Too much birthday celebrating, computer issues and life's usual challenges have caused another blog to be delayed till Wednesday at latest, Sorry folks.
Often the curse of my blog of the week covers not one main theme,but several with updates to report on. The blog often also covers other recipients whose cases still await leads or those shelved and awaiting time to be fully pursued.
Take the case of Newfoundland born Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Kersey. This sailor earned a medal for saving a fellow sailor from drowning in 1876.
Over the past several weeks I have brought news of the finding of a grave in Newport, Rhode Island (shown above) and that a new marker had been arranged but an unveiling ceremony has yet to be planned and implemented.
Confirmation, health and other issues seems to be the cause of the hold-ups but hopefully I can soon bring news about when a ceremony to unveil the new marker will take place.
Another case involves a Civil War soldier who was born in Virginia. He would spend about 15 of the last 30 years of life in Ontario Canada before passing away in New York State and being buried there.
His name was Alonzo Wyman and as the last few blogs have noted, was the subject of 2 very short paragraphs in two 1899 US newspapers. They claimed he was awarded a Medal of Honor, a fact that has yet to be supported by anyone of the many standard authorities on the subject.
After finding the grave marker, I shared this with a descendant who in turn passed along the image below of Mr Wyman apparently in 1913 and at age 84. To his right is one of his daughters... Minnie aged 29, and on his left is Dora, aged 32.
Over the past few days, whilst sitting down and trying to decide what to make note of for today, the usual daily research dropped something else into my lap. Of course completely off topic... if you will.
Here is today's tidbit. I was looking for some info on John Turner, one of the Canadian Victoria Cross recipients who's name is memorialized with one of Mountain Peaks in Jasper. But en-route the tidbit came my way about another one of the 19 Canadian VC recipients so honoured.
That 2nd fellow was John Pattison, a VC recipient for bravery at Vimy. Within several weeks he'd be killed in action near Lens, France. That happened 101 years ago early last month.
The falling tidbit told me that Pte Pattison's VC is held at Glenbow Museum in Calgary Alberta. They have quite a few VC's, and also the very Medal of Honor awarded to Alaric Chapin from Civil War days, complete with musket. It is one of only two MOH known to be on public display in Canada so far and a visit should be a must on your to do list. (Pattison's image is at right)
This bridge was officially opened in 1967 and named in Pattison's honour. On its side a plaque tells part of his story.
Here it is...
You will no doubt recognize the upper picture..from our earlier ten dollar bills. In the larger of the three images above, there are 3 titles reading left to right in the middle of the image. Though most difficult to read, the first at left identifies the position of the Pattison Peak.
Recent blogs brought you news that in the spring, 100 years ago, Victoria Rowland Bourke earned his Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Order. Tomorrow marks the 100 year mark of the Bourke VC being announced in the London Gazette.
Tomorrow is also the birthday of Haile Se Lassie, Woody Harrelson, Monica Lewinsky and associate Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy. His recent retirement has done wonders for the Trump naming of another judge to the Supreme Court, and heck... we all needs friends in high places.
This completes today's blog.. #450. In a few days I also celebrate a birthday, somewhat less than 450 though!
See you next week.
Last week's blog used the proximity to the 4th of July, the US National Anthem and a famous Union General to lead up to today's story... that might not be!
Clear as mud... right!
Regarding the 4th and the National Anthem, I noted that lawyer/poet Francis Scott Key had been sent to Fort McHenry at the mouth of the Maryland harbour of Baltimore. His job was to exchange some British prisoners for Americans. Having overheard tactical conversations regarding the next day's battle, the Brits then made him a prisoner for the night.
Over the 25 hour dropping of about 1,500 shells on the fort, Key and others were constantly looking out across the harbour to see if the morning would bring them an American or British victory. The result did not please the Brits.
The morning brought Key the news he wanted. Here we see the monstrous fort's flag at full mast and flaunting the British fleet after the attack that saw them soon sail off for battles elsewhere.
This is the Fort McHenry's War of 1812 flag. It was the largest of its kind and so designed that any nation could identify it from afar. It measured 30 ft high and had 35 stars, 2 ft wide and 15 stripes of same thickness. Note the soldier standing in front of it (lower right) at a later display.
The last blog also told the story of Key's son, a womanizer, who was killed in the street across from the White House by a politician with a dubious character on many fronts. That politician was Danial Sickles, who, like Key also liked the women, no mater their marriage status. But when it came to his wife, a women 17 years his younger, his tolerance was somewhat lessened. He shot and killed Key, not once but three times, for the affair with his wife. A later court found him temporarily insane and thus not guilty.
