. Little’s signature, 1827 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 35, Folder 7)

[For some examples of Harvey and Mary’s poetry, see the post immediately following this one.]

Mary and Harvey had four children:

  1. Caroline Augusta Little was born in 1828. [Check out this July 11, 1828, letter where Harvey talks about the new baby.]
  2. Horton H. Little was born about 1829.
  3. Richard Murry Little was born about 1831.
  4. Harvey D. Little, Jr., was born about February 1834.

Mary’s family was devastated by the Columbus cholera epidemic of 1833. In less than three weeks’ time, she lost her parents, a sister, her husband, and two children to cholera. In the first week of August 1833, five-year-old daughter Caroline Little and four-year-old Horton Little both died. Harvey D. Little, Sr., died on August 22, 1833; he was about 30 years old.[5] Mary was left a 24-year-old widow, with one remaining child and another on the way.

In the spring of 1834, Mary lost her remaining two children to scarlet fever. Three-year-old Richard died on April 30, and three-month-old Harvey Jr. died on May 7.[6] Mary had lost her husband and four children within the span of one year, leaving her a childless widow at only 25 years old.

Tombstone of Harvey D. Little and the four children, brought here to Woodland Cemetery in 1851

Tombstone of Harvey D. Little and the four children, brought here to Woodland Cemetery in 1851 (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

On November 1, 1837, in Delaware County, Ohio, Mary married Dr. John G. Affleck (1802-1877), a widower with one daughter.[7]

John Gladstone Affleck was born in Scotland in 1802. He immigrated to Virginia in 1820 and studied medicine in Maryland. He was a doctor and newspaper editor in Belmont County, Ohio. John and Mary raised their family in Bridgeport, in Belmont County, not far from where Mary had grown up.[8]

John G. Affleck died February 5, 1877, at his home in Bridgeport, Ohio.[9]

Afterwards, Mary resided with her daughter Mary Sharp, first in Bridgeport, and later in Buffalo, New York. Mary (Howard) Little Affleck died April 24, 1891, probably in Buffalo.[10]

Mary and John had four children:

  1. Harriet B. Affleck (1839-1912);
  2. Howard Gladstone Affleck (1840-1862);
  3. Edward Tullibardine Affleck (1843-1911); and
  4. Mary Forrer Affleck (1849-?).

Harriet B. Affleck was born in July 1839 in Belmont County, Ohio. On September 30, 1858, she married Benjamin Clark Patterson (1827-1900). They had two children: John G. Patterson and George Edward Patterson. Harriet (Affleck) Patterson died February 24, 1912, in Belmont County, Ohio.[11]

Howard G. Affleck was born in 1840, in Belmont County, Ohio. From April 1861 to August 1861, Howard served in the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company B, in the Civil War. From December 1861 to April 1862, he served in the 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company H. On April 6, 1862, Howard was fatally wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. He lingered for several weeks before dying at his parents’ home in Bridgeport on May 15, 1862.[12] [For more on Howard Affleck’s Civil War service, see “A Tale of Two Howards,” especially Parts 1-3, here on my blog.]

Edward T. Affleck was born August 23, 1843, in Belmont County, Ohio. In the spring of 1864, Edward enlisted as a first lieutenant and adjutant of the 170th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in the Civil War. He was taken prisoner at Winchester, Virginia, on July 24, 1864, but was eventually paroled in March 1865.  [For more on Edward Affleck’s Civil War service, see “A Tale of Two Howards,” especially Part 12, here on my blog.] On May 17, 1871, in Columbus, Ohio, Edward married Laura Walkup. They had four children: Howard Gladstone Affleck, II; Florence Affleck; Rankin Walkup Affleck; and Edward Tullibardine Affleck, Jr. Edward Sr. had several occupations over the years, including railroad clerk, wholesale coal dealer, bank cashier, and vice president of a dairy. Edward T. Affleck, Sr., died January 27, 1911, in Toledo, Ohio, where most of his immediate family lived.[13]

Mary F. Affleck was born in April 1849, in Belmont County, Ohio. On June 4, 1874, in Belmont County, Ohio, she married Joseph Frank Sharp (1848-?). They had nine children: Edward Affleck Sharp; Howard Gladstone Sharp; Marshall Forrer Sharp; Sarah Peirce Sharp; Harry L. Sharp; Helen G. Sharp, who married George A. Neubauer; Frank W. Sharp; Herbert M. Sharp; and one unidentified child. The family eventually moved to Buffalo, New York, where Mary probably died, sometime between 1920 and 1930.[14]

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2012 for the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654.

Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry, or the WorldCat record.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20.

[2] Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 12 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:1166;

[3] William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West: With Biographical and Critical Notices (Columbus, OH: Follett, Foster, & Co., 1860), accessed 12 Mar. 2012, http://books.google.com/books?id=c4ssJ5obTk8C, 116-118; Emerson Venable, Poets of Ohio (Cincinnati: Robert Clark Co., 1909), accessed 12 Mar. 2012, http://books.google.com/books?id=vZ5AAAAAYAAJ, 42-43; Berman and Flannery, America’s Botanico-Medical Movements, 48.

[4] Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West, 116. Coggeshall describes Harvey’s poetry at length and includes four of his poems. At least two of Harvey’s poems can be found in Sarah (Howard) Forrer’s Album of “Original and Selected Pieces” of Poetry and Miscellany, FPW, 5:5. Another example (“The Dead Father”) can be found in The Columbian Star, 14 Aug. 1830, 110.

[5] Ebenezer Thomas to Samuel Forrer, 9-20 Aug. 1833 [four letters], FPW, 1:15; Samuel Forrer to Horton Howard, 12 Aug. 1833 [two letters], FPW, 1:13; Ohio State Journal, 10 Aug. 1833, 24 Aug. 1833, 2 Nov. 1833; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. In 1851, the remains of Harvey, Caroline, and Horton Little were moved to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.

[6] Ohio State Journal, 3 May 1834, 10 May 1834; John Howard to Samuel Forrer, 7 May 1834, FPW, 36:8; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. In 1851, the remains of Richard and Harvey Little Jr. were moved to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.

[7] Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958 (database), FamilySearch.

[8] Obituary of John G. Affleck, The Intelligencer, 6 Feb. 1877, in Affleck Family: Obituaries, FPW, 36:6; A. T. McKelvey, “Mrs. Harriet B. Patterson,” in Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1903), accessed 21 July 2011, http://www.ohiogenealogyexpress.com/belmont/belmontco_bios_p.htm.

[9] Obituary of John G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[10] Mellie Peirce to Howard F. Peirce, 24 Apr. 1891, FPW, 18:21; Mary Affleck to Mary (Forrer) Peirce, 1888-1891 [several letters, all postmarked Buffalo], FPW, 35:5.

[11] McKelvey, “Mrs. Harriet B. Patterson”; U.S. Federal Census, 1840-1910; Ohio Deaths,1908-1932, 1938-1944, & 1958-2007 (database), Ancestry Library Edition.

[12] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, in Affleck Family: Obituaries, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; U.S. Federal Census, 1840-1860; Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 9-24 May 1862 [three letters], FPW, 4:2; Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo, New York.

[13] McKelvey, “Mrs. Harriet B. Patterson”; Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 21 July 2011, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; U.S. Federal Census, 1850-1910.

[14] McKelvey, “Mrs. Harriet B. Patterson”; U.S. Federal Census, 1850-1930; Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 12 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 12 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 12 – Edward Affleck

A Dayton paper this morning with a few lines from brother John informed us of the irreparable loss you have sustained in the death of your only son. You all have my deepest sympathy, and I would…[say?] something to comfort you yet feel that any attempt at consolation would seem like mockery while my own heart is breaking for Oh! Sarah, we can learn nothing of the fate of our own precious one, and know not whether he is killed or captured…[1]

-Mary Affleck to her sister Sarah Forrer, 4 Aug. 1864

*****

While the Forrers of Dayton mourned the tragic deaths of two of their own—Luther Bruen and Howard Forrer—in the late summer of 1864, the Afflecks of Bridgeport were anxiously awaiting news of the whereabouts of Edward, their youngest and only remaining son.

*****

Edward Tullibardine Affleck was born August 23, 1843, in Belmont County, Ohio, the youngest son of Dr. John G. Affleck and Mary (Howard) Little Affleck. Edward, or “Ned,” as he was sometimes called in the family, was 18 years old, when his older brother Howard returned home the bloodbath at Shiloh, sick and injured, suffering horribly until his death on May 15, 1862 (see Parts 1, 2, & 3). Even as she grieved for the loss of one son, Howard and Edward’s mother Mary began to fear for the life of the other, her sister Sarah wrote:

Howard left us about ten this morning… Mary…is distressed for fear Edward is going to the war…[2]

Mary wished for Edward to return to Dayton with her sister Sarah Forrer, to attend school, visit, and otherwise take his mind off thoughts of enlistment. It is unclear whether Edward actually did this.[3] Nevertheless, much to Mary’s relief (I’m sure), Edward stayed on the home front—and not the war front—for the next two years.

