Archive for the ‘Croman Mitchell Musbach Robinson Family History’ Category

Harold Arden Mitchell: 70th Anniversary of His WWII Death

May 3, 2015

Harold Arden Mitchell
Harold Arden Mitchell
July 21, 1922 to March 30, 1945

Undated photo from the collection of his brother Kenneth Mitchell

On March 30, 1945  Technician 5th Class  Harold Arden Mitchell, Company B, 1st Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, was killed in action near Bottrop, Germany north of Essen.

Black circle: Area in which the 137 Infantry Regiment was servng at the time of Harold Mitchell's death. Black cross: Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands where Harold is buried. Public domain base map  from the Department of History, U.S. Military Academy , West Point.

BLACK CIRCLE: Area in which the 137 Infantry Regiment was in combat at the time of Harold Arden Mitchell’s death.

BLACK CROSS: Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands where Harold Arden is buried.

Click on map for larger image.

Original base map in the public domain from the Department of History, U.S. Military Academy, West Point.

Harold Arden was born in 1922. He was married to Virginia and was 22 years old at the time of his death.

Harold Arden Mitchell is my wife Cheryl A. Robinson’s cousin and the nephew her grandfather, Charles Mitchell. Family called him Arden.

He is buried in the Netherlands American CemeteryMargraten, Netherlands.

Harold Mitchell's grave in the Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands. Flowers were placed by Frank Grubbels. Photo by Frank Grubbels.

Harold Arden Mitchell’s grave in the Netherlands American Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands.

Flowers were placed by Frank Grubbels.

Click on photo for larger image.

Photo by Frank Grubbels.

We learned of Arden Mitchell from Clomanza Shook, Cheryl’s step-grandmother. Clomanza was the wife of the late Charles Mitchel, Arden’s uncle and Cheryl’s grandfather.

From the information Clomanza shared we found the listing for Ar\den’s grave on the American Battle Monuments Commission site.

I forwarded the information to Frank Grubbels in Noorbeck, the Netherlands.

Along with taking the photos, Frank placed the flowers on Arden’s grave on behalf of Harold’s family.

Frank and I have worked together to share the story of the 38th Signal Construction Battalion which was stationed in WWII was stationed in Noorbeck, Frank’s hometown.

Links, sources, and more information:

Fields of Honor database entry for Harold A. Mitchell

137th Infantry Regiment Unit History Chapter 6: Central Europe

Report of Action Against the Enemy  137th Infantry Regiment  March 1 to March 31, 1945

Revised: May 17, 2015 with photo of Arden, the name of his wife, and correct date of birth.



70 and 150 Years Ago: Two Promotions

January 26, 2015

70 years ago on January 1, 1945, Felix A. Cizewski, was promoted to Private First Class.

He was serving in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces in Paris. He was in a hospital recovering from frostbite.

He is my late father.

munichapriljuly45 1jan45promotion

LEFT: Private Felix A. Cizewski on

occupation duty in Munich between

April and July, 1945.

From the collection of Felix A. Cizewski

© Leonard H. Cizewski

RIGHT: Unit Morning Report recording

his promotion.

Public domain image

150 years ago on January 26, 1865, Anson Croman was promoted to corporal.

He served in Company F, 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade, First Division,  IX Corps, Army of the Potomac. At that time the 20th Michigan was part of the Union siege of Petersburg  near Battery Nine just south of the the Appomattox River on the northeast edge of the city.

Anson Croman is Cheryl A. Robinson’s 2nd great-grandfather and my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.

croman Promotion rotated 90 degress

LEFT: Corporal Anson Croman

© The descendants of Anson Croman

RIGHT: Official certificate of promotion.

Public domain image

Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski and WWII

Anson Croman and the Civil War


Anson Croman 150 Years Ago: August to December, 1864

January 23, 2015

150 years ago  Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment continued to serve in the Siege of Petersburg Virginia, south of Richmond.

By August, 1864 they could only muster about 85 men for duty. When the 20th Michigan began service in July, 1862 it had 1012 enlisted men and officers.

After the defeats in June and July, 1864, General Grant ceased frontal assaults on the Confederate defenses of Petersburg.

Instead he sought ways to cut off the railroads supplying Richmond and Petersburg and force the Confederates to extend their lines to the breaking point.

The IX Corps with the 20th Michigan were part of that campaign including:

August 19 to 21: The Weldon Railroad south of Petersburg connected the besieged Confederates with their last major port of Wilmington, North Carolina.

After a series of battles, the Union captured a section of the Weldon Railroad.

That forced the Confederates to extend their trenches, unload their supply trains further south, and haul supplies by wagon using a longer route to the west.


Globe Tavern on the Weldon Railroad Battlefield.

Public domain photo from the Library of Congress.

August 25 During the Battle of Ream’s Station, the 20th acted as rear guard for the II Corps.

August 26 until September 30: The 20th was among the units that constructed fortifications to hold the captured sections of the Weldon Railroad southwest of Petersburg.

September 30: Battle of Poplar Springs, Church, Virginia. Captain Blood and Adjutant Siebert of the 20th Michigan were among the fatal casualties.

October 2: Skirmish at Pegram Farm.

October 8: Reconnaissance in force on the Boydton Plank Road.

October 27 and 28: Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Va.

During this period Col. Cutcheon was promoted to command of the 27th Michigan and Major C. B. Grant became commander of the 20th. Col. Cutcheon’s history is among the sources used to tell Anson Croman’s story.

November Presidential Election: Results from the 20th Michigan: 153 for Lincoln and 35 for McClellan.

The number of troops who voted (188) is higher than the number of men available for duty as it probably includes soldiers convalescing from wounds and disease.

About November 30:   The 20th Michigan was transferred to Battery Nine on the extreme right of the Army of the Potomac along the Appomattox River.

Links to sources and for more information:

The story of the Twentieth Michigan infantry, July 15th, 1862 to May 30th, 1865. Embracing official documents on file in the records of the state of Michigan and of the United States referring or relative to the regiment. Compiled by Bryon M. Cutcheon.

Record of service of Michigan volunteers in the civil war, 1861-1865.Michigan. George H. Turner, Adjutant General’s Office.

Election Returns By Regiment, 1864 Presidential Election: IX Corps, Army of the Potomac

The Siege of Petersburg Online:

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment

Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.


150th anniversary of the 20th Michigan in the Battle of the Crater

July 29, 2014

By June 12, 1864 the Confederates stopped the Union forces outside of Petersburg, Virginia. The Union ceased assaulting Petersburg and switched to a siege.

In an attempt to break into Petersburg, IXth Corps Union troops with coal mining experience dug a tunnel  to place a mine under Confederate fortifications just east of Petersburg.

One hundred fifty years ago on July 30, 1864 the mine was exploded and Union troops assaulted Confederate positions. Among them was our Civil War ancestor Anson Croman in the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment.

20th Michigan’s position (ORANGE CIRCLE) and direction of the attack to the west of the crater from the mine explosion.

Fair use of image from The Battle Atlas of the Civil War © Time-Life Books

Contemporary drawing of the Union assault on The Crater. The 20th Michigan is to the left out of this picture.

Image in the public domain.

The Confederates held and quickly closed the gap created by the explosion and assault.

The 20th Michigan lost 5 killed, 26 wounded, 16 captured, and 2 missing.

The opening scenes of the novel and movie Cold Mountain depict the Battle of the Crater

Racial War

During the Battle of the Crater when African-American Union troops attempted to surrender, the Confederates summarily executed some on the field.

The Confederates considered African-American Union troops to be racially inferior escaped slaves engaged in a slave insurrection and therefore not entitled to be treated as prisoners of war.

Those who were not executed would be sold into slavery.

The Confederates also threatened to try and execute any captured European-American officers who commanded African-American troops. The Confederates claimed those officers were inciting slave rebellion. The Confederates decided not to proceed with trials when the Union threaten retaliation against Southern POW officers.

For more information:

From the National Park Service:

The Crater

From Anson Croman and the Civil War:


The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.

Anson Croman served in the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment



Genetic Cousins

July 9, 2014

Genetic cousins Leonard Cizewski (left) and Daniel Ewenczyk.

Leonard and Daniel share a paternal ancestor from about 17 generations ago.

We estimate that to be from about 1590, about 425 years ago.

Photo by Cheryl A. Robinson

While in Paris we had lunch with Leonard’s genetic cousin Daniel Ewenczyk.

As part of our family history research both of us submitted DNA samples to databases. When Daniel confirmed a DNA connection, he contacted Leonard. 

We estimate that we may be about 10th degree cousins from a common paternal ancestor from about 350 years ago.

Despite our DNA distance, Daniel and I have have become friends and family.

Our DNA confirmed Cizewski family oral history that our ancestry both Slavic and Jewish.

When the Cizewski ancestors lived in Poland, the population was about 10% Jewish. The parts of Poland from which my family came were 25 to 50% Jewish.


Daniel’s graph of our DNA relationship. Click for a larger image.

The Cizewski Family is second to the right of center.The Ewenczyk family is to the left of the center.

For a detailed discussion of our DNA relationship go to: Cizewski Male DNA Analysis

Another post in an ongoing series about our trip to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Liberation of France and the memorial in Tamerville

My late father Felix A. Cizewski, served in Company C,  3110th Signal Service Battalion in Tamerville and Cherbourg during the liberation of Normandy in 1944.

Revised: August 27, 2015



150th anniversary of Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan in the 1864 Overland Campaign

June 14, 2014
Overland Campaign

Public domain image from the National Park Service

On May 4, 1864, General Grant began the Overland Campaign which would lead 11 months later to the capture of the Confederate capitol of Richmond and the surrender of the main Confederate army in April, 1865.

The Overland Campaign lasted until June 12, 1864.

Anson Croman served in the 20th Michigan, IXth   Corps. 

Details are at:

Anson Croman and the Civil War: 1864

More information from the National Park Service:

Overland Campaign to Siege: Visitor Guide to Petersburg’s 1864/2014 Sesquicentennial Commemoration

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment

Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.



The Civil War letters of Anson Croman’s comrade Dwight Brewer

January 18, 2014
Dwight Brewer

Undated photo of Dwight J. Brewer (1842 to 1881), Company F, 20th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Photo © Dennette D. McDermott

None of Anson Croman’s, our Civil War ancestor, letters if any have survived.

However, the letters of Dwight D. Brewer from Jackson, Michigan who served with Anson in Company F, 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment have survived.

His 2nd great-granddaughter, Professor Dennette D. McDermott, just published facsimiles of her ancestor’s CIvil War letters.

The Civil War Letters of Dwight J Brewer

© Dennette D. McDermott

In his letters Dwight does not mention Anson Croman.

However Dwight’s letters give insight into both the routine and the combat experiences that Anson would have shared and reported home to family and friends.

A model for sharing family history artifacts.

While Dwight’s letters may be a historical footnote in the Civil War’s broader context, they are deeply meaningful to families such as ours who have no other way to get such an intimate and personal look at what our ancestor experienced.

For that we are very grateful to Professor McDermott’s sharing.

The same occurred with my late father’s WWII service. If he wrote letters home none have survived. As did Professor McDermott, another family shared with my family a privately published collection of letters from their family member who served in the same battalion but different company as my late father.

What Professor McDermott has done is a model for what other families can do with their historical artifacts especially letters.

Too many are sold to private collectors or simply thrown away. Such items are best donated to historical societies, archives, libraries or museums where they will be available for other families researching their history, especially those such as mine with holes in our family’s records that can only be filled with the help of other families.

In late 1863 at Knoxville, Tennessee Dwight contracted smallpox and remained in a hospital when the 20th Michigan was redeployed to Virginia.

For the rest of the war, Dwight served at Knoxville. After his recovery his duties included growing vegetables for the patients in the hospital. As a farmer, he’d have been skilled at that.

At the end of the war, he was discharged from Nashville and returned to Michigan.

Dennette D. Mc Cermott at the Michigan monument, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi.

Dennette D. McDermott at the Michigan Memorial, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi. Our ancestors served together there from June to August. 1863 prior to their deployment to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Photo © Dennette D. McDermott

For more information:

The Civil War letters of Dwight J. Brewer

Vicksburg National Miltary Park

Michigan Memorial at Vicksburg, Mississippi

Anson Croman and the Civil War


150th anniversary of Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan at the 1863 siege & battle of Knoxville

November 27, 2013

Battle of Fort Sanders

Painting by Greg Harlin of the November 29, 1863 attack showing the 20th Michigan’s position. Greg Harlin based his work on illustrations, photos, original letters and diaries, older paintings, and military diagrams.
(Fair use of image from the McClung Museum, University of Tennessee Knoxville.)

Siege of Vicksburg

Fort Sanders on the northwest corner of  Knoxville, Tennessee with the November 29, 1863 position of the 20th Michigan and the direction of the main Confederate attack.
(Public domain image.)

In August 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the 20th Michigan returned to Kentucky.

In October, the 20th Michigan crossed through the Cumberland Gap to eastern Tennessee.

Many people in eastern Tennessee were strongly pro-Union. One of President Lincoln’s priorities was to secure the area and provide them protection from the Confederates.

In September 1863, after the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Georgia, the main Union army retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederates cut them off and placed Chattanooga under siege.

At the same time, a large Confederate force commanded by General James Longstreet moved into eastern Tennessee.

The Union forces, including the 20th Michigan, withdrew to defensive positions in Knoxville, Tennessee.

By November 25, 1863, reinforcements under General Grant defeated the Confederates besieging Chattanooga. That freed Union forces to relieve those cut off in Knoxville.

Aware that Union reinforcements were on their way, the Confederates decided to assault what they hoped was the weakest point of Knoxville’s defenses, Fort Sanders on the far northwest corner of Knoxville.

Before the attack, the Union soldiers soaked the sloped dirt walls of Fort Sanders. After the water froze the icy slope would be even more difficult for the Confederates to scale.

150 years ago on November 29, 1863 the Confederates attacked and failed in their attempt to take Fort Sanders. The 20th Michigan suffered 19 casualties, with two killed, eight wounded, and nine captured.

