The Whittle Family Tree

I received mail from Ruth just before Christmas with Thomas Whittle’s Civil War records1. It is woefully thin and consists of nothing more than the Muster Roll sheets. I have never found any evidence of a claim for pension by Thomas or by his wife Sarah. As it has been several weeks – lets do a quick recap of what we know and what was told in the family story.

Thomas marries Sarah Flayhart and fathers 6 children. Sometime in the early part of the Civil War (our best guess is 1861) he departs Towsontown and in Feb 1862 he is in the 18th Kentucky Infantry. The family believes he is killed in battle somewhere (we already disproved Shiloh), but it is possible he was captured or deserted.2,3,4

First up is the Company Muster-In Roll from 8 Feb 1862, which says that he “Joined for duty and enrolled” Dec 9, 1861 in Falmouth, Ky and Received one months pay from the State of Kentucky. This confirms “early in the late war” as 1861 and places him in Falmouth Kentucky a full two months earlier than we thought.

Company Muster-in Roll for Thomas Whittle

Company Muster-in Roll for Thomas Whittle

There are muster rolls sheets that show he was present for duty from the time of enrollment through Dec 1862. The next item of interest in the Company Muster Roll for Jan & Feb 1863 and at the bottom in the Book Mark section state “Deserted Jany 20/63”

Thomas Whittle Muster Roll Feb 1863

Thomas Whittle Muster Roll Feb 1863

Of greater interest is the List of Deserters sheet from Apl 30, 1863[sic] with the Remarks: “Last heard from Apr 15/63”. Huh? I guess he didn’t die in January when he wasn’t present for duty, as someone heard from him in April 1863. Why didn’t these people keep track of this stuff – where’s the darn reports of who and where????

List of Deserters - Thomas Whittle

List of Deserters - Thomas Whittle

The last item in the file is the April 4, 1865 Co. Muster-out Roll. This occurred in Goldsboro, North Carolina. It basically shows his last pay draw was from Oct 31, 1862 and gives us some solid information. “Deserted Lexington Ky. Jan 20th 1863”.

Company Muster Out Roll for Thomas Whittle

Company Muster Out Roll for Thomas Whittle

In the History of the Kentucky Infantry for the 18th Infantry, the unit was in Lexington Kentucky from December 5 1862 and then moved to Louisville by January 27th. In April, when he was supposedly last heard from, the unit was in Carthage, Tennessee.

Here we are again with more questions:
Who and how did they last hear from him? Did he send a letter to his Company Commander or a buddy? I’m guessing it was a “sent” message as if he had shown up, he would have been disciplined in some way or faced a court martial.

The Union Army felt it was a desertion and there is no evidence of a battle in which he could have been one of the “unknown dead” – so what happened to Thomas Whittle? He didn’t go home, so where did he go? Did he wander west and change his name, as so many did, and start a new life and a new family? Did he desert and head home to see his wife and die enroute? Was there a letter from Capt Littlejohn asking Sarah if she’d seen him as he was listed as a deserter? Was the story about a letter saying he died just a story by Sarah to protect her families reputation?

I’ll leave it to the reader to choose an ending to the story of Thomas Whittle as I don’t have any answers at this time. Hey it’s the Whittle men – what did you expect?

1. Military Records of Thomas Whittle; privately held by Ruth Brooks Wilmington, Delaware.
2. See post dated 12 Dec 2008.
3. See post dated 13 Dec 2008.
4. See post dated 16 Dec 2008.

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The Whittle Family Tree

Part 3 of Doubting Thomas will deal with the departure of Thomas from his home and his enlistment in the Federal Army in Kentucky. This has really been the stumbling block for the story of Thomas with the family. I was greatly interested in the family story regarding Thomas Whittle, and in who might have started the story. Stories like this come down in every family and pinning down where they begin is usually near impossible. The undated news article that I posted Saturday may at least help us narrow down where the story came from. The article (in part) said

“In the early part of the late war he left Towsontown for Pittsburgh and the last heard of him was that he had left that city and had enlisted in a Kentucky regiment of the Federal Army and took part in the battle of Shiloh. A letter afterwards received from his captain stated that he was seen before entering the battle, but that his regiment had met with great loss and it was not known whether Mr. Whittle was killed, captured, or had deserted. As nothing more was ever heard of him there is no doubt that he was among the unknown dead. The deceased [unreadable] three children – E. Dorsey, Joshua T. and Mrs. William H Hoffman. Joshua T. Whittle is the well known ice-cream manufacturer in Glyndon. W.M.R.R.”

