These Men Were Heroes Once

When Oran Perry, former commander of the 69th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, spoke at the seventh reunion held at Winchester, Indiana on August 27, 1891, he reminded everyone “These men were heroes once.”

Oran Perry

“It is a long way back to the muster-out, and but for gatherings like this, the memories of the war would have fast faded out, and its lessons been unlearned.  Each meeting is a revival of patriotism and an object lesson for the young.  A new generation has come upon the stage, and as the veteran soldiers once more rally around the flag, venting an enthusiasm long pent up, greeting each other with friendly shout and affectionate embrace, the young folks look on wonderingly and say, What brings these men together?  What is the bond of union? What is the tie that binds?  Many of them they have known for years in the every day commonplace routine of life, and it is hard for them to realize that these men were heroes once…”

The men who gathered year after year looked older and older, grayer and grayer, but I imagine they could still see each other as the boys they were when they fought together in the Civil War.

The photo below, probably from one of the many reunions the 69th held, is only partially identified.  Some of the men have names, a few remain nameless.  The date and location of the photo are uncertain, but there’s no question that the boys had long since turned into men.

The Boys of the 69th (click to enlarge)

According to one man’s identification (see what was written on the reverse of the photo at the end below), some of the men pictured include:

Joseph Iliff (back row, left)

Served in Company F of the 69th, from August 1862 to the end of the war.  He was a private when he mustered out at Mobile, Alabama on July 5, 1865.  After the war, he opened a restaurant in Richmond, Indiana called “The Oyster Parlour,” which by the 1870s was known as a first-class dining room.  This successively changed into a news depot, tobacco store, china store, and games and art store, all under the name of Iliff Brothers.  Joseph died in 1917.

Alonzo “Lon” Marshall (back row, second from left)

Enlisted in Company D of the 69th in August 1862.  He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky and was paroled.  He was wounded in the arm at the Battle of Thompson’s Hill during Grant’s movement against Vicksburg.  After his injury, he transferred to the Invalid Corps (the Veteran Reserve Corps) and served as a clerk in a hospital in St. Louis.  Some of his correspondence with his family from his time in St. Louis and before is in a collection at the Indiana Historical Society.  He was discharged as a private at the end of the war.

Lafayette “Lafe” Larsh (back row, third from left)

Joined the 69th when it formed in August 1862.  While still a private in Company A, he took sick at Young’s Point, Louisiana during the Vicksburg Campaign and was discharged for disability in May 1863.  He re-enlisted as a sergeant in the 133rd Indiana, a unit that was raised for 100 days service beginning in May 1864.  At the end of that time, he was authorized to raise a company and join the 147th Indiana.  He was still serving as a lieutenant in May 1865.

William Hollopeter (back row, fourth from left)

Served in Company F of the 69th from August 1862 to the end of the war.  He enlisted as a corporal and was discharged on July 5, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama as a first sergeant.

Rufus “Rufe” Newman (back row, fifth from left)

Enlisted as a private in Company A of the 69th on August 1, 1862.  He mustered out as a corporal on July 5, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama.

Lewis Kinsey “L.K.” Harris (front row, left)

Helped raise Company F of the 69th and was elected its captain.  He is my great-great grandfather.  You can read a brief biography of his life and war service on my new blog at Indiana Soldier.  Beginning in March or April 2011, I plan to post weekly on this new blog and trace the military service of L.K. over the next five years as we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Allen Grave (front row, fourth from left)

Began his service as a private in Company B of the 16th Indiana in November 1861.  After his six-month term of service ended, he was discharged.  He re-enlisted in Company F of the 69th in August 1862.  He was wounded twice at the Battle of Thompson’s Hill, but served out his three year commitment and mustered out as a sergeant in July 1865.

Allen Coggeshall (front row, fifth from left)

Enlisted in Company E of the 69th in August 1862.  After serving in many battles with the unit, he was discharged as a private in July 1865.  In 1889, he was living in Altoona, Kansas, but by 1900 he had moved back to Indiana.