A few years later the country was at war again... and in the with early stages of Civil War between the States. The once insane Sickles, now a politician, and given the rank of Colonel started off to war. Promotions to Brig. General and Major General soon followed.
It would be at Gettysburg that the Union general would be thought to be either a genius or a scoundrel. In the process of causing many lost lives by ignoring commands re troop deployment, he was shot off his horse probably by a 12 pound cannon ball or shrapnel.
Slipping off his horse he would be hauled by several men, and/or officers to a farm house and within the hour his leg was amputated. Sickles survived the operation and donated his leg to an army hospital museum. It's been said that he would drop in for a visit with it on special occasions.
If memory serves right, I recall a story of Sickles and another Union general who also lost a leg in battle. The two would sometimes go and buy one pair of shoes, and each take one shoe.
Meet a part of General Sickles... and a 12 pound cannonball.
Like so many other Medals of Honor,.. Sickles would be awarded one some 33 years after the battle. There could be many reasons for the delay, including the fact that he may have nominated himself so many years later when seeing so many others do the same thing.
Regardless. 2 years after that, like a flash in the dark a story emerged, to disappear as quickly. It told the reader that in October 1899 a soldier was also awarded the MOH. This apparently for being one of the soldiers who helped to get Sickles to safety after he was shot.
This appeared in a Buffalo NY newspaper on 11 October 1899. On the 12th the following appeared in a Detroit newspaper...
While very vague in details, both clearly say that Mr Wyman was awarded a Medal of Honor, was living in Canada and was involved in the rescue of Sickles during the Battle of Gettysburg. Having a pretty good handle on the Canadian recipients, this article caught my attention. I had never heard of him before.
To begin, if an accurate story, it is one to be covered by my work. And on thought, even if not, covering the story for what it is, should also be covered.
There are quite a few places that the reader can go to determine if someone is or is not a recipient of the MOH. Our Medal of Honor Historical Society of the US, is one. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is another. Their foundation is a third. Find a Grave is another. The net is full of lists though many have wrong, missing or not up to date information.. There are many books on the subject that list who got a medal, when and for what. But sadly many of all the above do not list most of those who got pushed under the bus in the 1916 Purge of which much has been said in this place.
I cannot find any reference to Alonzo P Wyman in any of the above sources and many others to boot. His was not apparently one from the Purge.
The US Parks Service and Fold 3 shed no light on the medal but do give brief info on the individual.
Pension cards, descriptive cards, muster rolls and more still shed no light. A very careful read of almost 135 pages of an Army Pension File from DC, courtesy of a great researcher in the area who has often come to my aid in the last several years, copied every one of those pages for us to both look at... and nothing is found within that talks about any Medal of Honor.
Here is Wyman's Pension Index Card. Sometimes these cards have a MO or MOH stamp or a handwritten note on the card that the soldier, sailor etc was a recipient of the medal. However none of this is on the card.
His personal files show that he was married twice and outlived both wives. Neither applied for any pension re his service, according to the above card. He applied and received a pension for one of the two injuries he sustained. A most serious musket shot to the chest that traveled through his body and out the left side. It and other complications from war conditions resulted in a monthly pension of $2, slowly adjusted to about $30 monthly.
This card also shows service in the 72nd New York Infantry, then the 172 NY Infantry and finally to the Veterans Corps. His Gettysburg service would have been while with the 72nd.
A gem on this card is the stamp at top...DEAD, and footnote at bottom that he died of 4 Feb. 1918 and even where he lived at the time... at Elliottsville NY
Muster rolls often give details about MOH awards. The above 1st roll comes from the unit, and the lower one is from NY State. Neither mentions the MOH. One only mentions one wound , the other no mention of either wound. But dates and places of service are given.
From an internet search of his unit, this document lists engagements from October 1861 till December of 1863. From this you can highlight the times Alonzo was in the 72nd New York, though that task alone does not confirm his attendance in the battle listed. He could have been AWOL, or MIA, in hospital or off on an attachment with another unit or simply sick at camp and not available for battle on any particular date.
But regardless, his pers. file shows he participated in between 5 and 6 major battles which took him from Aug 26 1862 through to December of 1863. He received a minor lip and jaw musket ball wound at Chancellorsville but he was away from the front for just a few days. His major injury as above noted was during the Mine Run Campaign. That wound saw him in hospital for the rest of the war.
