My Aunt Miriam writes in her notes about George’s enlistment in the Civil War.
The book from Pine River “Logsleds to Snowmobiles” gives this information about George’s service:
“George became a wagoner with Company A, Ninth Volunteer Infantry. Barclay was with General Sherman on his “march through Georgia to the sea.” He was honorably discharged on August 24, 1865.” page 105.
The company is “I” and not “A,” that George served with.
Did my great-grandfather George Angus Barclay “march with Sherman” as my Aunt Miriam states or did he “marched through Georgia to the sea” as the book reference suggests?
Well let’s examine the evidence.
Because I am a curious creature I ordered George’s Civil War Service record from the National Archives (NARA) and waited impatiently for its arrival. I also ordered his Civil War Pension Record but NARA didn’t have it? NARA wrote back to tell me that it was with the Veterans Administration. So of course, I wrote for it immediately. It came – all 3 inches thick of it! The pension file was huge and covered 1892 to 1942.
After studying both the Civil War Service Record and the Civil War Pension files of George A. Barclay I cannot state with certainty that George “marched with Sherman” or ‘marched through Georgia to the sea!” George never mentions it in his pension file. The goal of the pension file application is to get a pension and it is probably better to keep your answers short. The Service Record is more like an attendance record for the soldier.
George writes in his own hand on an affidavit from his pension file:
I have not been in the military or naval service of the United States since August 24th, 1865. That I served as Wagoner in Company I, 9th Minn. Vol. Inft. for the period of 3 years and 9 days and was never in any company.” From G.A. Barclay Civil War Pension File.
We need to understand the history of George T. Sherman’s military career. The History Channel website has this interactive video of the three of the campaigns of Sherman: Sherman’s March.
1. The Atlanta Campaign. It started in the Summer and he took Atlanta on September 7, 1864. It is from Atlanta that Sherman started his march to the sea.
2. The Savannah Campaign started on November 15, 1864 and went for 300 miles. This is the famous “March to the Sea” campaign. He did march across Georgia to Savannah, NC to accomplish this goal. This link to the History Channel gives more on this specific march.
“Sherman’s Army: Sherman had a massive army. Over 60,000 troops, 8000 horses and mules, 2500 wagons. Two 900 foot pontoon bridges to cross the many rivers and streams of Georgia. In some places the army would march by a house or plantation for 2 straight days without a break during daylight hours. The March proceeded in two wings. Each wing was divided into two columns. Often the four columns were on separate roads.”
Wikipedia’s – Sherman’s March to the Sea has a really good explanation and even details the “Opposing forces” which breaks down the various army groups that participated in this march in more detail along with links. They have some maps with details of the campaigns and you can click to make them bigger.
3. The Campaign of the Carolinas. In this campaign Sherman marched north through these two states starting on January 15, 1865.
George T. Sherman had a very long military career even before the beginning of the Civil War. He was involved in many other campaigns. To dig deeper on G. T. Sherman let’s go back to Wikipedia for a biography on Sherman. There is a lot of great information at this particular Wikipedia site but always be sure you check other sources and there are plenty on the web referencing the Civil War.
Scrolling down the page to Civil War Service you see that Sherman was involved with other campaigns prior to the three mentioned above.
1. First Battle Bull Run or First Battle of Manassas. I have had the privilege of visiting this park twice. The park is west of Arlington, Virginia and easy to get to by car. I believe it is haunted. The battle took place on July 21, 1861. So if George mustered in on August 15, 1862 he most definitely was not in this battle. The National Park Services has wonderful websites of the major battlefields of the Civil War:
2. Shiloh is in Tennessee and the battle took place April 6-7, 1862. The National Park Services also has a website for this battlefield:
Again George musters in August 15, 1862 he misses this action as well.
3. Vicksburg, Mississippi Dec 26, 1862 to July 4, 1863 and Chattanooga, Tennessee October and November 1863. Now there might be possibilities in these campaigns? We will see.
Let us review George’s military card service cards in the next post and see if we can find anything in them that will help us figure out this puzzle.
WARNING! Researching and reading about the Civil War can be addicting!
Here are some other websites to explore:
The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA is a wonderful place to visit. I was able to wander this archive back in September of 2008.
Don’t forget Google Images of the Civil War go here
and type in “Civil War” or “Civil War Wagons” and click!
Civil War Home Page
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
You can search for a soldier and more.
The Civil War (PBS)
American Civil War.com
Time Line of the Civil War: