In the News
1/19/2012, Atlanticville GM News
Gravestone ensures Civil War nurse won’t be forgotten
WEST LONG BRANCH — If you have ever wondered who
places the American flags on the gravestones of fallen war veterans in the Old
First Methodist Cemetery every Memorial Day, then wonder no more.
Michelle Green and Arthur T. Green II, of West Long Branch, took the reins nearly 18 years ago from the local American Legion post and are now officially assigned by the county to do so every year.
In the beginning, however, there was one problem.
“There were no burial records for the Old First Methodist Cemetery of where anyone is [buried]. The county gave us a listing, a computer printout with names and said, ‘Find them,’ ” Arthur Green said.
Without any maps, the couple began going row by row, reading the gravestones, and with much time and effort was able to identify close to 300 names, about 130 more than those on the list. There was one name in particular that stood out: Mary Dunbar.
“She was the mystery,” said Michelle. “She was a Civil War nurse and we knew nothing about her. Her gravestone was legible when we started this, but as time goes on, it’s getting harder and harder to read.”
The Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) and the New Jersey Grand Army of the Republic (NJGAR) erected the white marble stone, which is engraved with the organizations’ initials along with Dunbar’s birth date, Sept. 10, 1815, and date of death, March 4, 1887.
That was all Michelle Green needed to dig a little deeper. Through intensive research through the 1875 Census, the 1880 Census and Dunbar’s 1887 death record, she discovered that the Civil War nurse was a resident of the state for the last 12 years of her life, having moved to Long Branch in 1875 before her death.
Though Dunbar was listed on the Monmouth County Veterans grave registry as a Civil War nurse, the U.S. government kept no official records of the women who served as nurses during that time.
“There were some official women who were Civil War nurses, but they were few and far between. Most of the nursing corps was nongovernment entities,” explained Arthur Green. “They were volunteers in soldiers’ aid societies, sanitary commissions, church groups — women that just got together and cared for the wounded. They were nurses, but they weren’t officially government nurses.”
Because the federal government does not officially recognize Dunbar’s service during war, she is not eligible to receive a replacement marker because technically she is not considered a veteran.
“That’s where I come in,” said Michelle. “We’re doing this whole project because you can’t get a replacement from the government.”
She said the project has been on her mind for a long time, but she decided it was finally time to take action last summer, which marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
“The original marker will be in front, but there will be a companion stone that will be flat in the ground in front of it and will cost about $900,” said Michelle, who runs a Civil War and Soldiers’Aid Society living history group that does presentations in the area.
“The group is a part of the group that he [Arthur] does, Tilghman’s Brigade, and all of the money we raise is going through that nonprofit,” she said.
Michelle said she attributes her passion for the project to her love of history and the couple’s family military background.
“I think we hit every branch of the military with careers and West Point graduates, all of my family. My dad was in the Army and Arthur’s dad was a World War II veteran,” she explained.
Arthur said his family history dates back to before the American Revolution, settling in the Long Branch area around 1680. Not only does the couple share strong military backgrounds in a long line of family history, but they also have collected more than 3,000 artifacts from the Revolutionary War through World War II.
The pair admitted they weren’t aware of what they were getting themselves into when they started this homage 18 years ago. It seems their passion has only grown.
“We get a permit every year from the National Park Service that allows us to go into the national military cemetery, and we decorate the graves with flags for the 78 New Jersey soldiers that are buried in Gettysburg, Pa. We’ve been doing that since 2000. It just keeps snowballing,” said Arthur Green.
“But not many people are going to go out and get a gravestone for someone who’s not even related to you. That, in itself, says a lot.”
Dunbar may not be related to Michelle Green, but they do share membership in the Woman’s Relief Corps, of which Michelle is a new member simply trying to honor one of their fallen. The nation’s fallen.
“I don’t want her to be forgotten,” she said. “It’s the same way I wouldn’t want someone in my family who did something during the Civil War and not be able to recognize them. You just don’t want to let people … die.”
