Saturday, May 16, 2009

Becoming a Part of History: How a Civil War Veteran Helped

above is an example of the Civil War Zouave battalion's uniform
This one was worn by the infamous "Wheat's Tigers"
* see below for picture credit

There is a sprinkling of Civil War Veterans among my family ancestors. I don't know much about any of them. The records indicate that they participated and as military records go; that's about it...So I took what I could get and added my skimpy sources. Yet, as anyone who has done genealogy long enough knows, somewhere along the way someone or something comes along and changes your skimpy sources into a story, or at least a glimpse of the story. It doesn't happen often, but when it happens it makes it all worth while.

This was the case with my ancestor Msr. Joseph Demoruelle of New Orleans. Up until 2 weeks ago he was a non descript nephew of my ggggreat grandmother, Adelaide Demoruelle. At 24 yrs. old he entered the Civil War and later married Marie Cavalier in New Orleans having several children. That was the extent of my knowledge of him.

This all changed when a fellow researcher asked me for the names of any of my ancestors buried in the rotting cemeteries of New Orleans(with the hopes of collaborating on getting funding for restoration). Coincidentally, she and I research Louisiana's Colonial governors together. To my delight she uncovered Joseph's rather illustrious past ( illiustrious by New Orleans' standards of course).

He was a Zouave, she wrote me, and he was a close friend of Gov. Nicholls having served with him in the Civil War. How interesting, she implied. It piqued my interest, but I had to ruefully admit that I truly had not an inkling of what the Zouaves meant to New Orleans. I recalled an ancestor who lost two sons in the Civil War and my grandfather who was forever changed by his service in WWII. This is where I realized that the Civil War and the wars that followed are not just what we read about in History class; but they are OUR history. They were a part of the history of my family and many others.

The men who fought faced a nightmare and it was real and ugly. They deserve to be remembered. Even if it was 150 years ago; it made a difference. I resolved at that point to go to the grave of any ancestor of mine that I could locate and leave a flag there in honor of their service; including those men that fought for our country's union over a century ago. ( I also resolved to thoroughly research the Zouave battalion; an article on it will be featured in June on my website,

These are the little things that not only connect me with the past, but connect me with my family. I feel honored to have had such brave men in my family and it is not often that we have an opportunity to show our appreciation. So, Memorial Day will be different for me in the future, but it will be different in a positive way.

*The "Wheat's Tiger" photo can be found at


  1. What an amazing story! Great post!

  2. You make some wonderful points, Jennifer. We all need to remember that these wars were very real for our ancestors. Placing flags on all the graves you can locate of your ancestors who fought is very commendable and something we should all aspire to do.

    Cemeteries with Texas TiesGenealogy TracesTennessee Memories

  3. I had an ancestor, E.H. Skaggs, who ran a steamboat out of New Orleans 1862-3, the Indian No. 2. He had a pass from Gen. Butler to bring cattle and provisions to the city from Matamoros, however, Adm. Farragut thought at the time that old E.H. was also supplying the Confederates. E.H. supposedly owned a plantation in St. Mary Parish and a house in New Orleans. Does anyone know if his house is still there?


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