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Job Carr: Pioneer & Patriot

Written by: Neil Loomis | edited by Mary Bowlby

A Proud American

The black and white photo is somewhat grainy. It hangs just inside the Cabin door. In it, you see Job, himself, standing beside his “lonely cabin in the woods.” Upon closer examination, you can see something protruding from the front porch roof – a flag. Though it isn’t a clear photo, the appearance of stripes on the fabric – flapping in the breeze – is unmistakable. What does this symbol of American pride tell us about Job and his times? What influenced his sentiments and his actions? Though we have few words on the subject in Job’s accounts, we can learn much about the man when we look at the culture of American patriotism in the mid-nineteenth century.

Patriotic Expression

First, let’s consider music – one of Job’s favorite pastimes. Music played a vital role during the Civil War, not only as entertainment, but as a means for rallying the troops, North and South alike. Music was so prevalent nearly every Union regiment went to battle with its own band. Bugles would sound, awaking soldiers in the morning, calling them to meals and meetings during the day, and alerting them to “lights out” when the day came to an end. Drums and fifes accompanied the soldiers into battle and played during combat, and again after the battle to raise the morale of wounded soldiers. General Robert E. Lee wrote about this vital part of a soldier’s life, saying, “I don’t believe we could have an army without music.”

Soldiers were not the only group to take interest in the newfound music of the period. Passions were stirred by the Civil War; emotions ran high as succession and abolition were debated. The realities of bloodshed and loss touched everyone. As a result, average Americans felt the need to express themselves, and music was the most popular outlet. It is estimated that during the first year of the war, over two thousand new songs were published, and the number only increased over the next three years.

Cover of the 1862 sheet music for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Although the sheer number of new music produced was staggering, two in particular stood out among the rest: The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie, which became unofficial anthems for the Republic and the Confederacy respectively. The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Julia Ward Howe, is a perfect example of the patriotic sentiment of the era and its expression through music. In her memoirs titled Reminiscences, Howe recalls a feeling of discouragement from not having a direct impact on the war, “I thought of the women of my acquaintance whose sons or husbands were fighting our great battle; the women themselves serving in the hospitals, or busying themselves with the work of the Sanitary Commission. My husband, as already said, was beyond the age of military service, my eldest son but a stripling; my youngest was a child of not more than two years. I could not leave my nursery to follow the march of our armies, neither had I the practical deftness which the preparing and packing of sanitary stores demanded.”

Howe soon contributed to the war effort in a different way when she penned these words. She had heard Union troops sing the popular song, John Brown’s Body, and believed the lyrics could be improved. Once published in the Atlantic Monthly, it didn’t take long before the song was heard in the Union camps.

A Dedicated Life

While the sentiment of patriotism inspired Howe to write the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the same feeling drove copious amounts of men to volunteer as soldiers. Whether from the North or the South, they were moved to fight because of a genuine belief in America’s promise of freedom and liberty. The Union men saw the secession of the South as a threat to a unified nation, while the rebels viewed the government as a threat to states’ rights. Walt Whitman observed this phenomenon during the Civil War and later wrote, “People of their own choice, fighting, dying for their own idea,...not for gain, nor even glory, nor to repel invasion – but for an emblem, a mere abstraction – for the life, the safety of the flag.”

Job Carr was one of these men. Job, an antiwar Quaker and considerably past the age of military enlistment, joined the cause. He was a bitter anti-slavery man. During his two years of service on the front, he was wounded at Shiloh, and again in Atlanta. Job’s family did their part for the war effort, as his wife Rebecca volunteered as a nurse and his two sons, Anthony and Howard, were both Civil War veterans. After Job’s death, a Tacoma resident by the name of Mr. Barton chronicled his time in the Union Army in his eulogy, “When the toxin of war sounded in 1861, Job Carr enlisted in Company I of the 36th Indiana Volunteers. At that time he lacked but three years of being half a century old. He was injured... and received a discharge. He was thus a retired veteran soldier of the rebellion at the age of fifty years, when the country had need of younger hands, but not braver hearts than Job Carr. He had nobly sustained the principles of patriotism inculcated in his youth by carrying his life in his hands through nearly three years of blood strife because he loved his country better than he loved his life.”

Opportunity Calls

Patriotic fervor also found an outlet in westward movement. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny gave practical application to the American ideals of Nationalism and Patriotism – “Go West!” As a Civil War veteran, Job was entitled to a claim of 160 acres on the frontier. After having been honorably discharged, Carr started on another patriotic endeavor when he left Indiana in the summer of 1864. He had decided to search for the place – somewhere on Puget Sound – that would become the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Prior to 1864, the wooded lands surrounding Commencement Bay were mostly inhabited by the Puyallup Tribe. A few white settlers had tried to make a life here, but no one stayed. In fall 1864, Job Carr made his appearance. He started in Olympia – “never having heard of any other place on the Sound before my arrival” and proceeded to explore Puget Sound, looking for the bay that had the most potential as a port. Once he decided Commencement Bay was the best place for a terminus, he erected his cabin in the area we now called “Old Town.” Job’s patriotism expressed itself in many ways. The flag, flying from the porch roof, was the exclamation point on the life of a true nineteenth-century American patriot.

Works Cited

Bodnar, John E. Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1996. Print.

Carr, Job. Oral History, Dictated and Signed by Mr. Carr, c. 1885, Carr Family Papers.

---. “The Dead Pioneer, Laid Away in Tacoma Cemetery by Grand Army of the Republic Comrades.” Tacoma Daily Ledger, 1887.

Howe, Julia Ward. Reminiscences, 1819-1899. Washington, D.C.: Ross & Perry, 2002. Print.

Hunt, Herbert. Tacoma Its History and Its Builders: a Half Century of Activity. Tacoma, WA: Tacoma Historical Society, 2005. Print.

Lanning, Michael Lee. The Civil War 100: the Stories behind the Most Influential Battles, People and Events in the War between the States. Naperville, IL: Source, 2006. Print.

McWhirter, Christian. “Liberty’s Great Auxiliary.” Web.

Phillips, James Wendell. Washington State Place Names. Seattle: University of Washington, 1971. Print.

Selcer, Richard F. Civil War America, 1850 to 1875. New York: Facts On File, 2006. Print.

Snell, Mark A., and Bruce C. Kelley. Bugle Resounding: Music and Musicians of the Civil War Era. Columbia: University of Missouri, 2004. Print.

About the Author

Neil Loomis authored several feature articles for the Eureka Times newsletter. Neil graduated from University of Washington, Tacoma in 2010. Thank you, Neil, for sharing your interest in historical research and writing with us.

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