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Civil War Experiences of our Ancestors

May 4, 2012

The Memorial Day celebration that is practiced today has its origins immediately following the Civil War. General John Logan proclaimed May 30, 1868 as a day to decorate the graves of soldiers, Union and Confederate, at Arlington National Cemetery. Here is a good general history of the holiday online. With the nation preparing to celebrate this great remembrance at the end of the month, I thought I would focus on  some stories of our ancestors involved in the Civil War, from both the North and South.

Earlier, I wrote of Moses Woodington’s experiences in the Civil War. This month, the stories will come from the Aderman side of the family via Floy Bates, my great-grandmother and the wife of Carl Aderman. Floy is a descendent of the Blue Family and the stories this month will be from the Blue clan.

William Marshall Blue (, section 6AX in the Blue Family Genealogy website.) was the son of John and Elizabeth Blue and a brother of Martha Blue who was Floy (Bates) Aderman’s great-grandmother. Born in 1821, “Marsh” left his farm and family to sign up to serve in the Civil War with the 114th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry, a regiment from Sangamon, Menard, and Cass counties in Illinois. This regiment organized at Camp Butler, IL and mustered in on September 18, 1862. They served primarily under Generals Grant and Sherman and fought throughout the South.

William Blue’s Regiment was involved in General Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign. They were in the “Tallahatchie March” to Mississippi from November 26-December 12, 1862. After that, they did a variety of tasks–guard duty for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, participating in the Siege of Vicksburg and the assault on that city, and in June of 1864, marched from Tennessee to  northeastern Mississippi near the town of Guntown.

In early June of 1864, the highly skilled Confederate Cavalry under the command of Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest started toward Middle Tennessee to destroy the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. The railroad was transporting supplies and men to the Union’s Maj. Gen. William Sherman in Georgia, whose goal was to bisect the South from Chattanooga to the Atlantic Ocean. Concerned about the possibility of Forrest taking out the railroad, Sherman sent Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis and 8100 troops from Memphis to northern Mississippi, hoping that it would redirect the Confederate troops and keep them from destroying the railroad. The strategy worked and on June 10, 1864, the Battle of Brices Cross Roads occurred.

Over 11,000 soldiers battled that day and, even though the Confederate Cavalry and reinforcements were far out-numbered, they defeated the Union forces. The United States Colored Troops arrived to help the Union forces and as the northern troops retreated, the USCT men provided a series of defensive moves that saved the survivors from likely capture. There were 2610 Union deaths that day–about a third of the northern troops engaged in the battle–and William Marshall Blue was one of them. He left his widow, Adeline, and five children.

From → Aderman/Bates

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