Edward Affleck. Photo courtesy of the Martins Ferry, Ohio, Historical Society. Used with Permission.

Edward Affleck. Photo courtesy of the Martins Ferry, Ohio, Historical Society. Used with Permission.

However, Edward did join the Ohio National Guard, and in September 1863, his mother Mary wrote to her sister about it:

Edward came home from Newark a week ago today, where he had been eight days in camp, drilling. He is Adjutant in one of the state volunteer militia regiments, but is not to be called into active service unless the state is invaded. I don’t think there is much danger of that—from the rebels, but am afraid we will have trouble at the time of the election next month, there is so much bitterness of feeling between the Republicans and Democrats. Truly we have ‘fallen upon evil times’ and I am beginning to despair of peace in our day…[4]

In late April of 1864, the family received news that Edward’s Ohio National Guard regiment, the 74th Battalion, would be called up for active service. The 74th Battalion was combined with the 78th Battalion of nearby Harrison County to form the 170th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, organized in mid-May 1864.[5] Mary Affleck was quite upset when she learned that this was to take place. She wrote of the news to her sister Sarah on April 28, 1864:

I am heartsick and remain at home to brood over my troubles. It does seem as though they are never to end. Now my only remaining son is to be taken from me. The National Guard is ordered to leave next Monday and I cannot prevail upon [Edward] to send in his resignation, as he says it would not be accepted. Mr. Patterson will also be obliged to go unless he can procure a substitute. He is furious, and declared he will not go, and there is some talk of his brother going in his place.[6]

The “Mr. Patterson” to whom Mary refers is probably her son-in-law Benjamin C. Patterson. Incidentally, his name appears nowhere in the roster for the 170th O.V.I., although there is a George Patterson (the name of B.C.’s brother), although the age is about 8 years off. Who knows! Maybe it’s a completely different George Patterson, and B. C. procured a substitute instead; nevertheless, Benjamin C. Patterson did not serve in the 170th O.V.I.[7] Edward Affleck did go with the 170th O.V.I., though. His official enlistment date is recorded as May 2, 1864, although obviously he was in the National Guard before that, per Mary’s letter above (from late April). Edward served as a first lieutenant and adjutant for the regiment. His term of service was 100 days, the same as the rest of the men in his regiment.[8] The 74th Battalion, Ohio National Guard, was just one of many battalions that were called up for federal service in May 1864:

Over 35,000 Ohio Guardsmen were federalized and organized into regiments for 100 days service in May 1864. Shipped to the Eastern Theater, they were designed to be placed into “safe” rear area duty to protect the railroads and supply points thereby freeing regular troops for Grant’s push on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia…[9]

Edward’s particular regiment, the 170th O.V.I., was first assigned to duty in and around Washington, D.C., arriving about May 22, and leaving for a new assignment in Sandy Hook, Maryland, on July 4.[10] Edward was apparently enjoying himself on his “safe” adventure, according to a letter his sister Harriet wrote on June 5:

We received a letter from Edward last Wednesday and expect another today or tomorrow. He was well and enjoying himself very much. Mother is afraid he will enjoy himself so well, that he will not be willing to come back.[11]

Edward happened to be in Washington during the same time that his Dayton relative (by marriage), Major Luther Bruen, was a patient at Douglas Hospital there, attempting to recover from wounds he had received in the Battle of the Wilderness (see Part 9). Edward apparently visited Luther at the hospital and wrote home about it to his mother Mary, who later wrote thus to her sister Sarah (Luther’s mother-in-law) on June 19:

I am very glad to hear there is a fair prospect of the Major’s recovery, and am much obliged to thee for sending me Augusta’s letters. I received one from her a few days ago, also one from Edward, from both of which I learn that his health is still improving. Edward has yet seen nothing but the “poetry of war,” and seems to be enjoying it greatly. I am afraid he will find it so fascinating that he will not be willing to return at the end of the hundred days—if[,] which I scarcely dare to hope, they are thus permitted to return.[12]

Two days after this letter was written, Luther died. And it seems odd that, even after visiting a maimed family member in the hospital (Luther’s leg had been amputated)—not to mention whatever other atrocities he might have passed between the hospital threshold and Luther’s bedside, that Edward could still see only the “poetry of war.” Perhaps Mary was referring to whether or not Edward had participated in any actual battles, which at that time, he probably still had not. Unfortunately for Edward Affleck (and his worried family), things were about to get very real and very un-poetic. Despite the intended (relative) safety of the National Guard units’ positions, many soon found themselves in not-so-safe locations after all:

…As events transpired, many units found themselves in the thick of combat, stationed in the path of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early’s veteran Army of the Valley during its famed Raid on Washington. These Guard units participated in the battles of Monacacy, Fort Stevens, Maryland Heights, and in the siege of Petersburg.[13]

The 170th O.V.I. left Washington, D.C., on the night of July 4 and headed for Sandy Hook, Maryland, where they joined with other regiments in the defense of Maryland Heights.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. View of Maryland Heights, [1865]. (Photo by James Gardner. Library of Congress)

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. View of Maryland Heights, [1865]. (Photo by James Gardner. Library of Congress)

The following multi-part letter (July 17-25) from Edward’s mother Mary to her sister Sarah tells a little of Edward’s experience at Maryland Heights:

For more than a week we have been in a state of the most painful uncertainty respecting Edward. The last letter we received from him was dated July 3rd. He was then, with a portion of his regiment, at Ft Sumner, and the probability was, that they would remain there till their term of service expired. We have heard that they were ordered to Harpers Ferry the next day, but can hear nothing from them, and know not what has become of them.[14] 24th. This letter, as thee will perceive by the date, was commenced a week ago, but I was interrupted and could not finish it then. We have since received two letters from Edward, one written on the 8th at Maryland Heights, where they had been skirmishing several days with the rebels. None in their Reg’t were killed or wounded, though he says a ball grazed his sleeve, and another struck a tree just behind him, and ‘if it hadn’t been for the tree, his carcass would have stopped the ball’! The other was written on the 13th at the camp near Petersville. They were expecting to move every day. I have since heard that they have gone to Leesburg, where it is expected there will be more fighting. Several of the boys had a ‘sunstroke’ at Maryland Heights… [About July 18th] is the last we have heard from them, and are waiting in the most intense anxiety for what may come next, an anxiety that is shared by the whole neighborhood, as a husband, son or brother has gone from almost every family… There are but three weeks of the hundred days remaining, and I am beginning to hope, if the rebel bullets spare him, that we shall have him back with us before the summer is quite over, though generally my fears are stronger than my hopes. Do you hear from your Howard? And where is he? I am almost afraid to look over the lists of killed and wounded lest I should see his name among them. I rec’d a letter from Joan last week. She had seen a notice of Major Bruen’s death and requests me to say to you when I write, that they all sympathize deeply with you in your affliction…[15]

That part gives me chills. Note the date: July 24. She asked about Howard, not yet knowing that Howard Forrer had been killed in the Battle of Atlanta two days earlier. For that matter, Sarah Forrer did not know about her son’s death yet either. The Forrer family learned of Howard’s death from the July 29 issue of the Cincinnati Gazette (see Part 10). July 24 was a day of great consequence for Mary’s son Edward, also, though she did not yet know it. A week or two previously, the 170th O.V.I. had been attached to the forces of Gen. George Crook’s Army of the Kanawha, which met Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley near Winchester, Virginia, on July 24, in what was later known as the Second Battle of Kernstown [Virginia].[16]

Monday, 25th. We have just heard that the 170th were in the fight at Snickers Gap [Virginia] on the 18th. There were two killed and nineteen wounded in the regiment, but Edward’s name was not among them. It is reported here that Atlanta is taken by our forces, though it is doubted by some…[17]

Indeed, Atlanta was taken. And Howard Forrer died in the effort. Mary learned this before she wrote her next letter to her sister on August 4:

