One of my ancestors "fought" in the US Civil War and I am seeking other places to find information. My great-great-grandfather, Herbert Kirkwood Sparrell (1847-1923) (HKS), went to the Civil War with his father at age 14. His father, James Newton Sparrell (1825-1877) (JNS), served as a lieutenant in the 18th Massachusetts.

JNS served until falling ill and was discharged and went back to Massachusetts and I have adequate documentation of his service. HKS served throughout the entire war as an "aide" to Joseph Hayes, one of the officers. His 'service' was not as a soldier but basically as a servant. I suspect, but have no evidence, HKS's service as an aide was part of the 'price' of his father's commission. The life of HKS after the war is fairly well documented but I am seeking any documentation about his "service".

The "documentation" I have that he 'served' is:

  1. I have the original of a photograph of him in uniform as he left for the war
  2. A cousin has a confederate rifle 'spoil of war' he returned home with after the war
  3. I have numerous videotapes of my late father's recounting of stories told him by his grandfather, Charles Herbert Sparrell (1873-1961) (CHS), the son of HKS. HKS, according to his son as recounted to my father, did not like to speak of his experiences. But enough came out over time to put together a fair picture. The stories seem consistent with service in the 18th Mass. as I understand (I am not a Civil War Scholar).

The places I have already looked for documentation include:

  1. 18thmass.com and communication with their community
  2. various newspaper archives of the era - including physically visiting the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA where HKS became a prominent citizen after the war. I found lots of articles about social events at his home, but nothing mentioning his war experience
  3. Ancestry.com, fold3.org, archives.gov
  4. google, yahoo, bing

I won't claim to be an expert searcher so it's entirely possible I've missed relevant information in the above. I am not asking anyone to search anything for me. I am asking if anyone has done a similar search for servants, aides, etc and might know somewhere else I could search, or specific ways to search in the above. It appears relatively easy to get find records of soldiers (like JNS) but much harder to find records of support staff (like HKS).

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    Have you researched Joseph Hayes in more detail? If your HKS was with him throughout the war, that would at least give you a timeline to work with.
    – bgwiehle
    Feb 8, 2013 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


The National Parks Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database certainly has entries for James Newton Sparrell and Major (later Colonel) James Hayes, but it seems you are correct in inferring that Herbert was not regarded as a serving man. There is no record for him.

However, if he was with the 18th Mass, you can certainly track the events he might have witnessed (including Bull Run and Fredericksburg) at the Regiment history page of the same site.

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