Skaug Law - January 2020

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Jan 2020 Divided on the Battlefield but Sharing a Descendant

What I Found in My Family Tree

war. While you can read pretty much anything online now, sometimes, in order to truly understand someone’s circumstances, you have to see the things they saw for yourself. Visiting Tennessee helped me understand that armies had to make good use of existing roads because the forests there are too thick to march through. I learned how big of an obstacle crossing rivers could be, especially when they swelled after a big rainstorm. Understanding the terrain is incredibly important if you want to understand the history of an area. I was fortunate to have access to some firsthand resources and to interview a few willing participants in my research project. I got to talk about these two soldiers with my grandmother and my great aunt before they passed. They actually knew these men’s families, and they could tell me what they remembered about them. I also had access to some handwritten notes and letters they had sent to family during that time. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t seem like families talk about where their ancestors came from or what they did. Those stories often get lost after a generation or so. Maybe it’s an American thing. I don’t know, but the Civil War was incredibly brutal and very personal, which might be why a lot of people don’t talk about it. In Tennessee, neighbors often fought on opposite sides of the war. When you study the past, it can be difficult to unravel all the interconnected threads, but I get a lot of enjoyment from it. Studying history is a hobby of mine, and I think having hobbies of any kind is important. You can’t just work all the time; a good hobby energizes you and helps you be better at your job. I’ve been able to apply my knowledge of history to my knowledge of the law countless times. I can pull stories from the past, the present, and the future. What hobbies bring you enjoyment, and how can they make you better at your job?

I’m fascinated by history. You could give me the history of linoleum to read, and I would probably find it interesting. Every person has a story, a past behind their present, and I enjoy learning about them all. For the past couple of years, I’ve served on the Nampa City Council. While I’ve deeply valued the experience I’ve had

1862 Enfield and flag

there, I’m excited to finish up my duties and get back to a passion project of mine. Before I started on the City Council, I had researched some of my family’s ancestry dating back to the Civil War and planned to write a book comprised of all the research I had conducted. Now that I have the time, I’ll finally get a chance to write the book. Of course, before I was able to write anything, I had to research the backgrounds of two distant relatives. The first, a Union soldier, was an 18-year-old boy named John Belford in the 84th Illinois Infantry. The second, a Confederate soldier named Hyrum McAliley, served in the 31st Tennessee Infantry. They fought in the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battle of Stones River, where they were about 150 yards apart from one another. The Battle of Chickamauga saw almost the highest number of casualties of any battle during the Civil War, second only to the Battle of Gettysburg. John Belford died from wounds he sustained in that battle, and Hyrum McAliley died in Atlanta in 1864 after fighting many battles for the South. But both of them had siblings who survived the war. One had a little brother, and another a little sister. Those two eventually got married, and that’s why I exist today.

During the research phase of this project, I visited the places where both of these soldiers grew up and where they fought throughout the

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