Notes from the past…


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A Timeline

It has become apparent to me that, in order to more fully comprehend and appreciate the experiences of my 2nd great-grandfather, Nathan Blunt Kennedy, MD, during the Civil War period, that I need to create a time line, based upon the documents from his Civil War military service file. This file is composed of copies of pay vouchers, supply requisitions, a request for a medical leave, transfer orders, requisitions for fodder for his horse, even his “Parole of Honor” from May 1865. Important dates and locations, even finances and health. To create a time line will be to recreate his life between Oct 1862, the date of the earliest document, and May 1865, the time of the end of the Civil War and Dr Kennedy’s return to civilian life. As there are over 30 documents in the file, this time line will detail an almost week by week reconstruction of the events in one man’s life from over 140 years ago!
After a lot of hunting, I have finally found a free, online time line application, xtimeline, that has a lot of potential. It is still in beta, but produces an excellent time line, complete with images and details of each event, that can even by embedded into a blog or website.
My next task(s) is to scan every document included in Dr. Kennedy’s NARA file, edit them as needed with Paint Shop Pro, arrange them into chronological order and rename them appropriately, then upload all to my shoebox at footnote.com, to be selected for inclusion in the good doctor’s story page. Wish me luck!


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Civilian vs Soldier

As I continue to study and transcribe Dr. Kennedy’s Civil War file, I came across one document that I had not previously seen. It is entitled “Contract With A Private Physician”. It was drawn up on 1 Oct 1862 between Dr. Kennedy and the Confederate States Army. Dr. Kennedy was to be paid the princely sum of $80 per month (can you imagine!) for his medical services, which are “necessary because of the insufficient number of medical officers” presently available to the Confederate forces.


So Dr. Kennedy became a civilian employee of the Confederate Army in October 1862. Dr. Kennedy was living in Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi at the time of this contract, where he had already been attending the Confederate sick and wounded. Why the contract now? To extradite payment for services rendered? Future consideration when the Confederacy triumphs? Improved availability of drugs and supplies that a contract might ensure?
What was the state of the Confederacy on Oct 1862? The battle of Antietam had occurred only a month earlier, with massive casualities for both sides. It is now apparent that this conflict cannot be won in a just a few days or weeks and that the death and destruction it will cause will be like nothing America has ever seen. Abraham Lincoln will not let the Union disintegrate and the Confederacy must fight a bitter, all-out battle if it is to survive.
Perhaps Dr Kennedy has seen the reality of the day and is resigned to its inevitablity. At any rate, this contract was canceled on 31 Oct 1862, and shortly thereafter, in February of 1863 Dr. Kennedy enlists with the 27th Alabama Infantry Regiment as an Assistant Surgeon.