Enos Blair short stores · Uncategorized

Oh, that little devil…

civilwarmon.

Dear Rosa,

I love a mystery. I don’t write them, I solve them. Yup, you can call me “Detective Sue” – or some other cool moniker like “Cookie”. I had wondered why your grandfather, Louis Blair, would show up in Civil War records as Enos Blais and now I have a pretty good hunch.

He was a jumper.

Shhh – don’t tell anyone.  Jumpers were shot when they got caught.

Let me explain…

The Union sought out and paid bounties to Canadians to fight on their side. Many of these fellows weren’t naturalized and even lived in Canada (the Union recruiters went their to seek them out). They were paid $300 for their service to the Good Old US of A.  I don’t know the numbers, but quite a few of these fellows quickly learned a neat little trick. Sign up in New York, get paid, then scram, only to sign up in Massachusetts under a different name.

Thus, Enos Blais.

If you’re wondering how I made the jump from Louis Blair to Enos Blais – I’ll tell you, all the details of this Enos, from age to children to place of birth line up exactly with Louis Blair (Maybe I should start calling him Louis Blain – because that is his real name!).

So Rosa, there you have it. Your Grandfather was a crafty fellow. I wonder if any of his sons did the same thing?

We are a smart lot, us Blains-

We know how to make money.

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Enos Blair short stores

Enos Louis Blair, citizen of the United States of America…

record-image(1)

Dear Rosa,

So this is where it officially began for your grandfather, Enos Blair. Here is where he became a citizen. But the story stretches much further back. Back to when he emigrated to the US in 1848 (please see the previous post) .  I wonder how many fought in the Civil War who weren’t even citizens?

I wrote a post a while back about his son, Newell, becoming naturalized in Bolton, Vermont (see “Newell Blair”). Somehow, I imagine that he was just following the example set by his father. So, as I am so prone to do, please allow me to fill in the details that simply don’t exist…

**********************

Enos waited in line, hat in hand, and weary to the bone. It was time, he supposed, to officially become a citizen of the US.  He grimaced with each step, mindful of the injury and how it refused to heal.

The Civil War was anything but “civil” he reflected. Too many lost their lives in a brutal, bloody and senseless conflict brought on by two opposing set of beliefs.

He cursed softly.

Brother against brother and him losing one of his own sons gave him a different insight to a war that should never have been. The country was nearly shredded in half, families were left with widows and the men who survived were left crippled, some physically and all mentally.

“Excuse me,” a man said from just behind, “your injury, you served?”

“I served.” Enos wiped the sweat from his brow. Early September sun in Vermont could bring such heat, but it was nothing to the humid, tepid air in Virginia. It was no wonder so many of the wounded had lost limbs to infection.

“You were one of the lucky, then?”

Enos turned to face the stranger. A lad. A bloody damn teenager, curious about the war. Nosing about someone else’s business.

“I lost my older brother and my father,” he said with a shrug.

That stopped Enos cold. “I’m sorry for that, son.”

Then he noticed the lines of grief that hardened a youth way before his time, the sharp look of pain and loss far too fresh, though it’d been years since the war had come to a close. He shared that grief, that loss and anger, but he was an old man. This one, he had an entire life ahead of him.

“You are young, in time you will heal.”

“I will never forget.”

Enos nodded. A good thing that. “We should never forget those we’ve lost.”

“Next,” the man at the table said and motioned for Enos.

He turned once more to the youth. “Where are you from?”

“Ireland,” he answered simply.

“Step up or move on.” The  registrar had lost his patience.

Enos offered his hand to the young man. “You are here now, and maybe you can make a difference, no?”

“Maybe.”

Enos turned away. The process was simple really, state his name, when he was born and where. The registrar dipped his quill in the pot of ink and made a note in the large ledger.

“Raise your right hand,” he instructed, his voice bored and expressionless. “Do you swear loyalty unto the United States of America?”

Enos felt like grabbing the man by his collar and giving him a punch. Swear loyalty? He’d buried a son in Virginia. He’d nearly lost a leg. He had left a wife and young children alone to fend for themselves for two long years.

“I do.”

