Tracking Down a Marine Fifer

Tracking Down a Marine Fifer

I recently had the fun of running down information about a US Marine who had been assigned to the USNA in 1860. Or to be more precise, a marine who had been attached to the USS Plymouth, the naval academy’s school ship for their cruise the summer of that pivotal year. It was a convoluted task, that commenced with only the slimmest of leads.

My jumping off point was the US census for Annapolis for that year. I was scrolling down through the names of the superintendent, the professors and officers, and the midshipmen – and sandwiched between those midshipmen and some US sailors was a short list of seventeen names. All listed as ‘US Marines.’ And all with places of birth listed as ‘Unknown.’ I used their names as the springboard for my online searches.

So, I went through four names –

1- John Rossman age 25

2 – George Rymes age 30

3 – A. E. Clark age 40

4 – R. Hamilton age 37

– before I got a hit with number 5:

5 – L Reinburg age 34

I was using Ancestry.com which has an excellent database of scanned military documents.  My meagre ‘L Reinburg’ search returned a couple pages worth of US Marine muster rolls.

(I like the US Marine muster rolls. With them I have been able to trace the entire service career, month by month, of one of the midshipmen I have been researching – he had switched from the Navy to that branch).

Four of these records outlined Reinburg’s presence on the USS Plymouth, June through September of 1860. And gave me his first name – Louis. I input this new information and the year 1826 (calculated from his age in the census), a mistake as it later turned out.

Two different ‘Louis Reinburgs’ popped up. One born in Saxony, Germany seemed to be the one for whom I was looking. But he was a good deal older, having been born around 1819. The other had been born in Philadelphia, but twenty years younger than he should have been if the 1860 census was correct. It was obvious that they were father and son with the same names. But which was my marine?

I was leaning towards the older Louis until I found naval lists with this native of Saxony listed as a landsman, a naval rank. Since there were marine records for the second Louis in the same years as this navy man, I switched my hunch to the younger Louis.

But how was I to resolve the “age” issue?

A Google search did point to a Louis C. Reinburg who died in 1903, and had a career in the marines. But he had switched to the navy sometime in 1864. This was starting to get more confusing.

The Marine muster rolls proved to hold the key.

I compared all four muster rolls for the USS Plymouth. The names were the same on each one. I then compared them to the names in the census. They were all the same. Or almost all the same. (The census taker as you will see had some issues).

The first five for the USS Plymouth:

John Bauman – Orderly Sergeant, enlisted March 30, 1857 (not Rossman, whoever wrote out the name did not close the bottom of the “B,” wrote an “a” that looked like an “o” and the peaks of his “u’ looked like a double “s.”)

George Byrnes – Corporal, re-enlisted May 20, 1858 (not Rymes, the same issue with the “B”, plus an “r” and an “n” that looked like an “m.”)

Elisha A Clarke – Corporal, re-enlisted June 6, 1858 (not A. E. – perhaps dyslexic?)

Robert Hamilton – Musician, enlisted Feb 23, 1860

Louis Reinburg – Musician, enlisted Aug 29, 1856

The rest of the names on the muster lists are all privates, and match, in order, and almost exactly (save one), the names on the census. Tracing Reinburg back to his enlistment I found him on a muster roll for August 1856 at the Marine Barracks in Washington DC.  But his rank was delineated as “Boy.” (His comrade Robert Hamilton is on the same roll with the same rank).

I had to look up this rank to see what light it might shed on my marine. And I came up with this quote:

“’Boys,’ the lowest rung on the rating and pay scales and one
traditionally reserved for young men under the age of eighteen.”

     This Louis Reinburg was born in 1846, so he was the ripe old age of ten when he enlisted in the marines. Following forward he became a fifer in 1857, and was serving as such on the Plymouth. His fellow marine, Robert Hamilton, was a drummer.

     The two had served together in the same capacities on a cruise in the USS Jamestown between 1858 and 1860, just before their time on the Plymouth. So no doubt they were a team.

     Reinburg took his honorable discharge from the marines in 1864, and then enlisted in the Navy as an Acting Master in the Volunteer Navy. He served the rest of the war and beyond, taking his honorable discharge from that service in 1868 at the age of 22, having given twelve years of his life in service to his country. A service that he continued as a clerk in the Pension Office of the United States.

The Puzzle of Midshipman Morgan Lewis Ogden jr Part 2

The Puzzle of Midshipman Morgan Lewis Ogden Jr. Part 2

A second puzzle related to Midshipman Morgan Lewis Ogden jr. surfaced in the results of one of my Google searches with his name as the subject. The link led me to a page in a book (A Civil War Soldier of Christ and Country by John Rodgers Meigs, edited by Mary A Giunta, and published in 2006 – Univ of IL Press) and the following quote:

“Morgan Ogden I am sorry to tell you is turned away from the Naval School.  Mary says for drunkenness.”

