Monday, September 8, 2014

Proof of GWO's war record and found his war companion's records too!

Washington, DC - National Archives

Today we headed into the crazy busy city of our nation's capital, Washington DC. The plan was to visit the National Archives to look up his civil war record and those of his friends that joined and fought by his side.

I was also hoping to discover if his last job in Cumberland "Clerk for the B&O Railroad" was the role of railway postal clerk. If he had this role, he would have ridden the trains and sorted the mail. After spending time going through a security scan, watching a research training presentation and getting a photo research ID, we were finally able to actually look at the microfilm that listed all Railway Postal Clerks and Routes from 1886 thru 1902. Alas, George W Ordner was NOT on the list.

My theory that he was a railway postal clerk did not pan out. I know he was a "clerk" for the railroad. Now I just have to do more research to figure out what type of clerk he might have been in Cumberland. Perhaps a "Freight Clerk"? maybe....

Next we looked up several civil war records. Luck was with us this time, I discovered 21 pages of information on my g-g-grandfather. I also discovered that he was promoted to Corporal on May 20, 1862 on the year anniversary of his signing up with the company. Thus, proof, that he was actually with the Grafton Guards at the time that Bailey Brown was killed the evening of May 22, 1861. Wow.

Remarks: Promoted from private May 20, 1862.
Joined for duty and enrolled May 20, 1861.
We also discovered that George was assigned to Brigade Headquarters in January 1964 until he mustered out in June. In his diary he describes that he sat as a clerk on several Court Martial's.

The last page in his diary also contained a poem written by a Tom Cartwright. Searching on the soldier's database prior to coming to the National Archives did not turn up a Cartwright in his regiment. Well today, we found the records of a Thomas W Cartwright, who was in Company B of the 5th WV Calvary, later transferring to Company K. He was a teamster for the company--driving the wagons, most likely supplies and gear.

Poem in George W Ordner's Diary (in a different handwriting)

Too Late we meet--too soon we part, 
yes thou art to my soul and then some 
whose love has grown with years, 
smiled with my smile, and
wept with my tears. 
Farewell [______]
absent thou shant seem. The 
vision of some heavenly dreams.
Too bright a child of earth;
to devout; it must be so--
so friend, farewell! George.
- Tom Cartwright

Poetry was very common with those who could read and write and soldiers often sat together reading and sharing poems from their letters. Another poet that my Grandfather often read, was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. I have his poetry book that GWO signed his name in and it is well worn.

George was also somewhat of a poet. When his son, Charlie was graduating grade school, George signed the following in his autograph album:

To consciously maintain and seek out art and poetry amidst the horrors of battle is amazing. He seems to have been a very thoughtful and wise man...

Tomorrow we head out on a road trip to visit several more of the battle fields and places George was during the War of the Rebellion.

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