Going back 10 generations of ancestors, it took 8,190 of them to make me, and considering human beings have a seeming propensity for armed conflict, I was almost certain to find records my ancestors’ service in various battles and wars.
Going back as far as I can, the first ancestor with a military record is my 10th-great-grandfather, Edmund Scarborough. Born in England and immigrating to the colony of Virginia and settling in Accomack sometime between 1625 and 1628, he is listed as a “captain.” I don’t know what he was a captain of, but this website lists the following information, which it quotes from “Ancestral Records and Portraits, Vol. I.”
CAPTAIN EDMUND SCARBOROUGH, the son of Henry Scarborough of North Walsham, Norfolk County, came to [Virginia], bringing his wife Hannah, and his son Edmund. He was Commissioner of Accomac County, Va., and a member of the Board of Justices, 1632, and of the House of Burgesses from 1628 to 1630. He died 1634, leaving two sons, Charles and Edmund Scarborough. Sir Charles was educated at Caiu’s College, Cambridge, and was physician to Charles II, James II, and William I. He was knighted 1669, a member of Parliament, and died 1693 (Feb 26 1694 per Southern Kith & Kin); buried at Cranford, Middlesex.
If this information is correct, then I also have a long-distant ancestor who was a doctor to three kings. Pretty cool, I suppose.
Next in line is Thomas Greenfield, about whom I wrote previously, who was reportedly a colonel in the Prince George’s County militia from 1707 – 1715. According to a public wiki site dedicated to sharing ancestral information, he also held several other public offices, including:
- Service Lower House (Calvert County) 1692-1695
- Sheriff, Calvert County, 1695
- First High Sheriff of the new Prince George’s County, March 3, 1696
- Justice, provincial court 1699-1707
- Delegate in General Assembly from 1699 to 1708
- Council (Upper House) 1708-1715
- Assistant judge, Court of Chancery 1714-1715
When he died, his estate at death valued as 459.8.4 pounds sterling (2309) acres, according to his executed will.
Next is Joseph Belt, a man about whom I published a separate post, who is my 7th-great-grandfather who the Doubleday line of my family tree. He is credited with founding the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington DC, as well as building houses and roads in that area, and followed another of my ancestor’s footsteps by becoming the colonel of the Prince George’s County militia, and doing so during the French and Indian War.
A quick analysis of the war shows that the Prince George’s County militia may have participated in the British/Colonial assault on Fort Duquense under General Edward Braddock. As George Washington was a lieutenant colonel at the time, it is possible that Joseph Belt knew and interacted with the future president during the battle. In his will, he describes the distribution of his slaves to his heirs, showing that he, too, was a slave owner. You can read more about his distribution of wealth and land here.
The next record gets a bit fishy. One of my 5th-great-grandfathers is Robert Orme, born in 1744, who reportedly fought in the American Revolution against Great Britiain, according to an application for the Sons of the American Revolution, which was filled out by a descendant after his death. The confusion is comes from another man named Robert Orme, who is quite famous for his involvement with George Washington in the French and Indian War, so when trying to search for records of my apparent ancestor, the results are overtaken by the man who is not.
While I found no ancestral participation in the War of 1812 or Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, I did find an ancestor who was in the Civil War, my 3rd-great-uncle Jacob Lang. He was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States sometime in the 1840s. When researching ancestors from this time, as their age could have put them in range for military service during the Civil War, I came across a document that listed Jacob Lang’s application for a pension related to his military service, which actually listed the “widow” as his mother, my 4th-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Lang.
On the pension document, in the “service” section, I found:
H 4 U.S. Art.
Ord. Dept. U.S.A
I immediately knew what this meant: Ordnance Department, H Battery, 4th US Artillery Regiment, United States Army. I immediately researched the battery, and found an extensive Wikipedia page dedicated to its service in 1862, particularly the important Union victory at the Battle of Shiloh, among other engagements in Tennessee. I feel good knowing that I had an ancestor fight against slavery, considering other ancestors of mine owned slaves for many years.
In World War II, my paternal grandfather, Linus Klitsch, served in the U.S. Navy aboard the escort carrier U.S.S. Windham Bay (CVE-92). According to the “Report of Changes” document for the ship, he was an aviation electrician’s mate, second class, and serviced from April 2nd, 1943 until March 1st, 1946, when he was sent back to Bainbridge, Maryland for discharge from service.
According to his Application for World War II Compensation, his foreign service started on August 31, 1944, which means that he would have been aboard the ship as it was supporting the US invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the former being a battle in which my wife’s grandfather was fighting. After the war ended, he also participated in Operation Magic Carpet, which helped bring US soldiers home from abroad.
Next is my maternal grandfather, Art Sturm, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1953 and became an officer shortly after graduating from navigator training and eventually becoming a navigator and bombardier on B-36, B-47, and KC-135 aircraft. He served in the Vietnam War and eventually went to intelligence training, retiring as a major in 1973.
Last in line is me. I served in the US Navy Reserve from 2009 – 2014, deploying to Bahrain and Jordan in late 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. My military service started much differently, and that is explained in the 55-page first chapter of my book.
I’m proud knowing that these distant relatives (even though they are one of thousands), had this record of service in defense of their nation.
For more information on my family history and ancestry, check these out: