Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now it is on to a solid outline and then the first draft. Things are moving on at a good pace since I took the week off work to do this! Here is a short time line of David Vicker's life:
Timeline of David Vicker's Life
1840 DV born-Camden NJ
1858 DV enters DMA
     DV graduates DMA
     1LT Co. B, 3rd NJV Infantry May 25, 1862
     Promoted Capt Co A June 6, 1861
    July/Aug Typhoid Fever
    November - resigns for 3 NJV- recommended for dishonorable discharge - denied
1863 Various campaigns in Virginia including the "Mud March" & Fredericksburg
    April - recruitment duty & draft command
    Misses Chancellorsville & Gettysburg
    September - Promoted Major and assigned 4th NJV Regimental Adjutant
    May 6 taken prisoner at the battle of the Wilderness
    Libby Prison in Richmond
    Camp Oglethorpe, Macon, GA
    Charleston Jail, SC
    Camp Sorghum, Columbia, SC
    Camp Asylum, Columbia, SC
    February, Goldsboro, NC
    March paroled
       Promoted to Col of 4 NJV
       Dept of War overrules due to being paroled not exchanged.
       Finally exchanged in 26 March-no room for a COL in 4 NJV
       "shows him suffering from General Disability following chronic diarrhea."
     May discharged from Army
     June Promoted to Brigadier General for "meritorious service."
    December, leaves Philly w/ Gen. Kilpatrick for Chile
    November marries Amelia (niece of future president of Chile)
    Late November returns to Philly
    David II born
    Helen E. Tyson born
    DV engaged in various enterprises causing him to be away from family
1873 Hamilton Vickers born
1874 Affiliated with Freemasons in Camden
1875 Appointed Commissioner to an International Expedition of Chile--family moves to Chile
    March daughter Maria Amelia born in Santiago
    September DV leaves Chile for US
1877-80 Editorial writer of West Jersey Press & possible NY Tribun
1878 Expelled from Freemasons for nonpayment of dues
1880 Letter to Dr Frelinghuysen (Sec of State) for nonpayment of support
1881 Appointed US Consul in Matanzas
1884 DV sends last letter to wife Amelia
1885 Suspended on the "grounds of bad moral character" from position.
    Returns to Camden lives with Aunt
1888 Marries Helen E. Tyson - seventeen
    Immediately leaves Philly for the west
    Appointed Inspector General w/ rank of Major of Idaho Natl. Guard for Sp Am war
    July becomes ill at camp Chickamauga, GA
    Nov honorably discharged
    January arrives in Boise - ill
    February diagnosed with heart disease
1900-1907 Extremely ill, mostly bedridden
1908 June 27 David Vickers dies

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I am working almost non-stop on coalescing my research.  I came across a very interesting assessment of David Vickers by a special examiner ordered to investigate his past upon his death and thougt I woudl share segments of it here:

"I have not been able to obtain anything more than a fragmentary history of soldier's life.  There are none of his relatives living in Camden….All had heard that he had married a Chilean wife and had left her, or she him.  The letter from his half sister, Mrs. Bates, gives one version of the separations.  There were various rumors that I heard, the one most common being that after losing his diplomatic post he had no means to support her, and he either left her on her sister, or she had to go to here sister for support.  One rumor had it that she left him in Philadelphia after he had purloined and disposed of some of her jewelry."

"Soldier is said to have been a very bright, intelligent, fine-looking , and fascinating man. But he was a high-roller & free-spender, one of the kind who would blow in forty or fifty dollars for a wine supper to friends, if it took his last dollar and he did not know where the next was to come from.  He was also a confirmed rouĂ© (A man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure; a debauchee; a rake), and I was told broke up at least two families in Camden while living there.  One man said he heard of his receiving three inheritances two of them running into the tens of thousands but he went through them in a  hurry.  As to whether he would have committed bigamy, there is a difference of opinion among his acquaintances.  It is conceded that the moral features would not have given him concern.  Some say that he would have been reckless enough while others say they think it improbable that a man of his experience and standing and knowing that tropical temperament of his wife, would have laid himself liable to the charge." 

