One common theme throughout the Autumn tour was the interest in my great-great-great grandfather Aretas Culver and his hard-luck Civil War story in the Connecticut 16th. I mention the book A Broken Regiment as I tell how I discovered him and his story last Christmas ('14). The book came out last November, and I see now that it has gotten a lot of good reviews. For a regiment whose history was bookmarked by colossal failings at Antietam and Andersonville, such a detailed narrative is apparently rare among Civil War books.
One really interesting subtext that I don't have time to tell on stage. My grandmother Madeleine was close friends with Elizabeth Manross, the wife of a Colonel Manross. His family was wealthy enough to do a lot of philanthropic work in their hometown of Bristol CT, including building a new library across the street from Gram and Gramp's house. What I learned from this book and subsequent research is that the ties between our families run deep. The 16th was led by a Captain Newton Manross who was killed at Antietam, and my 3G-grandfather was among the townsmen who escorted his body home to Bristol.
But a book my cousin gave me last spring about Bristol's history, Bristol Connecticut "In the Olden Time New Cambridge", really got my attention. At the time of its writing (1907), only four families remained in Bristol that had been there during its founding years, 1721-42. The Manross family was one. The Jerome family, ancestors of Aretas Culver, were another. I guess our families have shared over 200 years of history together. My cousin and uncle still live in Bristol, which means that my family and his have been there since the town was founded. I find stuff like that fascinating.
Rest in peace Capt. Manross, and Sgt. Culver. Today you are remembered, and for that I am grateful.
Check out A Broken Regiment at Amazon.com.
If you've not heard "The Road to Appomattox", here it is with my band Andrew McKnight & Beyond Borders from our One Virginia Night CD/DVD set: