Sunday, April 17, 2011

London And The Civil War

The American Civil War had a huge impact on the city of London, and Southwestern Ontario. It added a huge boost to the economy of the area. The increase in the size of the British garrison funnelled yet more money into the local economy, and forced politicians and civil leaders to look at the state of their local militias.

What often goes missing is the number of local men who fought on both the Confederate(1), and Northern sides in the conflict. Surprising, as I would have thought that genealogists, and historians, would have been hot on their trail. As this is the 150th. Anniversary of the Civil War I will try to outline some of the sources, and a few of the individuals who were veterans.

London had a branch of the Ontario chapter of the Grand Army Of The Republic which lasted from October of 1891 to December 15th., 1911. What documents survived are in the J. J. Tallman Collection at the University of Western Ontario.

Another source is the local newspapers - “The London Advertiser”, and “The London Free Press”. Lastly, and not the least are the local cemeteries. Except for the newest cemeteries, it would be fair to say that every cemetery had at least one burial of a Civil War veteran. When you take into account the region, Civil War veteran burials might well number in the hundreds.

In the City of St. Thomas one veteran Octavius Wallace (1837-5 May, 1862), killed at the battle of Williamsburg, was transported back to St. Thomas. His grave was registered with the Sons of Union Veterans, and is decorated every year with a small American flag.

(1) Very difficult to find those who fought in the Confederate army. Apparently there was a Confederate recruiting office in the city of London . Whether or not this was fact or rumour needs to be ascertained. There were deserters from the Confederate army living in London at this time; but as to whether they remained or went back to their homes after the war is not easy to find out.

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