Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Civil War Veteran!

Photo by terryballard

While blogging last week about my 16 great great grandparents I realized that one of my 2nd great grandfathers in my maternal grandfather's line, of which I haven't researched much, died in 1862 in Fredericksburg.  I'm not a Civil War buff but because my husband is, I remembered visiting the Fredericksburg Battlefield about 15 years ago.  I remembered posing for a family photo in front of the wall in the photo above.  (I also remember being bored to tears but that's another story for a different day)  Could this ancestor of mine actually have died there?  Time to research!

Burnside Bridge, Antietam Battlefield
Photo by Galileo55

And research I did.  I learned that William J. Brooks served as Private, Company G, 3 South Carolina Regiment, CSA.  His service began in July, 1862 and his regiment particpated in the Battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, as it was known in the south) on September 17, 1862.  This was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history with about 23,000 casualties.  I remember visiting this battlefield with a book in hand that compared the location in 1862 with present day.  It was quite humbling to stand on the same land that our ancestors fought on.  As we walked across the Burnside Bridge, we thought about the lives that were lost that day.

Photo by Jackie
Findagrave #8222614
 I've also learned that William J. Brooks did, in fact, die at the battle at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, mid way through the 5 day battle (December 11-15, 1862).  I don't know specifics about his death but I know that he left a wife, Sarah Jane Miller, and four young children, one of which was my great grandmother, Frances Maria Brooks.  William is buried in Dials Cemetery in Laurens County, South Carolina.

I've also learned that after William's death in 1862, Sarah married John Hayward Anderson in 1868 and together they had more children.  At some point after their marriage (I'm still researching), they moved across the country from South Carolina to Fresno. 

There is so much to learn about Sarah.  Two of her great grandfathers were Revolutionary War patriots and her father was a slave owner.  While I know this is a sensitive part of our nation's history, I'm excited to learn more about this.

But the best part about researching William and Sarah is that I found a new cousin!  My new cousin (2nd cousin, once removed) is a descendant of Sarah Miller and John Anderson and we're currently in the process of exchanging information and learning more about our common ancestors.  She not only lives near my childhood home where my mother still lives, but we discovered today that my mother actually attended the wedding of her parents as a young child.  Proof positive how small this world really is!


  1. What a great story! I just discovered a 3rd g-grandfather served in the Civil War. Isn't research fun.

  2. Wow, what a great story. You keep digging now.

  3. I had an ancestor shot right there at the sunken road (your top photo). Somehow he survived and lived a long life in Salem, Massachusetts. Perhaps our ancestors met on the battlefield? Doesn't that thought give you the shivers!

  4. I just found your blog and your title cracked me up!

    I have also been dragged to that battlefield by my husband, but now I am the one who is trying to drag him.