The new Mary Dunbar grave marker is expected to be installed in the spring. Donations may be sent to Tilghman’s Brigade, at 46 Mount Drive, West Long Branch.
Civil War life
re-enacted this weekend in Monroe
Living History Weekend to be held at Dey Farm
MONROE — The '60s will live again this weekend at the Dey Farm.
Not the decade of Vietnam and Woodstock. This is the 1860s, an even more important time in American history. Local historians and demonstrators will bring the Civil War back to life with re-enactments on Saturday and Sunday at the farm, located on Federal Road between Applegarth and Perrineville roads.
Susan Rudy, a member of the township's Historic Preservation Commission, noted that a group of re-enactors were invited to an event last October in the Monroe area. When members of the Civil War unit saw the Dey Farm site, they thought it would be an ideal location for a re-enactment, according to Rudy.
Numerous re-enacting units will be present for the two-day event, according to Bob Bowell, vice president of the 2nd New Jersey Brigade, a Civil War re-enacting unit and nonprofit group. Bowell, a former Monmouth County resident now living in Pennsylvania, is a private in the 7th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, one of several organizations within the 2nd Brigade, the largest complete Civil War unit in the state. Other Union re-enacting units will be involved, as well as Confederate re-enactors the Southern Rifles, 19th Virginia Infantry and others. There will also be representations of sutlers, or period vendors who followed regiments in the field to sell to the soldiers the things they could not receive from the government, he said.
Bowell expects between 100 and 200 participants.
"That is more than could normally be expected for a new event, so we are excited about that," he said. "We hope that the reenactors enjoy this as much as the public and will want to come back next year with additional units as we grow."
New Jersey recently lost several Civil War events that had been held in Monmouth and Mercer counties.
"Our unit is hoping to stir more interest in New Jersey events instead of the trend, which seems to be units going to out-ofstate events," Bowell said.
The Monroe event is free to the public, and features a full schedule of activities each day. The public is welcome in the camp from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Parking with shuttle service will be available Saturday from Oak Tree School.
Each day will have a morning parade, when the troops mass for an inspection and brief drill. Demonstrations will feature firearms, cannons, muskets, bayonet practice, cavalry, as well as food preparation for the soldiers' meals. Visitors can see soldiers preparing for battle and a presentation of a typical small-scale battle between the North and South. After the battle, there will be a medical demonstration with treatment of "wounds." Bowell noted that often units will act out scenes that may have occurred in a typical encampment during the Civil War.
On Sunday, religious ceremonies will be held, and the public is also invited to participate. The 2nd New Jersey includes an ordained Catholic priest who may conduct an 1860s-era Mass. There will also be Protestant worship. Other possible activities may be a fashion show featuring the dresses women of the time wore and explaining the complicated process of dressing and preparing for society; a candlelight tour of the camps with stops along the way to listen to soldiers tell their tales; and other scenarios.
Civilians will demonstrate how they make their own clothes, wash clothes for the soldiers as camp followers, and churn butter for use and sale.
Bowell said the re-enactors welcome walking tours of camps, both North and South, and enjoy answering questions about the Civil War and about re-enacting itself.
"All units welcome anyone having an interest in joining Civil War re-enacting. Each will be happy to explain what is involved in being a part of this hobby," he said. "Those having such an interest will get to see several different units and several different impressions from which to choose. Most re-enactors will tell you that they would do this even if no one from the public came to see it."
Bowell said there are many reasons why people do re-enacting, and it is not to glorify war. Many wish to honor those who actually made these sacrifices to fight for their view of what was right for this country, or to educate the public and themselves about the soldiers' experiences. Another reason is to have fun.
"We represent both old-fashioned patriotism and modern respect for all people who continue to struggle to make this a better country and world to bring up our children," Bowell said.
