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Grandson of Civil War vet would like to meet others
[February 03, 2010]

Grandson of Civil War vet would like to meet others

Feb 03, 2010 (The Blade - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Jack Werner had long heard stories about how his grandfather survived by eating worms for sustenance in a notorious, crowded Civil War prison camp.

But it wasn't until a couple of months ago that the 86-year-old Genoa native realized that being the grandson of a Union soldier -- not great-grandson or great-great grandson -- nearly 150 years after the Civil War was unusual.

Now Mr. Werner, whose grandfather was imprisoned in Andersonville Prison, wants to find other grandchildren of Civil War veterans to hear their ancestors' stories.

Frederick Werner likely survived the Georgia prison camp, where food and shelter were scarce, because he was imprisoned late in the war and was not there long enough to starve, said his grandson, known as the voice of Genoa Comets football for 40 years.

"It's stories like this that have passed down, like this one to me," Mr. Werner said. "I'd like to find out what other people found out firsthand." He added: "I can't be that much of a freak. There's got to be somebody, somewhere whose grandfather fought in the Civil War." Actually, there are quite a few living grandchildren of Civil War soldiers, said David Demmy, executive director of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War of Harrisburg, Pa.

In fact, the organization knows of 13 men who are grandsons of Civil War soldiers, Mr. Demmy said. They were born late in their fathers' lives, he said.

"Of course, they're all in their 90s," Mr. Demmy said. "Generally, the older veteran was up in years and married a much younger woman." That happened with the Werner family too, Mr. Werner said. Frederick Werner, who immigrated to the Genoa area from Germany as a boy, married when he was in his late 30s.

He was 42 when the youngest of his three sons was born, and that son was 41 when his younger son -- Jack Werner -- was born in 1923. "Longevity, coupled with the late fathering, explains why I can have a grandfather in the Civil War," Mr. Werner said.

Mr. Werner's grandfather enlisted in the Union Army's 72nd Regiment Infantry as a private in December, 1861, in Fremont.

He was captured in the Battle of Guntown, Miss., in June, 1864, and held captive until the end of the war about a year later, according to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center Civil War Soldiers Database.

Having a grandfather in the Civil War became a topic of discussion among Mr. Werner and his friends when they noted the upcoming 150th anniversary of the war, which will be commemorated during special events by the National Park Service.

One friend was incredulous when Mr. Werner stated he had a grandfather who served in the war, causing him to realize how unusual it may be, Mr. Werner recalled.

Grandchildren of Civil War soldiers who want to discuss their ancestors' experiences can reach Mr. Werner at 419-855-3763.

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