A Dayton paper [probably the Aug. 2 Dayton Journal article] this morning with a few lines from brother John informed us of the irreparable loss you have sustained in the death of your only son. You all have my deepest sympathy, and I would…[say?] something to comfort you yet feel that any attempt at consolation would seem like mockery while my own heart is breaking for Oh! Sarah, we can learn nothing of the fate of our own precious one, and know not whether he is killed or captured. The last letter we received from him was written on the 21st. They were then a few miles from Snickers Gap, where they had been in a fight and were driven back. After that he was in the battle at Winchester [Second Battle of Kernstown] on the 24 or 25 and we can hear nothing of him since. There too they were driven back, and nearly all the 170th Reg’t succeeded in reaching Harpers Ferry. Several of them have written home, but can give no account of Edward. They all think he is either killed or captured. Capt. Robinson writes that he was with him on the field of battle, and that they did not hear the order to retire till nearly all the other regiments had gone, and the rebels were close upon them. In the confusion of the retreat he was separated from his men, and when he got to the train (a wagon train I presume) he saw two men riding Edward’s horse, that he put them in a wagon and took the horse himself on which he escaped. When I heard of it I felt almost certain he had been killed, for I thought if he had been captured, they would have taken his horse also, but yesterday one of our boys came home who says he was not on his horse during the battle[,] that he left it in the rear with one of the boys who was sick, and that he fought by his side till they were ordered to retreat, and that they were together till just as they were entering Winchester, when Edward who had complained of not feeling well, told them he was unable to keep up with them, but for them to save themselves, and that was the last they saw of him. This gave me a little hope, for I knew his father had a brother and two or three sisters living in Winchester, and I thought it probable when he found he could not keep up with the others that he had taken refuge with them. When I mentioned it, the man said he recollected hearing Edward say when they were at Snickers Gap that he wished they were going to Winchester, for he had some relations there that he would like to see. He said, moreover, that as they were passing through W. the day before the battle Edward had inquired of someone where somebody lived, and had called at a house in town. This is the only hope I have for him, if he is not with them, it is not probable we shall ever know his fate. His father would go on, and try to find some trace of him, but this morning’s papers say the rebels have their headquarters in Winchester, and all communication is cut off—so we can only wait, and hope—though it is a very faint hope at best, and this suspense is terrible. I sometimes think I cannot bear it much longer—but still try to struggle on for the sake of the few that are left…[18]

The good news was that Edward Affleck was not killed. The bad news was that he did not escape to his relatives’ home in Winchester; he had indeed been taken prisoner by the Confederate army during the battle at Kernstown on July 24.[19] (Incidentally, Edward does not seem to have even been counted in the official “Return of Casualties” for the battle, which tallied only 2 enlisted men—and 0 officers—from the 170th Ohio as “captured or missing.” Edward, as the regiment’s adjutant, should have been counted as an officer.[20]) Eventually, it was realized that Edward Affleck had indeed been captured by enemy forces, and this news was relayed to his family. It’s not clear to me exactly how it was ascertained that Edward was in fact among those captured. Did the two sides exchanged lists of prisoners? Or were prisoners perhaps allowed to write letters? Because, from the sound of this letter written by Edward’s sister Harriet on August 28 1864 (a month after his capture), it sounds like they expected to hear from Edward personally:

We have been waiting for good news from Edward (before writing again), but as yet have heard nothing, except that he had been sent to Richmond, instead of Americus. Mother thinks she would rather he had gone to Georgia…[21]

The Civil War prison at Richmond—the infamous Libby Prison—was infamous even then for the “overcrowded and harsh conditions under which officer prisoners from the Union Army were kept.”[22] Remember, Edward was an officer: an adjutant, nothing too fancy, as far as officers go, but an officer nonetheless. Perhaps that is why his mother “would rather he had gone to Georgia.” I assume that by Americus, Georgia, they are referring to the Civil War prison better known as Andersonville, which was about 15 miles from the town of Americus. While Andersonville Prison was still obviously a horrible place, it does not seem to have had the reputation of officer abuse that Libby Prison did.[23]

Richmond, Virginia. Libby Prison, North side, Apr. 1865. (Library of Congress)

Richmond, Virginia. Libby Prison, North side, Apr. 1865. (Library of Congress)

(Actually, according to the Martins Ferry Historical Society, Edward was at Camp Asylum in Columbia, SC, and not brought to Richmond until months later.[24] But then why would his mother believe he was at Richmond?) Harriet’s Aug. 28 letter continued:

The report is that the prisoners taken before the first of Aug are to be exchanged soon—if it was only true what a burden it would lift off our hearts. Still as you say—we know that he lives and that is so very much of a comfort. Our trouble would seem worse if we had not you and yours to think about…[25]

Bad news about the prisoner exchange. Unfortunately, Edward had picked a bad time to get captured—a really bad time. Okay, so he didn’t pick the time, but it was a bad time, nonetheless. This was about the time that General Grant decided to halt all prisoner exchanges. Grant wrote on August 18, 1864:

It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. Every man we hold, when released on parole or otherwise, becomes an active soldier against us at once either directly or indirectly. If we commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught, they amount to no more than dead men. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners in the North would insure Sherman’s defeat and would compromise our safety here.[26]

Edward would have to wait months before being considered for an exchange. The last part of Harriet’s Aug. 28 letter stated:

The 170th Regt will be home today—some of them came home yesterday and brought Edward’s trunk and sword. It gratifies us very much to see how much he is beloved by them all. In his trunk we found a short letter to cousin [Lida?] not sealed—containing his photograph. I do not know why he had not sent it. Mother says if he never comes home she will send it to her but will wait and see what he says if he does come…[27]

Indeed, Edward only had about 17 days left on his 100 days of service when he was captured. If he had not been taken prisoner at Winchester, he, too, might have been coming home on August 28. (The majority of the regiment was mustered out on September 10.) Or, on the flip side, he might have been one of whose who died of heat exhaustion or skirmishing somewhere between Winchester and home.[28] In February 1865, Edward was still imprisoned, and his mother wrote of her unsuccessful attempts to write to him, although apparently he was able to send letters out:

I have been waiting for news from Edward before writing to thee but have waited in vain. The latest was Dec. 9th though a week or two ago three or four letters came, written in November. He had rec’d none of ours but was confident many had been written, and asks us to send money and clothes to him. It is very disheartening to know that all our efforts to relieve him have hitherto proved ineffectual… I am anxiously watching the Exchanges, and think if he is still living that he will certainly be at home before long—but that terrible if still haunts me night and day, and the anxiety and suspense are almost insupportable… In Edward’s letter of Nov. 6th he says “Give my love to all our relatives in Dayton and tell them I am coming to pay them a visit some day—when this cruel war is over.” I wish some of you would write to him and send via Vicksburg, and perhaps among all our letters he may get one. He says he has never heard a word from any of us since the latter part of June, when he was in Washington…[29]

(Edward’s use of the phrase “some day” makes me think maybe he never actually did go to Dayton for a visit, previously.) Edward Affleck was finally released from Confederate prison in March of 1865. He was paroled at Coxes Wharf, Virginia, on March 10, and honorably discharged shortly thereafter.[30] Edward returned to his family in Bridgeport, Ohio. When Mary Affleck wrote to her sister Sarah again in June, it seemed that things were finally getting back to normal, with the war over, and her youngest son home safely:

[Edward] was gone ten or twelve days to Washington and Winchester, and is very busy just now, did not come up last night as I expected. He generally comes on Saturday evening, and stays till Monday morning, and then, with Harriet and the children here, it almost seems as though the ‘Old bright days had all come back again.’ Will they ever come again? Not to thee, or to me, yet we may do much to brighten the pathway of the dear ones that are still left to us, and thus in some measure, relieve the ‘blackness of darkness’ that overshadows our own… I have been looking over on the island, which is almost covered with tents of returning soldiers who are waiting to be discharged. A long train of army wagons passed through town a week or two ago, and another this morning. I feel thankful that so many of the poor fellows are permitted to return to their homes in peace but my heart aches to think of the thousands that never will return and of the one who was more to me than the whole army.[31]

The last letter from Mary Affleck during this time period indicates that, as Edward settled back into his old life, he got busy working (probably in a position as a clerk at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the job he had held just before his military service):

Edward does not talk so much about a trip to Dayton as he did when he first came home. He has so much to do at the depot that he does not get up to see us very often, and when he does come, seldom stays more than an hour or two. It is a disappointment to [his younger sister] Mary, who had quite set her heart upon going…[32]

I wonder if Edward ever did manage to make that trip to Dayton? In the years after the Civil War, Edward Affleck had several occupations, including railroad clerk, wholesale coal dealer, bank cashier, and vice president of a dairy. In 1871, Edward married Laura Walkup, and they had four children. They named their oldest son after Edward’s brother: Howard Gladstone Affleck, II. Edward Affleck died January 27, 1911, in Toledo, at the age of 67.[33]