“That’s all.” He waved Enos away. “You can pick up a copy of the certificate at the town office. ”

That slip of paper represented so much to Enos and to the others who stood waiting patiently in line. With it, they could find work, better housing, claim pensions from the war. He glanced at the youth one last time, then Enos Louis Blair, now a US citizen, put on his cap and limped away.

Enos Blair short stores

a mysterious conundrum…

Dear Rosa,

What a twisted journey your family took from Canada. Every time I root around, I uncover another layer and another mystery.

Enos Louis Blair. Was he the same man who appears later as simply Louis? or Lewis?

He was married to Adaline Bordeau. Is she the same person as Mary A. Bordo?

Names, it seem, were not as written in concrete as they are today, probably because so many people can read and write and your generation could not. You  had to rely on the bored, overworked, underpaid person who sat behind the desk taking the census.

Thus,  “E.S. Blair” could very well be Enos Blair.

So, here’s the mystery. I found a “Lewis Blair” born about the right time, emigrating from St. John (Canada) to Cambridge, Ma in 1848. Nothing weird about that, except all his children were born in Canada from 1849 on.

Huh?

Did he go back? And why travel from St. John when he could’ve walked across the border?

record-image(4)

I do so love mysteries. And I’m digging for answers, really I am, but I keep coming up empty-handed. And so, as I often do, I’ll use my imagination to fill in some of the details…

**********************

Louis stood on the deck no longer feeling every swell from the ship. With more than a week of rough travel behind him, he looked out at the hunk of land and forgot the discomfort. It was, he supposed, a small price to pay for the opportunities that awaited.

He removed his cap and ran a filthy hand through unkept, disheveled hair. He’d need to find lodging in this bustling city and work, then he could worry about such niceties as a warm bath and clean clothes.  The deck hands relayed orders to the men who’d climbed the rigging. All that sail needed to come down and soon. The Boston harbor was crowded with ships entering and leaving and they could no longer afford speed.

“Step away, lad, it’s time to clear the decks for a bit.”

The man motioned for Louis to join the others below in the hold.

“It is not good there, you understand?” He plugged his nose to indicate the putrid smell.

“It’s an order I follow, from the commander, and besides,” he added and clapped a huge hand on Louis’ shoulder, “your problems are only beginning.”

His wicked grin said it all.

Louis stole one more look at the crowded port city and imagined the troubles, the hardships and pain he faced. He blew out a breath. And the danger, he’d never let down his guard in a place such as this.

“Did you not understand?” The man, no longer patient, gave him a gruff shove then nearly sent him tumbling down the ladder. “I said away with you and now.”

Louis bit back the curse and turned away. A lifetime his family, the Blairs, had spent in exile. Without Scotland, they had nowhere to call home, even Canada afforded only temporary sanctuary. But he was here, by damn it, amidst all the dreamers and seekers and those that hungered for more. Enos Louis Blair had finally arrived in a place that with time, he hoped to call home.

Enos Blair short stores

a fidgety beast…

Dear Rosa,

I’ll pick up where I left off last…

*****************************

Enos leaned against the stall door and did what he did best. He waited and watched the fidgety beast with the foul temperament pace the small enclosure. The animal snorted as if to warn him to back away.

He would of course, do nothing of the sort.

“Come now, am I that frightening? Look,” he murmured, “how big you are and so grand.” He kept talking as he slipped the bolt free. “You are powerful, yes? And I am nothing to you.”

The horse whinnied and so Enos stopped. “This small space, it’s not to your liking?” He took a smooth step closer. “You are, perhaps, more accustomed to open fields and your family?” As was he and damned if he didn’t miss his wife and his children.

He held out his hand and waited. The horse would either take the invitation or pin its ears. Either way, he’d have more information. Did the animal come from a place of fear or aggression?

He had his answer when the creature backed away.

“Non, this is no good. You are afraid! D’accord, I will have courage for the both of us. Come,” he lowered his voice, “we will go outside and away from these fearful place.”

Enos snapped the lead rope onto the halter and led the skittish beast outside. It seemed gain confidence as he put the noisy, bustling barn behind them. He kept walking, leading the horse as if it were the most natural thing in the world and for Enos this was; he’d been handling farm creatures his entire life.

“We go,” he said and clicked when the horse balked at a crude tent erected near the stables. This horse needs to learn everything and in only a few weeks! Mon dieu…

“You are young, but smart,” he assured the creature and smiled when he felt it begin to lower its head. “Each day will bring adventure, sometimes too much. Still we must face those times together, oui?” He started off again and felt every jolt that ran through the horse with each stimulation it faced.  Still, Enos knew the animal needed to learn to use its mind, not its instincts if they were to survive the war.

“Ho,” he stopped the horse at a small coral. Here, they’d do the hard work. Here they’d learn to trust. And maybe, if Enos was lucky, he wouldn’t get hurt…

He stepped inside and unclipped the lead rope. The horse gave a buck and began running around the pen. That was fine, just fine.  An observer may have thought the man in the center of the ring was out of his mind – how could he look so comfortable, so casual even, while this mad horse bucked and heaved and frothed as it ran around and around?

Enos knew what he was doing. Only when he saw the horse drop its head – a signal that it was relaxing, did he turn his back to the creature.

The response was instant. He smiled when the horse nudged him from behind. His smile widened when he began walking, oh so casually and the horse followed, though he’d not attached the lead robe.

Bien,” he said and gave the horses’ neck a rub. “You need a name,” he glanced down and broke into a full on laugh. “Ah, my friend in the stables was wrong. You are not a ‘he’ at all. D’accord, I shall call you Lizette.”

As Enos continued to rub the animal’s neck, he thought of all the work still to do. Lizette would need to learn trust to get them through the battles they faced. Sadness and fear flooded his mind and worry for his wife and children. Just how in hell would they survive if he were to die in this war?

“You will see us through, comprende? You must, Lizette,” he whispered and an unimaginable ache filled his soul.

Enos Blair short stores

A lively spirit…

civilwarmon.

Dear Rosa,

And so your grandfather, Enos Louis Blair, had enlisted in the Union Army in 1861. He was a mounted riflemen  who mustered in Rouses Point, New York. I’ll pick the story up from there and let my imagination do the rest…

*******************

Enos stepped into the stables and drew a deep breath. All the stress and anxiety about what he’d just done melted away as he took in the barn and horses stalled within. This, he knew; here was the familiar. He’d grown up on a small farm in Canada and handled horses his entire life.

He was greeted by a wicker from an ugly runt of a paint and walked over to pet the frightened creature.

C’est bon,” he whispered in French, “mes ami.”

“Watch that one.”

Enos turned to the man approaching.

“He nips.”

C’est vrais?” He asked the horse. “You like to bite?”

The animal pinned its ears as if to answer and startled at Enos’ bellowing laugh.

“A lively spirit.  Un combattant!”

The man shuffled through his paperwork.

“Glad you like him,” he said and made a mark on one of the sheets. “‘Cause now he’s your mount.”

“He is so young.”

“Yup.”

Enos felt his irritation rising. “He can be ridden?”

“Nope, well, some. He’s green broke. Just came in today.”

“This will not do,”  Enos tried to find the words, but when upset, fell into his language, “C’est un erreur. You understand? A mistake? I am old.”

The man chuckled. “Do you ride?”

Oui.”

“Then who better to teach than one who knows?”

He left Enos to ponder that.

Enos glanced at the horse who had moved back into his stall to continue eating. A scrawny thing, all legs and no brain. He’d have a hell of a time whipping that mongrel into shape over the next 5 weeks. He’d do it though. He had to. Both of their survival would depend on building that sacred bond between horse and rider. Once they entered battle, they had to understand each other.

They’d have to be a team.

*******************

If you’re interested, or missed the first two installments about Enos, here are the links:

https://letterstorosa.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/louis-blair-civil-war-veteran/

https://letterstorosa.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/a-letter-from-enos-to-adaline/

Thanks for stopping by!

Sue

Enos Blair short stores

A letter from Enos to Adaline…

Dear Rosa,

In light of the stunning discovery I made this week about your grandfather, Enos Louis Blair, I thought to write a letter… from him to his wife as he prepared to leave New York with his regiment.This is, of course, a work of fiction from an overactive imagination, as Louis could neither read nor write and if he could have, it would be in his mother tongue, French.

Welp. Here we go…

**********************

October 22, 1861

Enos strode through the camp looking for the man described by his Sargent as “scrawny.” Just what the hell did that mean? He glanced around. They were all too thin and poorly dressed and most didn’t even wear the Union garb. Some army. Still, it was the cause he was fighting for…

“Excuse moi, parle-vous Francais?”

“No, not one word.”

Enos tried again, in English. “I’m looking for a man – he is too thin? He writes…” He made the gesture of pen to paper.

“Oh, you’re looking for Smarty,” he nodded ahead, “he’s by the main fire.”

“Merci.” Enos said and left quickly.

“What part of no French don’t you understand?” The man called out to his retreating back.

Enos ignored the nasty remark and continued on. He’d been in the states for over 25 years. He understood just enough English to know the man was an ass.

A long line appeared ahead. It seemed Smarty was doing a brisk business crafting letters for those who had no writing or reading. Enos shivered from the late October cold. Soon, very soon, he’d be leaving with his regiment and heading south. November was a piss poor time to be journeying, but at least he’d be mounted. The men shuffled forward as Smarty completed each letter.

His regiment was heading for Washington DC, the capital itself. Not that he could tell Addie this. But he didn’t care, as long as she could get at least one letter before he left…

After a half hour wait, it was his turn.

“Name?”

“Enos Louis Blair.”

“Not you, stupid, the woman you want it addressed to.”

“Adaline – Addie – he corrected.”

The man looked positively bored. “Keep it short.”

Enos cleared his throat. “My dearest Addie, I pray the children, they are okay? And you, my love, are well and safe. I miss you. I think of you with each dawn and day that passes. So? I am to travel and it will be many days, maybe months, before I can write again. Take this letter to the clerk in town, and ask her  to read it for you.” He smiled. “Bring her some potatoes, and maybe she will help you to write back.”

“Hurry it up, private.”

“Qui, d’accord…” too easily he slipped into the French. “I hold you in my heart, mon petite, and count the days until I can hold you in my arms.”

Smartie chuckled. “A bloody poet.”

“Write. Not talk.” Enos had enough of the man’s lousy attitude. “Three children,” he held out three fingers, “all too young to help even with the chores, and winter comes with no one to provide food and firewood. You should not disrespect, non?” At 38, Enos had no patience left for this young, snot-nosed creep. He finished without waiting for the man’s reply.

“Seek my father, love, go and stay with him and Lucy. They”ll see you through the cold months.” He closed his eyes briefly to form the final few words. “How much I miss you, Addie. Be well. Stay safe and strong for our children.

J’adore- Enos.”

“That it?”

“Oui.”

“Two coins,” Smartie’s grin revealed crooked teeth, “and extra potatos tonight. I get you portion, you see?”

“Very well.”

He’d go hungry, but it was worth it. Addie would have word from him and maybe it would help ease the fear and uncertainty she faced alone and without her husband as provider, protector and companion.

Addie would know he loved her.

Enos Blair short stores

my funky family tree…

A few of you cherished readers have suggested I post a diagram that shows how Louis and others fit into my family tree, so I’ve decided to try something here. Bear with me. I hope this works!

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Henry (my dad)

|

 Mary Blair  (just his mother’s side)

/                   \

Henry Blair                      +                    Rosa Drinkwine

/ \                                                                    / \

               Newell Blair (+ Matilda)                 Elizabeth Blair (+ John)

\                                                            /

(Enos) Louis Blair + Mary Bourdeaux

\ /

Enos & Lucy Blair

And there you have them! This is tracing only my dad’s mothers’ side of the family – the Blair side.  Newell and Elizabeth Blair were brother and sister, making Henry and Rosa first cousins. Enos Louis Blair (he went by the name Louis in later census)  served in the Civil War.

Hope this helps ’cause I’m sure it’ll upset a few of my family members if they find out!