Grant would be cool, or just the everyday soilder from either side for a more down to earth perspective.
Good timing on this. I was just watching a science fiction show and it was about someone claiming to be a time traveler going back in time, but not telling the people he met anything about the future and while watching it I was actually thinking not about when in history I would go back to (anytime in the Civil War would be my easy choice) but how I would approach it and not to complicate this subject, but you would have to consider the when and how to this questions as much as the who. For instance, would you talk to the US Grant in April 1862 just before Shiloh ("So, Mr. Grant; what do you think about keeping on the alert in case of an unexpected attack, cough, cough") , or the Lieutenant General Grant near the trenches of Petersburg? It would make all the difference in the world as to how to approach it.But to try to stay on the question as asked, I might skip over what would ordinarily be my obvious choice - Lincoln - and go for one of the two guys I've recently read about - Dan Sickles or John Singleton Mosby. I would certainly keep an eye on my wallet if I was around Sickels too long (semi-joking) but I think both of those men would have a lot of stories to tell, about the war and afterwards, especially about the Gettysburg campaign and battle. Both could discuss the war and their long postwar lives and I could just sit and listen to them spin their sides of the stories.
Yes! Dan Sickles - definitely Dan Sickles. I'll bet he would have some stories to tell!! Thanks for the comments :)
PS - and I think I would want to talk with Grant in April 1864 - before he got going on the Overland Campaign.
This is an easy one for me. I would want to have a chat in New York City with Walt Whitman in 1865.
I wouldn't want to speak with Lincoln. He could only disappoint me, given his near divine reputation. I imagine he would be an overstressed, depressed yet humane genius trying to balance competing military and political concerns that would have crushed a lesser being. I would like to meet some of the African-American Union soldiers who took "Abraham Lincoln" as their first legal name. According to the Soldiers and Sailors database, 11 men had that name, 6 of whom served in US Colored Troops. I'd also like to meet the one Confederate by that name, serving with the Cherokee Mounted Volunteers. Surely all would have an interesting story to tell.In addition, I'd like to meet my only Civil War ancestor, Pvt Hugh MacKenzie of the 1st Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. He was a 23 year old Scottish-born boatman living in Ohio when the war started. He served until 1864, being wounded at Chattanooga. Afterward, he returned to Scotland, where he died in 1911.
I would want sit down with my GG Grandfather and ask him why he joined the Union Army. He took a tremendous risk for an 18 year old.
I would choose Longstreet, pre-Gettysburg, and give him a heads up on Pickett's Charge.
Peter Welsh's wife.Peter was the color sgt. of the Irish 28th Mass. He left behind wonderful letter explaining why this Irish carpenter joined the Union army. They've been quoted by everyone from Gary Gallagher to James McPherson. The letters were so well argued because he was writing to his wife, who disagreed with his enlistment, apparently violently so. We don't have her letters, but from his we can gather that she did not believe that an immigrant had any part in a war between rival native factions and that she felt that widespread discrimination against immigrants by Republicans severed any responsibility immigrants might have to serve.Peter was killed in 1864, and his death evidently ruined her life. She never remarried and never had children. Her actions during Peter's final convalescence indicate deep devotion to her husband and her erection of a monument for him that must have absorbed much of her tiny fortune indicates pride in his service.I'd ask her if Peter ever convinced her that the immigrant had a stake in the war and whether that stake was worth the loss of his life and the shipwreck of her dreams.
Thanks Pat - what a great comment. I think that would be a fine conversation indeed.
Thanks for the comment Renee - you might want to let him know that he was going to get shot in 1864 too.
Richard - thanks for the comment. I think all of us would like to sit down with our Civil War ancestors. I know I would. I would ask why my GGG Grandfather enlisted in the Confederate Army. Many from where he lived were Unionist - I wonder what did the trick?
I don't know, Scott - even though Lincoln hardly divine, I still think I could set his reputation aside. Ahhhh if it were only possible!
Kevin - what would you ask him?
I don't really know, Keith. To be completely honest, I would just like to stare at him up close for a few hours.
Yep - I know just what you mean.
Here are several options, all of which include conversations over dinner:1) Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Louisa McCord (a Confederate defender of slavery and patriarchy) -- women's rights for whom?2) William G. Brownlow and Robert Lewis Dabney -- let's mix nationalism and religion;3) Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony -- post war voting rights for whom?4) John Stout, a leader of "banditti", who was described by a Confederate officer in northern Alabama as a "desparate and bad, though bold and not unskillful man" -- not a direct relative, but I like the quote.Thanks for the question.
I portray Col. William McCandless of the PA Reserves. He quickly rose through the ranks and became Colonel of the 2nd Regiment, PA Reserves within his first year. He remained a Colonel until he mustered out in May, 1864 after his 3 year commitment was up. While a Colonel, he not only commanded a brigade (Brigadier General position), but twice commanded the 3rd Division, 5th Corps when Major General Sam Crawford was away. He was a natural leader who led his troops in a number of charges (two at Gettysburg) and was very courageous. He was recommended by Generals Grant and Meade for promotion to Brigadier General when he was mustering out. The reason I would like to speak to him is because he rejected the promotion on grounds that he was overlooked previously while less meritorious men were promoted and also because being a staunch Democrat, he wrote a letter to Sec. Seward stating that he was not in agreement with the current administration's change in the purpose of the war during the war (Emancipation Proclamation). He said he volunteered to preserve the Union, which was the initial purpose of the war. He went on to become a PA State Senator and the first PA Sec. of Internal Affairs. He supported Gen. McClellan in his failed bid for presidency in 1864. I would like to discuss his politics at the time and his feelings toward slavery as well as the preservation of the Union.
I have often thought of this myself but have never came up with a definitive answer. I'll limit myself to three:1) General John Fulton Reynolds- A man like him who lead by example must have been a great to talk to in all walks of life. I revere him as one of if not the bigges hero of Gettysburg. 2) SGT. Benjamin Crippen- a hometown soldier who showed the same zeal and moxey as we do now. 3) how can one not pick Old Marse Robert? Such a variety of things to talk about.
I'd give anything to speak with my ancestors who participated.Besides that, the one point more than any other where I'd love to be a fly on the wall is the meeting between Lincoln, Porter, Grant, and Sherman at City Point, 28 Mar, 1865, on the River Queen.