Learning how an ancestor might have had his leg amputated after a train accident at a Civil War Reenactment
Learning what your ancestors experienced can be fun. Matthew was a great patient
Sometimes when putting a family story an obituary can lead to a very interesting story. Such was the case when the following obituary was read.
“James Ives an old soldier of the civil war, died Friday May 11, 1923 about 3 o’clock a.m. at his home where he had resided for the last 50 years, surrounded by his family and nearest neighbors. He was buried in Salem cemetery near his father and mother who had preceded him for many years. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. G. L. Neely of Hallettsville.
Mr. Ives has been confined to his bed for about 5 months from a complication of diseases and having only one leg, had sustained several hard falls, was partially paralyzed in his arms. His illness became serious about a week ago and grew steadily worse until death relieved him of all earthly suffering.
Mr. Ives was born Mar 25, 1844, and reached the ripe old age of 79 years 1 month and 16 days of age. He was born in Lavaca County, about 3 miles from old Petersburg, then the county seat of this county.
The deceased leaves to mourn his death his wife and five children, two sons and three daughters.
Mr. Ives lived on the farm until 1861 then joined the Confederate army, Captain J W Whitfield’s company. While in Mississippi traveling on a train with 700 comrades, had a head on collision and Mr. Ives lost his leg in the wreck. He was married to Mary E Fitch June 25, 1874 raised a large family of eight children, three of which are dead. The living children are all married with families.
Mr. Ives was a fine financier has left plenty to keep the “wolf” from the door of his widow. He was a good provider for his entire family. He leaves a sister, Mrs. Joanna Parr and one half-brother Lum Perry and 8 or 19 grandchildren, numerous friends and near relatives. He was joined to no religious organization, but believed in a supreme being and was a bible reader and very well up on the scriptures.
Sincere sympathy and condolence is extended by the writer and numerous friends to those befit and especially to Mrs. Ivers and their fatherless children whose best fiend on earth is gone.
Old Ranger “ HalletsVille Paper 1923
The rest of the story of James time in the civil war came with a little more research and one could only be impressed with his fortitude and compassion for a cause he believed in.
James H. Ives enlisted in the Confederate cause 8/24/1861 at Halletsville, Lavaca County, TX. He joined Captain John Whitfield’s company of cavalry as a private. From his own personal account of the war it appeared that he spent as much time on the sick lists as he did in battle. His own account written by Old Ranger for the Halletsville Paper in Lavaca Texas on Nov 27 1922 describes his days in the war.
“Was born on rockey Creek on the old Stapp place, about 3 miles from the county site at that time (Petersburg) in Lavaca Co. in 1844. was a cowboy and farmer until I volunteered and joined the army in the spring of 1861. I was only 16 years of age when I joined the Capt. J. W. Whitfield Company. Went with Whitfield up into Arkansas. Where we were joined four companies from Texas, and five companies from Arkansas. Capt. Whitfield was promoted to major; and only a short time after that was promoted to general.
We went from Arkansas to Memphis Tennessee; from here we went to Corrinth, Miss. We stated here nearly all summer, was then put on the sick list and sent to the hospital had a narrow escape of my life but finally pulled through. Sot on the train at Quitman to go to Iuka, Miss; when within a mile of Duck Hill had a head on collision with 700 on train. There were abut 80 killed and there is where I lost my leg. Was sent to Durant hospital and stayed there about four months; and was moved to private house and remained there about one year.
“In 1863 with about $50 in my pocket, given me by Dud Clark, I started for home. I had no way of navigation, only by the kindness the people. One would cary me 15 or 20 miles, then I would be turned over to someone else and go on a days travel. At Cat Fish poind me a man traveling with wagon loaded with paper; he also had a buggy. I managed to get a ride by driving the buggy as far as Jefferson City. Tex. There I got on a government wagon which brought me as far as Gilmore Texas. Stayed here about a week; got on public conveyance to Crockett, Texas from there to Huntsville, Tex. Got public conveyance to Hallettsville.
I have been sick now in bade for about three months. If there are any old comrades that were in the army with me would be glad to hear from them.” Respectfully James Ives.
The train wreck at Duck Hill was described well in the following in the auto-biography by Reverend Daniel Thatcher Lake (1828-1891), an early Texas Methodist Minister, and a just-discharged Confederate soldier from Paterson’s Company, Whitfield’s Legion, who personally experienced the accident.
“After Price’s and Van Dorn’s defeat at Corinth, the sick and stores were removed to Lauderdale Springs, farther south. Here I met with Colonel Whitfield, who at my request, had me discharged from the hospital service. In order to reach my company, which was then camped at Holly Springs, I had to go by way of Meridian and Jackson, then up the Central Mississippi Railroad (Mississippi Central Railroad). While enroute to Holly Springs, I narrowly escaped being crushed to death in a railroad collision, near Duck Hill Station, south of Grenada. The coaches being crowded, I and Mr. Silvey of Red River County, had taken a seat on the platform between two passenger coaches. The train making a short stop at Canton, and without any thought of danger or accident, I proposed to go to the rear and get a seat in another car. When we vacated our position, two others took our places and were later killed in the accident. The up (north-bound) train was behind and was running at fearful rate to reach the station before the down (south-bound) train left. As we came around a considerable curve into straight road in full view of Duck Hill Station, there was a fearful crash, resulting in the destruction of two engines, several cars, and the death of thirty-two men. About forty others were wounded, bruised and mangled…some mortally, some seriously and others only slightly.
We remained at the wreck from 2:30 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. We buried the dead, mostly Arkansas and Texas volunteers, in one long pit grave, wide enough to lay the men crosswise…with only their blankets for coffins. I have been on the battlefield, seen men torn and mangled with ball and shell, but never have I seen such a heartrending scene as this. From that day to this, I have never felt safe on a railroad car.”
In The Memphis Daily Appeal written on Monday Oct 20 1862 the Train accident which took James leg and ended his military career described the accident as one of the most terrible railroad accidents it has ever fallen to our lot to record.”…. The two platform cars in front were crowded, as were the platforms of the passenger coached with soldiers, who were on their way to their regiments and were unable to obtain seats. Nearly all of these were killed or injured. One man was killed by being thrown from a platform car at the rear of the train… The casualties were thirty-five killed and between 40 and 50 wounded. Most of the latter were severely injured and the attending physicians gave it as their opinion that several could not recover. Among the list of casualties listed was J Ives 24 Texas Regiment, seriously
James recuperated in the Durant Hospital before going home. His trip home was not that of a hero returning home from battle but a soldier wounded in the line of duty trying to figure out life as an invalid. His story teaches that even under difficult circumstances we must persist and that there will always be someone to help if we just look for them.
James went on to live a full life with a family, a home, jobs to maintain and an Old Ranger in his hometown respected and loved by those his life touched.