Newsletter Articles

From The Bookshelf 

by Mike Denton 

History of the 115th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry by Isaac Henry Clay Royse

History of the 115th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry 

by Isaac Henry Clay Royse 

Recently Past Commander Fred Apgar gifted your editor with a copy of this book, I having mentioned to him that my great-grandfather, Micager Denton, served in this unit from the time of Lincoln’s early call for volunteers to prosecute the war against the confederacy. Denton and his brother, David, enlisted on the same day in June 1862 and served in Company A, until the regiment was mustered out in in July 1864. 

Royse, the book’s author, was a Lieutenant in Company E of the regiment. The book is based on official rescords and the memories of Royse and his comrades. Micager Denton died about the time Royse started work on the book, which was published in 1900) so Micager’s personal experience is not included. 

History of the 115th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry by Isaac Henry Clay Royse
Pvt. Micager Denton, 115th Illinois Infantry -1862

Since moving away from Edmonds, Fred has been touring civil war battlefields, all over the southeast, including the Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, in southeastern Tennessee, in which the 115th Illinois played a significant role. Chicamauga was one of the bloodier battles of the war featuring Union forces under General William Rosecrans and Gen. Braxton Braggs Confederate troops. The two sides suffered over 35,000 casualties in those two days, distributed as shown below:

Union Casualties: 

17,170
1,857 killed
9,956 wounded
5,157 captured or missing

Confederate Casualties:
18,454
2,313 killed
4,674 wounded
1,468 captured or missing 

Bragg out-generaled Rosecrancs, as the southern generals often did, but as was also so often the case, took more casualties than the south could readily replace, thereby bringing the eventual Union victory that much closer. 

Royse vividly describes three years of marching around Tennessee and Kentucky, chasing small Confederate units, skirmishing along the way, in the lead-up to Chicamauga and the subsequent battles to neart Nashville., which preced Sherman’s “March to the Sea” 

Also included in the book is an exploration of the experience of Union troops captured and held as prisoners of war in such notorious places as the Andersonville POW camp. The experience of a POW is never pleasant and that of captured troops in the Civil War was no exception, on both sides. 

Royse’ descriptions of camp life would probably not seem unfamiliar to any infantry soldier in the field to this day, absent modern communications, transport and medical care, (though one has to think that today’s MRE rations would beat the civil war soldiers’ hard tack and salt meat, supplemented with local foraging). 

If such histories interest you, this is one well worth reading. Following Apgar’s travels around the civil war battlefields, as her reports them on Facebook, which is what started us on this journey, has also been a worthwhile activity. 

Thanks Fred! 

June Post Meeting 

Much of the June meeting was devoted to planning for coming summer activities, including the Edmonds Kind of 4th parade for which VFW Post 8870 and American Legion Post 66 have performed lead color guard duties for many years. A full report with all available photos will be published in the July issue of this newsletter in the coming weeks. In addition to the parade planning which follows the outline laid out in the May issue. Return of our annual joint picnic/barbecue was also planned. Several of our staff, including Commander Carl Kurfess and Adjutant Jim Traner (who also serves as a Department Trustee, were to attend the Department of Washington Convention, which was held in Spokane this year. Those attending act as our Post delegates for the purpose of electing Department staff for the coming year and other official business. 

Other Summer activities – Edmonds Summer Market 

We want to hold one or more recruiting events (and Poppy distributions) at the Edmonds Summer Market sometime in the August-October timeline. We should be firming those plans up at the July Post meeting and will need your support. Stay tuned for further details. 

You will notice in the photo at lower right on page one, the presence of a new speakersystem, for which Commander Carl received purchase approval at the May meeting. We have a number of members who have hearing challenges (most vets do to some degree, especially those of us who served before the days of hearing protection devices. (Those weapons are loud!) The new system is providing better amplification of speakers during meetings. 

Post Officer Changes 

Cal Barnard, our elected Quartermaster, has been asked to take over as Adjutant by the commander. He has accepted that appointed position and has resigned as our elected Quartermaster. We will elect a new Quartermaster at the July post meeting. 