George Irwin (front row, sixth from left)

Started as a private in Company E of the 69th in the fall of 1862.  He finished as a corporal and was mustered out with the unit in July 1865.

J. Stewart Bolander (front row, right)

Served as a sergeant in Company F, beginning in August 1862.  He was promoted to first sergeant in the midst of the Vicksburg Campaign in July 1863.  He was wounded in the engagement at Fort Blakely in Mobile in April 1865 and was discharged on June 5.

The back side of the photo above (click to enlarge)

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14 Responses to These Men Were Heroes Once

  1. Julia says:

    Definitely the most adorable former soldier there is one L.K. Harris. He looks like the kind of guy you’d want to have for your great-great-grandfather.

    How did you get all the info about the other guys?

    And how many years are in a sesquentieonoslt? or whatever that word is?

    Look forward to reading the Indiana Soldier blog. Aren’t you the ambitious one for doing two blog while starting a new position and raising two boys and a dog and coping with a fairly crazy wife? 🙂

    • Thanks. And my wife is not crazy–she’s wonderful. I couldn’t write the blog without her support and wouldn’t have started without her encouragement.

      A sesquicentennial is a 150th anniversary. 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the first year of the war (1861). The next five years will be the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. So, my plan is to try to trace L.K.’s involvement week-by-week. We’ll see. It will take a lot of support from my wonderful wife.

      The info on the guys in the photo came from the Directory and Soldiers’ Register of Wayne County, Indiana (1865) by J.C. Power and from These Men Were Heroes Once (2005) by Carolyn Bridge.

  2. bronxboy55 says:

    It seems a little strange to think that just a few decades after the Civil War, the younger generation would have trouble understanding its significance. Here we are, 150 years later, and books and Civil War reenactments go marching on. Fascinating stuff, Kevin. I especially like the Perry quote.

    • It is amazing the capacity we have to forget or ignore important things. I think it’s also human nature to discount our parents and the previous generation. But I bet Perry’s quote has a little hyperbole in it too.

      When we look back, there’s no doubt that the Civil War was a critical turning point in our nation’s history. We don’t always know at the time how significant a moment in history will be.

      I like the Perry quote too. You can see why he was a leader of men.

  3. Priya says:

    I was a witness of a reunion of sorts of old war soldiers. My father and his war ‘buddy’ met together one evening a few months back. They fought together in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

    Before I saw them together, I did wonder about the “What brings these men together? What is the bond of union? What is the tie that binds?” occasionally when I heard them talk over phone. But being in the same room together with them provided me a tiny speck of understanding of what it means to have experienced, and survived, together.

    I wrote in my response to your comment for my post, that I am impressed with your ‘dedication’. The word isn’t sufficient to describe your ardour that puts that of many of us in perspective. Thank you, Kevin.

    • Thanks, Priya.

      I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through war. Most of the people I’ve talked to who have been through war don’t want to talk about it. The only ones they’ll talk to are people who have shared the experience. It must be a powerful thing.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the compliments.

  4. pokedpotato says:

    Really interesting to read about all the men – impressive that you have so much info on them. Pretty cool about your second blog. I will keep up with it in April =)

    There was a whole family of Hollopeters when I used to attend Maranatha. Always makes me wonder if so-and-so is related when I hear an obscure last name.

    • Thanks, Rebecca. I’m hoping that some of the descendants of these men will stumble on the picture through Google. I also hope I can learn about some of the unidentified people in the photo–and maybe even the context of the picture.

      We’ll see how the second blog goes. I’m really excited about it, but as Julia has alluded to, it will be a lot of work in an already busy schedule. Thanks for your interest.

  5. Emery A. Iliff says:

    I also applaud your dedication to “heroes from the past.” I don’t believe there is any direct connection to Joseph Iliff with our family which had roots in New Jersey. My family settled in Michigan, but all Iliffs are distantly related. Kudos to your ancestor in the picture. I served during the Vietnam conflict, was with explosives and we mounted out all services with ammo and explosives, missles, etc.

