Friday, April 16, 2010

From Boston, Massachusetts to Selma, Alabama and the Confederate Army

The Family Curator  continues to provide some interesting blogging prompts in her Blogger's April 2010 Almanac.  Prompts for the third week, April 11 through the 17th,  are related to the Civil War and how it affected our ancestors. 

Now right from the start I want to make clear I don't really do alot of research into the military activities of my ancestors.  It's not something that holds alot of interest for me.  Don't get me wrong, I am proud of all my veteran ancestors but the military details... not so much.  But Joshua Atwood Tilton, the subject of this post is a puzzle to me.  He was indeed a veteran of the Civil War, enlisting  less than thirty days after the shots fired at Ft. Sumter.  What has me so puzzled is why he enlisted in the Confederate Army. 

Joshua Atwood Tilton was born Feb 1, 1835 in Suffolk county, Massachusettes.  He comes from a long line of New Englanders, both on his father's side, the Tiltons, and his mother's side, the Atwoods.  These two families were some of the early founders of Massachusetts.  Even as late as 1850 we find Joshua living with his parents and siblings in Boston.  So why was he in Selma, Alabama in 1860?  I don't find other family in the area so my guess:  because of his occupation.  He worked for the railroad.  I surmise he had an employment opportunity and being a young, single man he took it.  But that still doesn't explain why he would enlist in the Confederacy.  I don't imagine I will ever know the answer to that question.

Joshua enlisted on May 10, 1862 in Selma, Alabama in Co. D, 8th Reg't of the Alabama Infantry.  I have found part of his medical service record listing him as a private.  It describes the gunshot wound and his subsequent medical discharge.  Just two days after the battle of Antietam he was admitted to the hospital in Richmond, Virginia, Sept 19, 1862 to be treated for a gunshot wound to the right arm.  Although I do not have his full service record I am making the assumption he participated in that battle and was one of the thousands of casualties.

Joshua was discharged on Oct 23, 1862 with the physician stating he was incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of "the effects of a gunshot wound in the lower third of the right arm.  The flexor and extensor muscles are so much injured that it will be a long time before he will recover the use of it.  I further declare my belief that said soldier is unfit for duty..".  So thankfully, Joshua escaped the further ravages of the Civil War but whether or not he ever recovered the use of his right arm is unknown.

I do know he remained in the South.  He married, probably in New Orleans, about 1865 to Lydia Marie Graham and his first child was born in 1867.  By 1880 he and his family were living in Wilkinson county, Mississippi.  Again I believe his choice of residence was influenced by his occupation; he continued to be a railroad engineer on the line from Centreville, Mississippi to New Orleans, until his retirement sometime in the late 1890's.


Family Curator said...

What a great family mystery, Jo. Maybe one day you will discover more info about your ancestor's motives. It sounds as tho he became a Southerner by choice, not birth.

Thanks for using the Almanac prompts; I'm glad to know you like them!


Heather Rojo said...

There's a fellow in my family tree who was also born in the Boston area, and his father was an abolitionist. He joined the Georgia Cavalry and wrote patriotic hymns for the confederacy. His name was James Lord Pierpont, and he was most famous for writing "Jingle Bells", after the sleigh races in his native Medford, Massachusetts.

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Hi Jo! I'm leaving a comment that doesn't pertain to your post, with my apologies, but when I saw your last name, ARNSPIGER, I thought I just had to contact you.

Did some of your family come to Sumner County, Kansas?

I've been transcribing some copies of letters from John Arnspiger to his wife Mary Arnspiger who was living in Jersey County, Jerseyville, Illinois. Their son, Henry, came to Kansas and had land and farmed here.

I plan to post them when I get all three of them transcribed (writing is difficult to read and some so faded I'm going to have to enhance again w/photocopier to have any chance to read it.)

Let me know if they are family!


Unknown said...

Seeing this a little late but my late father was Joshua Atwood Tilton iV. His father was born in Centerville and his grandfather fought for the confederacy in Alabama. I may be able to fill in some of the blanks for you as my aunt Nancy (dad's older sister) is still living.

Nancy Tilton Hand