Saturday, April 8, 2017

Everett Rainey - Gone for a Soldier: Part 5

[Part 5, containing selections from "Everett," Pat Raney's novella about our Great-great grandfather Everett Rainey's Union service in the American Civil War. Part 4 ended with the 2nd Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Nashville.] Listen to When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again HERE

Yuletide of 1864 found Company B and the 91st still encamped near Nashville.  In a community decidedly secessionist, when Union soldiers entered town their reception was anything but cordial.  After so many months spent in the field without amenities, Everett and a few comrades on a day-pass went into town for a hot meal, ignoring rude comments.  The food was good and later they had hot baths at a bathhouse. 

Nashville is on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, Tennessee
View of Nashville

Company B moved southwest along the Tennessee River to Clifton where they garrisoned the town, protecting the waterway from wayward raiders for nearly a month before ordered east with Schofield's Corps. 

Clifton, Wayne County, Tennessee

In late January they boarded a steamer (similar to the one in the top photograph) that took them up through Tennessee and Kentucky, into the Ohio River and then to Cincinnati. [These states now mostly pacified, the Union army wanted most of what was left of the Army of the Ohio in the west quickly transported east to where the fighting was.]

Cincinnati is on the Ohio River in Hamilton County, Ohio

There they boarded a train, crammed into freight cars, thirty men sitting on packs, making themselves as comfortable as possible.

Train of boxcars with soldiers on top and the Federal cavalry watching from the hill beyond.

Fortunately, the trip through Philadelphia and down near Washington City, the nation's capital, took only four days.  When the troops arrived, they were marched onto waiting ships [most likely on the Potomac River that emptied into Chesapeake Bay] for the trip down the coast that would land them near Fort Fisher, North Carolina, which had fallen to federal troops in January, 1865 HERE.  

When the voyage commenced, Everett felt uneasiness in his head and stomach.  He'd survived the war so far, but since his illness had struggled to be present for duty.  Some days he wished he hadn’t joined up; other days he looked forward to the next adventure.  On the sea voyage south in rough water Everett spent time being sick over the rail or curled in a fetal position. 

Everett may have steamed down the coast on a ship like this

Mercifully the trip was brief but he couldn't seem to recover. 

When the units moved into their encampments, Everett was unable to report for duty.  He was sent to the regimental doctor, who found nothing wrong with him.  Not wanting to be labeled a malingerer, he approached his sergeant and explained his difficulty.  He was told to do his best and the company would do what it could for him.
They landed near Fort Fisher, North Carolina, on February 9th, 1865. Almost immediately Company B and the regiment were engaged in the fight - against Confederate Major General Hoke's Sugar Loaf Line, February 11 – 14; Fort Anderson, the 18th and 19th [Schofield commanded 6,000 troops in that attack - a map HERE], and Town Creek the 19th and 20th.  Schofield’s army captured Wilmington on February 22.  Everett took part in this fighting. (A good summary HERE)
Wilmington is in New Hanover County, North Carolina

As the army approached Goldsboro, Company B was placed on reserve, a relief for Everett, whose ailments had debilitated him during battle.  He'd struggled through, weakened and exhausted.
Goldsboro is in Wayne County, North Carolina

The Union army was bringing tremendous pressure against Confederate General Johnston, his army now a shadow of its former self, his men dispirited and ready to surrender. Goldsboro fell on March 21st and the army advanced on Raleigh, occupying the town on April 14th, five days after Lee surrendered his army to General Grant up in Virginia. But Everett and the others didn't yet know of that major victory.
Raleigh is in Wake County, North Carolina

When their officers announced that President Lincoln had been assassinated on the evening of the day they took Raleigh, shock swept through the assembled soldiers; tears coursed down weathered cheeks for the man they'd revered.  Later that day B Company assembled in a stand of trees away from camp and Capt. Bogan read verses from the Bible and they recited the Lord’s Prayer. Their captain said a few words, emphasizing Lincoln's good works and the need for them to persevere to finish the war.
Abraham Lincoln - nearly the last photograph taken

When news of Lee’s surrender did arrive, it buoyed Sherman’s grieving army and soldiers celebrated quietly, knowing their fight wouldn't end until Johnston’s army surrendered.          
Schofield’s divisions pushed north for the next two weeks, taking prisoners, many weary Confederates waiting for them on the roadside.  Finally, at Bennett’s house, Johnston surrendered his forces on April 26th.

Bennett's Farmhouse on left where General Johnston surrendered.
Bennett's Farmhouse is in Durham County, North Carolina

Indiana's entire 91st Regiment spent its postwar days near Raleigh until it moved up to Salisbury on May 3rd.  

