The Red Badges of Courage Worth Remembering

The Grave of Lewis F. Darrow, my 2nd great grand uncle, who died in the Civil War

Grandma’s boys

Two young men, Lewis F. Darrow and Jonathan C. Darrow, mustered into service August 26, 1862. They were two young men that never returned home to Liberty, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. These brothers, Lewis and Jonathan, were my 2nd great grand uncles and sons of my 3rd great grandmother, Janie Darrow. 

Lewis F. Darrow died on his way to the war in Washington DC on December 18, 1862. The cause of death is not listed. He never made it to the battlefield, but died on the way to defend the Union of the United States. He is buried in the Military Asylum Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He was 20 years old. He was the oldest son of a family of at least eleven children.

Jonathan C. Darrow died at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3, 1863. The battle of Chancellorsville at its time was considered the bloodiest of American history (obtained from This is the same battle where the infamous Confederate Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded; and the historical novel Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is alleged to be based on the events at Chancellorsville. The Union Army suffered approximately 17,000 casualties and the Confederate side had about 13,000. Jonathan Darrow’s body was put in a mass grave. He never received a tombstone. However, a monument to his regiment now stands in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Jonathan was 19 years old when he was killed in action.He was the second oldest child of his family.

Honor Roll of Soldiers who Died in Defense of the Union

Lewis and Jonathan Darrow were in the 141st Infantry Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company H during the Civil War. In the words of the History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, they were among the Honor Roll of the “Soldiers Who Died in Defense of the Union.” 

My 3rd great grandmother, Janie Darrow, had lost her two oldest sons in the Civil War.There was also a third son, James, who disappeared from the record. I have been unable to track him up to this point. He may have also been a casualty. Although I did run across a newspaper article of an individual by the same name who had committed suicide years later. I have not been able to confirm if this was indeed the same person.

And although never listed in any book or “Honor Roll,” my great grandmother Janie’s heart was broken in defense of this same “Union.” It was a difficult time of history in our country. As I study the records, I noticed that 1863 was also the year that her in-laws from the Walker side lost at least two whole families from the Black Fever, an epidemic that hit her county. In 1866 her daughter, Olive, the sister of Lewis and Jonathan, died of unknown causes. According to Olive’s gravestone, she was 16 years, 11 months and 15 days. By the way the stone was written, her family emphasized that Olive did not make it to her 17th birthday. Janie, herself would live to be 88 years old and died in Broome County, New York.  She outlived at least five of her children.

Connecting the Dots to Remember

The history is there. Events emerge in the records. We need only to connect the dots to figure out what might have happened to our ancestors. No doubt these events resulted in a tremendous amount of emotional trauma and sadness. I noticed that so far out of all my family tree lines, Janie Darrow’s is the most complete in marking her children with gravestones. It makes you wonder if she made a point of making sure that this was done as her two oldest sons (maybe three) had never returned home.

Honor Roll of Our Confederate Side 

Mother’s Day in the United States was founded for the mothers who had lost sons during the Civil War.  Interestingly, my own children were born in Virginia. Their ancestors on my husband’s side fought on the Confederate side.  Winfield “Scott” Stanley was a member of the Conscripts at Camp Lee, Virginia (my husband’s great grandfather) and Elijah Edens (my husband’s 2nd great grandfather), was a private of the 4th Company B of the 4th Infantry Regiment Virginia.The history of the Civil War is really about the history of families in the United States.

Memorial Day is about Family History

The observance of Memorial Day is one of remembering our soldiers and those who have passed on.The information that I have been able to dig up in my Darrow family tree had been lost to those of my generation. I am happy to be able to help Janie’s descendants to “remember” these folks, once again.

Happy Memorial Day to Lewis and Jonathan Darrow! Happy Memorial Day to Great Grandma Janie! Happy Memorial Day to all of those I have failed to mention and have yet to remember!

Grant them eternal rest O Lord!

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