[1] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 4 Aug. 1864, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 35:3, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.
[2] Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.
[3] Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2; Samuel Forrer to Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.
[4] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 20 Sept. 1863, FPW, 35:3.
[5] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866 (Akron: Werner Co., 1889), vol. IX, 415.
[6] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 28 Apr. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[7] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 415-430.
[8] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 417.; American Civil War soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; U.S. Civil War Soldier Records & Profiles (database), Ancestry Library Edition. (The U.S. Civil War Soldiers database gives an enlistment date of Feb. 5, 1864; the other two sources state May 2. This is borderline irrelevant, though, because Edward was in the National Guard earlier than either of those dates, and his “enlistment” was a result of his ONG regiment being called up for active duty.)
[9] “Ohio Army National Guard,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_Army_National_Guard.
[10] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 415.
[11] Harriet Patterson to Sarah Forrer, 5 June 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[12] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 19 June 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[13] “Ohio Army National Guard,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_Army_National_Guard.
[14] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 17 July 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[15] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 24 July 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[16] “Second Battle of Kernstown,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Kernstown; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 415; Report of Gen. George Crook, 27 July 1864, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 37, Part I-Reports (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1891), 286.
[17] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 25 July 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[18] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 4 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[19] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 417.
[20] [Return of Casualties at Kernstown, July 24-25], in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 37, Part I-Reports (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1891), 288.
[21] Harriet Patterson to a Forrer cousin, 28 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[22] “Libby Prison,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libby_Prison.
[23] “Andersonville National Historic Site,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andersonville_National_Historic_Site.
[24] Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 3 May 2012, accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm.
[25] Harriet Patterson to a Forrer cousin, 28 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[26] Gen. U. S. Grant to Gen. Butler, 18 Aug. 1864, quoted in Holland Thompson, “Exchange of Prisoners,” in Francis T. Miller, ed., The Photographic History of The Civil War, Vol. 4: Soldier Life and Secret Service, accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.civilwarhome.com/prisonerexchange.htm.
[27] Harriet Patterson to a Forrer cousin, 28 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[28] Janet B. Hewett, ed., Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Part II – Records of Events, vol. 56 (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1997), 270-271.
[29] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 15 Feb. 1865, FPW, 35:3.
[30] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 417; Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 3 May 2012, accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm.
[31] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 18 June 1865, FPW, 35:3.
[32] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 30 July 1865, FPW, 35:3.
[33] Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; U.S. Federal Census, 1850-1910.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 4: Why Enlist?

I think if [Howard] and Willie could have seen what has befallen their poor Cousin, it would cure them of all desire to enter the army. He was patriotic and brave, And see, his life has been thrown away, we may say, in that miserable battle of Shilo [sic]…[1]

-Sarah Forrer to her husband, May 15, 1862

As Sarah wrote these lines, her 21-year-old nephew Howard Affleck lay dying; he did not live out the day. Sarah already feared for the lives of her own son, Howard Forrer, and another nephew, William Howard.

And even as she grieved for her older son, Mary Affleck (Sarah’s sister) already feared for the life of her younger son Edward, wishing to send him back to Dayton with Sarah as a distraction:

She is distressed for fear Edward is going to the war. She wishes him to return with me, And go to school, or at least make a visit. She…thinks he would be diverted from going [to war] by visiting us…[2]

*****

All three of these young men – Howard Forrer, William Howard, and Edward Affleck – would eventually enlist voluntarily in Union Army, despite the hopes and wishes of their mothers and aunts (and possibly female companions).

I think that at this point in the story, it would be appropriate to address the following question:

“Why on earth would anyone who had heard/read/saw the tragic (and gruesome) tale of Howard Affleck [see Parts 1, 2, & 3] voluntarily enlist to fight in the Civil War?”

This might seem like a ridiculous question with obvious answers. And maybe it is. But I’m going to discuss it a little bit anyway.

Mostly, I’m going to share some relevant bits from James McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. (McPherson is one of today’s premiere Civil War historians, and this particular book is one of my favorite history books.) For Cause and Comrades discusses the categories of soldier motivation first proposed by John A. Lynn:

Lynn posited three categories: initial motivation, sustaining motivation, and combat motivation. The first consists of the reasons why men enlisted; the second concerns the factors that kept them in the army and kept the army in existence over time; and the third focuses on what nerved them to face extreme danger in battle.[3]

Now, I’m not going to discuss every category or every motivation from the book, because that’s not my purpose at the moment. This isn’t a book review. (Although, I did write a review of this book for a graduate seminar; that’s when I read it the first time. That’s also how I knew that I should look over it again for this blog entry! By the way, it’s awesome. If you like Civil War history, you should read it.)

I’ll be pulling out pieces from here and there in McPherson and making an educated speculation about how the point might apply in my tale of the Howard cousins.

(Please note my careful word choices in what follows. Since I have few sources written by the soldiers themselves, I cannot provide concrete explanations of their motives, only educated guesses. Expect a lot of perhaps, maybe, might have, could have, and probably.)

*****

Many enlistments can be traced back to the motivations of patriotism, honor, and duty—and, in some cases, a longing for excitement.[4]

The initial impulse came from what the French call rage militaire—a patriotic furor that swept North and South alike in the weeks after the attack on Fort Sumter.[5]

Howard Affleck almost certainly fell into this category. Lincoln called for troops on April 15, 1861, and by April 18, Howard had enlisted in the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a private.[6]

Another relevant family member, whom I don’t believe I have yet mentioned in this story, was Luther B. Bruen, Sarah Forrer’s son-in-law. Luther was a 38-year-old Dayton lawyer (and father of three) when he enlisted in the regular army on May 14, 1861. He was commissioned a Major with the 12th U.S. Infantry.[7]

The rage militaire of April and May 1861 eventually cooled. But it flared up again at later points of crisis in the war… Additional Northern volunteers flocked to the colors…after the setback of the Seven Days in June and July 1862.[8]

It just so happens that William Howard and Howard Forrer, both 20 years old, enlisted in the late summer of 1862, but I’m not sure it had much to do with the Battle of the Seven Days. From the sound of Sarah’s letter in May, both boys were already eager to join up.

William enlisted with the 17th Independent Battery Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery (Sarah calls it the “17th Ohio Battery” for short) at its formation in August 1862. He signed up for three years and was made a second lieutenant.[9]

Howard recruited for the 112th Ohio Volunteer Infantry throughout the summer of 1862, and when the regiment failed to fill up, it was eventually combined with the 63rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in November. Howard was Adjutant of the 63rd O.V.I., having enlisted for three years of service.[10]

Recruitment Ad for the 112th O.V.I. in the Dayton Daily Journal, 23 Oct. 1862, pg. 1

Recruitment Ad for the 112th O.V.I. in the Dayton Daily Journal, 23 Oct. 1862, pg. 1

Patriotism and nationalism as enlistment motivations sometimes included reference to the Founding Fathers: “If disunion destroyed this nation, the generation of 1861 would prove unworthy of the heritage of republican liberty.”[11]

A man’s sense of honor and duty was often cited as a reason for serving, also.

The consciousness of duty was pervasive in Victorian America… Victorians understood duty to be a binding moral obligation involving reciprocity: one had to defend the flag under whose protection one had lived.[12]

Furthermore: “Duty and honor were closely linked to concepts of masculinity in Victorian America.”[13] If a man failed at a real or perceived duty, he might appear to have lost some or all of his honor.

Not surprisingly, McPherson points out that women didn’t always “get” the whole duty/honor thing. While a man might feel it was his duty to serve, his wife might argue that his duty to his family was more important.[14]

I think this could be similarly extrapolated to mothers: Most mothers probably care much more deeply for their sons’ lives than their reputations. (I seriously wonder how many of those ancient Spartan mothers really meant it when they said, “Come back with your shield or on it.” Come to think of it, I wonder if any of them ever actually said that, since all those old histories were written by men. But I digress…)

I guess at some point the mothers knew they must just let them go. Sarah Forrer made numerous references in her letters and journal of her aversion to Howard’s army service. But when the time came for him to march off to the front for the first time, she did not fuss:

I feel as great dislike to his going as ever I did, and to his being connected with the Army in any way, but there seemed a necessity, just now, and I could not prevent him if I would. I think too he felt better that I bade him fare well quietly and without manifesting much emosion [sic]. Nothing else would serve him, I hope and trust I shall soon see him again…[15]

Patriotism, duty, and honor were certainly among the reasons that men served in the Civil War. But I think we would be foolish if we presumed that all motivations were pure.

Some men enlisted because they were looking for kicks; they had this idea that war is exciting, glorious, and romantic.[16] What little boy doesn’t like toy soldiers and war stories? So I guess it’s not surprising that when a real war came along, many young men thought it would be an adventure. (I do think the excitement angle probably had some influence over the young men in my story.) Of course, “once they had seen the elephant [a real battle], few Civil War soldiers were eager to see it again.”[17]

I do think the excitement angle probably had some influence over the young men in my story. The way Sarah turns the phrase “cure them of all desire to enter the army” makes me imagine a couple of boys chomping at the bit for war news every morning, watching their friends join up and march off, and moping around that their mommies won’t “let” them go play too.

Or maybe I’m way off base. But that is the way my imagination fills in the gaps—because let’s face it, when you don’t have enough actual facts to paint a complete picture, your imagination tries to fill in some of the gaps whether you meant to or not. (Just remember to keep facts and fiction clearly marked in your head—and, if applicable, your blog!)

There were other motivations for enlisting that weren’t totally noble, and I think that recruitment ads like this one (and the one several paragraphs above, for that matter) illustrate the point pretty well:

Recruitment ad for the Dayton Rangers in the Dayton Daily Journal, 15 Aug. 1862, pg. 2

Recruitment ad for the Dayton Rangers in the Dayton Daily Journal, 15 Aug. 1862, pg. 2

Notice the offer of a bounty and the mention of a potential draft. There were many others very similar to this one—you can see some of them on the Dayton Metro Library “Civil War Misc.” Flickr set. It’s like the ads are shouting: “We’ll give you money, and you can choose to enlist voluntarily, rather than waiting for the dishonor of joining only because you were forced to by the draft!”

There was no large scale national draft in the North until the Enrollment Act of 1863. However, individual states had to come up with quotas of soldiers for the army, and if these quotas weren’t met by volunteer enlistments, there might be smaller scale drafts to fill the empty spaces.

The threat of draft was definitely not the case for Howard Forrer’s enlistment, however. His father Samuel wrote on August 24, 1862:

[Howard] cannot even be drafted because our ward and indeed the city has furnished its full quota of the active force of the army called for to their time.[18]

The Forrers lived in Dayton’s Ward 2, which is the ward that includes most of downtown. Back in those days, many of Dayton’s upper crust folks lived in luxurious homes that were right downtown. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the 2nd Ward had already fulfilled its quota, since many of the early volunteers (often officers) came from upper- and middle-class backgrounds.[19]

These men “had enlisted early in the war from motives—in their own eyes at least—of duty, honor, and patriotism.”[20] Sure, they didn’t need the bounty money if they were already rich. Nor did they need to fear the draft, if their communities were quick to fulfill the quotas. But if a man is already wealthy and influential, what would he worry about more than money? His reputation perhaps? And remember, the honor code was still a pretty big deal in Victorian America.

I think some weren’t just being patriotic or dutiful for the sake of patriotism and duty only. Some probably joined because they felt what essentially amounts to peer pressure: the need to appear honorable, dutiful, and patriotic, whether they really felt that way or not. Even if a man might really prefer to take his chances with the draft, he couldn’t because his high-minded peers “looked down on the conscripts, substitutes, and bounty men who had been drafted or had enlisted for money.”[21] I’m sure he didn’t want to look like a coward either.

Obviously, if the man actually was poor, he might really need the money. Or if he happened to not be concerned about his reputation, he might just wait for the draft. But I have zeroed in on the upper-/middle-class angle just now because all the men in my story were from that group. I don’t think any of them would have been swayed by money as a reason for enlisting: Howard Affleck and Edward Affleck’s father was a doctor; Luther Bruen was a lawyer; William Howard’s father was a lawyer (and William himself a law student); and Howard Forrer’s father was the canal engineer (and Howard had job as a teacher).

In short, what do I propose to have been their reasons then? Well, like I said, I can’t tell you for certain, because I don’t have any letters where each man actually says, “I’m enlisting, and here’s why…” But my guess in the case of the first four—Howard Affleck, Luther Bruen, William Howard, and Howard Forrer—is that patriotism, duty, and the honor code all played their parts. (In the case of the 3 younger men, I think that sense of adventure probably also played some part.)

But wait, I’ve almost forgotten about Edward Affleck. He doesn’t really fit the profile of the big waves of patriotism in 1861 and 1862 (although I’m sure there were little ones). The younger brother of the ill-fated Howard did not serve on the front until 1864. He was 20 years old when he enlisted in the 170th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on May 2, 1864. The regiment was composed of two National Guard battalions, including the 74th from Belmont County (his home).[22] I wonder if he was already a member of it, and if he had been in the Guard long? I wonder if that was a compromise between his mother’s wish for him to stay away from the war and his own wish to join up. Was it for reasons of patriotism, duty, or honor? I hate to even mention the romantic, cliché-sounding idea that he might have been eager to avenge the gruesome death of his brother, but it’s a possibility. After all, award-winning historian James McPherson mentioned that motivation, too:

“The desire to avenge comrades or relatives killed by enemy bullets burned as hotly in Northern as in Southern hearts.”[23]

Then again, I think if he was hot to avenge his brother, he would have marched right up to the enlistment office in May 1862 and not waited two years. (Maybe he did go to back to Dayton with his aunt to go to school? I didn’t find any references to that, though.) Who knows?

That’s really about the only concrete thing I can say to you from this entry (at least, in respect to the five guys in my story): who knows why they enlisted? I really don’t. Even if I did have letters, or even perhaps diary entries, where the men wrote down their reasons, could we trust them? McPherson points out that “the motives of many volunteers were mixed in a way that was impossible for them to disentangle in their own minds.”[24]

If they didn’t even know why (let alone leave a record of it for me to find), how could I? I never promised to figure out the precise enlistment motives of these five men. I just thought it would be an interesting path to wander for a while.

In the next part, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled facts…


[1] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio), 4:2.

[2] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[3] James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 12.

[4] McPherson, 14-34.

[5] McPherson, 16.

[6] American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition.

[7] American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition.

[8] McPherson, 17.

[9] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. X (Akron: Werner Co., 1889), 583.

[10] American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; various letters from Samuel Forrer & Sarah Forrer to their daughters Mary Forrer & Augusta Bruen, Aug.-Nov. 1862, FPW, 1:10, 4:5; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. V (Akron: Werner Co., 1887), 383.

[11] McPherson, 18-19.

[12] McPherson, 22-23.

[13] McPherson, 25.

[14] McPherson, 23.

[15] Sarah Forrer to her daughters Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 7 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[16] McPherson, 27-33.

[17] McPherson, 33.

[18] Samuel Forrer to his daughter Mary Forrer, 24 Aug. 1862, FPW, 1:10.

[19] McPherson, 8.

[20] McPherson, 8.

[21] McPherson, 8.

[22] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX (Akron: Werner Co., 1889), 415, 417.

[23] McPherson, 153.

[24] McPherson, 28.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 3: Howard Affleck (Part C)

Howard suffers extremely sometimes, so much so that he told his mother he would not have survived if he had had any idea of the suffering, And he told his father to shoot him, the other night when he felt badly, Begged him to do it. At another time he told the neighbor Physician that every man ought to take a pistol for his own benefit in case he is wounded…[1]

-Sarah Forrer to her husband, May 9, 1862

The 1903 Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, incorrectly stated that Howard G. Affleck died on the battle field at Shiloh.[2] However, there were clearly many times in the five weeks following the battle, that Howard wished he had indeed perished at Pittsburg Landing.

As described in Part 2, Howard hobbled 2½ miles from the battle field to the banks of the Tennessee River with an ounce ball in his knee, was dragged to safety by a friend as enemy fire rained down on them, and then lay out all night in the driving rain.

Sadly, his sufferings had only just begun…

*****

Unlike the first two parts of this story, I have only the manuscript collections themselves to tell me what followed in the heartbreaking story of Howard Affleck. Therefore, I think it would be most effective (and most moving) to let you read the rest of Howard’s story in the same words that I first read it, with some explanations (including all text in brackets) and commentary.

April 10, 1862
Howard Affleck to his mother Mary Affleck:

 Thursday, April 10, on board steamer ‘Hannibal,’ Pittsburgh [sic], Tenn.