Monthly Meet Up to Connect Military, Veteran & Civilian Culture

Did you know?

A monthly meet up to connect military, veteran and civilian cultures. Speakers each month share knowledge. Learn something, meet someone new and make a difference.

Watch for a review of the upcoming July 13 event, to be held at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza, announnced earlier via email. 

The next event will be on August 10 at the Edmonds Food Bank, 828 Caspers St, from 10:30 to 12:30 PM and will feature a panel of Veteran Services, including Lori Tiffin, YMCA, Shawnee Baza, Dept of Veteran Affairs and James Armstrong of Workforce and DVA. 

Coffee and baked treats at 10:30; Lunch at 11:45, speaker at 12:00 PM. 

Did You Know? is a collaboration of Edmonds Food Bank and Operation Military Families. 

VFW Remembers Woody Williams 

VFW Remembers Woody Williams

The VFW is mourning the loss of the last living WWII Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, who passed away at the age of 98. After WWII, he continued to serve the veteran community through his work at VA, his nonprofit the Woody Williams Foundation, and his tireless advocacy efforts for Gold Star families. Williams was a Gold Legacy member of VFW Post 7048, which bears his name, located in Fairmont, West Virginia. “

On behalf of the entire 1.5 million-member VFW family, our deepest condolences go out to Woody’s entire family, and we salute one of the last greatest of the ‘Greatest Generation,’” said VFW National Commander Matthew “Fritz” Mihelcic. 

The youngest of 11 children, Woody was born on a dairy farm in Quiet Dell, West Virginia, on October 2, 1923. He continueg to serve following WWII and retired from the Marine Corps after 17 years of service, with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4. 

During WWII, Woody served in New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, and Guam before landing in Iwo Jima where his “valiant devotion to duty” earned him the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him by President Harry Truman in a ceremony at the White House on October 5, 1945. 

Do You Recognize this Young Airman? 

Les Abel

From time to time we are able to get our hands on photos of Post comrades from their days of active service, giving us a glimpse of the young service members we once were. 

This photograph of Les Abel is dated, Les tells us, from 1951, when he was a young Airman stationed in Germany for a then even younger USAF. 

Les has been a very active member of VFW Post 8870 for many years and in recent years has been the perennial Commander of American Legion Post 66. 

Hey, we’d recognize Les anywhere! 

2022-23 Dept. of Washington Commander Sworn In 

2022-23 Department of Washington Commander Paul Herrera 

2022-23 Department of Washington Commander Paul Herrera

Herrera is an Army veteran from Post 2224 in Puyallup. 

VFW Department of Washington 2022-23 Officers were elected at the State Convention in Spokane in June. Here is a list of the principal command staff. A complete list of all elected and appointed officers can be found on the Department of Washington web site. https://vfwwa.org/ 

Paul Herrera, Commander – Army, Post 2224, Puyallup 
Craig Dougherty, Sr. Vice Commander – Army – Post 6785, Kent 
Perry Taylor, Jr. Vice Commander- Navy- Post 7392, Oak Harbor 
Fred Green, State Adjutant, Quartermaster – Navy – Post 9430, Seattle 
Drew James, Judge Advocate – Army – Post 7511, Monroe 
Frank Persa – Army Post 5580, Yelm 

The opening ceremonies at the State Convention in Spokane.  At front right is our own District 1 Commander Otis Wolfe
The opening ceremonies at the State Convention in Spokane. At front right is our own District 1 Commander Otis Wolfe

Military Trivia by Carl Kurfess 

Last ditch effort

Last ditch effort 

Final and determined attempt. 

In 16th and 17th century warfare when armies were preparing the ground for a pitched battle, they would dig several lines of trenches in case they needed to retreat and regroup in prepared positions. If the men found themselves in the last ditch they had no option other than to fight where they stood or to die. 

The Balloon went up

The Balloon went up 

Indication of imminent trouble 

Before a World War I infantry attack, artillery would soften up the target area. Before opening fire, observation balloons were sent aloft to observe and correct aim. This obviously alerted the troops in the trenches that it would not be long before they would be sent over the top to attack. So “the balloon went up” came to mean imminent trouble. 

