Maybe I should be more in tune with my personal connections to the Civil War. But as I mentioned with respect to my “bushwacker” ancestors, there are just little more than service records to fall back on. If they were the type to spend time recording their experiences, those were all lost with time (as far as my family knows).
As I leafed through my Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman files last week, I came across a page with a circle around the 29th Missouri Infantry and a call out to the name Neitzert. No, Neitzert was not the commander of the regiment. Colonel John S. Cavender commanded the regiment – part of Brigadier General Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s brigade, in Brigadier General Frederick Steele’s division, part of the not-as-of-yet famous Fifteenth Corps (“Forty Rounds”) under Major General William T. Sherman.
The 29th Missouri was a relatively new regiment, one of those formed in the summer of 1862 with Lincoln’s call for 300,000 troops. After organization and training at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, the regiment moved to Cape Girardeau. Later that fall the regiment went down river to join other units gathered for Sherman’s expedition to the Yazoo River. As part of Blair’s brigade, the 29th Missouri assaulted the bluffs and suffered around 180 casualties.
On January 9, 1863, the regiment was among those arriving downstream of Arkansas Post. The next day, like the rest of Blair’s brigade, they marched and countermarched. Then on January 11, the brigade formed the reserve of Steele’s division, far on the Federal right flank. In the afternoon action, Blair’s brigade followed closely behind the leading brigades, but suffered only minor casualties – and none from the 29th Missouri.
Over the next few days, the regiment remained in the area (at times afloat and at others occupying the old Confederate quarters). On January 13th, the regiment was among those detailed to destroy the Confederate works. That evening they boarded a transport heading downriver. Eventually the 29th Missouri, like many others in the “new” Fifteenth Corps, Army of the Tennessee, arrived at Millikin’s Bend to await further orders.
So who was Neitzert? Brothers John Carl Neitzert and William John Neitzert serving in different companies of the 29th.
John Carl served as a corporal in company I, 29th Missouri. John was born in Prussia. Along with his family, he immigrated and settled in Missouri during the 1840s. According to his discharge papers, he was 34 years old and worked as a storekeeper, in Florence, Missouri, before joining the army in August 1862. In January 1863, unfortunately, John had but a few months to live. He died of typhoid in September.
His brother, William, served as a corporal in Company F, 29th Missouri. Like his brother, William emigrated in the 1840s. William also enlisted in August 1862, but listed his trade as “farmer.” And, like his brother, appears to have taken ill in the summer of 1863. However, William survived, spending the rest of the war assigned to hospitals and on furlough. These irregularities in his service record led to some problems receiving a discharge.
Those resolved, William went on to father several children. One of which was Abigail Neitzert who married the nephew of a former Confederate cavalryman (thrice paroled Confederate, mind you). Such would make William my Great-great-great-grandfather. One-hundred and fifty years removed from the Civil War, I am left to wonder what those ancestors experienced. I also wonder if William and Elisha A. Smith ever sat down to talk about the war. But, as far as I know, neither left behind any written record.
And just one more tidbit to consider…. During the operations on the Mississippi through December 1862 and January 1863, the 29th Missouri traveled often on the steamer L.M. Kennett, named for Luther M. Kennett, one time St. Louis mayor and businessman of note. While but happenstance, one of William’s great-great-granddaughters settled in a town named for Luther Kennett. Just a coincidence, I suppose.