Salisbury is the county seat of Rowan County, North Carolina

Because of his good reports of service, Colonel John Mehringer's staff had detached Everett on April 10th, allowing him to spend the remainder of April and all of May doing light duty in the Quartermaster Department of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 23rd Army Corps. [I'm unable to find a photo of Colonel Mehringer, but his gravesite is HERE

 [The 91st Regiment lost a total of 136 men during service; 2 officers and 18 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 2 officers and 114 enlisted men died of disease.]
With the end of hostilities, the several Union armies began the chore of standing down and sending men home.  There was a parade in Washington for Meade’s army and then, later, a parade of Sherman’s troops, its participants mostly regular army veterans. Volunteer soldiers were mustered out where they'd halted and sent home.

Everett’s turn came at Salisbury, North Carolina on June 26th.  Approaching the table, he signed the roster, received his discharge paper and watched the paymaster count out seventy-five dollars.  He'd never seen so much money.
          “Well, private, what are you going to do with that fortune?” asked an officer.
          Everett replied, “Sir, I’m going home and buy a farm.”
          “Good luck to you, young man.”     
          “Thank you, sir."

Everett Rainey's Discharge describes him as 5'9" with gray eyes and "light" hair. Mark Raney, oldest son of Pat Raney, older son of Paul Raney, oldest great-grandson of Everett, retains its possession. Anyone wishing a copy can contact me and I'll email you a scan you can print out and frame if you like.

Everett and scores of blue-clad soldiers - ex-soldiers - boarded trains on rails that had been quickly repaired between Charleston, South Carolina and Washington to facilitate the movement of Union soldiers going north and paroled Confederate soldiers heading south.  Glad the shooting and killing had ended, Everett was ready to go home to work the land and gaze at the green hills of southern Indiana.  Not having to squat in a freight car now, he sat in a windowed coach on hard wooden seats.

Everett would have seen Richmond in ruins as his train passed through

[Before I add Pat's postscript, I want to recount the only anecdote I recall our grandfather Frank Raney telling me about his grandpa Everett. Everett was scouting with a couple of other soldiers and his best friend "Buck" who'd entered the army with him and whose real name I've forgotten - this might have occurred in Georgia - they were out in the open and rebels began shooting at them from the trees. Having no place to shelter, Everett and the others ran for their lives. Everett came to a rail fence and leaped completely over it. He said he never understood how he managed that. As a caveat, Grandpa must have gotten this story from his dad because Everett moved to Missouri before Grandpa was very old.]

Buck and Rail Fence


Everett's sister Serena married William Mason in early December, 1865. 
Photograph of Everett's sister taken years later (found on Perhaps they had a similar family look because our grandfather Frank Raney had Everett's gray eyes noted on his discharge paper and the shape of the head is similar to our grandfather's.

Two weeks later, Everett and Nancy Jane Dougan wed (December 14,1865).  They moved into a small place on a quarter section near Pleasantville (about to be changed to Spurgeon) and began their lives together.
The first baby arrived in late 1866 and was named Sarah.  Everett doted on her and felt that his two ladies made his life complete.  Despite his disabilities, which flared up now and again, Everett could put in a crop and make ends meet. He was helped by Nancy's good sense and her homemaking.  Their first year was good and they looked forward to a long life together.
On December 30, 1868, James Samuel [our great-grandfather] joined the family.  He was a robust baby and thrived.  Their life on the farm was typical of the times; it took a lot of work from dawn ‘til dark, but the four of them made it work.  The two kids grew and began helping as soon as they were able.  There were eggs to gather and animals to feed.  Chubby little James followed Sarah everywhere, getting into everything. In 1872 Cordelia was born.
 On July 4, 1875, Everett hitched his horses to their wagon and the family rode to Princeton where they celebrated Independence Day.  It had been ten years since the war had ended and the community took pride in honoring the living and the dead from that awful time in history of our country.  The family attended a band concert in the park.  Everett proudly wore his army coat and hat. 

Tragedy struck in the mid-1870s [we aren't certain of the date].  Everett was working in the barn with James.  Sarah and Nancy were in the kitchen.  The wood stove was hot to the extent that the top was glowing orange.  It was very cold outside, so the hot kitchen was welcome.  The two were busy making hot chocolate for their men-folk as a surprise.

The sleeve of Sarah’s dress caught fire.  She screamed and ran about the kitchen, setting the curtains on fire.  Nancy rushed to her but the flames were so intense, in a matter of seconds the entire kitchen was afire.  It was the kitchen window glass breaking that alerted Everett in the barn.  By the time he reached the house, it was too late.  Both Nancy and Sarah perished.  The back half of the house was destroyed.  Why the front part didn’t burn is a mystery. Little Cordelia survived.
The mother and daughter were buried in the Log Cabin cemetery south of Spurgeon near Lynnville.  No stone marks their grave and the location has been lost.
Everett, James and Cordelia moved in with Everett's mother Milly for a while. Everett's father James had died before 1870 [Milly appears as head of household in the 1870 census].  His older brothers Absolom and Larkin helped Everett rebuilt the farmhouse.  This helped console Everett and his two remaining children.