6/2009, Camp Chase Gazette
NESHAMINY FROM BOTH SIDES: 20th Anniversary AAR
ByBy M.A. Schaffner
Thursday, April 16, at Neshaminy
State Park in Bensalem, PA – just north of Philadelphia – was began their 20th
anniversary civil war reenactment. I forget what battle took place in Bensalem
during the real Civil War, but every year they do something a little different,
generally on a theme taken from the current five year cycle. This year the
organizers chose the battles of Monocacy and Fort Stevens from Jubal Early’s
1864 raid, which I found pretty exciting since I live in Arlington, Virginia,
just across the river from D.C., and I had special plans for the Fort Stevens
scenario. In the meantime, we drove up early because we’d agree to help the
Confederate commander, Bill Rodman, at headquarters – me as AAAG, and Bill W. as
clerk and general sanity check.
We drove into the park and set up our A tent and "office fly" next to Bill Rodman’s wall tent.
As darkness drew closer, the commander of the Confederate army, with the assistance of his quartermaster and other HQ staff, added a special logistical flourish to the weekend by tying pieces of string to a number of light sticks and hanging them in the porta-johns. Anyone who has used the facilities at an event in the dark – or, more to the point, the following morning – will appreciate the practicality of this thoughtful gesture.
At 10 o’clock CS staff had an invitation to come to Federal headquarters for a little soiree. Col. Rodman brought just his immediate staff of Mark, Bill X, and me. When we arrived at US headquarters we found that they, in contrast, had invited everyone who was anyone, and then some. I only mention it because I’m officially a member of the USV, so not only did I not have many other "rebels" to hide behind, but the crowd contained a number of folks in blue who usually find themselves over me in the chain of command. They were quite polite to the rank traitor in their midst, all things considered, but I did find myself unconsciously keeping my back to the buffet table or the musicians.
Since the CVG was "campaigning" – no matter how anomalous that might seem with playground equipment and parking lots within fifty yards of their bivouac – they all had a pretty cold night, and dawn found a plurality huddled in their blankets around their campfires. Speaking of rank inflation, I was one of 23 captains.
With all that, the army had grown well past the advanced registration total, especially if one assumes a 33% pre-event attrition, which I do based on previous experience with Anders-Air events. Not bad, but from my previous night’s view of the union camp we were grievously outnumbered. Still, folks continued to come in. The CVG, which had had about a dozen people at dusk on Friday, totaled more than 40 and counting. Headquarters picked up three more Brady’s: bugler John Teller and privates Andy Scanlan and Dan Lewandowski. John and Bill W. stayed with headquarters while the others fell in with Rodman’s home company, the 4th Texas, who very generously provided us with a CS loaner jacket and a safe, highly skilled outfit to serve with.
We formed up a little after noon to march out to the tactical. The dismounts took the lead, their objective being the river road on the far side of the U.S. camp, where they would both protect our far left and perhaps divert some of the yankee host. I think we pretty much had a small battalion of federals in the pocket here, but only for a time. Soon they received reinforcements and, as the force opposite us doubled and tripled in size, we fell back under considerable pressure. It did not last long after that. I have no idea what happened to the 10th – the 1st & 5th and two companies of the CVG maintained their unit integrity but were pretty much overwhelmed when Colonel Rodman told bugler Teller to sound the cease fire. A third company of the CVG was lost for awhile, or lost to its staff. They had apparently penetrated between several enemy battalions and were playing havoc in their rear.
I thought we were done, but
Colonel Dussinger of the USV very generously invited us to return to the firing
line, so we did, taking a position on the left of the USV and to the right of a
battery. At one point "President Lincoln" appeared, and that good for nothing
Private Schnapps took advantage of his proximity to the POTUS to make several
observations, e.g., "Mr. President! We’d all vote for you, but we live in
the District of Columbia – think you can do something about that?" or "Raise
civil service pay!" or "OK, you don’t have to raise our pay – just make
it in gold, again." He took it well. Lincoln impersonators probably hear
those same cracks all the time.
When the firing ended we quickly marched onto the field to find friends among the CVG casualties lying there, then I gathered up the "battalion" for one final ceremony. I produced from the pocket of my paletot copies of Montgomery Meigs’ "General Order No. 2" and handed one to each of the unit, then made them listen to me read it.
Back in camp, Bill W. and I took our time packing up, savoring conversations with Julio and all the other Brady’s and Bills. The Confederate army proved good citizens, filling in their fire pits and returning unused firewood to the piles. One unit – Tilghman’s Brigade – which had earlier taken it upon themselves to provide us a guard at headquarters – now took the initiative to police the grounds for open pits, loose wood, and trash. That sort of spirit, which expresses itself in a variety of ways across the range of events, makes us proud to be reenactors.
By JESSICA INFANTE • MANAHAWKIN BUREAU • May 8, 2009
"After two lighthouses in Barnegat went into the ocean, they said "George, we need you down here,' " Thomson said.
Meade went on to lead the Union Army in its victory in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, but the area's connections to the "War Between the States" doesn't end there.
Almost two dozen township residents fought in the war, including U.S. Navy Medal of Valor winner John Lawson, who served in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, Thomson said.
Historian Joe Bilby explained to the students that men from the Barnegat Bay area often made excellent Civil War soldiers.
"You had guys who made their living on the water and in the outdoors with guns," he said. "Could you ask for anything better for a soldier?"
Bilby explained that the Mason-Dixon Line, which some would argue could travel through the township if it extended to the ocean instead of making a right-turn down the western edge of Delaware, was arbitrary at the time.
"It's merely a survey line that was drawn back in 1800," he said. "It's got nothing to do with anything political."
On Friday, sophomores and seventh-grade students visited several stations on a high school athletic field, where they heard from living-history presenters about many facets of soldiers' lives during the Civil War, including gear and equipment, recreation, artillery, engineering and marching.
The event is part of a series planned by Barnegat High School's History Club, English teacher Chris Aviles said. On Friday, the group will present a World War II U.S.O.-style show and on June 4, students will learn about the Holocaust and genocide.
"You can only read so much in a book about loading a musket," Aviles said. "It makes it more realistic."
Jim Wacker, a living-history presenter, showed students equipment and rations issued to Confederate soldiers, including their knee-length gray frock coat, hip-length shell jacket, gray kepi, musket rifle and three-sided bayonet.
Shannon DiGrazio, a 12-year-old seventh-grade student, said her Civil War knowledge grew from hearing and seeing the presenters' demonstrations, just in time for her class to start its unit on the war that tore the country in two.
"You actually get to see how complicated it was," she said.
A living historian and Civil War scholar, Arthur Green is Commander of 1st Confederate Battalion Tilghman's Brigade, a Civil War reenactment group. Mr. Green gave his presentation, "What the Boys Wore and Carried," to the Isaac W. K. Handy Chapter 2658 of United Daughters of the Confederacy on April 25 at the Abraham Staats House in South Bound Brook, NJ.
"Except for Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and the armory in Harper's Ferry, the Confederacy really didn't have many factories," Mr. Green said as he went on to describe the cottage industry developed by the Confederacy to produce uniforms. The fabric was cut at a central depot. Then the pieces were shipped out all over the South to groups of women, or sewing circles, who sewed them together. Shirts and socks were produced in the same manner. In addition to clothing, the sewing circles also produced flags for units, and they rolled bandages and picked lint from linen to produce medical bandages.
"Most Southern civilians were involved in the war effort. Women and children worked at arsenals producing ammunition. They were very committed to protecting their homes from invasion" said Green.
On display was an impressive collection of authentic Confederate artifacts along with some high-end reproductions. "I started collecting back when nobody wanted this stuff," said Green, as he lovingly displayed a sweat-stained kepi hat once worn by a Confederate soldier. "Now, you could put a down payment on a house with a Richmond Type III jacket." Authentic items on display included an Enfield rifle, an early Confederate veteran's jacket, a blanket, a canteen, eating utensils, shaving gear, a Bible, and a Southern Cross of Honor, the award given by United Daughters of the Confederacy to Confederate veterans for valor during the war. Reproduction items included an Isaac and Campbell knapsack and an accouterment belt with a cartridge box, cap box, and bayonet scabbard.
