Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Putting a Face to a Name

This past March I confirmed my own family connection to the Civil War when I was contacted by one Katie Baumgarten, who had come across my blog while doing her own genealogical research. Thanks to Katie, I learned that I was related to Pvt. William Baumgarten of Co. K, 102nd Pennsylvania. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you may have seen my earlier posts about William. I've also started using Facebook and Twitter to retrace William's steps 150 years ago to the day. As I've said before, I am not sure of William's exact relationship to my part of the family line, but I think that he was either a cousin or brother of my Great Great Grandfather John Baumgarten.

Katie had earlier sent me a photo of William later in life. In that picture, he is seated with his brother, Reinhard. I still had no clue as to what young William looked like during the Civil War. I could only squint at that one photograph and imagine William many years before.  However, when doing some research on, I checked out Katie's family tree. I was excited to discover the following photograph of William in uniform!:
(Courtesy of Katie Baumgarten)

The photograph contains one oddity -- the label about William's wounding appears incorrect. According to my research, William was wounded at Snicker's Gap (July 18, 1864), Third Winchester (September 19, 1864), and Fisher's Hill (September 22, 1864). At some point in the fall of 1864 he was sent to Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia to recover for several months prior to discharge from service in June 1865.

I informed Katie about the apparent discrepancy. She told me that her grandfather maintained the old photo album containing this picture and that he may have gotten his facts wrong. In any event, I hope to figure out why the photograph states a wounding date of November 24, 1864.

Until earlier this year, I had no confirmation of my personal tie to the Civil War. And now, after only a few months, I am fortunate enough to have a wartime portrait of my ancestor. I can actually see William as I read about the movements of the 102nd Pennsylvania. Needless to say, a copy of the photograph will soon occupy a cherished place on my office wall.

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