Without diminishing the memory of Nancy, Everett began seeing a woman, Polly Anne Early, whose family lived nearby. They were married on March 1, 1877.  They lived at the farm and began to rebuild the life that had been disrupted. Everett suffered emotionally from his loss and physically from the war, making his life  and marriage unhappy, which affected his son James.  James showed little respect for Polly, who made his life miserable in retaliation.  She'd order him to fill her corncob pipe.  On one occasion James filled it with black powder and when Polly lit it, the pipe exploded.  She never ordered James to wait on her again. 

Polly had two miscarriages and the couple despaired of having children.  But then Henry was born in 1882, Rosa on June 4, 1884, Alminta on March 3, 1885, Cora Elizabeth on September 20, 1888, and Rebecca on March 20, 1890.  The first three girls were born on the farm near Spurgeon; Rebecca was born in Scott County, Missouri.

Blodgett is in Scott County, Missouri

James left home early. [It appeared from a much later census he was removed from school after the 2nd grade, which was about the time his mother and sister died; in the 1880 census when he was eleven he was listed as a farm laborer and was unable to write.] and Everett struggled to farm, in Indiana and later in Missouri.  In a claim for a medical disability pension that was twice turned down he stated he never recovered his health from the bout of measles and lung and throat disease contracted when he was stationed at Smithland, Kentucky about January 1863. Stating that he'd seen a doctor yearly since 1868 to the spring of 1890, he signed this claim on the 4th of July 1891. He'd had various treatments, which included pills and patent medicines.  He added that he also had weak and impaired eyesight since his measles and complained of a weak breast and the inability to lay on his left side for the previous ten years.  He could only work half time and was too weak to do more.  He felt his disability was progressive  and so was making a claim to the government.  The only pension he received was small amounts for service, but none for disability.

The family moved to Scott County, Missouri, to a rented farm near Blodgett.  There Everett attempted to bring in a crop and raise his family, but was unsuccessful at farming.  Records show they also were in Sulfur Rock, Arkansas, probably on the misconception that the medicinal qualities of the water would help him recuperate.  This didn’t happen and the family was at Blodgett in 1898.

Everett took to his bed in early winter and continued to fail.  Polly worked out as a housekeeper and cleaning woman.  She earned about a dollar a week.  The oldest girl, Rosa, also was boarded out as a house worker to help the family.
Worn out from his sicknesses, when Everett died on January 26, 1899, no one was with him.  Polly returned to find him dead in his bed.  She bought a coffin from the Blodgett Mercantile from salesman Benjamin Marshall.  Mr. L.L. Grieve and Mr. M.G. CafĂ© buried him in the Blodgett cemetery.  A simple stone with ER carved on it marks the spot.

Everett Rainey's tombstone

Polly’s troubles continued.  She applied for a widow’s pension, but met obstacles wherever she turned.  She was penniless until after 1901, claiming her four girls had no coats or shoes, and that she possessed two featherbeds and an old cookstove.  In the first part, she went to a notary to aid her in the applications.  She left him all the records she had for duplicates to be made.  He misplaced them, leaving her in the lurch.  When she reapplied, she had to sign many affidavits about who she was and who were her children.  She sent to Petersburg, Indiana, the county seat, for a copy of her marriage license.  This all took time because of slow communication.

 Because the children were born at home with no official birth record, each girl had to swear to her birth date and parents. In the end Polly received no compensation for the girls.  She subsisted on the small government pension supplemented by what she earned by her labor.  
 In an interesting footnote to this story, when Laura Smith, our grandmother Mary Raney's sister, died in 1955, Mary coaxed her brother Gus to come to Spokane to live with Frank and her.  He used the spare bedroom, the one with photos of ancestors on the walls.
One day, when Mary and Frank were out shopping, there was a rap on the front door.  Gus opened the door and an old woman pushed her way past him and set down her bag.  She introduced herself as Rebecca Rainey, Everett’s youngest daughter.  She also told Gus she was moving in and would he show her to her room.  Gus, a  soft-spoken man, was surprised and tried to explain to this harsh stranger that the only extra room was the one he occupied.  She insisted he move out as she was staying.
Mary and Frank returned home to be confronted with this fracas.  No amount of reasoning would convince Rebecca that her plan was unworkable.  A few days later in desperation, Frank called the police, who escorted "poor" Rebecca from the house.  No word has been heard from that branch of the family since.
[Thank you, Pat, for sharing Everett's story. We're all proud to be descended from him. I'll close with Ashokan Farewell HERE written for Ken Burns' Civil War series, downloadable on Netflix. If you watched it years ago, watch it again - it will seem more personal.

NOTE: Jay and I are heading for north England to visit Hadrian's Wall, the Lake District, and then Edinburgh, Scotland. When we return, I'll continue up the Raney tree. 

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