05 July 2011

Civil War Profile: Daniel E Rich

     The following is a profile of one of my Civil War ancestors. What was their life like before, during and after the war? Where did their sympathies lie? How did they feel about the war?


     In 1860, Daniel E Rich was living in Emanuel County, Georgia with his wife, Unicy, and three children: Marthin V, Emily and Andrew J (I think Emily was not their child, but perhaps a grandchild). The couple had a number of other children who had already left home, including my 4x-Great Grandmother, Demaris.

     Daniel's occupation was listed as a blacksmith with real estate valued at $600 and personal estate valued at $1,375. I'm sure that Daniel was also running a farm of some kind. Perhaps only large enough to feed his family or perhaps larger.

      In 1861, Daniel was 62, too old for service in the war. His sons, Stephen and Andrew, however, weren't. They both enlisted in the Georgia 54th Infantry Regiment, Company C.

CC License: Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW
     It appears that G-G-G-G-G Grandfather Rich stayed home during the war. And it was just his luck that he was right in the way of Sherman's March To The Sea. As the map here shows, Sherman and his fellow Union men marched right through Swainsboro, GA and the rest of the County.

     Sherman's march could be devastating for those in his path. In fact, Daniel filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission to report his own losses. I wasn't previously familiar with the Southern Claims Commission, but after reading up on it, I realized that I might have a Northern Loyalist in my very Southern family tree.

     Daniel filed a report on 18 Aug 1871 for compensation of goods "taken" by the Union Army in September of 1964 by General Sherman. He reported that hogs, cows, meat and crops were taken, at a value of $256.50. In order to receive compensation, Daniel would need to prove that he always supported the Union and never once offered support to the Confederacy. He would do this by producing witnesses, which he included in his claim.

    Daniel signed his name to this document, declaring his past, present and future loyalty to the Union. But I have to wonder: how honest is this? How easy would it be to claim this and get your friendly neighbors to back you by witnessing their claim? Seeing that the claim was denied, I wonder at it even more.

     Or, was Daniel truly loyal? Yes, his sons fought for the South, but many families were divided by the Civil War. I'll likely never really know, but it's very possible he was a Northern Loyalist.

     And then, on 15 Aug 1864, Daniel's wife, Unicy, died (according to a listing on FindAGrave). Daniel was going to spend the end of the war as a single, elderly man, likely looking after the families of his soldiering sons.

     In 1870, Daniel was living alone, but next door to his oldest son, Joseph/Job. Only two listings down is his son Andrew. His land is still valued at $600, but his personal property is worth only $225. His occupation is "works in farm." At his age I'm guessing he's not doing a whole lot manual labor. Perhaps grandsons from next door help him run things?

     According to his headstone, Daniel lived until 1886 and the age of 87. I like to image that he spent the rest of his years surrounded by his very large family. I also wonder how an avowed Northern Loyalist spent his remaining years in a state that would come to vilify "those damn Yankees" and romanticize their soldiers in "The War of Northern Aggression."

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