By Janet Greentree
Ms. Rebelle went off to the Pacific Northwest and managed to find some Civil War related sites. This article also connects to my first one posted on the Centreville Patch concerning Union General O.O. Howard. My youngest daughter lived in Portland, OR so she took me to Fort Vancouver in Vancouver, Washington to see Officers Row and the Fort.
Fort Vancouver was part of the Hudson Bay Company. It was also known as Columbia Barracks, Fort Vancouver, or Vancouver Barracks. Dr. John McLoughlin was sent to find a location for the fort around 1825. He was the Fort’s first manager and would later be called the “Father of Oregon.” The site he selected was close to the Willamette River (pronounced Will-LAM-ette), where the land was flat, and there was access to the Columbia River. In 1849 the U.S. Army established a post just north of the Fort, and it was the first military post in the Pacific Northwest. It was used for trading, so no money changed hands. The Fort was named for Captain George Vancouver and is located on the northern bank of the Columbia River. In its heyday, it housed over 600 people from 30 Indian tribes to Hawaiians, French-Canadians, English, and the Scots. It became the Vancouver National Monument in June, 1948. The stockade was reconstructed as well as several buildings. Some knowledgeable docents tell the history of the Fort for visitors.
In 1879 the name of the post was changed to Vancouver Barracks and is still known as that today. It still houses some of the U.S. Army. We saw the barracks and parade field. Pearson Airfield is located there as well and is one of the oldest operating airfields in the U.S.
There are three houses on Officers Row of interest. World War II General George C. Marshall occupied one of them. The other two houses were the homes of Generals U.S. Grant and O.O. Howard. Grant didn’t actually live in the house but he did live in a log cabin on the same site, and it is incorporated in the present day house. The houses are magnificent old structures. General O.O. Howard’s house was named for him as the home’s first inhabitant. Grant was stationed at the Fort in the 1850s as a Quartermaster. He spent 15 months as the regimental Quartermaster of the post. His house was called the Quartermaster’s Ranch and was a large two-story home with a porch on three sides and high ceilings. The house was made in New England and shipped around Cape Horn in sections. When he returned to the Fort in 1879, after his Presidency, the present day house was built in his honor. His house is the oldest building remaining on Officer’s Row. For a time it was the Officers Club but now it is a restaurant. A nice young man gave us a tour and showed us Grant’s desk upstairs. Ms. Rebelle got to sit at his desk.
Grant was sent there in 1852 with the 4th Infantry Regiment when he was a 30-year old Brevet Captain In addition to his duties as Quartermaster, he found time to try to go into business for himself on the side. He and his fellow officers tried several things, but like most of Grant’s business ventures, they didn’t pan out. He tried cutting up the ice on the Columbia River and shipping it to San Francisco but it melted enroute. He tried to send cattle and pigs to San Francisco but that too failed. One of the docents told us about his stab at a potato garden. He tried very hard to grow potatoes but didn’t succeed in that venture either. The Columbia River flooded his garden and his potatoes rotted. He did start growing his beard at the Fort. Grant missed his family terribly, and his time at the Fort was the start of his drinking to compensate for not being with his beloved wife Julia and the children. He did have one “first” to his credit. Grant, and future General Rufus Ingalls, were the first people to walk across the frozen Columbia River in January, 1853.
Two Graves Connected to the Capture of John Wilkes Booth
The first thing I do when going to a new place is research to see who of interest is buried there. I came across two of the 16th New York Cavalry who captured John Wilkes Booth and Davy Herold at the Garrett Barn in Port Royal, Virginia. I imagine the large sum of money ($1,683.70) both of them received made the trip across the country to the Pacific Northwest easier to accomplish. They are not buried in the same cemetery but both are in Portland. It’s just fascinating to me that both of them ended up there. It makes you wonder if they knew each other were there.
Private John W. Millington, Company H, 16th New York Cavalry is buried in the Grand Army of the Potomac Cemetery. He was born on February 27, 1843 in New York and died on November 11, 1914. He enlisted in Plattsburg, New York as a private. He was one of the two men who carried John Wilkes Booth out of the burning Garrett barn. His stone, as are many others in the cemetery, is flat to the ground. It was a little difficult to find but one of my ‘findagrave’ (www.findagrave.com) friends met us there and showed us the spot.
Private Emory Parady, also in Company H, 16th New York Cavalry, is buried in Lincoln Memorial Park. This cemetery is huge and on many, many acres of land. I had a map but the sections weren’t clearly marked so a stop at the office was a must. A nice gentleman led the way to the Columbine Section where Parady is buried. His tombstone reads in part: “Member of the 16th New York Cavalry, One of Twenty-Six Enlisted Men Who Captured John Wilkes Booth, the Assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.” Parady was born in New York in 1844 and died on March 14, 1924 in Portland. Private Parady interviewed Davy Herold when he surrendered at the Garrett Barn. He was a shoemaker after the war.
Fort Stevens, Oregon
Another trip included Fort Stevens in Warrenton, OR which guarded the mouth of the Columbia River, and is named for General Isaac Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Ox Hill or Chantilly. General Stevens was named the first Governor of the Washington Territory in March, 1853. Fort Stevens was open for 84 years from the beginning of the Civil War to the end of World War II. The museum at the park has a collection of Civil War items. The only Civil War enclosed earthworks on the West Coast are located at the site as well as gun batteries. There is a magnificent shipwreck on the beach, the Peter Iredale, which my daughter and I love to photograph.
So, there are Civil War adventures outside of our Virginia. You just have to look for them. I must say that Oregon is a most diverse and beautiful state. It’s pretty much only populated in the western third of the state. There aren’t many towns or roads in the eastern part of the state. We drove down to Crater Lake where there was snow on the ground and so much fog that we never saw the lake. We saw the Painted Hills, the Columbia River Gorge, lots of waterfalls, Mount Hood (snow there too), Cannon Beach, many mountains, prairies, beaches, and at least a million pine trees. At one point the terrain was absolutely flat, and you could see 360 degrees to the horizon. My daughter and I had quite an adventure together.
The Bull Run Civil War Round Table meets every second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Centreville Regional Library. The public is invited to attend at no cost and visit the website www.bullruncwrt.org for additional activities (tours, etc.)