"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."

May14th2015

The Sound Of Guns

by  Phyllis Zeck

Union Field Artillery

Union Field Artillery abt 1862. Lib. of Congress. Click to enlarge.

I have been contemplating what a brave man my 2nd great grandfather, Charles (Carl) Frey was. My paternal grandmother was Grace Norder. Grace’s grandfather was Charles Frey. How is it that I never knew Charles’ story? Why didn’t Grandma Grace share the amazing journey of this man with her 8 grandchildren?

Charles volunteered for two tours of duty during the Civil War, enlisting with the 2nd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery. We’ve all read about the brutal conditions our hero ancestors endured during the Civil War. Lack of food, shelter, ammunition and clothing haunted the soldiers. I’m so proud that one of my ancestors survived the trauma of this passionate war. What a fighter he must have been!

I wrote a blog post about the fact that Charles served at the Battle At Deserted House in Suffolk, VA in 1863 which you can read by clicking here. Confederate forces under Brig Gen Roger Pryor crossed the Blackwater River into Virginia on a foraging expedition. Maj Gen John Peck commanded the Union garrison at Suffolk.  Peck organized a force to drive Pryor out of the area and assigned Brig. Gen. Michael Corcoran to its command. Anticipating an attack from the Union garrison, Pryor prepared his forces for battle near Kelly’s Store (AKA Deserted House), located 8 miles west of Suffolk. Corcoran’s cavalry engaged Pryor’s forces nearby. 

Last month Wes posted a comment on my blog post about the battle.  He told me that he is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Suffolk, VA and he was going to visit the area where the Battle At Deserted House was fought in 1863.  You can visit Wes’ Facebook page by typing Mid Atlantic Relic & Coin Hunters where you can see items from past relic hunts. Wes was curious – if he was able to obtain any artillery fire residue from the Union guns would I like to have some?  Would I ever!!  “Just think,” Wes said. “Your ancestor could have been the one that pulled the cord that had some of these case shot in them”.  

Wes sent me the photos above. They are from the 1st phase of the battle (see the map from Baylor University below). Wes explained that the picture looking over the green wheat grass is looking at the confederate lines where their artillery was posted. The other two pictures are where the union guns where placed and the union infantry staged.  The center photo is the middle of the battlefield. In front of the house and across the street is where the Deserted House, AKA Kelly’s Store, stood (which is gone now). Charles’ company saw action on 30 Jan 1863 at Deserted House or Kelly’s Store. 

Deserted House Battle 1863

Courtesy of Baylor University

The map above is reprinted with permission from the War of the Rebellion Atlas digital collection. It was produced by the US Government. You can click on the image to enlarge it.  

This next photo gallery are photos of relics Wes found on the battlefield.  Wes explained that the items are a US collar pin and a piece of the grape shot that didn’t break apart upon explosion.  Usually these pieces break apart into separate lead balls and rain down on the soldiers. 

While Wes shared his photos with me the day after his trip, I was once again at the mercy of the US Postal Service to delivery Wes’ package.  We all know how terrible I am about waiting patiently for mail to arrive. Wes emailed me that it was on it’s way and he said, “I hope your family will be thrilled to have a piece of your ancestors heritage where he fought to preserve his beliefs.”  

Civil War Ammo IMG_1065
The package from Wes arrived yesterday.  Wes enclosed four case shots (which are also called grape shot).  These four pieces were found on the actual battlefield in 1999. They were found on the Confederate side so they were fired by Union guns. The grape shot traveled 50 – 80 yards. He also sent two Civil War .58 caliber minie balls (3 ringers) which traveled a couple hundred yards.  Wes wrote, “I hope you and your family enjoy these artifacts from our nation’s greatest conflict.  I am honored to be sharing these with you.” I am thrilled and very grateful to Wes for his generosity!

 

2 Responses to The Sound Of Guns

  1. 2 years ago by Rob

    Wowser Phyllis! This is more exciting than “Secrets of the Dead!” So ironic that you and Wes made a connection. Seeing the actual bullets and projectiles that were flying around our great-grand father’s head 152 years ago helps me respect and honor his bravery all the more. A what a blessing to be descended from this hero!


  2. 2 years ago by tom winike

    Amazing discovery ! Much thanks to Wes for this incredible gift . . .it would be wonderful if he could help you find out more about Papa Joe’s military service.
    Probably the reason Grandma Grace never mentioned Charles Frey was because she hated war, especially WWII movies. Papa Joe would never discuss his time in the Army around her, and she disliked us boys playing soldier in the house


 

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