General William Grose

HCHS is housed in Civil War General William Grose’s home, which was built in 1870.

Remembering Gen. William Grose

Posted by on Jul 20, 2013 in General William Grose, Historically Speaking | 0 comments

Remembering Gen. William Grose
‘Look out, here comes Gen. Grose!’
Grose was a leader in war, peace and local advancement
This painting of Gen. William Grose hangs by the staircase in the Henry County Historical Society museum on South 14th Street. He's pictured here with his horse
This painting of Gen. William Grose hangs by the staircase in the Henry County Historical Society museum on South 14th Street. He’s pictured here with his horse “Tennessee.” (David Burns / C-T photo)

By DARREL RADFORD
Historically Speaking

Let’s turn back the clock to 19th century New Castle. You’re on Broad Street on a quiet, peaceful day. Then suddenly you hear the sound of a galloping horse and someone says “Look out — here comes Gen. Grose.”

It apparently was a common occurrence. Even in his later years, the general was known to live life at a brisk pace.

“If you were a resident of New Castle in the 19th century, you undoubtedly were cautioned on occasion while walking the streets of New Castle to move aside a bit while a militant gentleman on a galloping horse charged down the streets, splattering mud on passersby during rainy days or stirring up billowing clouds of dust during the droughts of summer and autumn,” read an essay on Grose’s life from Henry County Historical Society archives.

That image of Grose galloping down the street speaks volumes about New Castle’s Civil War hero, who died 113 years ago this month at the age of 87.

His death not only made headline news but took up most of the front page in some publications. His funeral service was reported to one of the largest in New Castle history.

A tribute to Gen. Grose, typed in red ink on plain newsprint, is part of the Henry County Historical Society archives. It indicates the galloping horse was a symbol of his life.

“It wasn’t necessarily true that the General’s haste meant he was on a life-or-death errand,” the essay read. “More likely, he was headed for his downtown office, where he practiced successfully the profession of law. Or perhaps he was on his way to the post office to get the day’s mail. Maybe he was headed for the country to check on things at his farm, just west of the county poor farm.

“But this was the way William Grose did things — if he were alive today, he would be called a go-getter, a spark plug, a member of the lively generation. Energy and ambition — these attributes Grose possessed in abundance.”

For many years — even generations — the Grose name symbolized patriotism, leadership and courage. Both of his grandfathers had served in the Revolutionary War and one of them actually died trying to give America its first taste of freedom. His father was a soldier during the War of 1812 — the war that broke the bondage with England for good, and produced our national anthem in the process.

As we have said in previous columns, the general was where “the bullets flew the thickest” during the Civil War. The names of commanders he served under reads like a PBS documentary — Buell, Nelson, Thomas, Sherman.

In the spring of 1856, he attended the Pittsburg convention which organized the Republican Party and, as the newspaper said, “had the high honor of being one of the founders of the greatest and most successful political party of modern times. He served in both the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate.

Grose was called “a progressive thinker.” Anyone today that drives Dublin Pike or purchases goods delivered by railroad have Grose, in part, to thank.

“In 1848, when the railroad boom was beginning throughout the Midwest, Grose was an active participant in local meetings to bring railroad service to New Castle. Three years later, the laying of tracks from Richmond to this city was underway. In 1852, Grose was elected president of a company to build a turnpike or plank road from Dublin to New Castle. And when the need for a machine and foundry shop became apparent in 1870, Grose put his stamp of approval on the project by saying he had a lively interest in anything that would improve the town.”

Yet, the archives also indicate Grose had, at times, a somewhat grouchy demeanor. That reputation struck fear in the hearts of some.

“The late Judge John Morris delivered papers at the Grose home as a boy,” Historical Society archives read. “This building at that time was practically out in the country. Judge Morris would run up and leave the paper, then dash away before encountering the mean old general. Today, he’d probably be called a crusty old so-and-so.”

The historical society archives include a quote from Judge Eugene Bundy about Grose, spoken at the 13th reunion of the 36th regiment during the general’s twilight years.

