Civil War service record was important in 1870s

Unknown Civil War soldiers buried in BisbeeWhen James Duncan made his first venture into Mule Gulch in 1879, which he documented in 1911, he met only a handful of prospectors who lived there at the time. It is interesting to note that he identified them by their Civil War service, by the units in which they served in the Union Army during that recent conflict.

This was a time only 14 years after that war ended. The excitement of the conflict was responsible for so many me going west, into the last frontier, and undoubtedly, it was a bond — a shared past — that brought many of them together, and elicited many a tale around the evening campfire.

The first cabin he encountered in Bisbee, or Mule Gulch at the time, Duncan said, was “occupied by two Union soldier who had served in the Civil War — Marcus A. Herring served in the California column and George Eddleman served in a Pennsylvania regiment.” Service in the California column may have brought Herring to the area that would become Cochise County in another couple of years. Part of that unit entered the area of Apache Pass to the north and established Fort Bowie, though one could only speculate on whether Herring was in that particular action.

Duncan noted that Herring was 60 years old at the time of their meeting, which would have made him 46 at the end of the War Between the States. He was a Union soldier despite his nickname, by which he was generally called: “Kentuck.”

Another man Duncan mentions is Charley Vincent, who served in an Ohio regiment during the war. Duncan wrote that “as I had seen four years’ service in the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteer infantry, we were right at home.”

It is possible that one of these men might have died in Bisbee, been buried in his uniform in the cemetery that was moved in 1916, with the area becoming City Park. There are four gravestones at Evergreen over bodies that came from the old graveyard which says simply “Unknown U.S. Soldier.” That may have been all that was known of the men, but Duncan might have argued that their Civil War service was their finest contribution.

You can read more of Duncan’s first excursion into Mule Gulch in a Bisbee Tale titled “The Story of Bisbee Before It Was Called Bisbee.”

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