Lacie Lowry, News On 6
PAWNEE, Oklahoma -- As America reflects on the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, enthusiasts met Saturday to honor some very special guests.
The group's mission is to honor the memory of Civil War veterans, and they managed to locate two men here in Oklahoma whose fathers were Union soldiers.
At the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum the group 'Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War' are electing new officers and conducting official business.
Tucked away in the crowd are two men whose fathers actually fought in the Civil War.
"I've had quite a life," said Charles Cox, Son of Union Soldier.
Charles Cox is 95 years old. His father, Joseph, fought with the 127th Infantry of the Illinois regiment and was 72 years old when Charles was born.
"He passed on and it left me with a void of a lot of things I would have liked to have known," Cox said.
Charles' daughter says Joseph was at the Battle of Vicksburg and eventually joined up with General Sherman.
He was caught by Confederate soldiers and thrown in prison, then escaped and went back to battle.
"We don't have a lot of oral remembrances, but we have some written remembrances of him, which is really special because he wrote them down in journals in his own handwriting," said Charles' daughter Gail Gazin.
John Whitman's father was also 72 years old when John was born. John is now 86 years old and very proud of his lineage.
"He was in the cavalry, Pennsylvania 9th Cavalry, which had a lot of success," Whitman said.
Whitman's father, Nathaniel, joined the war in 1864 at age 15. His unit received a congressional citation for their bravery, but he revealed some of the horrors of war in his diary.
"He wrote on a page, it said, 'we burned homes today.' Then the next entry says, 'we burned homes today and I wept,'" Whitman said.
Both Whitman and Cox were surprised to found out about the other, and be invited by the group that honors Civil War veterans.
"To have them here is what we're all about. To have these two gentlemen honored by us is simply what we need to be doing from here on out," said Gene Turner, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Oklahoma has 70 members in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Most of their annual meetings are held in public libraries and banquet halls, but they wanted to switch things up this year and replicate what meetings back the 1800's would have looked like.