Friday, May 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #19 James Harvey Bird, Civil War Soldier for Nine Days

Tintype of James Harvey Bird
On the evening of July 8, 1863, Governor of Indiana, Oliver Morton, received word that a Confederate force led by General John Hunt Morgan had crossed the Ohio River and was heading toward Corydon. The governor at once issued a call upon the citizens of Indiana to leave their various occupations and organize for defense. Within 48 hours, 65,000 men had offered their services.  My great-great-great grandfather, James Harvey Bird (known as Harvey), was one of those men.

General John Hunt Morgan
The 104th Indiana Regiment was organized on July 10, 1863 in Greensburg, Indiana to repel Morgan's Raid, and Harvey enlisted that very day.  The 104th began pursuit of Morgan immediately.

After Morgan escaped into Ohio, the regiment returned to Greensburg and was mustered out on July 18, 1863.  Harvey Bird's service in the Union Army totaled nine days. Morgan and his men were later captured and put in the Ohio State Penitentiary. In November of 1863, the general and some of his officers tunneled out of their cells and boarded a train to Cincinnati.  A year later, Morgan was killed in battle.

Harvey Bird in his later years
James Harvey Bird was born on July 12, 1824 in Decatur County, Indiana, where he lived his entire life.  His father was William Bird (a War of 1812 veteran), and his mother's name was Maria Dent. Harvey was a successful farmer and won many awards for his hogs at the Decatur County Fair.  He married Nancy Johnson sometime before 1850 and they had six children together.  Nancy died in 1859, the same year that their last child was born.

On March 14, 1865, Harvey married Sarah Ann Lane.  They had four children, including my great-great-grandmother, Mary Edna Bird. Sarah died from complications of childbirth in 1873, along with her infant son.  Harvey remained a widower for the rest of his life -- nearly 20 years.

James Harvey Bird died on October 12, 1892 in Decatur County from heart trouble, or as his obituary was worded, "from an affection of the heart."  He had been in poor health for 10 years. "He was a man of rugged character and good-heartedness and many are the friends who will miss his jovial presence." (Greensburg Standard, October 14, 1892)

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