Who gave the reporter the story? The death of an older female resident rarely elicits much more then a short paragraph, but this reporter wrote something closer to a story on Thomas. Sarah was gone, so who told the story? The options are her brother, one of her two sons, or her daughter. I am doubtful it was her daughter Annie as she lived in Baltimore at the time. Her brother Edward Flayhart was about 70 when the article was written and had been a pump maker in Towsontown, but this would hardly make him a newsworthy man. Edward Dorsey Whittle had been a Constable in Towsontown1 and Joshua T. Whittle was the former Sheriff of Baltimore County.2 Both men would have been well known in the community and would also have been considered “newsworthy”, so my money is on one or both of the boys.

Why is it important to know who told the story? It’s about level of knowledge, perspective, and distance from the event. When Thomas left “in the early part of the late war”, how old would these people have been and what type of memory would they have of the event? In 1861 Edward Dorsey would have been about 14 and Joshua T. would have been about 5. Edward would have had very clear memories of the departure and becoming the man of the house, while Joshua’s would have been the memories of a child. They are no less valid than Edwards, but a young child’s memories are often based on hearing a story over and over, while an older child’s memories are of the event itself.

I think in this case it would be wise to utilize a time line for Thomas Items in brackets {} are the items from the news story that are unproven.

1820 – Birth of Thomas Whittle in Maryland
1842 – Marriage to Sarah Flayhart
1844 – 1849 Birth of son Andrew Jameson, son Edward Dorsey, daughter Sarah Rebecca
1850 – Census Towsontown Baltimore County
1852 – 1856 Birth of daughter Ann E., death of son Andrew Jameson, birth of son Joshua T.
1856 – Builds a small home in N.E. Towsontown (the stone house Sarah would sell)
1860 – Birth of son Robert
1860 – Census Towsontown
1861 – {Early in war departs for Pittsburgh}
Feb 1862 – Enlists in Kentucky Infantry (from military records in Ruth’s possession)
1862 – {Participated in the Battle of Shiloh}
1863 – Military Records list him as deserted (from military records in Ruth’s possession)

The time of the event now becomes a larger piece of the equation. “In the early part of the late war” is a pretty open time frame. The war began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter 12-13 April 1861 and ended 9 April 1865 at Appomattox, Virginia. What does the early part consist of? In February 1862 the war would have been less than a year old, but 30 years later it could have been seen as the early days of the war.

We will probably never know why Thomas Whittle left Baltimore and wound up in Kentucky. There are loads of reasons you can try to apply to the situation – search for work, land and opportunity away from the war or escape from family obligations. Baltimore was not a fun place to be during the Civil War, and it truly was a city of divided loyalties. Perhaps Thomas was simply going to look for a better place for his family. There are no Whittles in Pittsburgh on the 1860 census, but there are numerous Whittles in Kentucky. Regardless of why he went, we can look at the route he would have taken. The natural travel route in 1861 or 1862 to Kentucky would have been through Pittsburgh, Pensylvania, as the direct route to Kentucky would have been through Virginia, which was controlled by the South. His first major stop would have been where the wagon road ended in Pittsburgh. “… he left Towsontown for Pittsburgh and the last heard of him was that he had left that city …” If you break this down it makes sense that the last heard of him was that he left that city. It would have been the last opportunity to mail a letter prior to his departure for Kentucky. He would have boarded a river boat of some type in Pittsburgh and gone down the Ohio to Kentucky.

February 1862 he enlisted in the Union Army in Kentucky according to the records Ruth received from the National Archives.3 His nephews Samuel and Charles are in the Maryland Regiments – if you were simply going to enlist why would you leave and go all the way to Kentucky to do it? As Arwen pointed out to me when we reviewed the news article – not every man enlisted where he lived. However, the enlistment somehow does not seem like the reason for the trip. Regardless of the reason behind it, there is documentation that a Thomas Whittle of the correct age and place of birth enlisted in the 18th Kentucky Infantry in February 1862 as a private in Company F run by Capt. William H. Littlejohn.
(more…)

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