Memorial Day now marks the beginning of summer. Some of us family history researchers decorate the graves of deceased family members and friends before the barbecue begins. The services we genealogists for hire go to reflect on the efforts of those who have served their country.
The history of the Memorial Day holiday, however, has its roots in the Civil War. At that time, the veterans and their families needed to remember those who had fought and died in the conflict. For family history researchers, there are as many stories as there are tombstones.
With this thought in mind, this RecordClick genealogist is going to tell a little of the story of one Enos Jenkins, the next to youngest brother of my gg-grandmother Margaret Jenkins Teachman.
In my genealogy search, I have found that the Jenkins family lived in Orange County, New York. Enos, born 11 September 1843, was one of fourteen children. With limited resources, life for the family in my genealogical search was simple. The simple life of my family tree members became more difficult when Enos’ father, James, died in September of 1849. Mother Sophia kept the family together for a time. By 1860, Enos was 17, in the employ of Edward King of Orange County, and the issues leading up to the Civil War were becoming vocal.
The situation grew tense with the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and erupted into war with the bombardment of Ft. Sumter, South Carolina in April of 1861. In July 1862, the authority was received to form the 124th Infantry Regiment from Orange County, New York. Enos Jenkins enlisted on 9 August 1862 and was assigned to Company A. At 5’5” tall with fair complexion, Enos, this member of my genealogy search, stated that he was a farmer. The regiment left the state in early September with nearly 1,000 soldiers.
This family history researchers found that the 124th Infantry fought in many of the major battles of the Civil War including Manassas Gap, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania Courthouse, Coal Harbor, Petersburg and Deep Bottom. The first combat that I, the family history researcher, located came at Chancellorsville. To remind the men of their hometown area, Orange County, they were given orange ribbons to wear. These ribbons later helped to identify the wounded and the dead. The orange ribbon became a symbol for which was the basis for the unit ‘s name “Orange Blossoms”.
In my genealogical search, I found Enos’ military record which showed that he spent much of his time as a guard or an orderly. Beginning in August of 1863, he was assigned to duty as a guard at brigade headquarters. In April of 1864, this family history researcher found, he became an orderly at brigade headquarters, serving there until late in the year.
This family history researcher found that on 12 December 1864, Enos and another soldier, Zephaniah Allen, went missing:
“At Petersburg winter quarters were established (for the Orange Blossoms) and before they were settled, orders came to make a raid on the Welden railroad. Before finishing this piece of destruction they (the 124th) had torn up 30 miles of track, twisted the red hot rails around trees and burned the houses as they proceeded. On their return they were horrified to find 25 of their men lying along the road dead, stripped of their clothing. They discovered that Mosby’s Guerillas had passed through that section and committed the crime… While waiting Enos Jenkins started out to purchase molasses for the soldiers (who) had a little meal and with a short ration of molasses they could eat it… After finding the molasses they (Jenkins and Allen) ran into a nest of the enemy… Both men were captured and led into the woods nearby and stripped…” (From Enos’ obituary in the Paterson Evening News.)
Taken by the enemy on Weldon’s Raid, Enos, the military star of my ancestor search, tried to escape but received a sword wound behind an ear. From there:
“The men were taken to Lee’s division. Then they were marched to Petersburg and from that point they were taken to Lee’s headquarters where they were registered and imprisoned in an old tobacco factory. They were then hustled aboard a cattle train and brought to Richmond, Virginia. From Richmond, they were taken to Libby Prison where they remained one week.
Jenkins’ final place of imprisonment was the Pemberton prison where he stayed for two months. He was finally paroled and soon returned to the Union camp in Maryland.” (From Enos’ obituary in Paterson Morning Call.)
According to my genealogy research, both prisons were located in Richmond, Virginia in what were once tobacco factories. During the war, Libby Prison housed officers and was a processing center for Union prisoners. When Enos arrived late in 1864, it functioned as temporary housing for a few Union soldiers. Pemberton Prison was also known as General Hospital No. 15, Crew’s Hospital and Crew and Pemberton Hospital. Crew and Pemberton Hospital was destroyed by fire during the evacuation of Richmond.
By March 1865, the genealogy search shows that Enos was released to the 124th. He received a furlough and traveled to Paterson for a visit my genealogy search in New Jersey shows. When he returned to the fighting, the Orange Blossoms were at Appomattox Courthouse. He was there when General Robert E. Lee surrendered in early April 1865. With the rank of private, Enos mustered out in early June 1865.
Of the almost 1,000 men who enlisted to serve in the Orange Blossoms, 12 officers and 232 enlisted men were lost by wounds or death. At the end of the war, my genealogy search shows, fewer than 140 of the original men remained in the ranks.
From my genealogical search in New Jersey, I found that upon returning to civilian life, my ancestor search records show that Enos settled in Paterson, New Jersey, and married Lydia Tice. He became a butcher and, then later, ran a charcoal business my genealogy research in New Jersey shows. He belonged to three G.A.R. posts in Paterson, New Jersey and then my genealogy search in New Jersey shows that he was the last surviving Paterson G.A.R. veteran when he died in 1941.
At RecordClick, our professional genealogists and family history researchers will find your ancestors who have served and those who have died for our country. The staff of RecordClick wishes you a safe and meaningful Memorial Day as you recall those who have given their last full measure of devotion to this place we call home.