Another facet that makes determining family history difficult when it comes to the Civil War is the fact that this was not a war of the entire south against the north. This was a war of individuals choosing their state versus their personal beliefs and family. Assuming that your family is from the south, ergo they were Confederates is not a valid position.
Much to the surprise of the author who knew that there were a few Yankee relatives that had come from the north after the war, the assumption that all the southern based families fought for the south was quickly dispelled with a little research. Interestingly enough the family stories were never very clear on issues of the war and the Yankees hidden in the history of a family that helped to tame the Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma territory.
Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune newspaper is often attributed with the famous, “Go West, young man, go West” quote. If Greeley was not the first to utter the phrase he was certainly the most likely person to use this idiom to support his advice to Civil War veterans and popularize the saying. His editorials after the war were less often published but his July 13th, 1865 editorial in the Tribune spoke to veterans about the Homestead Act and their ability to settle the public lands offered for growth of the country.
Finding Family History
Each family has an interesting history, at least to their descendants. The internet has offered everyone the opportunity to become a junior genealogist. Sites such as Ancestory.com provide records searches that are easy. State and Federally supported websites provide records of marriages, military service and deaths.
Copies of Civil War services records can be obtained showing enlistments and release of soldiers luck enough to survive. Pension records for the Union forces are easy enough to obtain and sometime books, diaries will provide details on where the soldier and family lived. Searching University websites, reading books and digging through libraries a family history can often be found.
It is surprising that as bitter as the war was and as divided as the country was on the issues of state’s rights and the issue of slavery that the post war period found families blended from both the northern and southern sympathies. In the cases of many families it can be found that neighbors vehemently disagreed on the positions of the governments engaged in war and fought desperately against each other during the war, but post war let their children marry each other. The concept of a Hatfield and McCoy type of relationship was very possible, but for many the wounds and the scars of the war were overcome and new family alliances were stronger than prior political views.
The family genealogist should be prepared to find family secrets, such as Yankees or Rebels in a family that only spoke of one or the other, never both. In searching the story of great-great grandfather that was killed as a spy and...