Dear Mother,

We have had a most terrible battle here. It began on Sunday April 6th and is I believe not yet finished. Our boys at last account were in hot pursuit of the enemy 15 or 20 miles from here. Ours is a great victory yet it has cost us the lives of thousands of our brave boys. I was severely wounded in the leg left knee, Sunday afternoon. The surgeons have made several ineffectual attempts to extract the ball but here where there are thousands more badly hurt than I am, I “grin and bear it.” Some of our boats leave in a few days with the wounded. I wish Ned [his brother Edward] or father knew where they could meet me on the way—and would do so; but it is hardly worth while I suppose. None of the Bridgeport boys are killed, but five or six are wounded—none dangerously. Good bye. Your loving son, Howard.[3]

When I first read these lines, I wondered where Howard supposed his father and brother might attempt to meet him. Did people travel into the combat zone to retrieve their fallen relatives? Perhaps they did; I honestly don’t know that much about that. But in this particular case at least, they did not have to.

This snippet from Howard’s obituary sheds a little light on what happened to Howard between his last letter to his mother and the letters of his aunt which comprise the main body of this story:

…On the fifth day from receiving the wound, the ball was with difficulty extracted under the operation of chloroform. He was sent to the Marine Hospital at Evansville. From thence he was taken home…[4]

When Sarah Forrer heard of her nephew Howard’s affliction, she apparently traveled from her home in Dayton across the state to the home of her sister Mary (Howard’s mother) in Bridgeport, to help in any way she could. Sarah wrote letters to her family back in Dayton, keeping them apprised of Howard’s condition. And it was through these letters that I first began to learn Howard’s story.

May 9, 1862
Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer:

Bridgeport, May 9th, 1862

My dear Husband & children, I arrived safe about eleven o’clock today, and found Howard very weak and low. Mary [Howard’s mother] says the Drs think there is a bare chance for him, He wishes to have the limb taken off but they think he is not able to bear it. I found his father [medical doctor John Affleck] and another Physician with him when I came, they probed it and injected caustic. The wound is very offensive, and they keep a fire and the windows open all the time. It looks to me like a very doubtful case and Mary feels it to be so, She has not undressed herself, since Howard came home, of nights, only changes her clothing when necessary, an[d] lies in another room close by, where she hears every [move?] he makes, After the Dr left, Mary asks Dr. Affleck what he said about Howard, and what he thought about him, He seemed unwilling to say at first, and finally said he did not know any more than himself whether he would recover. That he thought as he did that Howard was suffering from the effects of malaria in that southern [clime?]. …

Poor Howard! I wish you would all write kind letters to him, He is pleased with them, and his parents too, and they both seem devoted to him, Mary says she never saw anything soften the Dr. so, He seems kind and kinder as it is possible to be, Howard suffers extremely sometimes, so much so that he told his mother he would not have survived if he had had any idea of the suffering, And he told his father to shoot him, the other night when he felt badly, Begged him to do it. At another time he told the neighbor Physician that every man ought to take a pistol for his own benefit in case he is wounded, I saw when he [eased?] up that he is reduced almost to an anatomy and has no appetite, and it is with great difficulty they can by giving [??] Laudanum [symbol] keep a diarea [sic] under, which is they think one of his worst symptoms…[5]

I found this last paragraph particularly heartbreaking. However, I also found these passages very interesting, as they mention some specifics about his illness and injury (and the attempted treatments):

  • The surgeons had used chloroform on Howard when extracting the ball. Chloroform was a common anesthesia at the time, so it was often administered to patients in need of painful medical procedures.
  • Later, his father and the other doctor injected caustic into his wound. The best I can determine about this practice is that the doctors hoped to caused a new inflammation, which (I guess) they hoped would effect an infection-fighting reaction from the body and that the reaction generated to fight the new inflammation would also fight the infection in the original wound as well. (I am not a medically inclined, nor was I able to find any good resources describing this practice, so please by all means, straighten me out if I have misunderstood this practice.)
  • Sarah wrote, “The wound is very offensive, and they keep…the windows open all the time.” I think that statement speaks for itself, but I had not given much thought to the smell of such illness or injury until she pointed it out. I expect that by early May the weather was beginning to warm up as well, which I’m sure didn’t help.
  • Howard’s father suspected he might be suffering from malaria – which I suppose is not unlikely, given that he’d just spent a long time in the South, on the river, where there are plenty of mosquitoes.
  • Finally, there’s the diarrhea “which is…one of his worst symptoms” and the laudanum. From what I’ve read, diarrhea was a pretty serious, common problem for soldiers during the Civil War. It makes sense; I’m sure they spent a lot of time in want of a clean, fresh water supply. Laudanum was an opiate painkiller common at that time, but it is also adept at controlling diarrhea.

Upon hearing the sad report about Howard, Sarah’s daughter Mary and husband Samuel responded thus:

May 12-13, 1862
Mary Forrer to her mother Sarah Forrer:

We all feel sad at not receiving better news from Howard. Poor boy! I wish we could relieve him in some way—Aunt Ann [wife of Sarah’s brother John Howard] and I have just been out together; she sympathizes with Aunt Mary very much; she sent her love to them all, and said tell Howard, she wishes she could do something for him. She spoke tonight of [John and Ann’s son] Willie’s going to Bridgeport to see Howard; his father [John Howard] is anxious to have him go; he may start in a day or two but I will find out before I close.

I have just been to Uncle John’s to see about Willie going—Uncle thinks he had better wait a few days until we hear again…[6]

Sarah’s husband Samuel offered these hopeful words in response to the May 9th letter:

May 15, 1862
Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer:

Your account of the condition of our nephew Howard Affleck is exceedingly distressing—His suffering must be intense—no wonder he is tired of life—I hope however that having proved so good a soldier on the battlefield, he will be permitted to retain sufficient of mind and fortitude to bear his present trouble. He is too good a boy and too much loved by his friends and especially those who know him best to give up life—He must stay with us as long as possible—Remember me to him affectionately and to all the family kindly—You will I know do all you can to comfort Mary; but she will I fear break down under the mere fatigue of [illegible] and excitement…[7]

Unfortunately, Howard was not “permitted to retain sufficient of mind and fortitude to bear his present trouble.” He soon slipped into total delirium.

May 15, 1862
Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer:

Bridgeport, May 15, 1862

Dear Husband and Children,

…Poor Howard has been insensible for twenty-four hours past and, to all appearance, cannot last much longer. The Drs did not think he would live through yesterday. He knew all about him in the morning, but soon became delirious and has been so ever since, He talks at intervals but we cannot understand him and he does not direct his words to anyone, [see?] now, I think, once and a while, we can distinguish understand a word, “Killed” “go on” “the last load”, which seem as if he wandered about the battlefield. And “It’s well Mother” “Well for Mary” and on these words he will dwell sometime, then follow much that we cannot make anything of. But, it is no matter, all will soon be ever [well] with him, Poor boy!… [Next, Sarah tells the story of Howard’s friend Allender, see Part 2.] …I found [Howard] unable to converse when I came, and he has gone down steadily ever since…[8]

I wonder whether Howard’s delirious ramblings were a product of the narcotic laudanum or what we might now call post-traumatic stress disorder or perhaps a combination of elements.

Sarah’s May 15th letter continued:

The Dr is greatly distressed, and Mary hangs over him as she always does in such times, John will know how she is and so will Husband, for they have seen her in times of great trouble. I thought yesterday she would sink down by the bed, but we prevailed upon her to lie down a while and today she seems stronger, She said “give my love to them all” And when She heard about Willie coming, she said “I would be glad to see him, but he will not see Howard… I think if [Howard, Sarah’s son, age 18] and Willie [Sarah’s and Mary’s brother John’s son, also 18] could have seen what has befallen their poor Cousin, it would cure them of all desire to enter the army. He was patriotic and brave, And see, his life has been thrown away, we may say, in that miserable battle of Shilo [sic]. I hoped to hear him give his own account of it. But he has not been able to say a word since the first day after his return… I do not know how to leave Mary… I think, after Howard is gone perhaps I may get Mary to go with me some and in that way divert her a little. If not, I will return soon. Love to all from Wife and Mother.[9]

Later that same day, May 15, 1862, Sarah resumed her letter in order to share tragic news:

Howard left us about ten this morning, only a short time after I had written my letter which I left open thinking it would be so. He did not revive after he began to sink. Mary is very sad but is more comfortable than I expected. She is distressed for fear Edward [Mary’s younger son, age 18] is going to the war. She wishes him to return with me, And go to school, or at least make a visit. She seems distressed about him and thinks he would be diverted from going by visiting us. I fear he will not be satisfied, but would like to help her with him if possible. She insists he must pay his board, and I told her he might if he stays to school, If thee has any objections, which I do not think, say so, Mary feels as if it would perhaps save him.