    I was (my unit) on alert to go to Vietnam for 17 1/2 months, but never went, and only supported the ones that went. After coming back to the “States” I later became a cop and EMT, which I deeply enjoyed.

    I also applaud all veterans from all wars, they all were “heroes.”

    Thanks again, Emery A. Iliff

    • Thanks for commenting. And thank you for your service in the military, as a cop and as an EMT.

      I agree that our veterans deserve all the honor and all the support we can give them!

  6. Alice Engle Seaborne says:

    This picture with its accompanying information was an exciting discovery for me. Joseph Iliff was my father’s uncle. Joseph’s sister, Katherine (Kate) Iliff married William Engle in Richmond, Indiana, and they became my grandparents thru their son, my father, Harry L. Engle. b. in 1870 in Richmond, Indiana

  7. Pingback: It’s a Small World After All | Arbor Familiae

  8. Pingback: It’s a Small World After All « ArborFam

  9. Linda Graves says:

    My research at this time shows that Allen Graves was born May 1, 1738 in East Haddam, CT and died March 6, 1826, Rupert, VT. He is buried in a small cemetery in a field beside a creek on Perkins Rd. in West Pawlet, VT with his wife Mary, son Azariah, granddaughters (Sarah and Mary) and unknowns, as I was unable to read the stones some of which were broken when we was there years ago now. Allen was married first to Jerusha Ackley, second to Elizabeth Allen and third to Ruth Bennett per the book Descendants of John Graves of Concord, MA by John Card. My husband’s line is through his marriage to Elizabeth and that marriage is recorded in the town records in Pawlett, VT.

    The following is taken from the Graves family history titled Descendants of John Graves of Concord, MA and was copied from the website:
    “Allen and his brother Stephen were members of the Fourth Company, under Captain Thomas Hobby of the Third Regiment of Greenwich, CT, in the French and Indian War. Allen served from 3 April to 5 December; Stephen served from 5 April to 5 Dec. 1759. They were also in the expedition against Crown Point and Ticonderoga.[18] Allen was in Captain Johannis Hogeboom’s Co. of Militia with his brother Jonah in 1767. He served in the Rev. War from 1777 to 1780, enlisted in Egremont, MA in May 1777 under Captain Isaac Warren, and was discharged at West Point, NY on 19 May 1780. He was in the battle of the taking of Burgoyne, and was a U.S. pensioner on rolls at Bennington, VT. In Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors, the following description of Allen’s service is found:
    Graves, Allen, Egremont. List of men mustered between Jan. 20, 1777 and June 1, 1778 by Trueman Wheler, Muster Master for Berkshire Co.; term 3 yrs; also, Private 6th Co. Col. John Bailey’s regt.; continental army pay accounts for service from May 20, 1777 to Dec. 31, 1779.; also, (late) Capt. Issac Warren’s 6th Co., Col. Bailey’s regt.; company return dated Valley Forge, Jan. 24, 1778; also Major’s Co. Col. Baily’s regt.; Continental Army pay accounts for service from Jan. 1, 1780 to May 10, 1780; residence Egremont; credited to town of Egremont.
    On December 29, 1819, Allen made a sworn statement of his service before Nathan Burton in Bennington Co. VT. He swore that he took part in the capture of Burgoyne’s army. The purpose of the statement was to establish pension eligibility through military service and personal need. His pension was eight dollars a month.
    He lived for many years in the “Claverack District” from which Hillsdale, Columbia Co., NY was taken off in 1782, and owned and conveyed land there. In the New York census of 1790, Allen lived in Hillsdale Twp., Columbia Co. with the following family: 2 white males 16 years and older; 2 white males under 16 years; and 4 white free females. The Vermont census for 1800 has Allen living in Rupert with the following: 2 white males 16-26 years; 1 male 45 years and older; and 1 white female 45 years and older. Allen spent his last years living with his son Azariah in Rupert, VT. (R‑500, R‑9[19], R‑45, R‑124)”

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