Monday, February 28, 2011

Gone Is The Last Doughboy

He didn't seek the spotlight, but when Frank Buckles outlived every other American who'd served in World War I, he became what his biographer called "the humble patriot" and final torchbearer for the memory of that fading conflict.
Buckles enlisted in World War I at 16 after lying about his age. He died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, nearly a month after his 110th birthday. He had devoted the last years of his life to campaigning for greater recognition for his former comrades, prodding politicians to support a national memorial in Washington and working with friend and family spokesman David DeJonge on a biography.

Lemuel Cook (1759–1866) - Last official veteran of the Revolutionary War.
Hiram Cronk (1800–1905) - US Army; last member of the War of 1812.
James L Allen (1815–1901) - Texan courier at the Alamo.
Albert Woolson (1847–1956) - Last Union Veteran of the Civil War
Pleasant Crump (1847–1951) - Confederate (last verifiable veteran) of the War of Northern Aggression.

My Great-Great Grandfather died in 1954, and at one time was listed as both a Union and Confederate Veteran without ever having served a day as a member of either army.

Born in 1849, he was a surveyors apprentice with a NYC company that had been given the job of creating new maps of our Southern States, and as a civilian, was "captured" in 1861 while traveling through North Carolina* with several other apprentices and their supervisor. The boys, believed to be dupes for their boss whom the Confederates thought was a spy, did little else but step and fetch-it work, were recaptured by Union troops in 1864 while on a work detail, and originally classified by the Yankees as Confederates.

I have little recollection of his passing, but for some time the family thought he might very well have been the last living "veteran" of the War, right up until the New York Journal American printed the obituary for Mr. Woolson.

*To his passing day my Great-Great Grandfather never actually knew which Southern State they were in when captured. Whenever the children asked about their whereabouts...which, knowing kids had to have been at least a dozen times a day, every day...their forever drunken boss would reply "South, sons, evermore south". The General Land Office flipped a coin and decided it had lost its surveyors somewhere between North Carolina and Cuba, finally settling upon North Carolina as the best guesstimate just because.

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