Monday, May 23, 2011

The burden of leadership...and fatherhood - Military Monday

I just learned yesterday that John Hankins, my fourth great grandfather on my mother's side, was a civil war veteran. Military research is one of my favorite aspects of genealogy and I thought I had tracked down all of my veteran relatives, but somehow John slipped through. He was a Union captain assigned to the 51st Enrolled Missouri Militia. The 51st E.M.M. spent the war in the counties of Caroll, Ray, Livingston and Lafayette. The unit participated in several large skirmishes, but were mostly concerned with containing the antics of the Missouri Bushwackers, or guerrilla units. One of the Soldiers in Cpt. Hankin's unit was 2nd Lieutenant Jesse C. Turnage, another 4th great grandfather, that was murdered by bushwackers in 1864.

I noticed that John Hankins was fairly old, 47, at the time of the war so I began to wonder...were his sons enlisted as well? It turns out that two of his sons were in the war: Thomas, aged, 23 and Daniel, aged 21. His sons were assigned to Cpt. Hankins' Company; their father was their company commander. A war command puts a lot of pressure on an individual, much of which is the knowledge that the lives of others, to some extent, are in your hands. I can not fathom the extra burden of having your children be among that number as well. The idea of telling your child to storm a hill or charge the enemy is difficult to swallow. But perhaps John Hankins would have rather had his sons near him, where he could keep a watchful eye over them.

All three of the Hankins men survived the war but I imagine that John Hankins walked away a different man...perhaps walking an inch or two taller for having seen his family through it all.

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