Having grown up in the Deep South, I wasn’t all that shocked to find that 7 of my 8 Civil War ancestors fought for the South. In fact, I was more shocked to find that my one ancestor, who supposedly also was a slave trader, fought for the North.
This past week, I have been looking for my ancestors who applied for Pensions for the War of 1812. One thing I have noticed is they had to prove they had been loyal during the Civil War, since the Pensions were applied for in the 1870s after the war. Which got me to thinking.
Let’s assume that my War of 1812 ancestor’s father was living in what is now the US during the Revolutionary period. Many of them were. They would have been old enough to serve, and would have had to chosen which side to serve on. Were they going to remain loyal servants of the King, or were they going to be loyal to this new country they were creating? So far, the ancestors I have found that have served, were Patriots. They chose loyalty to their new country. Mainly I think the choice was made for them, as they were Overmountain men, and to protect their homes from the King and from the Indians that lived around them, they had to fight to protect their family. Already living outside the King’s territory meant they had pretty much already made their choice.
Then one generation later, their sons, would have served their country in the War of 1812. So far I have found relatives of my ancestors, but no directs. Found several of Hubby’s direct ancestors though.
By 1870, most of the men who had been old enough to serve in the War of 1812, would have been dead. If their widow as still alive, she would have qualified for his pension. Found one man filing on behalf of his father’s heirs. The ones that were still alive had to prove service, wives had to prove they had married and they had to prove they had remained loyal during the Civil War period.
Now that leads me to my direct ancestors, many of whom served in the Confederacy. They fought for State’s Rights and their ability to make their own choices, and not have the Federal Government make those choices. You know, many of the same things their grandfathers and great grandfathers had fought for during the Revolutionary War. They felt they were being loyal to their state when Tennessee left the Union in June 1861.
Now fast forward about 18 years, and their elderly parents are applying for a pension for Dad’s war service. And Dad has to prove he remained loyal to the United States, when three of his sons fought for the Confederacy? These were the same men, whose father’s had rebelled against the King and were war heroes. Now their sons had rebelled and they were possibly going to lose their pensions because of it. It all goes down to who the victors are as to how we define loyalty…..