At the Civil War Show in Mechanicsville, Va., last weekend, I visited the booth of "North-South Trader" (the enterprise of Stephen Sylvia and Nancy Rossbacher, his charming wife) and found, among current and back copies of "North-South Trader's Civil War," an overlooked issue, Vol. 33, No. 6, of 2008, with an article on a fellow who entered the US Signal Corps for the last year and a half of the war and left a memoir of service prserved by the Army's Center of Military History in Washington, DC. If it were current, I would have made this a "heads-up." The authors are contract employees of the Center, Roderick Gainer, curator, and Alison Bukowski, collections specialist and software instructor. The photos (some beautiful color shots as well as b/w) show in sharp detail signal rockets -- Tom Ryan, note -- a fuel canteen, flying torches, a funnel, a pair of flags, etc. The memoir features original and challenging spelling of Virginia placenames by a man later a school teacher (and helpfully interpreted by the authors). The memoir is short on the details we eagerly seek, but traces the writer's travels and duties for some eighteen months. It illustrates the monotony of routine, rather than the thrills (if any) of those details. (He was serving under Custer when Lee surrendered.)|
By the way, you may not recognize the name of Pvt. Stewart, signal man -- probably not the middle name or its initial -- but you may recognize it as the name of his grandson and namesake, a distinguished actor and decorated WW II pilot known as Jimmy.