Alonzo and wife Jane raised 8 children. Shortly after her death in 1874 he would marry a Mrs. Cook but that union did not last long.
Alonzo took up residence in the Hamilton Ontario area in the mid 1880's and probably remained there till about 1903. During his later years he frequented the US Consulate offices on a very regular basis about pension matters. Often several times a week. Consul files show that officials including the consul himself took great interest in Alonzo and thought very highly of him, as did a dozen or more who gave sworn statements of praise re his war and later life style and habits. But none... including the consul staff mentioned in the Pers file made any references to either Gettysburg or the MOH.
One would think that had such been awarded they would have very well known about it and made reference to the fact as they advocated and articulated their respects for him, his need for increased pension due to worsening health, having a meager existence and unable to work for 5 or more years and that the consul staff alone had known him.
I have located Alonzo's final resting place at the Crawford Cemetery at Salamanca New York. The same family plot is shared with his wife Jane and son Frank.
I have also located an obit, shown below.
Note no notice of Gettysburg service or the Medal of Honor in the obit.
I have also been put in touch with relatives who I understand where to meet on this topic a few days back. I wait further communications from them.
As updates come in I shall pass them along in this space.
cheers till next Sunday,
If we listened closely back on July the 4th, or indeed on most days of the year we would have heard a story through a poem. But we had to actually really pay attention to the words to understand them. How many of us did?
It begins with the famous line... "O say can you see by the dawn's early light..." Each of its 4 stanza's end with the emotional, and powerful ... "O'r the land of the free, and the home of the brave." Words as important today as when penned in 1814. Probably as important as "Four score and seven years ago."
The multi talented poet was Francis Scott Key who made his living as lawyer, and in fact District Attorney for New York. It was during the War of 1812 that he sought and received permission from the President to sail off to Fort McHenry, Baltimore to exchange some prisoners of war.
Under a flag of truce Francis Key sailed into about 15 or 20 Royal Navy ships about to begin a 25 hr bombardment of the American Fort. Taken onboard, he would overhear conversations about attacking strategies to be followed, Thus the Brits held him overnight to prevent their plans being revealed.
The poem he wrote was about the bombardment and anxious awaiting the clearing of the air the following morning to see what flag... Brit or Yank, would be flying " O'r the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Key spent the night on board his ship at lower right. Baltimore lay just off the map at upper left, and its primary protection was afforded by the star shaped massive Fort McHenry at the entrance to its harbour.
Perhaps with too much gusto under their belts, what with the recent burning of the White House, the Brits fired some 2500 shells over 25 hours on the fort. But with the massive rains, many of shell fuses did not ignite. By early morning the Brits moved on and ... "the flag was still there." Months later the war would be at an end.
The choice of Key's penned "land of the free," no doubt spoke of the concept of being free from the British. But as a pro slaver and owner of same, his choice of words ought to raise a few eyebrows.
Key's flag of truce, of sorts could be said to be in the family jeans. Perhaps literally.. hehe
Back in Washington Francis Key's son liked women. Many of them. Some married, some not so. And one of them had the same passions in life. As did her 39 year old husband Daniel who was known for also liking many women, married of not, and prostitute or not.
As time went on, Key's son Phillip and Daniel's 22 yr old wife Teresa became less and less secretive about their affair. Some have it that he carried a pole with a handkerchief on it and waved it about from a little distance away from DC's Lafayette Square where the wife would eventually see it and make her way to meet and greet.
Others say the last straw was him simply walking past Teresa's window and waving his hancky so that they could have their pancky. Trouble however was that it would be Danial and not the wife who saw it. Couple this with the fact that he had by then received a poison pen letter from a third party telling him about the affair. So he grabbed his guns, went outside and shot Phillip Key several times killing him in Lafayette square right across the road from the White House.
Danial was charged with murder. A several day trial ended up with his chief Council, none other than Edward Stanton, arguing successfully that his client was not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. He apparently having lost his mind in grief over what his wife was doing.
It would be the first time in US criminal history that the defense would be successfully argued. Two years later Stanton would serve his country in the Civil War as the country's Secretary of War, and has been often mentioned in this space.
In that same war Daniel would become a Brig General and then Major General, and it is in that capacity that the story that might not be a story is next due up. But it is too late today, so it comes to you next Sunday,
cheers till then,