"Of the Idaho claimant, none of his acquaintances had ever heard except his cousin, and he knew nothing as to her identify.  I made a careful search of the Philadelphia marriage records, and also the license records in Philadelphia & Montgomery Counties, but the name of David Vickers does not appear in the indexes. The stated license law, making obtaining of a license compulsory, went into effect in 1885.  The claimant does not hown whether a license was obtained and cannot produce even a marriage certificate. I thought is was worth while to look into her antecedents, and found her mother one of the most ignorant and unintelligent Pennsylvania Dutch women I ever came across.  I asked her if she was a widow, and she replied "No, she had never been married," and told me that Amos Tyson, whom claimant named as her father, was her mother's father."

"Coming from such a house and parentage, and a soldering being the kind of man he was, it is not too violent a strain on the imagainat8ion to suppose, in absence of proof to the contrary, that there was no marriage ceremony between them (By the way, her mother says her name is Ella not Helen). She must have been an intelligent, adaptable, woman to have fitted into the life of a man like Vickers who, whatever his faults, would have required a woman of brains to hold him loyal for twenty years."

I'll leave it to you to determine why entitled this harum-scarum

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good News!!!

Well, I am just about finished compiling my research.  Other than the VA Pension records it is all in.  Turns out that Vickers was far more complex than I first thought-soldier, diplomat (with some renown), and businessman (both in Chile and in Idaho).  He blew at numerous inheritances and was married twice-at the same time, it turns out! His last years were quite rough as he was bedridden with heart and liver disease.

His rather bizarre actions for the rest of his life after the war are quite interesting.  The key question is how much did his time as a POW during the Civil War impact his post-war behavior?  I have yet to determine that to my satisfaction.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I can sort that all out.  I have almost none of his writings and no letters of his.  Quite a bit different that Robinett as his letters were a window into his soul.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good News!!!

AMu has granted me a grant extension until 15 FEB, now I can get this done the right way!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Camp Sorghum

Vickers spent a some time outside Columbia, SC at Camp Sorghum as Sherman's Army marched towards Savannah and then into South Carolina.  It was a temporary camp, not even having walls.  Rough planks were laid as a dead line manned by boys from the Armory & old men.  Many escaped, Vickers did not.  He signed a petition protesting the conditions there which were Spartan, to say the least; no shelter, sorghum and molasses for food, exposed to the weather with no relief. 

I went to the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum today [] in the hopes of learning more about the camp. Nice museum, well done, if you are in Columbia I recommend a visit but unfortunately nothing on Camp Sorghum.  Just across the Saluda River is the approximate location of Camp Sorghum so it was my next stop.  It's exact location is lost to time, at this point but nestled in an older neighborhood of middle class houses is an abandoned radio station and antenna field just about where it should be.  The camp was positioned on a rise about 100 yards above the river.  The pictures are below.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cliff Notes version ....

Okay, here is a short and sweet capsule of what I found so far:

• After the war Vickers accompanies Judson Kilpatrick to Chile-he claims as Secretary of the Legation, State Department says maybe unofficial secretary for Kilpatrick

• Kilpatrick marries cousin of President of Chile

• Vickers does same (Amelia) and becomes Kilpatrick’s brother in law.

• DV returns to Philly with his wife. They have two boys

• DV likes to party and blows through TWO inheritances!

• DV & Amelia return to Chile as part of a special legation

• DV & Amelia have a baby girl in Chile

• DV leaves for Philly-family stays in Chile, he says he'll send for them or return himself

• DV goes to Cuba are consul--write Amelia not to come due to yellow fever

• DV (40 at the time) returns to Philly, meets a 17 yr old PA Dutch girl (Helen) and within in week "marries" her.

• DV & Helen head west

• DV tells Helen his first wife is dead

• DV returns to service in the Spanish-American War as Inspector General for Idaho and goes @ Chickamauga

• After war returns to Idaho, seriously ill - heart & cirrhosis of the liver. Spends years in debilitating pain and suffering, cannot leave his room.

• Dies in 1908-Amelia had not heard from him in decades but gets a newspaper clipping announcing his death from a friend.

• She applies for widow pension

• Helen applies for widow pension and learns he was still married to Amelia

• Helen's petition is refused, Amelia grants widow's pension.

There is lots more but that is his life after the War of Rebellion in a nutshell.

