Submitted by: Ray Gibson
Thought this letter from my cousin to the Hemingway folks would be of interest.
Sept. 27, 1994
Mr. Scott Schwar, President
The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park
P.O. Box 2222
Oak Park, Illinois 60303
Dear Mr. Schwar:
In conjunction with the OPRFHS "1952" Class Reunion, I visited the Hemingway Home on Oak Park Avenue on Sept. 24 and spoke with docent Mr. James Walwark, who expressed interest in my comments on the 72nd Illinois Volunteers (Infantry) in which Anton Hemingway served. I promised to provide additional information.
My eye was caught by the framed Civil War discharge paper of Anton Hemingway from the 72nd Illinois Volunteers in which my great-grandfather (David Peabody) also served. Anton was in Company "D"; my great-grandfather in Company "G". My ancestor served under the "G" Company Commander, Lt./Capt. Daniel Whittle, whom Anton cites on the discharge paper as one of his best friends.
Enclosed are several items which you and Mr. Walwark may find of interest.
o "Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois (1867). Most of the forces in the Civil War were organized as state "volunteer" regiments of about 1000 officers and men. Subsequently, the War Department instructed all Union states to write the official histories of their regiments. The excerpt contains the summary history of the 72nd. The complete volume, probably available at the Chicago Library, would have the roster of Anton's Company "D" and, possibly, supplementary information.
o "Illinois at Vicksburg" by the Illinois-Vicksburg Military Park Commission (1907). The excerpts are photos of two 72nd battlefield monuments, one of which contains Anton's name (highlighted). The complete volume might contain more information.
o "From The Salt Fork to Chickamauga" (excerpt). I received selected chapters pertaining to Company "G" several years ago from a relative. The book focuses on the role of down-state Champaign County residents in the 72nd and may thus not be relevant to Anton. However, the excerpt amplifies the regimental history record.
o "War Diary 72nd Illinois" by Joseph Stockton, who was a major post-war figure in Chicago (founder of Lincoln Park), with a modern preface by "Dick Peterson". You will note that Peterson states that two other 72nd diaries ("regimentals") exist, including one by
"... a man named Anton Hemingway, grandfather
to the renowned Ernest Hemingway. But as brave,
loyal and resolute as grandfather Anton was, he
unfortunately did not have the aptitude for writing
as did his illustrious grandson".
Whether or not that be the case, a bit of sleuthing, perhaps with Peterson, might uncover Anton's "regimental". By the way, my copy of Stockton's diary was purchased last year at the Dept. of Interior bookstore at the Shiloh battlefield. It is probably a staple at similar battlefield visitor centers where the 72nd was engaged, such as Vicksburg. The excerpt shows the ISBN number.
According to the discharge certificate, Anton enlisted into the 72nd as a private, but mustered out as a First Lieutenant of the 70th (?) US Colored Infantry. When the Union finally decided to enlist "colored" troops, it offered white non-commissioned officers commissions if they would agree to lead Black soldiers. This suggests that Anton was promoted to Corporal or Sergeant sometime before late 1863 and took the opportunity to better serve the Union (of course) plus increase his social status and pay. The probable sequence could be confirmed by a request for the contents of Anton's U.S. Army service record which can be obtained for a modest sum ($5?) by a written request to the following source:
Pension and Military Records Station
General Reference Branch
8th and Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20408.
Be sure to include Anton's full name, dates of service and service branch.
Once any research is begun, it might be possible to determine the actual role of Company D in battles and skirmishes by consulting the "after action" reports often but not always prepared by Union commanders. These are contained in a bound series entitled the "Official Record" published by the then-War Department. I suspect a full set (as well as specific material on the 72nd) would be in the Chicago Library.
I plan to visit the Vicksburg Battlefield next Spring and will be alert to any information pertaining to Anton.
I'm pleased that the Hemingway role in Oak Park is being conserved and interpreted, and wish the Foundation the best of continuing success. I would, of course, be interested in learning eventually whether this nformation and any further research is fruitful.
Robert E. Fritts
U.S. Ambassador (ret.)
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