Question of the Week: Honoring USA Independence Day - Were any of your ancestors on the "wrong side" in a war?

+33 votes
Honoring USA Independence Day - Were any of your ancestors on the "wrong side" in a war?
in The Tree House by Deborah Collier G2G6 Mach 3 (38.1k points)
Great question! I've been loving these Questions of the Week.
One of My 5th Great Grandfather was Absalom Hooper Revolutionary War Soldier I had more but what do you know about this one, Thanks
My great aunt was a member of the resistance and hide a downed RAF pilot for over a year. My Grandfather and his brother us to help burry the dead make their mother very mad. But they lived in the Ardenne during WW1.

I have relatives that fought on the side of the colonials and the Union. Those that fought in Europe and the Pacific. In Korea, Viet Nam, the Cold War, Desert Storm and Enduring Iraqi Freedom.

I think that we were on the right side. At least the winning side.
During the American Revolutionary war my fathers relatives fought with the British and were granted land along the St. Lawrence River in Osnabruck Township, Stormont County in Ontario.  They were named Ehmann or Eaman and had come from the Palitanate in Germany and settled in upper New York State Tyrone County but decided to back the British so were expelled and lost their land in New York State.  They were called United Empire Loyalists
Recently I have asked my father about his grandfather on his mother's side. He has no information about him, doesn't even know what he looks like.
His grandmother is indigenous Native from what I've been told everything about my dad's mothers side is so hush hush.I only have the names (from most recent first) Brown, Guilliams and Coon (being my Great Grandmothers maiden name). He fathered children before he died in Falls City, Nebraska USA. Nobody even knows his name or aren't telling and to me that is very very strange!
Good for your Aunt and other family members.  My family is Swiss; no clue yet what they were up to during the war.
You may be facing a similar issue I have with my father's great-grandfather. He left Va years after the Civil War in disgrace but I'm not sure what he did and where in the tree we belong since we seem to be the "forgotten branch". My best suggestion is to start to trace him and you will see a character develop, My ancestor turned out to be a pretty shady guy but I am no closer to the truth about my family. Court records and newspaper archives are a big help. Good Luck!
Great idea - Zoiya!! I love seeing how an investigation culminates in an amazing ancestor!
Although most of my mother's ancestors were early settlers of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard and New York, Many our ancestors were loyal to the King during the Revolutionary War, and received land along the St. John River in New Brunswick after the war. My Marstens/Marstons/Mastens came from somewhere in New York. Once they get to New Brunswick I have been able to trace most of them.
Yes! One was shot for a misdemeanor, and the other was an English Officer.
The French family originally fled from the Mennonite persecution in Switzerland.
Newspapers in the early to late 20th century was a great source for finding lost relations. The Society page was used like our facebook  pages are now. Where I am look for relatives there is a website that you can hypedrsearch newspapers. look for something like that in the area you want to search.
Just to be clear: as far as I know, I am a first generation immigrant to the USA, so I am not aware of ancestors fighting on the wrong side of any past US War.  

My father (born 1925 died 2000) was a youngster during the Sino-Japanese War (1937 to 1945), he never fought as a solder.

I want to share that my mother - born 1935 in Taiwan, died 2007 - was 10 years old in 1945, when the US began to attack the Japanese that had occupied Taiwan for decades.  She lived in a rural mountain area near a dam and she remembered the US bomber planes dropping bombs near the dam.  Her family had to run and hid in the hills and eat bananas from the plantation groves.
Saadia - truly a sad memory for your Mother to carry.
Half my ancestors fought for the North and has fought for the South during the Civil War. I have four GGF who fought during the Revolutinary War but I believe they were on the American side. I consider fighting for the South to be on the wrong side.

52 Answers

+17 votes
Best answer
Well, "the wrong side" is a phrase open to interpretation and based on perception. That said, I was fortunate to have ancestors that fought against Red Coats in the Revolutionary War and for the Union in the Civil War. Sure there would be distant uncles and cousins that served with the Confederate States. We have been here a very long time, but none in my direct line back that were Loyalists or that wore grey. /:-) Good question though. Cheers!
by Rod DuBois G2G6 Pilot (182k points)
selected by Scott Fitch
Indeed it is open to interpretation and the answers being posted certainly show that to be true :)  Thanks for joining the discussion!
+15 votes
I think I found one in my skeleton-closet yesterday. I feel indifferent the same way as when I found both sides of the US Civil War.

 Although I do feel bad for the indigenous American & Canadian Indians that my Dueslers killed off in Up-State NY in the 1700s.
by Anonymous Vickery G2G6 Pilot (242k points)
I share your sentiments regarding the killing of indigenous American & Canadian Indians - my ancestors were fur traders and involved with Fort's Detroit, Ponchartrain and Michilimakinac.  Many deaths on both sides of those wars :(
+14 votes
My husband's family is all Confederate in Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. Not a Union one in the bunch.
by Rosemary Jones G2G6 Pilot (245k points)
Awe Rosemary - I can send you a couple...
What a great family, bless them all
+12 votes
Well, I have an ancestor who was named after a Confederate General, Kirby Smith who was the last Confederate General to surrender to the Union.  Kirby Smith Miller-32251 was born in late 1864 so it may just be that his name was in the news and his parents liked the way it sounded.  But it makes you wonder.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (412k points)
Now this would drive me crazy not knowing the answer!!!
+15 votes
A number of my mom's ancestors fled New York during the American Revolution for Canada and so I have relatives on both sides of the American/Canadian border.  Many of them were United Empire Loyalists, but they include both Germans and Brits.  My German ancestors had names like Sills, Schmidt, and Froelich (or name variants of them),
by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
Mine too.   My Myers line in Schoharie NY was split in the Rev.War.   My side were loyalists who were paid land in Ontario, where they lived until 1856 when his grandson returned to the US.
I also have dual citizens from the war - I'm thinking we need some type of reunion :)
The Countryman line does have a reunion of those they can find from both sides of the boarder.
+15 votes

My great grand father was a doctor that served with the Confederate States.

His name is John Thurmond Selman, Selman-20.

by David Selman G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
A proud profession and I have always considered any and all medical personnel who have served in any war to be heroes!
Thank you Deborah ! I never got to meet him as he passed away before I was born, would have like to have been able to set down and talked with him about family and lots of other things.
+11 votes
I have relatives that fought on opposing sides in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
Oh my, those must have been very interesting pre-war family dinners. How sad for the parents of those siblings...
+12 votes
Yes! I have ancestors who fought on both sides during the Civil War. Some were distant cousins!
by D. DMath G2G Crew (590 points)
+12 votes
One of my families, the Lint, Lynt, Lents of New Brunswick were loyalist. The Revolutionary War broke up my ancestor's family and in the process lost their Dutch heritage.
by Elizabeth x G2G6 Mach 3 (36.2k points)
You read many stories of people who were stripped of their lands and fortunes but losing their heritage is incredibly sad.
+12 votes
My ancestors all fought with the British in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Depends on your point of view I guess whether they fought on the wrong side.  I'm Canadian so you can probably guess what I think.
by Melissa McKay G2G6 Mach 3 (35.2k points)
Ditto Melissa :)
+9 votes
My ancestor Jacob Schirck, Sr. fought FOR Napoleon from about 1795 to 1815. My Irish grandfather John Troy was in the British Merchant Marines in World War One, even tho the British had oppressed the Irish for centuries. The Irish-English War began in 1916 while he was still working on an English ship. He learned to hate the British, and after World War One jumped shipped ship in New York, and eventually became an American.

Sharon Troy Centanne
by Living Troy G2G6 Pilot (158k points)
edited by Living Troy
+12 votes
Great-great grandfather Abraham Ross was a private in the 7th Florida Infantry, CSA. He'd been a militiaman in Florida during the last Seminole War, too, but that time they won ... even though I would consider that the "wrong" side.

No ancestors as far back as I can trace on the Desrosiers/Lafreniere side were soldiers as far as I know, until you get back as far as Simon "the Crusader" de Montfort. Years of fighting in Provence netted him nothing ...
by Ross Ashley G2G6 Mach 1 (10.9k points)
+13 votes
My ancestors were from England originally and they settled in VA, WV, NC TN. They fought for the Confederacy but I don't think they thought they were fighting for the wrong side. They were fight for the things they thought were right and that is what is important. Unfortunately their side lost but does that make it the wrong side?
by Betty Toppings G2G3 (3.8k points)
+9 votes

I have, Thomas Hunt. Some of his sons served on the American side too, like my ancestor Esli Hunt, Sr.

We know Thomas was a Tory from papers he had to sign, renouncing the King and Taking an oath to the US after his son Stephen got him out of prison. Why was Thomas in prison? Because he was a Tory, of course.

Living in Canada and leading the UEL (United Empire Loyalists) Project I have found another link to my family being on the "wrong" side. I have an uncle, Hugh McElmoyle, who is a UEL. Didn't know that until a conference here in Ottawa a few months ago.

Mags - if cut still bleeds the sound of bluegrass music, no worries.


by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (592k points)
+7 votes
My mother's two brothers fought in WW2, her mother's brothers were in WW1,  Other then that, since arriving in this country in the 1600 and 1700s, my brothers were the first on both my mother's and father's direct linage to serve in the army the established government.


added... I forgot a 3rd ggf who Thomas J. Stell, who was in the Indian Wars of GA and FL. Yep, established gov.  Thomas d. 1852.
by Lynette Jester G2G6 Mach 7 (74.6k points)
+7 votes
I'm pretty sure I probably have some, since some of the Patrick's had slaves in Mississippi.  I found similar names in the Civil war records but no proof is the names were so common.
by Kathy Wright G2G6 (9.4k points)
+10 votes
Yes! I have ancestors who, as Quakers, were opposed to war, so they fled to Canada with their families to avoid the fighting when the Revolutionary War started. I don't know for sure, but they may also have been Tories.

I've also got ancestors in both sides of the Civil War, and (not necessarily first) cousins who still refer to "those damn Yankees." The fact that I grew up in Texas and now live in Arizona doesn't stop them from lumping me into that category, either, lol. But, they still feed me when I show up at family reunions, and they're pleased to have me be one of the family genealogists.
by Pamela Lloyd G2G6 Mach 3 (40.0k points)
+8 votes
My five greats grandfather, Johann Philip Reges,  was a member of the Erbprinz Regt.of Auxilliary troops from Hanau, Hesse, mercenaries of the King, who were surrendered at Saratoga in 1777. He marched as a prisoner to Boston, left for Virginia in November of 1778, and escaped on 31 Dec 1778 in or near York, Pennsylvania.
There is some belief that many of these Hessians were allowed, if not encouraged, to escape as feeding them had become an issue.
Reges and several others remained and became part of the already well-established German communities in Pennsylvania.
by Brian McCullough G2G1 (1.9k points)
+8 votes

Both sides of my family are Northern (Brit & Scot), and trace back to the earliest colonial days (Mayflower, Mass. Bay, & New Amsterdam). Many served in both the War of Independence and the Civil War, and so far I've not found any Tories or Confederates in the mix. I am still working on finding connections with any of the major conflicts with the Native peoples, though I'm hoping I will not do so.

by Michael Warner G2G4 (4.0k points)
+9 votes
For sure!  I descend from a long line of losers.  Some of my Scottish ancestors lost to the English in the Jocobite rising of 1745. My Loyalist ancestors were losers in the American Revolution. My Southern ancestors were losers in the U.S. Civil War (one died in a Yankee prison).  As a result, many of them lost unbelievable fortunes, yet they survived long enough to have children who in turn had children.  Prior to looking into my family history I had little clue of their hardships.
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (621k points)
edited by Peter Roberts
Peter - the beginning of your comment made me snort my morning coffee!!!  Regardless of which side they fought on - YOU'RE here - hurrah!!
Hi,  I'm tracing a Thomas Dison Roberts of England who deserted from Greenland, married my ancestor James Gould's daughter Sophiah in Nova Scotia, moved to New Hampshire, and died in Fox Lake,Wisconsin.

The family letter does NOT say why he deserted.  But Sophiah Gould's father and grandfather both stood at the Battle of Saratoga.

Small world?

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