“Now we are engaged in a great civil war”

The other day I was browsing through GenealogyBank articles that featured my great great grand uncle, Raphael Tobias, a magistrate in NYC. Most of the articles were what I was expecting (cases he presided over, Sons of Veterans activities, and the like), but there were a few that really caught my eye. One such article was featured in the Louisiana Times-Picayune on September 10, 1921. The title is “Views of Noted Men, Women, Educators, on Klu Klux Klan.” In it Raphael states:

The World is rendering a great service in exposing the Ku Klux Klan. I and eight sisters and brothers were born in this country. My father served in a Connecticut regiment during the Civil War, also my oldest brother. Mother assisted in nursing the soldiers. Six of my nephews and others of my family served in the late war. Yet this organization, composed of bigots, says I am not a 100 per cent American owing to my religious belief, and must be driven out. An organization that advocates the doctrine of anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, has no place in this country and should be suppressed.

It’s incredible, first of all, to be able to read my great great grand uncle’s thoughts on any subject and to know he was considered a prominent enough member of society to have his words matter. What excited me the most, though, was the comment about Raphael’s brother serving in the Civil War. I’ve known for a while now about his father’s service, but had no idea that his brother, Herman, had fought as well. I looked it up and, sure enough, Raphael hadn’t been lying (it’s been a problem with him in my research; he is a politician after all and likes to stretch the truth to make him more relatable to the general public). If the birth date I have for him is correct, Herman would have only been 15 or 16 when he enlisted in 1865. I wonder what caused this sudden surge in patriotism? Was it admiration for his father (who seems to have been somewhat of a career military man back in Prussia), naive idealism, teenage rebellion? Herman never saw battle, but he traveled from New York all the way down to North Carolina, which I’m willing to bet is the farthest he’d ever been from home. Later in life he moved down to Georgia with his wife, Rebecca, presumably to be closer to his uncle and cousins. I wonder if he traveled through there at 15 and thought it might be a place he’d like to live one day?

Looks like I’ll be ordering another pension file soon!

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