Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 5

Barney crosses the James River

As told in Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 4 – Barney fights the rebels at Harris Farm, Barney emerged unscathed from the Confederate attack at Harris Farm. He continued to march southward with Company D, 25 miles daily–often through the night–crossing the North Anna River on May 25 and the Pamunkey River at Nelson’s Crossing on May 28. When not marching, wherever they stopped his company built breastworks from mud and branches for protection. James Lockwood recalled:

The army did not pitch tents and make a regular camp for months at a time during this campaign; but simply halted when exhausted, built fires and made coffee or cooked — those did who were fortunate enough to have anything — as the times for eating and sleeping came at doubtful periods in those days, and each man was expected to lie down in place and sleep upon his arms, ready for battle at a moment’s notice.”

After days of marching, some days slogging over rain-soaked ground, Artillery Commander John Tidball decided to make a change. He was unhappy with the performance of his Fifteenth New York Artillery which was assigned a Coehorn mortar battery but spoke no English, only German. On May 30, he placed Company D in charge of their mortar battery instead. Barney and his fellow soldiers in Company D were being rewarded for their bravery during the Battle at Harris Farm by being entrusted with a battery of Coehorn mortars. Continue reading


Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 4

Barney fights the rebels at Harris Farm

As told in Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 3 – Barney crosses the Rapidan, Barney remained with Company D in the rear of the troops, guarding the supply and ordnance wagons and General Grant’s headquarters at the Lacy home. Most of the rest of the Army of the Potomac advanced into battle against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Union soldiers fell into line and marched into a forest that was densely covered with pine trees. Artillery was set up behind shoulder-high breastworks built from logs and mud. When the fighting commenced, Company D’s soldiers could hear the roar of the battle and see the smoke rising from the woods. Barney’s fellow soldier James D. Lockwood (in Company D) recalled:

The firing, if possible, is double what it was before. Pandemonium is turned loose; the earth seems to rock; the sun becomes obscured by the stifling, sulphurous smoke, which fills the atmosphere. Stray bullets strike trees and whistle and scream about, making doleful music for the reserves, and increasing their desire to get near enough to return compliments, and yet they are not called but stand grimly and firmly to arms.”

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Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 3

Barney crosses the Rapidan

As told in Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 2 – Barney enlists in the Union Army, Barney had set up camp two miles from Brandy Station. Barney awoke the next morning to a battering storm that drenched his tent. It was miserably cold and wet until the next day. The skies cleared and the soldiers were just getting comfortable when on April 1 they were ordered to break camp and march to Stevensburg, Virginia to join up with the Artillery Brigade of the Second Corps. They packed up their tents and started the two-mile march to Stevensburg.

As they marched, they were saluted by soldiers along the road who were veterans of previous battles. They knew the 4th NYHA had left its heavy guns at the forts in Washington. They expressed their derision for Barney’s regiment as it passed by asking, “How’s your heavy infantry?” and “What is the size of your siege guns?” and “How are your fortifications?”
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Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 2

Barney enlists in the Union Army

As told in Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 1, Barney embarked on his trans-Atlantic journey and arrived safely on these shores.

Though research has not yet uncovered evidence of where Barney first stepped foot in the United States, family lore has said Barney’s final destination was New York City and somehow he found himself in Charleston, South Carolina while the country was at war.

Barney’s daughter Rose said,

After much suffering, he took sail from Germany on a boat bound for New York. When the boat reached New York City harbor, much to the dismay of the captain, they found the harbor closed due to the Civil War. The boat finally found anchorage in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina. The relief/joy of the passengers was soon quenched when a band of soldiers boarded the boat and ordered every able-bodied man or boy to fall in line. Continue reading

Shirt-tail Sunday: Barney Rosenblatt, Part 1

Bernard “Barney” Rosenblatt is a shirt-tail relative whom I learned about when his great-great-granddaughter married into our family. My own family tree includes a great-grandmother whose maiden name was Bindel Rosenblatt. There’s no evidence (yet) that Israel and Barney are related in any way. After all, Rosenblatt is a common name.

While Barney’s surname was a common one, there was nothing ordinary about Barney’s life. It was rather remarkable. One of his ten children, his daughter Rose Rosenblatt Witkower, certainly thought so. This is some of what she recorded in her memoir:

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