It is from a letter written by Ann Minerva “Nannie” Rodgers Macomb to her nephew John Rodgers Meigs dated 10/7/1859.  And by the dates indicated, the news travelled fairly fast (his dismissal letter was dated 9/23/1859).

The names of Meigs and Macomb I had encountered before. They are famous in the history of the US military. Other midshipmen I have researched have ties to these two families, but their connections were obvious. Why were they writing about Morgan Ogden? What was his connection to these two illustrious family names?

I tried one avenue after another to find the connection. There were no intersections in the ancestors of either Morgan’s parents. And I saw no connection to any Ogdens in the Meigs or Macomb lines. I decided to look sideways at the problem, and finally found it, by performing a genealogical do si do, so to speak.

Morgan’s mother was Eliza Glendy McLaughlin. She had an older brother named John Thomas McLaughlin. I was surprised to learn that he was an US naval officer (and thus possibly an inspiration for Morgan to enter the navy). John entered the navy in 1827, and was in charge of all the naval forces during the Second Seminole War in Florida. His wife, Salvadora, came from another illustrious American military family – the Meades (one of her brothers was George G Meade, the victor of Gettysburg). Salvadora lost her husband John in 1847, remarried in 1852 and was living in New Jersey at the same time that the Ogdens were in New York City. Eliza probably visited her sister-in-law, for many of the Ogdens lived and worked in that state.

Another of Salvadora’s brothers was naval officer Richard Worsam Meade II. He was married to Clara Forsyth Meigs, a cousin to army officer and engineer Montgomery C Meigs. He is the father of the John Rodgers Meigs mentioned above, to whom his aunt was conveying the news about Morgan.

In 1860 the Montgomery C Meigs and the John N Macomb families were living in the same residence in the second ward of Washington DC. Each had married a daughter of senior naval officer, Commodore John Rodgers; Macomb, the Ann Minerva Rodgers mentioned above, and Meigs, her sister, Louisa Rodgers. The house may well have been that of the deceased Commodore, whose widow was then living with her daughters’ families.

Since the Ogdens were also in Washington DC from perhaps as early as 1855, they were probably aware of the Meigs and Macombs, either through the salons of Washington society or the rather roundabout familial connections that I’ve traced above.

The In and Out Career of Midshipman Stephen A McCarty

The In and Out Career of Midshipman Stephen A McCarty

When I started to research the midshipmen of the  ante bellum US Naval Academy, all I had was a list of names from the official register. I input each name into a database and commenced to look them up. I recorded any datum that I came across from a variety of sources. Slowly, bit by bit, I was able to build up a “sketch” for each name.

When it came to Stephen Austin McCarty, the first results were very sketchy. I confirmed that he was born in New York and appointed from the same; that he graduated in May of 1861 (with the war underway, the top three classes went straight into service, Stephen was in 2d); that he was at the battle of Mobile Bay; that he retired Nov 1 1874 and that he died in DC on Dec 23, 1883.

I was hoping to fill in a few more details when I found the academic records for all the midshipmen for November 1860. When I came to McCarty, however, there were no grades, which was strange given the fact that he graduated the following year. So, I simply left a note in that field that read (Why no grades?), and continued on.

I found another list that gave me the date of their entry examinations (academic and physical) and the order that they appeared for those ordeals. I counted back from the 1860-61 school year to those entering the plebe class of 1857-58, but there was no McCarty. Other members of the second class that entered at this time were covered. (Actually my list of names grew, because all those who had failed the exams were also listed, and I added them to the database). So, I checked the prior year (1856-57), which showed him entering the academy on September 25th 1856, indicating that he was held back and repeated his plebe year.

More of the picture came into focus when I located him in the 1850 federal census. It shows him living with his parents in Oswego County NY. [Aside – the region they inhabited was affected weather-wise by its proximity to the Great Lakes, especially in winter, with heavy snowfalls (and still is). He must have loved winter sports, so much so that he ran afoul of the regulations to pursue them, pulling down demerits for “Neglect of duty – skating” and “Breaking a glass in No 61 with a snowball”]. His father was Andrew Zimmerman McCarty, a lawyer and politician (his mother, born Elizabeth Austin, explains the choice of his middle name). In fact, at the time of Stephen’s appointment to the Naval Academy, his father was the New York congressman from the 22nd District, and hence the one who had appointed him.

The big breaks came when I read through the letters of the Superintendent of the Naval Academy. Here I discovered that McCarty was dismissed from the Naval Academy on 4/27/1859. He was one of six so condemned for their involvement in the “Foot Outrage” that transpired in early April. However, Stephen was back in again a month later when he was reinstated on 5/20/1859. It is possible that his father, though no longer a congressman, exerted some influence to get him back in.  The other five were similarly brought back at the same time and put under confining restrictions, all being sent to sea for the summer cruise in the USS Plymouth.