Parting shot 

Parting shot 

Cutting remark issued on departure. 

The army of the Parthian dynasty of Persia (modern Iran) had a number of lightly equipped horse archers. They were extremely skillful and one of their tactics was to fake a retreat and then turn in their saddle and cut down pursuers with an unexpected shot. Over time, the expression has changed from “Parthian shot” to “parting shot”. 

Works cited Donald, G., Wiest, A., & Shepherd, W. (2013). S”cklers, Sideburns and Bikinis: The military origins of everyday words and phrases. Bloomsbury Publishing.

IN WATERS DEEP 

We recently ran across this poem, by a unknown author, which is a sort of sailor’s version of Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”. While we don’t for a moment mean to denigrate the Colonel’s wonderful piece, this does present a different point of view. There are a lot of sailors resting out there with no chance of a grave marker. 

IN WATERS DEEP

IN WATERS DEEP 

In ocean waves no poppies blow, 
No crosses stand in ordered row. 
There young hearts sleep… beneath the wave… 
The spirited, the good, the brave, 
But stars a constant vigil keep, 
For them who lie beneath the deep. 

‘Tis true you cannot kneel in prayer 
On certain spot and think. “He’s there.” 
But you can to the ocean go… 
See whitecaps marching row on row; 
Know one for him will always ride… 
In and out… with every tide. 

And when your span of life is passed, 
He’ll meet you at the “Captain’s Mast.” 

And they who mourn on distant shore
For sailors who’ll come home no more, 
Can dry their tears and pray for these 
Who rest beneath the heaving seas… 
For stars that shine and winds that blow 
And whitecaps marching row on row. 

And they can never lonely be 
For when they lived… they chose the sea.

April Post Meeting 

Freedom Scholarship Winners Feted 

At the April Post meeting, our Freedom Scholarship winners attended with members of their families and each read her essay for the assembled membership. (Both essays were published in last month’s newsletter.) 

The photo below at left shows Christiana Burkhalter of Kamiak High School in Mukilteo reading her essay and at right, Hazel Warner of Meadowdale High School, appears holding her certificate of award. Congratulations once again to both of these young women! 

2022-23 Post Officers Installed 

The business session of the Post meeting, was attended by District Commander Otis Wolf, who acted as the installing officer, swearing in the 2022-23 Post officers. 

As announced in the April newsletter, all of our 2021-22 elected officers were re-elected with the exception of Cal Barnard, who is succeeding our long time Quartermaster, Dennis Peterson. Dennis has chosen to “retire” from that important Post job. Please join us in thanking Dennis for his long service to the post! 

You will find a full list of officers in the election reports on the post web site:
www.vfw8870.org/post-officers.

Memorial Day “Buddy Poppy” Distribution 

On Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, veterans of both VFW Post 8870 and American Legion Post 66 handed out “Buddy Poppies” at three store locations; QFC in Edmonds, QFC Mukilteo and Town & Country Market in Mill Creek. 

In spite of the help of some family members and others, we were unable to muster sufficient personnel to staff the fourth and fifth stores we have worked in the past. In spite of this reduction in manpower and reaching fewer stores, we had an excellent weekend of fund raising, bringing in a total of $14,091.16 to bolster our Relief Fund. While this number is considerably short of our record highs of the past, (over $18,000 for Veterans Day 2019) it is still satisfying to be able to get back out there after these past two years of Covid restrictions. 

The public was most welcoming, offering profuse thanks for our service and recognizing the sacrifice of our comrades who never made it home. 

For those of you who were unable to help at the stores: An anonymous donor has offered to match up to $1,500.00 in Relief Fund donations from members in lieu of such participation. If you would like to participate in that offer, which we hope would raise an additional $3,000.00, send your check to the Post PO Box, or go on the donation page of the website. Be sure to note on your check, or online donation, that it is for the Relief Fund matching program. The below is a chart of the weekend results by store. 

Memorial Day Poppy Revenues by Location

Memorial Day Buddy Poppy Distribution