“This old gray-headed man here,” Judge Bundy said, pointing to Gen. Grose alongside him, “is an inspiration to the citizens of New Castle and every citizen in Henry County. How many communities can boast of such a grand old man as your old commander?

“I do not over-estimate or over-state when I say that the war produced no braver or greater soldier than your old commander. He is an inspiration to every young man, every old man, and to every one that lives in the community and to everyone who knows him. His career has been one of the grandest and if he should die tomorrow, he would die the honored and respected friend of all the community.”

Bundy — one of the founders of the Henry County Historical Society — would no doubt be pleased to see the picture of Gen. Grose as a young man greeting museum visitors into his home today. He’d also be interested in going upstairs — where a tribute of another war hero is located — that of his brother, Gen. Omar Bundy, the hero of Bellau Wood credited with turning around World War I for the United States.

Darrel Radford is a staff writer for The Courier-Times and a board member for the Henry County Historical Society. For more info on the museum, go to www.henrycountyhs.org.

 

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The day Gen. William Grose died

Posted by on Jul 13, 2013 in General William Grose, Historically Speaking | 0 comments

By DARREL RADFORD

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING

It was a late Monday afternoon in July 113 years ago when a well-known New Castle soldier fought his last battle.

Gen. William Grose, the Civil War hero who worked under such legendary names as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and Gen. Don Carlos Buell, died on July 30, 1900, at his home on South 14th Street in New Castle.

“Universal grief” was the description one report used as word spread that the general was gone. The impact was felt not just in New Castle, according to the New Castle Courier.

“There are very few of the older families in Henry, Delaware, Wayne, Fayette and Union counties that are not strongly attached to William Grose with the bonds of tender memories of brave boys whom they sent out with him and who shared his hardships and perils with him, willingly sacrificing their lives or returning with him at the close of the war, broken in health, to mourn the rest of their days over the wrecks of their once vigorous manhood.

“Because of these tenderest of all associations, the death of General Grose casts the deep gloom of mourning over the people of this whole section of the State as well as over multitudes farther away. And in the community which held him dear, this grief is most keen.”

The newspaper reported Grose’s health had been “poor for a long time.” A few days before he died, Grose suffered a second stroke of paralysis.

Interestingly, however, the general was seen two or three months earlier on his horse in the downtown area.

“He came through the streets on horseback, sitting as straight as an arrow and looking every inch the soldier he was,” The Courier reported. “General Grose was known and loved by every man, woman and child in New Castle.”

Just a short time after that appearance, the general was gone. But the legacy he left behind lives on. And what a legacy it was.

While best known as a general, Grose was also a legislator and a judge. He participated in the organization of the national Republican party, was a presidential elector on the Franklin Pierce ticket and even a candidate for Congress in 1852.

While the war ended in 1865, its impact never truly left Gen. Grose. A wound he received during the battle of Chickamauga caused much pain and suffering the rest of his life.

Archives of the Henry County Historical Society report that Gen. Grose’s funeral brought many of his old soldiers to town on a Wednesday afternoon along with friends of his days in politics and members of the bar he had served with as a lawyer.

“After paying their last respects as the body lay in state in this house (the Grose home), many stayed for the services conducted by Rev. Milton Mahin of The Methodist Episcopal Church. The funeral procession to South Mound Cemetery included Company G of The National Guard, the New Lisbon Band (a town he once served a postmaster) and many, many friends of the famed citizen.”

One interesting story about Gen. Grose came with his faithful horse, who seemed to display the same attention to command his soldiers were known for through his military years.

“Gen. Grose almost always is associated with a horse,” Historical Society archives said. “A horse he supposedly brought home he called ‘Framey’ because it was so thin. Although Framey had been wounded during the war, he still served the general faithfully and the master and the horse were very close.

“Now the general, we are told, was one of those methodical creatures who keeps a rigid schedule. One day when time came for Framey to carry his master home from the office, the general did not appear. It was time to go, so Framey went – stopping at the post office and the store for the customary loaf of bread, then ambling on home.”

