Monday, October 10, 2016

Head Out On The Highway, Looking For Adventure

Head Out On the Highway, Looking For Adventure

"Road Trip!"  I'm like a dog that starts salivating like a dog at dinnertime when I hear those words.  Mr. and Mrs. Wombie love them, too and because Mr. Wombie likes to drive, it is a perfect combination.  

Head north out of Burlington on Route 99.  It right off the bridge and will be called initially Bluff Road.  Winding around up there you will see nice homes and a golf course.  Keep going and you'll see great open Midwest farmland and periodic signs beckoning you to turn right for 5 miles to boat dock areas.  

Around the Toolesboro area before you get to Wapello was a roadside monument with a large black granite stone.  And here began another adventure.  

Remember the scene in Saving Private Ryan where a General reads something written by Abe Lincoln regarding a mother having lost five sons in the Civil War?  That was the crux upon which the movie was built - find Private Ryan - there are limits to a family's sacrifice.  The letter was real and there was a Mrs. Bixby and apparently she lost some of her sons in the war, although perhaps not as many as some think.  You can Google it if you desire.  

Whether it was 3 sons, 4, or five, no doubt Mrs. Bixby did sacrifice and should be accorded all the laurels of a grieving mother.  War is Hell and she certainly paid a high price, as did her boys.

Perhaps you have heard of the five Sullivan boys who perished on the USS Juneau in 1942.  Or the three Niland boys, or the 4 Roger's boys, or the 30 sets of brothers on the Juneau who also died.  

That is why we were shocked to discover from this roadside stone that another family, the Littleton's, actually lost six sons in the Civil War.   Their loss and sacrifice was swept away by history and time.  Until an article in an old scrapbook was found in Louisa County Iowa four or five years ago,  the story of these young men who died serving their country, our country, might never have been known. 

George, John, Thomas,  William, Kendall, and Noah worked the family farm nearby and all enlisted to help the Union cause.   

-- George, 33 and the oldest, enlisted from New Boston, IL, and was released by the Confederates after his capture at Harper's Ferry.  Apparently he contracted a disease and died soon after returning home.  His grave has not been found.

--  John, was wounded with a thigh injury in battle at Prairie Grove, Arkansas on December 7, 1862.  He died a week and half later from that injury and is buried in a mass grave at Fayetteville national Cemetery.

-- Kendall also died in the battle at Prairie Grove and his burial spot is unknown. 

--  Thomas, suffered a head wound at Iuka, Ms., was captured in Chattanooga and sent to the Confederate prison in Andersonville, Georgia.   He died from disease on June 16, 1864 and is buried at the National Cemetery there.  

--  William, a corporal, was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and died from disease in 1863.  He is buried at the National Cemetery there.

-- Noah, the youngest at , survived the fighting at Prairie Grove but drowned in the White River in Southern Missouri.  He is buried in the National Cemetery in Springfield, Mo.  

Permelia, Kendall's Twin Sister.
No photos of the boys exist.

I'm not sure why some things in history are lost.  The parents died before the war began, but Kendall had a twin sister named Permelia who lived to 85 and died in 1929.  There were maybe 3 or four other sisters, too.  Was she, or they, so traumatized that they never spoke of their family's decimation?  Could it be that because the family had mulatto or Indian blood that it was seen as a lesser story of sacrifice?  Was this section of Iowa so rural that word never reached the writers or historians of the day?  


Descendants of Permalia's grandson Dana.  

All these guys, related to the Littleton Boys of Toolesboro, Iowa should be proud of their history.  Six young men who saw a nation divided and enlisted to help the cause.  They sought no glory, just an opportunity to heal a broken nation.  They left a farm, their farm, for a bigger purpose maybe even they didn't understand.  May you rest in peace:  George, William, Thomas, Kendall,  John and Noah.  A nation finally finding you shall never forget.

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