Local families touched by Civil War

Editor’s note: The following are a series of stories about local families who, in one way or another, have been touched by the Civil War.

Family Losses
By Jennifer McSpadden

Some of the most tragic Civil War stories involve the families who suffered multiple losses.

There is a house on the corner of Wabash and Sinclair streets in Wabash that has a very sad history. Three brothers from that house, Richard, Charles, and William went to fight in the Civil War in the 101st Indiana Regiment, two in Company F, one in Company A. They never came home. They lie in graves in Tennessee and Georgia, and one in Andersonville.

On September 20, 1863, all three were in the terrible fighting at Chickamauga, Georgia. On that day, 2nd Lieut. Richard Busick was wounded. He lived on for nearly a month before dying of his wounds on October 16. A month later his brother, Pvt. Charles Busick, died at Chattanooga, Tenn., of the wounds he'd suffered there and at Chickamauga. The third brother, Pvt. William Busick, was captured at Chickamauga and taken to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He died of disease there Aug. 10, 1864.

A particularly poignant letter tells of their deaths. Lieutenant John S. Hawkins of the 101st Indiana Regiment wrote to Captain Williams, Chattanooga, Tenn.:

"I feel sorrow to tell you that Charles A. Busick is no more. He was wounded climbing Missidnary Ridge, and died Nov 27th ... I feel sorrow that the last one of Mr. Busick's boys has met with such a misfortune. When we left Wabash, they were three as stout hearty boys as the Co. had. But such things must be in time of War."

William, Richard, and Charles were aged 24, 20, and 18, respectively when they died.

Great-great-great-grandfather fought many battles
By Gabriel Case

As the MSO civil war event is approaching, I thought I would write about one of my ancestors who fought in the Civil War. That man is James Monroe Case, my great-great-great-grandfather. James was born on July 13, 1840 in Greene County Indiana. When James was 18, about the time his father died, his family settled in Onawa, Monona County, Iowa, where subsequently, after the Civil War broke out, he joined the Company One, Fourth Iowa Cavalry. While enlisted, he participated in the battles of Guntown, Lexington, Mine Creek, Selma, Tupelo, White River, Osage, Lock Creek, Oskaloosa, St. Francis River, and Columbus.  During the battle of Selma, James and about 13,500 men attacked the Confederate held town of Selma, Alabama. Though Selma had superior defenses, there were not enough soldiers there to effectively operate them, and under General James Wilson, James and the Union soldiers were able to take the town. I hope that this is been somewhat interesting to read, and I am thankful for the people who fought in the Civil War for what they believed was just. Thank you to our veterans.

A Man of Letters
By Jennifer McSpadden

Stockton C. Campbell, or “Stock” as he called himself, was born in 1838, the son of a bookseller in Rush County, Indiana. Growing up in a literary environment explained his choice of career as newspaper editor. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was editor for the Wabash Plain Dealer. In 1862 he enlisted in the 47th Indiana Regiment and for the next three years wrote frequent letters detailing his adventures and misadventures.

Initially his regiment was based in Helena, Arkansas, a place where Stock and his companions were most unhappy. Stock was inspired to write a poem:

“We are still confined in Helena,

Not where noble Buonaparte died,

But more of a Hell without the 'ena',

For the town by its name is belied.”

Stock and his regiment travelled the length of the Mississippi, and in August 1865 Stock was mustered out in New Orleans. He had been ill, and by the time he embarked on a northbound steamer, he was delirious.

As he lay in his cabin, he imagined that people were planning to kill him, so he jumped overboard. Somehow he stayed afloat and washed up on a small island. After several days some fishermen took him to the mainland. Eventually Stock was taken in by a doctor who nursed him back to health for a week.

News of Stock’s supposed drowning had reached Wabash. His father travelled south and was told the body would probably never be found. Meanwhile Stock had taken a boat north and was back in Wabash the same day as his father.

His obituary had already been published, and the newspaper charged him ten cents a line for it.

He resumed his post as editor at the newspaper until returning to Rush County a year later. He died there in 1875, aged 36.

My house was built by a Civil War soldier
By Jim Wehner

The house on 202 East Third Street, North Manchester, was originally owned by Melitus Andrews. Mr. Andrews never enjoyed the home he so carefully built, as he was killed in the Civil War. More specifically, he died as a P.O.W. in the notorious Confederate prison at Andersonville, Alabama. Conditions there were deplorable, and it is estimated that 30% of its 45,000 prisoners died of disease, dysentery, and malnutrition. (Several Northern P.O.W. prisons were almost as bad, with far less excuse, but judgment usually is a right of the victors, and no Northern prison commandants were prosecuted as war criminals, as was the Andersonville commandant, Capt. Henry Wirz, who was hanged.)

I have the original abstract of title, and can deduce a lot of the property's history from it. I recollect that the property has not changed ownership more than 5 or 6 times since 1863. Many people still refer to it as the Russell Michaels house. Russel Michaels was there apparently since 1939 for 30 or more years. Russell Michaels owned the Standard Oil Dealership located at the site of Mr. Dave's restaurant. We bought place about 1985.

Brothers in arms
By Jennifer McSpadden

Of all the brothers who served and died in the Civil War there were the few fortunate ones who survived. Two such brothers were Frank and William Morse of Wabash. Frank was an artillery captain in the 14th Indiana Battery. William was an infantryman in the 89th Indiana Regiment.

The brothers rarely crossed paths, but in 1865 during the battles for Mobile, Alabama, both were involved in the fighting. William, a prolific letter writer during the war years, mentions his brother in early April, 1865.

“Fort Spanish fell, with considerable artillery, before a charge of our troops … We are all in the finest of spirits. Frank rode past here going out to see the fort. He is well, none of the 14th were killed.”

In Memphis the troops were encamped on a former plantation. “I had a good opportunity of seeing the city,” he wrote, “one of those soft smiling days, such as you seldom experience in the North.”

Frank’s letters were also published in local newspapers. After disastrous losses at Guntown, Mississippi, he reported, “Immediately after the Sturgis disaster at Guntown ... the enemy followed us closely that night and nearly all the next day and I think succeeded in capturing the greater part of our infantry. The 113th, 120th and 108th were almost annihilated as was also our Negro Brigade. William Holloway was killed, and Ike Jay badly wounded in one or both legs and I think captured, as he was barely able to walk."

After the war Frank became head cashier at the First National Bank in Wabash and William was assistant cashier. William tried to make a living as an artist. He is buried in Falls Cemetery, Wabash, next to his first wife. Frank persevered in his banking career. He died in 1925 and is buried near his brother.

Posted on 2017 Oct 10