Without his master

There was no report on how Gen. Grose got home that day. Was he angry the horse had left him behind? Or was he smiling because the time-sensitive horse had shown such discipline and attention to schedule. Perhaps a little of both.

More on Gen. Grose next week.

Darrel Radford is a staff writer for The Courier-Times and a board member for The Henry County Historical Society. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at www.henrycountyhs.org for more local history.

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The general’s 200th birthday

Posted by on Nov 3, 2012 in General William Grose, Historically Speaking | 0 comments

The general’s 200th birthday
Kevin Stonerock’s portrayal celebrates Gen. Grose
Kevin Stonerock portrayed a Civil War union soldier at the Henry County Historical Society Tea. (Darrel Radford / C-T photo)
Kevin Stonerock portrayed a Civil War union soldier at the Henry County Historical Society Tea. (Darrel Radford / C-T photo)

By DARREL RADFORD
dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Before the cake was served, conversation included “hard tack” – that simple but rather tasteless biscuit that had an amazing shelf life. There were no candles, but plenty of light was shed on the Civil War. Likewise, there were no gifts, but plenty of sacrifice.

In other words, it was a birthday observance which Gen. William Grose might have appreciated.

It was the 200th anniversary of Grose‘s birthday and the Henry County Historical Society celebrated by taking a trip back in time, courtesy of Kevin Stonerock.

The local songwriter and dramatist – who has done more than 300 Civil War-related presentations – brought William Fentress to life in front of a captivated crowd of more than 60 people. Fentress served under Gen. Grose‘s command in Company D of the 36th Indiana infantry. A soldier who eventually lost his life in battle, Fentress is regarded by local historians as one of Henry County’s “most gallant soldiers.”

Stonerock’s presentation was poignant, eye-opening and, at times, even funny. The true-life story of Fentress can be found in Hazzard’s History of Henry County.

According to Hazzard, the Fentress family, as did many others in the early days of Henry County, came originally from North Carolina. From there, they moved to Tennessee, and Hazzard says it is from this family that Fentress County, where Jamestown Tenn., is located, got its name.

Stonerock’s performance last Sunday portrayed the soldier during some of the last days of his life, when Fentress was on leave. It was March of 1864, just before the beginning of the climactic Atlanta campaign. He was granted a short furlough home. It was the only time he saw his wife and children after his first departure for the front.

Fentress, like his commander, Gen. Grose, was no stranger to danger. He was wounded at Shiloh, Tenn. in 1862 and again at Dalton, Ga., in 1864 during a charge by Gen. Grose‘s brigade on an entrenched enemy.

During his presentation, Stonerock told the audience the early days of soldiering were “boring” and that many of the men were anxious to see some “real” action. That was before the horrors of war were realized.

According to Hazzard’s writing, Fentress was a popular and well-respected soldier whose actions spoke louder than any words could.

“He was the ideal soldier of his company, patient in camp, enduring on the march, brave and steadfast in battle; ever solicitous for the welfare of his comrades,” Hazzard’s History says of Fentress. “He was always anxious to relieve, as far as possible, the needs of the weak and the sick.”

Fentress was killed on May 31, 1864.

“It can truly be said of him that no soldier or officer of the famous 36th Regiment was more deeply mourned by his comrades, not only of Company D, but of the entire regiment, of which he was a general favorite.” Hazzard’s History said.

Fentress was among more than 2,000 boys and men from farms and small towns in Henry County who fought for the Union Army. All but 200 of them were volunteers.

Sadly, 25 percent of them – including Fentress – never made it home. Philander Wisehart of Fall Creek Township was the first local casualty, killed at Rich Mountain, W. Va., just 10 days before the battle of Bull Run.

In all, Henry County suffered 500 deaths, thousands of injuries and sicknesses before the Civil War ended.

The 200th anniversary of Gen. Grose‘s birthday is this Sunday. A story about his life was published in last Saturday’s issue of The Courier-Times. For more information, visit the Henry County Historical Society website at www.henrycountyhs.org

Darrel Radford is executive director of the Henry County Historical Society and a staff writer for The Courier-Times.

 

 

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