Attached it my letter to SECNAV, (which will go in the mail tomorrow), a suggested letter to your legislators, and a list of suggestions/procedures for sending your letter. Please make your personal changes to the suggested letter to your legislators. Handwriting is great, it will have more impact. Absolutely the only way we're going to succeed in this effort is if we put political pressure on the powers that be (ie: SECNAVs office). Sorry for the length of this whole email with the attachments, but I wanted to get it out before Reunion. I'll have copies at Reunion primarily for those who don't have email. Please take the time to send a letter to your representatives or any other influental politician who you can convince to send a supporting letter to SECNAV. As you might note I'm sending a copy to the Canadian Minister of Defense. Last March I did the same, and he answered indicating that he supported the effort, and would send a letter to the then SECNAV, Richard Danzig. If you know anyone influential in Canada, get them on board too. Here's hoping we're successful, Bob
ShipmatesIt's really been fun researching all this, but I still have more to do. I'd really like to try to find out what happened to James Stoddard after he was discharged in 1865.
So far, I've been totally unable to find any family ties either before or after the Civil War. In fact, I don't even know where the official write up of him by the Navy discovered that he'd been born in Port Robinson Canada.
I have his enlistment record from the National Archives, but that only indicates that he was born in Canada. Anyway if any of you, or your family or friends are genealogy buffs, I'd sure appreciate the help.
Now just an update on the "Name a New Ship Stoddard" Project. So far I've received responses from SECNAV's office, and the Premier of Ontario Canada. Neither of the letters were especially encouraging, but at least we've got our foot in the door. Subsequently I've sent another letter to SECNAV with an update on what's been happening since the first letter, and also a letter to the Canadian Minister of Defense. In addition, thanks to a friend in British Columbia, I've made contact with a History Professor at the Royal Military College (ie: our Army, Navy, and Air Force Academies all rolled into one) in Kingston, Ontario. One of his interests is the Canadian participation in the Civil War. He estimates that between 30 and 50 thousand Canadians fought in the War (most on the Union side). Just this week, I also discovered that James Stoddard was not unique, in that at least 24 other Canadians (4 Navy) were also awarded the MOH. It's been rather interesting pursuing all of this, and if any of you genealogy/research buffs out there would like to help me, I've attached all I know about James Stoddard. I sure would like to see if we can't find out what he did before the War (prior to Sept. 1863) or where he went or did after he was discharged (May 1865). So far, except for his birth date (source unknown except for the "Official Navy History"), and location (Port Robinson, "Canada West", which I presume is now Port Robinson, Ontario) (source also unknown), I don't know anything about him, or where he is buried. He never applied for a Civil War Pension, and even though his MOH Citation says he is "attributed to NC" I don't believe he had any connection with North Carolina. If you'd be interested in helping, get in touch with me. Just one more item and that is that after the new Administration gets in place, I'll be asking you all to send letters to the new SECNAV making noise for him name another ship Stoddard.
Thought you all would be interested in the latest with regard to the attempt to name a new ship. I've made contact with a history professor at the Royal Military College in Kingston Ontario, and very shortly he will be in Washington, and will do some searching for us in the National Archives. He's an expert on Canadian participation in the Civil War. Secondly, the Premier of Ontario answered my letter, and indicated that this was really a Canadian Federal issue, and suggested that I write the Canadian Minister of Defence. That has been done, and just to follow up, I've forwarded the attached letter to the Secretary of the Navy to keep him up to date, and of course keep the issue in front of him, or at least his staff. I don't plan on letting any grass grow on this issue, and will keep the heat on. Very shortly, it might be appropriate to ask all the Shipmates to write SECNAV in support. We'll just have to see how the process proceeds. Any thoughts or suggestions?
I haven't sent a personal message lately, but thought it was time to pass on the latest info I have on my quest to find out more about James Stoddard. I've embarked on this because I think it might be helpful in the process of having another ship named STODDARD. Anyway, part of the problem in trying to track him down was conflicting information between his MOH citation, and the historical information in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships put out by the Naval History Division, and quoted in our Third Reunion book. His MOH Citation states that he was born in 1838 in North Carolina, and "attributed to NC". However, the "Dictionary" states that he was born in 1838 in Port Robinson Canada West. In order to try to find out some more, I visited the Seattle Branch of the National Archives. A search of available census records didn't turned up anything of help, nor did the applications for Civil War Vet. requests for tombstones. I was able to locate a little info, and to order a copy of his Service Record, which just arrived a few days ago. I also ordered his Pension Record, but I'm not sure he ever applied for one, which is too bad. Anyway here's the latest: According to his record, he enlisted in Detroit Mi. on 21 Sept. 1863 as a seaman, and was assigned to the Cairo Station. On 1 Oct. he was assigned to USS Marmora an armored gun boat involved in patrolling the lower Mississippi River out of Vicksburg. As we already knew, he was awarded the MOH for action at Yazoo City Ms. on 5 March 1864. If you are a Civil War buff and are interested in more information than you ever wanted, there is a somewhat detailed write up of the action he was involved in at the following Web site:
click on the Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, then go to volume 26 and look up pages 13-15, and You'll see several letters describing the action from the Navy point of view. If you're a real masochist, click on the Army records, go to vol 32, part 1 where there are several pages to look at, but in particular 164, 208, then the real detail 320-329 describing the whole Yazoo River Campaign. Anyway, more on James. As a result of his valor, he not only received the MOH, but was promoted to Acting Masters Mate on 7 or 8 May 1864, which at the time was an officers rank. That was fortunate for my search, as enlisted records basically weren't kept until about 1885. His record indicates his residence was "New York", he was a blacksmith, and a citizen of Canada and he was born in Port Robinson Canada 6 March 1844 or 45 (a conflict in the info between the list of officers assigned to Choctaw Jan. 1865, and his papers on acceptance as an Acting Masters Mate). I suspect 1844 since the record (as of his appointment as an officer) indicates he was 20. It's worth noting that a town named Port Robinson, Ontario Canada is just West of Niagara Falls, NY, and not that far from Detroit, so the Detroit/New York/Canada connection seems valid. Sometime between 1 Oct. 1864 and 1 Jan. 1865 he was assigned to the USS Choctaw, and remained there until he resigned on 20 May 1865. How the discrepancies in birth date, and location occurred, I don't know. ie: North Carolina and 1838 don't come into the records anywhere that I've been able to determine. I have no info so far about his service on Choctaw, nor about him after he left the Navy. I'm still searching, (will hit the Archives again) and would appreciate any help any of you can provide. I'll fill you in if I find any more information.
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