The Civil War: What Does It Mean To You?
Mom died in ’97. When she spoke of my great, great maternal grandfather, Thomas Maskall, a Union Army soldier with the Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI), who died in the Civil War, telling how he died at the Battle of Chickamauga Tennessee – one of the bloodier battles – I just took her at her word.
Having visited the Soldiers & Sailors Monument numerous times before recent renovations, it wasn’t until my visit during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade that my foray into a more accurate and profoundly more compelling side of the story began to unfold.
There it was, only on a shiner, cleaner plaque: Thomas Maskall’s name – 124th Regiment Company A. This time, I asked the NPS employee to search his name on the registry, and discovered it’s misspelled as “Maskal” with one “l” and listed under an alternate “Maskell” on the www.nps.gov site. We learned Thomas Maskall did not die not at Chickamauga, but in some other battle. I cross-referenced his date of death with other sources, including the NPS’ own official website, and found that, too, was incorrect. Great, great grandfather Thomas Maskall actually died at Kennesaw Mountain in the only successful frontal assault the morning of June 27, 1864!
How could Mom and others have been so wrong? The age of the Internet had not peaked, so records were not as good. Still, you really need to be diligent and do your own research. My curiosity was piqued and I began to wonder, was he an infantryman responsible for guarding the weaponry and/or wagons when he was killed? Or was Thomas Maskall one of the few fired upon while advancing on the rebels? Was he an abolitionist, or just plain Union man?
The perfect storm of factors – a combination of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, coinciding with the reopening of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and an insatiable curiosity has found me swept away by Civil War history. Sure, it’s cool that I have this personal connection, but so many of us have been touched by the roughly 620,000 men who died of the 3 million who fought in the Civil War, accounting for a staggering 10 percent of the country’s then population!
Most recently, this gem was gleaned from an article in the Seven Hills Community Newsletter, July-September 2011: Kathy Patterson of the Seven Hills Historical Society describes how George W. Lewis, several decades after the war, wrote about “The Campaigns of the 124th Regiment Company A OVI,” same as my great, great grandfather’s. I’m guessing they were acquainted. In 1894, Lewis wrote about Camp Cleveland, now known as Tremont, where family would take food and other items to soldiers when they would come home on leave.
My ancestor enlisted November 8 or 9, 1863, and died just seven or eight months later. I can only imagine the times they and others in Company A shared.
Also according to Patterson, the OVI lost 210 men (125 of those from disease) during the war. That means 85 others died (78 enlistees and seven officers) in various battles. Knowing Kennesaw Mountain casualties didn’t compare to some of the bigger ones, I deduced that Thomas Maskall likely fought and died in one of the more pivotal battles that some say helped clinch the Atlanta campaign under Sherman’s direction. Goosebumps!
Patterson wrote of several other Seven Hills Union Soldiers, including Christian Lingler, who was in the same 124th Regiment Company A as my Thomas Maskall. He was the grandfather of former Mayor Emil Lingler.
My biggest question is “why?” Why did Thomas Maskall volunteer? He was 42-years-old. I may never know his political beliefs. I fancy him an Abolitionist. Knowing my family, it wouldn’t surprise me. The only sure thing is my rekindled desire to learn more, and to encourage readers to do the same. You never know what you might find! According to Patterson’s article, “Christian Lingler’s story is only one of many in Seven Hills. Don’t let your [s] become like Henry Lutz, [buried in the cemetery on Broadview Road], only a name and dates.” Interestingly, Mr. Lutz (possibly spelled “Lotz”) was born in Independence on July 4 circa 1843, and died around the same time of year 20 years later from Civil War battle wounds in the Cumberland.
Start by talking with family. Visit the nps.gov site, check out the renovated monument downtown, or contact Kathy Patterson at the Seven Hills Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.