“Grandpap”, General Ewell, cousin George, and a bigger story

Posted on August 24, 2013 by

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Not long ago, while perusing the papers of Confederate civilians in Fold3, I dropped in the names of some relatives in the Valley, just to see what I might find. For starters, I found that my third great grandfather, William M. Dorraugh, was of help to Gen. Richard S. Ewell. It was a small thing, really, but… in May, 1862… while Ewell remained behind, in Page County, and Stonewall Jackson moved toward Front Royal, Ewell needed to have supplies moved from Luray, along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River (to Jackson’s body of troops at Front Royal, perhaps?). How my third great grandfather got involved, I haven’t a clue. Still, he did… providing three small boats to transport supplies…

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Is this an indication that he truly supported the Confederacy? Hard to say, really. This is the only document in the civilian files. That said, however, I have a hunch he sided with the Confederacy. Not that it is an indication (not at all, considering how many father-son combinations I have seen who were at odds, when it boiled-down to loyalties) of loyalty, but he did have two sons and two sons-in-law in the service of Virginia. Additionally, he was (as I discovered in the papers of Joseph F. Milton and Hiram P. Strole) a notary in the county… and being in wartime… any office of authority (if I remember correctly) required an oath of loyalty.

So, at about the same time I found this, I also discovered something else. William’s wife, Sarah Ann Ham Dorraugh, was a daughter of Joseph H. and Ann Grace Smoot Ham. I actually knew that part already, but what I didn’t know was… in addition to Sarah (and a brother Elijah), Joseph and Ann also had (at least) two other sons… Samuel and Vernon. Like Sarah, Elijah Ham remained in the Shenandoah Valley and had a son who served in the Confederate army. Yet, Samuel and Vernon did not remain, and, before 1840, moved to Indiana. They too had sons, but several of their sons served in blue (and one of them was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, before the family moved to Indiana). Fortunately, the first cousins didn’t come together in battle, as the Indiana branch served primarily in the west.

What I find interesting is that this is yet another one of those examples in which we find that those serving in blue weren’t so unfamiliar with the “ways and understanding of the South”.  Indeed, with only one generation between father and son, I can’t imagine that they were so detached. Like I’ve said in posts before… with the fathers AND mothers being from Virginia, surely they passed many of the same customs and traditions (whether ideals and values or simple foodways) along to their children. These Virginia extensions, that reach out to the midwest, never cease to fascinate me considering the ties, but their different perspectives and how they impacted their sentiments/loyalties.

One of my third great-grandmother’s nephews in blue was George W. Ham, of the 57th Indiana Infantry. Much to my surprise (and delight), I found his letters AND his photo (likely taken at the end of the war, in Indianapolis) online (see the links at the bottom of this post).

I also found George’s obituary in an Indiana newspaper…

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For the letters, take a look at this link.

For the photo, see here.

Enjoy the photo and letters…

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