Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The westward movement of some members of the Ellinwood?Ellenwood/Ellingwood
family began back in the early 18th century. While my 6x great grandfather Ebenezer
Ellinwood moved north to New Hampshire, his younger brother Thomas moved
westward to Brimfield, Massachusetts. Eventually,one of his descendants would
move even further west, first to Orange County, New York  and then to Rock Creek,

My 4th cousin 4x removed Ralph Everett Ellinwood was born in New York on 28Apr 1838
before his parents moved on to Ohio. He was the eighth out of ten children(seven of
his eight sisters died before age 21)and on 21Sep 1858 he enlisted in the U.S.Army. It
must have been exciting for a twenty year old son of a farmer to be in Company I of the
Eighth Regiment, stationed in the Southwest in New Mexico and Texas. Ralph must
have been a good soldier because he had been promoted to Sergeant by Sept 1860.
He was in Texas when the Civil War broke out and he was taken prisoner by Rebel
forces, then sent to a prison camp on the Saladas River near San Antonio. It
seemed Ralph was out of the War, but he was a very determined young man.

He escaped.

I read about Ralph in Leonard Ellinwood's The Ellinwood (Ellenwood/Ellingwood)
Family 1635-1963 (1963)
pp194-198. He simply says that Ralph made his escape
through West Texas to Mexico, then crossed over to Havana, Cuba where the U.S.Consul
arranged passage to New York City. Think about that: he'd just turned twenty-three
when he'd been imprisoned in April and then escaped. He'd already seen and done
more things than many men three times his age!

Ralph reached New York by  October 1861 and reported to Fort Columbus on New
York Harbor and commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2nd Infantry. He joined
the Union Army in Virginia. In letters to his brother ohn, Ralph talks about nearly
being shot by a Rebel sniper just outside of Yorktown in April of 1862, and of some
grueling conditions during a march on Richmond in May. The Union Army was within
25 miles of the capital of Confederacy and Ralph was confident that the war would soon
be over. He writes of going to Mexico with his wife Eugenia after the war's end. By
July he's recovered from dysentery and been promoted to first lieutenant of Company

Then on 30Aug 1862 the 2nd Infantry took part at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Ralph
was wounded in the right ankle and evemually was taken to an hopital at Alexandria, Va.
Although the wound hadn't seemed serious at first, it soon worsened. He died on 25Sep
1862. The term used for the cause of death on the Union Army record I found on Ancestry
was "vulnus sclopet", a shortening of "vulnus slopeticum", a fancy Latin term for "gunshot
wound". But what really killed him was infection and Ralph's own fear of amputation. A
fellow officer wrote to Ralph's brother John and told him that Ralph "had a horror of being
a cripple and often in conversation had expressed himself to this extent, that if he was 
ever was wounded that death was preferable to being a cripple for life."

Ralph Everett Ellinwood died with the rank of Brevet Captain, a battlefield promotion
at Second Bull Run. He'd risen from the rank of private to captain in just four years from
his enlistment date.

He was just twenty four years old.


Jana Last said...

Hi Bill,

I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!

Bill West said...

Thanks, Jana!