"I think it's vital to preserve these artifacts so we can understand our history," said Green. "That's the only way we can truly understand our ancestors and how they lived and died."
The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a nonprofit organization. It is the oldest patriotic organization in the United States. Its objectives are Historical, Educational, Benevolent, Memorial and Patriotic.
Any lady with a Southern heritage who would like to join UDC should contact Rhonda Florian at email@example.com.
4/9/2009, Published by The Star News Group
The 1860s came alive last Sunday at the Allgor-Barkalow Homestead site in Wall, as Civil War enthusiasts from around the state and beyond dressed in Union and Confederate uniforms and showed visitors what life was like during the war, in “A Living History: Civil War Encampment.”
The event was presented by the Old Wall Historical Society.
The annual event started out with one group of living historians, and this year it was up to three groups, two representing the South and one representing the North.
The groups marched, fired muskets, and educated visitors about the issues of the time.
Representing the Union was the 6th New Jersey Past Master, including Spring Lake Heights residents Jim Anderson and Charlie Anderson, Long Branch resident Jeff Arban and Matawan resident Ed Devlin. The group also participates in living history events for other periods, including the Revolutionary War.
They explained to visitors what soldiers carried with them and what they ate, which included meat that was preserved with large amounts of salt.
A common misconception today is that the war was primarily about the preservation of the Union, Mr. Arban said. In fact, there were many reasons for the war, and two of the biggest issues were tariffs and states’ rights, he said.
The 6th New Jersey Past Master displayed a number of items for visitors, including a rifle, a musketoon, and basic supplies used by Civil War soldiers, such as canteens and cups.
“It’s nice to teach people about the history that’s not in the books,” said Jim Anderson, who said “a love of history” is what brings him to living history events.
New Jersey was one of the last states to abolish slavery, he pointed out.
The group Southern Independent Rifles was divided into the 2nd Texas Cavalry and the First Confederate Battalion.
The First Confederate Battalion was on the field practicing formation as the battalions did on non-battle days in the Civil War, said Leonardo resident Jim Hare.
Also among the Southern Independent Rifles were women in 1860s costumes, churning butter and making corn chowder in the field.
Mr. Hare explained that women from nearby towns would sometimes help the troops by cooking and washing laundry.
“For most of us it’s a love of the period,” Mr. Hare said of his group’s participation in the event. It is also an opportunity to “play soldier,” he noted.
One thing that motivates many people to get involved in living history events is to convey things about history that seldom make it into history textbooks.
“You’re never gonna get the Confederate side of the story” in the northeastern United States, Mr. Hare said, explaining his enthusiasm for depicting a Southern soldier. “Not everybody fought over slavery.”
Arthur Green, of West Long Branch, also a member of the Southern Independent Rifles, has been taking part in re-enactments and living history events for two decades. He has ancestors who fought for the Union as well as the Confederacy.
He agreed with Mr. Hare that the negative portrayals of the Confederates that continue today in the North are not the “whole truth.”
To those who say the Confederates were “bad guys” because they rebelled against the established federal government, Mr. Green refers to the Revolutionary War, pointing out, “What did their grandfathers do 80 years prior to that?” American history paints the colonial leaders who fought the British as heroic, he noted, while British history has another take.
Mark Oettinger, of Monroe, N.Y., participates in living history events not only out of historical interest but also to continue the soldier’s life he enjoys. A former staff sergeant in the Army, he was discharged in May 2003 and has participated in the events since then.
Mr. Oettinger said his great-great-grandfather from Germany was drafted to fight for the Union.
During the living history event, the Allgor Barkalow Homestead and Blansingburg Schoolhouse Museum were also open, to show visitors what domestic life and school were like in the 1800s.