1. How much did his experiences as a POW in the war influence his actions after the war?

2. How much did Judson Kilpatrick influence his actions?

3. How did his expereinces @ Chickamauga

4. What does all this tell us about his mental state?

4. What else do I need to know and look for?

Interesting stuff!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Thanks to the persistent efforts of my Congressman, Paul Broun's office, the VA has finally coughed up David Vickers file.  I filed a FOIA request in FEBRUARY!!!  Looks like close to two inches of documents to pour through for the next few weeks. I will be asking AMU for an extension on my project.  It is due 1 DEC and there is no way I can meet that now.  Fun stuff!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Charleston Jail

Visited the Old Charleston Jail this past weekend.  Vickers spent some time there between Camp Oglethorpe in Macon and Camp Sorghum in Columbia.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Battle of the Wilderness

I just realized I forgot to post these.  David Vickers was captured during Gordon's flank attack at the Wilderness.  Here are the shots I took while visiting there in August.
There's a deer on the trail!
CSA Trench
CSA Trench
Mine "Road"
Mine "Road"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

PMC Alma Mater

Becky Warda was kind enough to share these from her archive:

Here are various iterations of the Alma Mater thanks to Becky Warda.

1933-from The Sabre & Sash
Thy loyal sons, old P.M.C.
     We raise to the our song.
O Alma Mater, fair and free!
     O Mother, kind and strong!

When first we came -- each one a youth,
     With youthful dreams -- to thee,
Thou ledst us in the paths of truth,
     And light and loyalty.
To work, to strive, to fighter -- we vow
     These boons we knew not then;
We came to the as boys, and thou
     Didst mold us into me.
And so we now all praise they name
     And laud thy works and ways.
O may our lives help swell they fame
     Until the end of days!

1949 words & music by Rukard Hurd '78

Now let our voices raise
To Alma Maters praise,
Give a rousing three times three,
Dear old PMC
In the front ranks of life's story
Are thy sons, and to thy glory
All they have bravely fought
As thou has taught.
Hail to thee! Grand honors be,
Salute and peal artillery,
Proud are we,
Thy sons of thee,
Alma Mater PMC.

Adopted 1952-Words by H. Nearing Jr., Music by Charles A. Bartlett III

Beneath the dome of PMC
The men in gray march by
The banners of our loyalty
Held ever bright and high
When weary years have called us forth
On home or foreign sod;
The truth you taught shall hold us fast
To country and to God.

Alma Mater, Alma Mater,
ever shall there be,
One corner of our hearts we keep,
In loyal pledge to thee.

And also a Fight song from the 1920s sung to The Caisson Song ("Over hill, over dale...)

Through the line, around the end, and a line that never bends
As the Gray team goes plunging along
In and out, not a doubt as to what it's all about
As the Gray line goes plunging along.

Then it's Hi, Hi Hee, fight for PMC
Shout out your signals loud and strong
       FIGHT     FIGHT
Where 'ere you go, you will always know
That the Gray team is winning again. (Keep them winning)
That the Gray team is winning again. (FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT)

Through the dust through the fight
Formation left --- formation right
As the Gray team goes plunging along
To the front, never rear and we give a lusty cheer
For the Gray team is winning once more

(At finish of song---Yah Team!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Good news

 "This book has been nominated for the 2010 Tom Watson Brown Book Award through The Society of Civil War Historians."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The VA Drives Me Nuts!

They want a Social Security number for David Vickers!! Who taught these folks history? 

His records are in Baltimore but they will not give me a phone number or e-mail address to contact them directly.

I have been trying since FEBRUARY to get them to send me his records. 

Man what a mess they are!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Things are Moving VERY slowly.

Well, here we are half way through the year and it is time to take stock.  My research is no where near as far along as last year.  The VA is dragging their feet on getting me his records.  I have talked to them twice now and am still waiting.   The Freemasons in New Jersey are about the same, it seems.  This project lacks primary sources related to Vickers other than State Department records and I really want to keep the focus upon the Civil War.

Time will tell, there are always surprises in historical research. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Robinett Family Association Gathering 2010

What a wondeful time in Fulton, MO. They were very interested in learning more about Henry C. and his experiences in the war and his untimely death.

A Christopher Wrens design, St Mary Aldermanbury church in the City of London, is first mentioned in 1181 but was destroyed by the Great fire of London in 1666. Rebuilt in Portland stone by Sir Christopher Wren, it was again gutted by the Blitz in 1940, leaving only the walls. In 1966 these stones were transported to Fulton, Missouri, by the residents of that town, and rebuilt in the grounds of Westminster College, Missouri as a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill had made his Sinews of Peace, "Iron Curtain" speech in the Westminster College Gymnasium in 1946.