Monday, April 16, 2012

Paul Revere's Grandsons Fought In the Civil War

Portrait of Paul Revere, circa 1768
Paul Revere had a large family with a total of 51 grandchildren, three of whom, Paul Joseph Revere, Joseph Warren Revere and Edward Hutchinson Revere, served in the Union army during the Civil War.

Paul Joseph Revere served as a colonel in the 20th Massachusetts Regiment along with Edward Hutchinson Revere who was an assistant army surgeon. Joseph Warren Revere served as a Brigadier General in the New Jersey Volunteer Infantry.

Both Paul and Edward were captured by Confederate troops during the Battle at Ball's Bluff in Virginia in October of 1861. According to the book “Massachusetts in the War” Paul spent time in the infamous Libby prison in Richmond before being exchanged for several Confederate pirates:

In the Battle of Ball's Bluff, October 21 1861, he was wounded in the leg and made prisoner, being confined first at Libby prison and afterward being one of seven Federal officers made hostages for the lives of Confederate privateersmen held by the United States government on the charge of piracy. For three months he was with his fellow hostages confined in a wretched cell of Henrico county jail. He was paroled on 22 of February, 1862, and being exchanged May 2 rejoined his regiment before Yorktown.”

According to the book “Harvard Memorial Biographies” Edward was held at a Confederate prison in Leesburg and then in Richmond. The prison is not named but the author states it was a former tobacco warehouse. Libby prison was, in fact, a former tobacco warehouse but so was another Richmond Confederate prison, Castle Thunder. These warehouses were located along Tobacco Row near the James River.

After his brother Paul was taken as a hostage from the prison and moved to Henrico, Edward wrote a letter home informing his family of the news. The context of the letter further suggests Edward was at Libby prison with Paul but, again, the prison is not named:

“Paul and the other officers left us last Thursday for the jail, to await the trial of the privateersmen. There were seven in all from here, the rest of the fourteen being either in South Carolina or New Orleans. They are confined in one small cell, with two small windows. I hear from them everyday, but am not allowed to see them. You can imagine our anxiety to hear what action the government will take when they hear of their imprisonment, for there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that whatever is done to the privateersmen will be meted out to our unfortunate comrades.”

Edward was paroled on February 22, the same day as Paul, and went home to await his official exchange, which occurred in April.

After their release, Paul and Edward served in the Battle of Antietam in September of 1862. During the battle, Edward was shot and killed while caring for a wounded soldier and Paul was wounded again. Fortunately, Paul made another full recovery and went back to war.

Paul's luck ran out in July of 1863 when he led his troops in the famous Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and was wounded on the second day of the battle. Paul passed away just two days later. After his death, he was posthumously promoted to Brigadier General.

Joseph was the only grandson to survive the Civil War, but he had his fair share of bad fortune as well. At the Battle of Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863, Joseph withdrew his troops from battle without orders to do so, resulting in a court martial. Sentenced to be dismissed from the army, President Abraham Lincoln allowed him to resign instead.
Paul Joseph Revere

Joseph Warren Revere

"Harvard Memorial Biographies”; Edited by Thomas Wentworth Higginson; 1867

Appleton's Cyclop√¶dia of American biography, Volume 5” edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske; 1915

Massachusetts in the War, 1861-1865”; James Lorenzo Bowen; 1888

The Cyclopedia of American Biography V6”; John Howard Brown; 1903

Civil War Boston: Home Front and Battlefield”; Thomas H. O'Connor; 1997

Best Little Stories from the Civil War”; C. Brian Kelly; 1994

CNN: Seven Civil War Stories Your Teacher Never Told You:

The Life of Colonel Paul Revere, Volume 1”; Elbridge Henry Goss; 1906

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Was Related to Paul Revere

Abraham Lincoln in 1862
Although born and raised at different times and in different places, Abraham Lincoln was related to Paul Revere through three marriages in his family.

Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas Lincoln, had two cousins in Boston during the late 1700s named Amos and Jedediah Lincoln. Like himself, both cousins were carpenters, although they were much more successful at their trade.

After Amos Lincoln participated in the Boston Tea Party when he was 20 years old and served as a Lieutenant Colonel during the Revolutionary War, he married Paul Revere's eldest daughter Deborah in 1781. They had nine children together before she passed away in January of 1797. After Deborah's death, Paul Revere took in their youngest child, Frederick Walker Lincoln, and raised him himself. Later that year, in May, Amos Lincoln married Deborah's younger sister, Elizabeth, and had five more children. The first of those children, Mary Lincoln, was born in December of 1797, just seven months after the couple's wedding, which suggests the baby was conceived before they were married.
Portrait of Paul Revere in 1813

Jedediah Lincoln was also a Revolutionary War soldier. After Jedediah's first wife, Betsey Edwards, died in 1796, he married Paul Revere's daughter, Mary, and they had seven children together. The family lived near Paul Revere in Boston's North End Square.

Both Amos and Jedediah Lincoln are buried at Copp's Hill Burying Ground in the North End of Boston.

Since Abraham Lincoln and Paul Revere's lives overlapped by nine years, Lincoln was nine years old when Revere died in 1818, it is very possible that Lincoln knew of his family connection to the famous Paul Revere.


"Paul Revere and the World He Lived In”; Esther Hoskins Forbes; 1942

The Paul Revere House: Paul Revere's Ancestry:

"Paul Revere's Ride”; David Hackett Fischer

Ben L. Edwards: The Colonial Edwards Family:

Boston Tea Party Historical Society: Amos Lincoln: 12 Things You May Not Know About Paul Revere:

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Glowing Wounds of the Battle of Shiloh

After the Battle of Shiloh in April of 1862 in Tennessee, over 16,000 wounded soldiers lay in the rain and cold mud for over two days as overwhelmed doctors and nurses struggled to locate and treat the soldiers. Some of these wounded soldiers later reported that as they lay on the ground awaiting help, their wounds started to glow in the dark.

Chromolithograph of the Battle of Shiloh, circa 1888
At the time, the reason for the glow was a mystery but doctor's did note that the wounds that glowed healed faster than those that didn't. The mystery remained unsolved until 2001, when two teenagers finally uncovered the source of the glow.

After the two teens, Billy Martin and John Curtis from Maryland, conducted a variety of scientific experiments, they discovered that the wounded soldiers became hypothermic as they lay in the mud. This lower body temperature allowed for the growth of a bioluminescent bacterium called Photorhabadus luminescens, which inhibits pathogens, to develop in the wound. This bacterium not only caused the wounds to glow but also prevented them from became gangrenous, which saved the lives and limbs of many soldiers.

Although it was common for wounded soldiers to lay on the battlefield for days after the battle's end, glowing wounds were not a widespread phenomenon of the Civil War. The glowing wounds of the Battle of Shiloh are mostly due to the wet, cold and muddy conditions of that April battle as well as the fact that this glowing bacterium is known to attach itself to a certain type of flatworm, called planaria, which is commonly found in the Shiloh area. Since worms only come to the surface when it is wet, there was an abundance of the worms moving throughout the mud during and after the rainy battle.

The discovery won Martin and Curtis the top prize at the Siemens International Science Fair Competition. Curtis later went on to pursue a career in science and Martin pursued a degree in American history, specializing in the American Civil War.


Los Angeles Times; Glowing Wounds and the Civil War; Rosie Mestel; July 2 2001

"Helping Boys Succeed in School: a Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers”; Terry W. Neu, Rich Weinfeld;

Science Netlinks: Glowing Wounds:

Smithsonian Magazine; Civil War: 8 Strange and Obscure Facts You Didn't Know; November 15 2010: