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The Carr Family and the Civil War: Anthony's Story

Written by Jennifer Shumate

Originally published in the Eureka Times, 2010 Fall issue

Updated for blog publication in 2020 by Holly Stewart, Program Manager

This is the third in a five part series about the Carr family's military service during the American Civil War.

Read about Job Carr's story here. Read about Rebecca Carr's story here. Read about Howard Carr's story here.

Learn about Tacoma's Civil War veterans here.

Anthony Carr's Military Service

Anthony Pitman Carr, age 20, Carr Family Collection

Anthony Carr was the first in his family to join the Union Army in 1861. He enlisted with the Indiana 19th Volunteer Infantry Regiment when he was 21 years old. Serving as a private in Company B, he was trained as a photographer and message runner. He saw action in several major battles and even personally delivered a message to President Lincoln.

Anthony's regiment was involved in the battles of Groveton, South Mountain, Antietam, Sharpsburg Fredericksburg, and the Second Battle of Bull Run. One of his proudest moments was hand-delivering a message from Colonel Meredith at Hall's Hill in Virginia to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC. During the difficult and dangerous journey, Anthony had to stay concealed and avoid the roads. He was exhausted and muddy when he arrived at the White House with the precious documents. The guards were dubious, but Anthony insisted that his orders were to deliver the package directly to the President.

"The road was a bushwacker's paradise, so I strayed away from it. In the intense darkness I made by way through the woods, got lost, and wandered miles out of my way, but kept on. I stumbled and fell again and again. I was waist-deep inmud, but I still struggled on, managing to keep my directions. At last I reached the outskirts of Washington and was stopped by the guard. I showed my passes and credentials. The guard called the lieutenant of the guard. He courteously told me he would take my package. 'No, you won't,' I told him. 'I've orders from the colonel.' So he let me go on...

"I looked through the doorway into the little room. At a desk writing sat Abraham Lincoln, and as I raised my voice he looked up. 'I have a package for the president,' I said. He beckoned me in. I handed him the mud-stained parcel, and stood at attention as he opened the envelope, well satisfied that I had done my duty. From it fell pages and pages of thin paper, finely covered with writing. He looked them over for a moment, then looked up at me, and over his face came that beautiful, sad smile."

~ Interview with Anthony Carr, The News Tribune, 1921

A year later, President Lincoln called out Private Carr when reviewing his regiment on horseback and congratulated Anthony on his successful mission.

The 19th Indiana was the only western brigade in the Army of Virginia. Known as the "Black Hat Brigade" they consisted of 3 regiments from Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana. However, they soon picked up another nickname: The Iron Brigade.

A.P. Carr, Co. B, 19th Ind, source: Carr Family Collection

In March 1863, Anthony was discharged due to battle injuries. His arm was broken in three places, his shoulder was dislocated, and he suffered from a hip injury. His mother Rebecca helped him to recover. His discharge included a commendation from his commanding officer - "... at Bull Run you stood by the old flag and done your whole duty until you were stricken down by the enemies of our Country. You have been a good soldier and a brave man."

After recuperating and traveling the west trying to prospect for gold, Anthony re-enlisted with the 34th Indiana Regiment, Company H. He ended up fighting at Palmito Ranch in May 1865, the last battle of the Civil War. Although Lee had surrendered at Appomattox many weeks earlier, the battle was a Confederate victory. Anthony's friend John Jay Williams is said to be the last man killed in a Civil War battle. Anthony and 57 other union soldiers were then sent to a prison camp in Texas. Less than a month later, the guards at the prison abandoned their posts and the captives simply walked away.

Anthony returned to the west, officially mustering out of the army at Fort Steilacoom in October 1865.

Learn more about Anthony's brother Howard and his experience during the Civil War in our next post.

About the Author

Jennifer Shumante volunteered at Job Carr Cabin Museum beginning in 2010 after graduating from Brigham Young University Idaho with a degree in Social Studies Education. She hoped to apply her degree as a social studies teacher at the secondary level or work as a museum educator. Jennifer was an alumni of Spanaway Lake High School.

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