I wish you would write soon, for I believe I am getting homesick. The reason I said Howard’s life was thrown way, is because I suppose, if our officers had done their duty, it would not have taken place, (and ought not to have taken place). Mother[10]

There are so many things happening in this letter, I don’t feel as though I could do any of them justice in discussion while still keeping this blog post to a remotely reasonable length. Nevertheless, let me attempt it:

  • “John will know how she is and so will Husband, for they have seen her in times of great trouble.” Mary lost her first husband and two of her children (not to mention both parents and one sister) in the cholera epidemic of 1833; the following spring, her two remaining children died of scarlet fever. I have a feeling those times are among the alluded to “times of great trouble.”
  • “…but he will not see Howard.” I suppose this statement comes from not wishing to expose one’s family to the horrors of war. But I have to say, I tend to agree with Sarah, who suggested that if Howard’s two younger cousins, both 18 and apparently itching to “see the elephant” (as they say), did come to see Howard, perhaps “it would cure them of all desire to enter the army”—and hopefully spare the family additional heartache. As far as I can tell, neither boy did come to visit their cousin on his deathbed… (Now, there’s a foreshadowing, if I ever wrote one.)
  • And of course, the obvious point : after all that pain and suffering, Howard G. Affleck still did not survive. He would be “buried with the honors of war” at a cemetery in Bridgeport, with many soldiers from Bridgeport’s Camp Carlisle in attendance.[11]
  • And even as Mary mourns the loss of Howard, the fifth of her eight children to precede her in death, she worries that her youngest (and only remaining) son Edward, also 18, will go to off to war as well despite—perhaps even partially because of?—the suffering he witnessed in his own brother. She hoped to send him off to Dayton with her sister, to use school as a distraction for him. (Although Sarah’s husband supports the idea, it’s not clear whether Edward’s visit ever actually happened.[12])
  • “I suppose, if our officers had done their duty, it would not have taken place…” Clearly, Sarah had been reading the news and was much aware of the allegations of incompetence being made against the Union generals who had been in charge at Shiloh.[13] And who can blame her? If I had lost a loved one due to apparent negligence by so-called superior officers, I’d be angry with them, too.

I think that Samuel Forrer’s response to the news of his nephew’s death wraps up this series rather neatly:

May 18, 1862
Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer:

My dear good wife,

I have, just now, read a second time your affecting account of our poor dear nephew’s last days and shed tears again on remembering the account he gave himself of his interview with his Major a few minutes after receiving his fatal wound on the first day of the battle of Shiloh, of his terrible suffering in the retreat and his [lying?] in the rain one whole night on the bank of the Tennessee river and now as you add we learn he was dragged by a friend to place of security under the bluff bank of the river where the missiles of the pursuing enemy might pass over him without harm. This was indeed all terribly distressing and yet it was but a moiety of the after suffering, in pain, occasioned by the ball in his knee, its extraction, and the lingering but certain approach of death—pain so intense as it must have been until no longer conscious of pain. But a note at the close of your letter says ‘Howard has left us!’ Poor dear boy his sufferings are ended, and his loving parents and sisters[,] brother[,] and friends have left to them only the poor consolation that his sufferings are over and that they had the privilege of watching over his couch and administering to his wants and all was done to alleviate his suffering that could be done. But the war, the battle of Shiloh, the wound; the days of suffering before his father arrived and found the son; and all his after suffering; this bravery and patriotism and his many virtues; his death!—all these will be long uppermost in the minds of those who always loved him and they will and must mourn his loss. It is right and proper that they should mourn. Let none attempt to [avert?] the feelings of parents on occasions of their kind by cold applications of philosophy or piety or religion. Nature alone furnishes the only remedies of relief in the genuine sympathy of true and feeling friends…[14]

Sarah remained at Bridgeport until at least May 24 before returning to her family in Dayton.[15] No doubt she remained for the funeral and then for additional morale support afterwards. I don’t know whether she brought her nephew Edward Affleck back to Dayton with her.

What I do know is that however these women tried to distract or deter their sons and nephews from marching off to war…ultimately, it didn’t work.

 


[1] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 9 May 1862, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio), 4:2.

[2] A. T. McKelvey, “Mrs. Harriet B. Patterson” [Howard Affleck’s sister] (biographical sketch), in Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1903), accessed 19 Sept. 2011, http://www.ohiogenealogyexpress.com/belmont/belmontco_bios_p.htm.

[3] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[4] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[5] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 9 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[6] Mary Forrer to her mother Sarah Forrer, 12 May 1862 and 13 May 1862, FPW, 11:7.

[7] Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer, 15 May 1862 (on same sheet as Mary’s 12-13 May 1862 letter), FPW, 11:7.

[8] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[9] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[10] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[11] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[12] Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.

[13] For examples of the sort of inflammatory articles Sarah might have read regarding the Battle of Shiloh, see the Dayton Daily Journal, 14 Apr. 1862, pg. 2; 21 Apr. 21, pg. 2; and 25 Apr. 1862, pp. 2 & 3.

[14] Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8

[15] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 24 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 2: Howard Affleck (Part B)

We have had a most terrible battle here. It began on Sunday April 6th and is I believe not yet finished… Ours is a great victory yet it has cost us the lives of thousands of our brave boys…[1]

-Howard Affleck to his mother, April 10, 1862

On the morning of April 6, 1862, the Confederate armies of Johnston and Beauregard launched a surprise attack on Grant’s Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing. Grant and Sherman (in command of the Fifth Division) should have seen the attack coming, but—for a variety of reasons better described elsewhere—they did not.[2]

When the attack came, the Confederates advanced in a northeastern direction with the majority of their reinforcements amassing on their own left and center, thus pressing on the Union right.[3]

The Union force farthest to the right was Sherman’s Fifth Division, particularly McDowell’s Brigade (of which the 46th Ohio was a part). The 6th Iowa infantry regiment was farthest right, being about 900 yards southeast of Owl Creek and the bridge on the Purdy Road. Just left of the 6th Iowa was the 46th Ohio. The rest of Grant’s army was further to the left, towards the river.[4]

Shiloh Battle Apr6am-2.png

Map by Hal Jespersen, http://www.posix.com/CW, via “Battle of Shiloh,” Wikipedia, accessed 10 Jan. 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Shiloh .

Most of Sherman’s Division had never been under enemy fire before, nor had they even been given guns until just a few weeks previous. And yet, most unfortunately, these green regiments were on the front lines when the battle began.[5] On the bright side, the right three brigades of Sherman’s Division held the advantageous position of being on higher ground and across a tributary from the advancing Confederate army. However, the Rebels finally overran the top of this ridge around 10 a.m.[6]

Until that time, a portion of McDowell’s Brigade (though it is unclear which portion) “had been virtually unengaged with the enemy thus far.”[7] However, starting from about 10:00 a.m. until early in the afternoon, McDowell’s Brigade—including the 46th Ohio and by extension, Howard Affleck—were engaged in the battle.[8]

Despite his inexperience in battle, Howard was credited as having “fought with all the coolness and obstinacy of a veteran.”[9] The following anecdote of his service at Shiloh was also reported:

When one of his fellow-soldiers who stood by his side received a ball in the head, he cried out, “Affleck, I am killed, help me!” Affleck coolly replied, “I have no time—today I have a contract for the preservation of the Union.”[10]

It is highly questionable whether that particular interchange ever actually happened; however, it certainly did make for a good, romantic snippet of war patriotism in the newspaper.

McDonough asserts that (presumably all of) McDowell’s Brigade began its retreat to the landing about 12:30, after McDowell was seriously injured after a fall from his horse. However, according to Brewer’s detailed timeline, the 46th regiment had remained engaged in battle until at least 2:00 p.m. (Brewer’s account is almost certainly the more accurate and more precise for my needs here, since it draws from the diary of the 46th regiment’s commander, Colonel Thomas Worthington.)[11]

In any event, by Sunday afternoon, Howard Affleck, the 46th Ohio, and the rest of McDowell’s Brigade had retreated to the banks of the Tennessee River, which was apparently the point where retreating, fleeing, straggling, sick and injured Union troops seemed to be convening (to the dismay of Grant to attempted, mostly unsuccessfully, to rally them back into battle). This choice of safe haven does make sense, though: the river bank was rather far behind the Union front line; it was lower than the battle ground and had the protection of a bluff; and it had the additional protection of the Union gunboats on the river.[12]

Howard Affleck was among the wounded lying on the river bank. His most serious injury was an ounce ball in his left knee, a wound which he received sometime on Sunday afternoon and which caused him great suffering as he “crippled along slowly 2½ miles to Pittsburg Landing” during the retreat. In addition to the knee injury, Howard also had a wound in his neck and five bullet holes in his clothes.[13]

Indeed, Howard was quite incapacitated by the time he lay on the riverbank Sunday afternoon, and if it had not been for the honor and bravery of a good friend, he might have died right there that day. (Then again, in light of what would happen in the next few weeks, one could argue that it might have been more humane to have let that happen.)