Stephen was only returned a short time when he was on the outs again, this time resigning on Oct 17, 1859. Though I do not know why he resigned, it does explain why McCarty had no grades in November of 1860; he’d been gone a year by that time (the 1860 census showed him back home with his parents in New York, with no occupation noted). So how did he get back into the navy in September of 1861?

And the answer to that looks to be in a round about way – through the army. Stephen’s name pops up on the rolls for company K of the “Irish Rifles,” the 37th Regiment New York Infantry. He enlisted at nearby Pulaski, NY in May of 1861, taking a commission as a first lieutenant a month later. The regiment left the state for Washington DC at the end of June, and went into bivouac at the foot of East Capitol Street. While there it’s my theory that he took the opportunity to drop over to the Navy Department and there petitioned Gideon Welles to rejoin his classmates from the Academy, who were no longer at school, but serving on active duty in the navy.  I located a letter from the academy superintendent Captain George Blake to Navy Secretary Welles that stated he had no objection to McCarty rejoining the service. Blake only recommended that his placement be at the bottom of the class, rather than at the position he held at the time of his resignation.

A similar type sentiment may have acted against McCarty later in his career. He served faithfully and gallantly throughout the Civil War, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander. However, in 1872 when attached to the USS Powhatan, he succumbed to the influence of alcohol and was court martialled. Given a second chance, he slipped again, and resigned rather than be dismissed from the navy. When he petitioned Congress six years later to be reappointed, he explained that he had resigned so that he could reform away from the temptations surrounding life in the navy. Though the Senate Naval Committee voted to promote his request, it failed. One of the telling arguments was the complaint that it would put him ahead of many who came up behind him in the intervening years.

Rebel Treasure twentyfirst post

Rebel Treasure twentyfirst post

EXT. STREETS OF D. C.
Traffic thickens around Morgan’s SUV. Even so, a black pickup has no problem keeping it in sight. When Morgan weaves, they weave; when he turns, they turn.

RILEY (O.S.)
Are we there yet?

They pull into a government building parking lot, and the black pickup glides to a stop at a curb parking space.

INT. HQ OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE – HORATIO’S OFFICE – DAY
HORATIO SLIDELL, looks like someone more at home under the open sky rather than inhabiting the corner office with a view on the Mall of the capital. He peers through a large magnifying glass trained on a map spread open on the table before him. With the cry of “Aha,” he crosses to a standing file and lifts out an USGC map and positions it on top of the other.

His phone rings. He stares at it as if to will it into silence. Reluctantly he picks it up.

HORATIO
Slidell here.
(pause)
Hi, Ma.
(he continues to pour over the map)
No, he’s not here. But he called, he’s on the way.
(pause)
I know he promised and I promised.
(pause)
I’ll get someone right on it.
(he hangs up)
Love you too, Ma.

He marks an X on the USGC map, then crosses to a wall map and affixes a gold dot.

HORATIO (CONT’D)
Gotcha! He picks up a photo.

INSERT
A glaring light illuminates an ancient steam engine sitting on some tracks inside a huge cavern.

BACK TO SCENE
Horatio circles to his desk and the machine gun staccato of his keyboard fills the room. The door opens and the boys enter and instead of turning around Horatio calls over his shoulder:

HORATIO
About time you brought the coffee!

He spins around, sees his brother, et al., and is on his feet like a cat.

HORATIO (CONT’D)
Well, surprise, surprise, little brother! I thought you were another hour out.
(to the duo)
And you must be Ben and Riley.

BEN
Guilty as charged.

Ben sidles over to the window and sits on the ledge. Riley finds a comfortable spot on the corner of the desk, and noticing a model cannon, commences to toy with it.

HORATIO
My brother filled me in on your ordeal. Horrifying.

Riley has the toy cannon now in both hands and is looking down the barrel, when Horatio reaches over and firmly takes it, and places it far away from Riley.

HORATIO (CONT’D)
I’ve made some discreet inquiries, but so far, nothing. It’s like it never happened. The logging company says their operations were closed down. There were no military helicopters in the area; nor any from other government agencies. So—

BEN
(looking out the window)
Excuse me. There’s a black pickup below that has been following us ever since the Smokys.

Morgan joins him at the window to look.

MORGAN
(looking back)
I recognize it too. Horatio steps to the phone.

HORATIO
I’ll call security.

BEN
Don’t bother. We’ll check it out.

Ben and Riley run out of the office. Horatio holds the phone and motions for Morgan to follow. When they are all gone, he hits a speed dial number.

HORATIO
Rance, you’ve been spotted. (A beat) Get back to the truck, and get the hell out of here.
(pause)
Don’t worry about that, Morgan’s keeping tabs. Report in, in an hour, I’ve got another job for you.

[next pt 22]