Well, it’s almost a year ago that I was posting Civil War letters written by the Trowbridge brothers, Uzal (Company A, 1st New Jersey Volunteer Regiment) and his older brother Henry. Uzal did not make it; he was killed early on during the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in June of 1862, a brutal event that shook those present that day to the core of their beings. The loss of Uzal must have been a major blow to the Trowbridge family. Brother Henry entered service shortly after Uzal was killed, in August 1862, serving in the 14th NJ Volunteer Infantry. Somehow he made it through to the end, and went on to marry and have children. I’ll never forget that one letter of his in particular, from February 1864, in which he spoke of wanting to get home for what may be his last chance to see his loved ones. He equated going into battle with being part of a flock of birds under fire. Who lived and who died was all so random:
I am sorrow you cannot give me some excuse to get home. for this winter may be my last chance. if I do not get home this winter, I may never get home. It is all chance. it is the same as if you shoot into a flock of birds and those you hapen to hit must fall and the rest go on untill the next time and leave you behind. they may bury you and they may not just as it happens and how much time they have to do it. but there is no use in talking we may as well laugh as to cry and base it as we have done so far.
Imagine being my great grandfather William Woodruff, to whom the letter was written. He was only 15 at the time. I know when I was that age, a letter like that would have made a huge impression on me. Without a doubt, such frank talk would have lingered in William’s mind for a long time. Thankfully Henry had a happy ending, though who knows what terrifying scenes must have stayed with him until his passing in 1898 at 63.
Well, why am I bringing this up again? Well, I discovered something very interesting recently. I subscribe to Genealogy Bank and was doing some digging in a Jersey City newspaper called The Jersey Journal. My great grandfather William Trewin lived in Jersey City as did his sister Emma. William met his wife Elizabeth Sargent in Jersey City, and that may well be where Emma met her future husband Francis C. (FC) Ludey. Emma and Francis made their home in nearby Bayonne. William and Elizabeth settled in Elizabeth, a bit further away. Genealogy Bank does not have many New Jersey newspapers, unfortunately. I had been hoping I could access the old Elizabeth Daily Journal, but that’s not on there. But, there is a ton of stuff from the The Jersey Journal, so I was trolling for articles on the Trewins, Sargents, and Ludeys. In the process, I stumbled on an obituary notice for FC Ludey (published 19 Jan 1918) and it mentions that he was present at the Appomattox Courthouse for Lee’s surrender to Grant. And, as Francis served in the 14th NJ Volunteer Regiment with Henry Trowbridge, something I discovered a while ago and mentioned in this blog at that time, that means (of course!) that Henry was present for the surrender, too. And I thought that was pretty amazing. Talk about having a front row seat to history. Uzal could not be there to witness the end; but at least Henry got to do that for him. So this great historic connection has been there all along, and I am only putting two and two together now. Shame on me, but better late than never I suppose. Still, I cannot help hearing the words of my old high school physics teacher who used to say in response to such a statement: “Better never late.” But that is neither here nor there.
The text of Francis’ obituary reads as follows:
Funeral services for Francis C. Ludey, 73 years old were held at his late home, 75 West 42nd Street last night. Rev. M.Y. Bovard, pastor of the First M.E. Church, officiated. There were present delegations from Bayonne Council, Royal Arcanum, Odd Fellows, and a number of C.A.R. men. Mr. Ludey, being a veteran of the Civil War and present when Gen. Lee surrendered to Gen. Grant at Appomattox. James S. Coward, who was closely associated with Mr. Ludey in affairs of the First M.E. Church Sunday School, was among the mourners.
Included here is a photo of F.C. Ludey, courtesy of his 2nd great granddaughter Ruth Dean. I found an article describing Memorial Day celebrations in Bayonne in May 1917, and Francis was a featured speaker at that event. It may well be that this photo was taken on that very day.