According to Howard’s aunt Sarah Forrer, who heard it from Howard’s sister Harriet, who probably heard it from Howard himself, the following transpired on the river bank that day:

…well after reaching the river, [Howard] with other wounded were lying helplessly on the bank, when the enemy began firing directly upon them, The shells were bursting amongst them, when a young man, a very intimate friend of his, took hold of him and dragged him down under the bluff. He could not help himself any longer, He told his Mother he had never understood what the “Horrors of war” meant—till then. This young friend nursed him faithfully till he himself was taken ill of the fever, He died a week ago, in the Hospital at Cincinnati, — His mother went to him two days before he died, They did not tell Howard, His Father feared it might affect him badly, and when He asked after “Allender?” they told him he was better…[14]

The brave young man was Nicholas Allender, a corporal a few years older than Howard. The two men had served together in the 15th Ohio, Company B, and were both serving in the 46th Ohio, Company H, at the time. Allender died at the hospital in Cincinnati on May 2, 1862.[15]

(I have not been able to find any other information on Allender. I suspect he may be one of the fellow “Bridgeporters” – others from Howard’s hometown of Bridgeport, Ohio – a friend he knew from home before the army, but I cannot tease any answers out of either Ancestry or the Internet. I did find that some Allenders lived in Belmont County, Ohio, including a Nicholas Allender as head of household in 1830, but no incontrovertible evidence of the younger Nicholas, who would have been born in the mid-to-late 1830s. Another reason I think it seems logical to guess that Allender was also from Bridgeport is that Howard’s parents knew of his fate, and unless he had relatives in the area, how would news of an otherwise “random” corporal’s death on the opposite side of the state have reached Howard’s parents?)

The Confederates called off the battle on Sunday evening (although it resumed the next day). That night, it poured down rain, and many thousand wounded soldiers spent the night lying out in the weather, some on the riverbank (as Howard did), others still out on the battlefield.[16]

Robert Murray, a surgeon and Medical Director of the Army of the Ohio, arrived on the scene the next day and wrote thus of the situation:

…I arrived when the second day’s fight (April 7) was half over, and found some five or six thousand wounded to be provided for, with, literally, no accommodations, or comforts, not even the necessaries of life, no bedding, no cooking utensils, or table furniture, not even cups, spoons, or plate, or knives and forks, no vegetables, nor even fresh beef… It was incessantly raining, and the mud was very deep; it was impossible to obtain tents enough to shelter the wounded, or straw for them to lie upon. The battle was raging a mile and a half in front… The…men procured to act as police for the hospital depots, and as nurses, cooks, and attendants, were from the panic-stricken mob who had sought safety on the banks of the river, and, these men, it was impossible to keep at work…[17]

The Union was much more successful on the second day of the battle, Monday, April 7, by which time Buell’s Army of the Ohio had arrived with reinforcements. Ultimately, the Confederate armies retreated, and Union victory was declared.

Although the brutal fight at Shiloh had ended, the battle had really only just begun for Howard Affleck…


[1] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[2] James L. McDonough, Shiloh: In Hell Before Night (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977), 54-58, 84, 91-92; James D. Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War: Shiloh, Sherman, and the Search for Vindication (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2001), 64; T. J. Lindsey, Ohio at Shiloh (Cincinnati: C. J. Krehbiel & Co., 1903), 19.

[3] McDonough, Shiloh, 104-107.

[4] Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 76-78, 87; Lindsey, Ohio at Shiloh, 18.

[5] McDonough, Shiloh, 91.

[6] McDonough, Shiloh, 116, 120.

[7] McDonough, Shiloh, 120.

[8] McDonough, Shiloh, 120-122; Larry J. Daniel, Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 165, 172-173, 188-189; Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 96-103.

[9] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio), 36:6.

[10] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[11] McDonough, Shiloh, 122; Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 98-104.

[12] McDonough, Shiloh, 123, 155, 170-171; Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 104; Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[13] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, BECHS: Mss. A64-275; Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; Samuel Forrer to Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.

[14] Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[15] American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IV (Akron: Werner Co., 1887), 378.

[16] McDonough, Shiloh, 184; Samuel Forrer to Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.

[17] James B. Jones, Jr., ed., Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2005), April 1862, http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-04.pdf: 44.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 1: Howard Affleck (Part A)

Have you ever had the feeling, while you’re reading history, that you’re watching one of those old horror movies, and you can see that monster hiding behind a tree before the character does, and you want to shout at him to “look out!” or even “get out while you still can!” But you can’t. Well, you can…but he’s not going to hear you.

Having learned the story’s end before I learned the beginning, that’s about how I felt reading these words written by 21-year-old Howard G. Affleck, a private in the 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on March 16, 1862:

Our boats all ran down to Pittsburgh this morning and landed at the foot of the high bluff, which here overlooks the river. Pittsburgh is seven or eight miles above Savannah. It is merely a landing, there being only one or two houses to show where the place ought to be…[1]

He’s not talking about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s talking about Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, site of the famous Battle of Shiloh. Savannah also refers to a town in Tennessee. Both towns are located along the banks of the Tennessee River.

Affleck goes on:

…I took a stroll over the field where the ‘battle of Pittsburgh’ was fought on the 1st day of the present month. In this fight the crews of the gun-boats ‘Tyler’ and ‘Lexington’ were engaged with a much larger force of rebels. Our men from their boats forced them to retire; but were beaten back when they landed and attempted to follow them into the woods.[2]

This passage threw me for a loop at first, as I knew that “the” battle at Pittsburg Landing had yet to take place. What was he talking about? Apparently, there was a small skirmish at the landing on March 1, 1862, in which less than 30 people (total, both sides) were killed, wounded, or reported missing.[3] If only that had been the only battle at Pittsburgh Landing…

*****

I first learned about Howard Affleck while processing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (at the Dayton Metro Library)[4], which includes letters between Mary (Howard) Affleck (Howard’s mother) and her sister Sarah (Howard) Forrer. Actually, both women had a son named Howard—which is not surprising, since as it was their maiden name and also a perfectly acceptable name for a man—but it could get confusing!

However, the above quotations come from the collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society in Buffalo, New York, where Howard Affleck’s sister later lived.

*****

Howard Gladstone Affleck was born in 1840 in Bridgeport, Belmont County, Ohio, the elder son of Dr. John Affleck and his wife Mary Howard.

Howard was “a young man of great capacity and promise, having the advantage of the best education the country co’d give, particularly excelling in his Classics, Mathematics, and History.”[5]

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Howard enlisted on April 18, 1861, in the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company B), which was initially organized as a three-month service regiment organized at Columbus. The 15th Ohio saw very little action. He was mustered out of the 15th O.V.I. in August 1861.[6]

A few months later, Howard re-enlisted as a Private, signing up for three years service in the recently formed 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company H, led by Mitchel C. Lilley), which was organized at Worthington and commanded by Colonel Thomas Worthington.[7]

For the first few months of its organization, the 46th Ohio did little of particular interest and appears to have basically remained in camps in Ohio and Kentucky. In February 1862, the 46th Ohio was ordered to Paducah to join Sherman’s Division, and in March, this Division headed to Tennessee to reinforce Grant, who had recently opened up the Tennessee River for Union troops through significant victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.[8]

Early on the morning of March 7, the steamer B. J. Adams departed Paducah carrying the 46th Ohio and ultimately arrived at Pittsburg Landing on the morning of March 16. The various regiments of Sherman’s Division set up camp in the area, with the 46th Ohio’s camp being located near the far right, along the Hamburg-Purdy Road.[9]

The soldiers saw little excitement thenceforth until the morning of Sunday, April 6…


[1] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 16 Mar. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[2] Ibid.

[3] James B. Jones, Jr., ed., Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2005), March 1862, http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-03.pdf: 1-6.

[4] Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

[5] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[6] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “15th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15th_Ohio_Infantry.

[7] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “46th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/46th_Ohio_Infantry; Thomas Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers (Washington?: s. n., 1878?), 25, 29; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IV (Akron: Werner Co., 1887), 378.

[8] James D. Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War: Shiloh, Sherman, and the Search for Vindication (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2001), 64; Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers, 4.

[9] Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 67-75; Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers, 5-18; Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 16 Mar. 1862.