I’m a lover of military history. It probably has something to do with the fact I was born 100 years to the day after the American Civil War began. I cut my teeth on Civil War battlefield markers and learned to read by studying them. I could name every kind of Civil War cannon and which side used them.
Lately, I’ve been digging more into the Revolutionary War and reading documents, books and watching TV shows such as “Washington’s Spies” to better understand the time period. It’s a difficult thing to do. When you know the outcome of the situation, it’s easy to sit back and consider the time period in a cold, sterilized environment rather than in the messy, neighbor versus neighbor, nastiness it must have been. The Patriots were committing treason!
The military tombstone is of my 4th great grandfather, Michael France, who was born in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. Several of my 5th great grandfathers served in the Revolutionary War including Michael’s father – John France (Frantz) as well as Major Francis Logan and Capt. William Rogers. 6th great grandfathers Jacob Sheets, and James Trimble both served in Virginia.
The men served, but so did their wives. While they were gone to war, the wives kept the farms going and the family healthy and fed. Many pension records for the Revolutionary War were filed by wives left in their later years to continue the family legacy.
What could it have been like for my ancestors to have lived through this time period? It was no doubt difficult, gut-wrenching and dangerous. It was probably invigorating, uplifting and thrilling also. Isn’t that what all life is like – a roller coaster ride of emotions.
A few months ago I had the privilege of transcribing a Revolutionary War soldier’s pension file for someone who happened to be my 7th great uncle. His wife and children had filed on his behalf after his death. The 44-page document cataloged the sacrifices, pains and heartaches the family had undergone during the war years. It was a photocopy of the handwritten document and I was simply amazed to be thinking of how it stretched over so many years between two distant relatives to tell a tale of commitment, independence, sacrifice and family love.
On this Fourth of July, I hope you find your family story of independence and commitment and learn a little more about your family and the War of Independence. In fact, I’d challenge you to take a family vacation to some Revolutionary War sites or read some books about the time period.