Monday, February 4, 2008

Ferdinand Garesche Writes To His Brother

Ferdinand Garesche's brother, Julius Peter Garesche, was a Colonel in the United States Army during the Civil War. He graduated from West Point in 1841 and rose to be chief of staff of the Army of the Cumberland under Gen. William Rosecrans.

It seems that most of the Garesche family in St. Louis had Secessionist sympathies and this was an embaressement to Col. J.P. Garesche. In a biography of Col. Garesche, his son Louis writes the following:

His brothers had all been reported in Washington as being Secessionists and when Ferdinand and Alexander where taken at Camp Jackson, St. Louis, by Capt. Lyons and his men it was thought to admit of no doubt. Still it was not entirely true; for Alexander had resisted every persuasion to adopt those views, though all his intimate friends held them; and Ferdinand, though Southern in sympathy, was yet no partisan. At any rate, Julius was informed that they were all rank Secessionists.

Col. Garesche wrote letters to his family hoping to learn the truth and informed them that if his brothers fought for the South, he would resign his commission rather than take up arms against his brothers. He stated that in that event he would go to Europe and remain there until the conflict was over. Alexander Garesche wrote back to his brother stating that he and Ferdinand were not Secessionists but, rather, Democrats. While they were oppossed to the war, they also abhorred Secession. He stated that Col. Garesche need not resign and could fulfill his duties because his brothers would not take up arms against the Union.

Ferdinand Garesche also wrote his brother in July of 1861:

You must not, dear Julius, grieve so much for us. Your heart is too good and too tender. War is a hard thing and entails many miseries. We are men and must expect to meet our fate in whatever shape it comes. We have chosen our side and you know us well enough to know that we will stand or fall with it. They can invent no oath that conveys allegiance to the Federal Government which I would take, because I think that feeling as I do I would perjure myself in doing so. I have given my parole not to take up arms nor to aid the South during the Civil War.

The most interesting thing to note from all of this is that Ferdinand Garesche was at Camp Jackson in May of 1861. His brother Alexander was also there, serving as Judge-Advocate with the First Regiment of the Missouri State Militia. Both were captured, imprisioned, and then paroled. Neither took up arms again during the Civil War.

The divisions that the Civil War brought about in the Cyclone Club could not be better illustrated than by the capture of Camp Jackson in May of 1861. On one side was Ferdinand Garesche, serving with the Missouri State Militia. On the other was Merritt Griswold, serving with the Home Guard.

Note: The picture at the top of the post is of Col. J.P. Garesche, who died at the Battle of Stones River in December of 1862. Interestingly, I have photos of pretty much the entire Garesche family but I haven't found one of Ferdinand Garesche.

Update: I want to thank Betty Torno, the great granddaughter of Ferdinand Garesche, for pointing out some of the things in this post that needed correction. Betty also rightly mentioned to me that "Garesche" needs an accent mark on the final "e" and I'm still trying to figure out how to make that happen.

No comments: