Doing genealogy is about satisfying curiosity. It often begins with the purpose of discovering who our direct-line ancestors are, as far back as possible. To the names we try to attach significant dates (birth, marriage, death) and the locations where those events took place. But doing genealogy can be, and should be, so much more than drawing a straight line from one generation to another. Our research should prompt us to ask, "What was this person like?"
At the age of 17, my great-grandfather, Warren McLean of White Cottage, enlisted in Co. B of the 78th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. We know from Civil War memoirs and biographies that many boys Warren's age enlisted not just to serve the Union cause, but also to get away from the daily routine of farm life, and have a great adventure.
Wade Hampton McLean
Those are some of the facts of Warren's life. There are some post-war facts, however, that enable me to imagine how Warren felt about war, and because of them, I suspect Great-grandfather didn't like being a soldier, and didn't relish reminiscing with old comrades about the heat of battle or the tedium of camp life. The minutes of the meetings of a local G.A.R. post, for example, show Warren attended just one meeting, but never joined. When he died, his obituary, unlike the obituaries of many who served during the war, didn't mention any military service. Finally, a Muskingum County birth record leads me to believe Great-grandfather not only didn't enjoy soldiering, but disdained the entire war experience. Why else did he name his youngest son after a Confederate general? Unless, of course, he had a very wry sense of humor.