A wave of blue clad soldiers with bayonets
extended rushed towards the picket pits as the Tennessee regiment
prepared to meet the charge. The Confederates were ordered to
hold fast, to be captured rather than retreat and be killed. Elijah
Fisk Yeager did not hear the order. He rushed back to the breastworks
with bullets whistling all around him. His brother, my grandfather,
Abraham Hoss Yeager, stayed. General William T. Sherman later
declared that charge at Kennesaw Mountain was the worst mistake
of his career, for the concentrated crossfire of Confederate guns
stacked up Union bodies so deep their comrades could scarcely
climb over them.
During a truce declared so the casualties could be removed, Elijah asked the Yankees if there were any Confederate dead in the picket pits, which were less than 100 feet from the Union lines. There were none. Elijah assumed, correctly, that Abe had been captured. Abe survived the cruel treatment of Camp Douglas, Ill., prison. Elijah suffered hardships that would shorten his life, but he, too, survived.
Both would become Texas teachers, lawyers and newspaper editors. Elijah would be a state legislator. He died in 1890 in Waxahachie. Abe, who wrote of his experiences in a book called Jacob Klodsloe: One of the Nobodies, died in 1940 in Cleburne. Their families were close for years, but their descendants eventually lost contact.
Fast forward to the 1990s. My sister, Marian Yeager Luke, lives in Des Moines, Iowa. A friend of hers was a patient of a Dr. Anson Yeager Jr. Marian saw his picture and told her friend, "There has to be a relationship."
Dr. Yeager knew little about his ancestors. He had heard that they went from Virginia to Texas by way of Tennessee. His uncle, Marian learned, was the genealogist of the family.
She met Professor Iver Yeager and found that the relationship was exactly what she had expected. The doctor's father, Anson Yeager Sr., and his uncle are grandsons of Elijah. We are granddaughters of Abraham.Anson's and Iver's father, Elijah's son, was Charles Yeager; and our father, son of Abraham Hoss, was Abraham Hightower Yeager.
Since that fortuitous meeting in Des Moines, we have exchanged information and photos. They have sent us copies of letters Elijah wrote home to his sister, Fannie, during the war. They have visited with Marian and her husband, Jim Luke. My husband, Bill Walraven, and I have visited Iver and his wife Natalee in Jacksonville, Illinois.We have exchanged visits with Anson and his wife, Ada May, during their stay in Alamo as Winter Texans from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
It pays to talk to a namesake. It's a minor miracle to find close kin you never knew you had.