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Posts Tagged ‘soldier’

Vietnam Memorial

When you mention the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C., most people think of the Wall. There was a lot of controversy concerning that memorial, so let me state that while I’m not showing it here, it is not because I dislike it. The Wall is powerful. But I’ve always been drawn to more literal depictions of things, rather than abstracts, so I wanted to take a moment to look at a second portion of the memorial – the statues of the three solders that stand near the etched roll of names.

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Lewis (1)

Lewis (2)

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Lynch

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100_2269

Melvin Larimer’s stone identifies him as having been an artificer in the Spanish-American War. I might have seen other stones with the designation before, but I hadn’t noticed. On Fort Sumter’s website, I found “artificer” in their FAQ section. Paraphrasing, an artificer would have been an enlisted artillery man with a specialized skill that allowed him to supervise or organize that kind of work.

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100_2235

Sacred to the memory of Alexander Doull, Colonel of Artillery in the Army of the Potomac, previously lieutenant in the Royal British Artillery

The inscription on Colonel Doull’s tombstone reminds us of a fact about the United States Civil War that be forgotten – the important role that immigrants played in the armies. About 25% of the Union army was estimated to be foreign-born immigrants. With the rate of immigration in the 19th century, we also have to assume that there was a significant slice of the United States-born soldiers who had parents or grandparents who were immigrants.

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100_2232

Samuel Pickands joined the 1st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Artillery, on February 1, 1862. By the end of March, he was dead, most likely of disease. According to the Ohio Roster Commission’s Offical Roster of soldiers, Pickands died on March 25 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The tombstone identifies his place of death as Virginia rather than West Virginia. As West Virginia did not enter the Union until June 20, 1863, Pickand and his family would have known the state where he died as Virginia. Even if they were aware of the movement for West Virginia to become its own state, the convention to create a state constitution did not present a document for ratification until mid-February, and the ratification occurred at least a month after Pickands’ death.

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100_2211

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100_0399

You’ve probably never heard of this particular Charles Dickinson, but it’s likely that you are familiar with his wife. In 1853, Dickinson was a musician in a traveling variety show, and he married one of the actresses, born Harriet Wood, but known to history as Pauline Cushman. Dickinson and his bride eventually returned to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, where he found work as a music teacher. The couple lived with Dickinson’s parents and had two children, Charlie and Ida. At the end of 1861, Dickinson enlisted as a musician and marched off to the Civil War. In less than a year, he was discharged home in extremely poor health. He expired almost exactly a year after his enlistment. Cushman left her children with her husband’s family and resumed her acting career. Not long after, the opportunity presented itself to become a spy for the Union Army. Once she was discovered to be a spy and narrowly escaped execution, Cushman continued to travel the lecture circuit talking about her exploits. She was not present when either of her children by Dickinson died. The rift between Cushman and her first husband’s family, who resented what they considered her abandonment of her maternal duties, never healed.

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100_0442

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Bickham (3)

1st Lt. Charles Goodwin Bickham received the Medal of Honor for “cross[ing] a fire-swept field, in close range of the enemy, and [bringing] a wounded soldier to a place of shelter” during the Philippine-American War.

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