Battle of Fort Sanders

Drawing illustrates almost the exact position of the 20th Michigan during November 29, 1863 Confederate assault on Fort Sanders, Knoxville, Tennessee.
(Public domain image.)

As commander General Grant was responsible for the Union’s July victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi and the November victories at Chattanooga and Knoxville.

President Lincoln recognized that and promoted General Grant to General of the Army of the United States. From that position General Grant applied his winning strategies and tactics to lead the Union armies to victory over the Confederacy eighteen months later.

For more information:

The Battle of Fort Sanders: Permanent Exhibit at the McClung Museum, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Fort Sanders Battle Summary from the National Park Service

Anson Croman and the Civil War: Tennessee 1863

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment

Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.

The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.

Revised: December 1, 2013

Two anniversaries: the 150th of the Battle of Gettysburg and Siege of Vicksburg

July 3, 2013
Surrender Interview

Left: Sketch of Union General Grant discussing Vicksburg’s surrender with Confederate General Pemberton 150 years ago on July 3, 1863.
Right: Surrender discussion site today.
Public domain images from the National Park Service.

During the observance of the 150th anniversary of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg the question is again asked: “What if the Confederates had won?”.

Here’s my answer:

The most likely scenario after a Union defeat at Gettysburg is that the Union army retreated intact and in good order to its next planned line of defense at Pipe Creek, Maryland, 12 miles southeast of Gettysburg.

Vicksburg, Mississippi would still surrender on July 4, 1863.

Along with the city and its 30,000 defenders, the Confederacy lost control of the Mississippi River and was split in two. The eastern half was now cut off from desperately needed reinforcements and supplies from the Confederacy west of the Mississippi.

Even with a Confederate victory at Gettysburg, those losses were probably a mortal blow from which the Confederacy could not recover.

President Lincoln would have been used the victory at Vicksburg to offset a defeat at Gettysburg. He would still have held the Union together and kept it in the war until the army in the East recovered and resumed the offensive.

Alternate history “what if” scenarios

Credible alternate history scenarios are best when they are based as much as possible on the historic record.

Less credible are dramatic scenarios that deviate significantly from the historical record. Such a deviation would be a massive Confederate victory at Gettysburg that completely destroys the Union army, winning the battle, the war, and Confederate independence.

My alternative scenario assumes that the Confederates did just slightly better and the Union just slightly worse than both did at the actual battle.

The Union Army prior to Gettysburg: defeat and recovery

Prior to Gettysburg the Union army lost most battles in the East (but not in the West).

The Union’s retreat after its defeat at Second Battle of Manassas in late August, 1862 was its most disordered. The Union army recovered in two weeks. By mid-September it was able to stop the Confederates along Antietam Creek in Maryland. That allowed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

After suffering a horrible defeat with heavy casualties at Fredericksburg, Virginia in December, 1862, the Union army stayed in place, remained a serious threat, and resumed the offensive five months later at Chancellorsville, Virgina.

After again being defeated at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, the intact Union army withdrew in good order to strong defensive positions that continued to threaten the Confederacy. A few weeks later, when the Union detected the Confederates moving north, they immediately began a pursuit and caught the Confederates at Gettysburg.

The two armies after Gettysburg

A reasonable assumption is that the Confederates would have suffered the same losses to achieve victory as they did in defeat.

Along with losing up to 1/3 of its troops, the Confederates used almost all their ammunition. As they were at the end of a very long and tenuous supply line, restocking their ammunition so they could follow up their Gettysburg victory would have been very difficult.

The 2/3 of the surviving troops, almost all of whom had taken part in at least one day of fighting, were exhausted.

Many of their horses, critical to Civil War battles, had been lost and the survivors  exhausted.

The Confederates could continue to feed themselves from what they could seize from the Pennsylvania farmers.

The Confederates ability to replace their Gettysburg losses was made almost impossible by the loss of another 30,000 Confederate troops captured at Vicksburg on July 4.

The Union army would also have lost 1/4 to 1/3 of its troops and a significant number of its horses.

In the historical battle of Gettysburg, the 13,000 troops of the Union Sixth Corps had not been engaged. In my alternate history scenario, the defeated Union army has a similar number of fresh troops to defend the rest of the army while it recovered.

The Union army’s retreat would have shortened its supply lines making it easier for the defeated Union army at Pipe Creek to be quickly resupplied.

The Union had thousands of troops from which to make up its losses, including up to 100,000 troops that had just won the siege of Vicksburg. Some of those troops had been sent to Vicksburg from the East. One of the units sent in June was  the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment which included Anson Croman, my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.

The Union’s control of most of the major rivers, now including the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean combined with the best canals and railroads in the U.S. meant that the Union could quickly move troops from Vicksburg to the east.

My alternate history scenario continued

Without quick reinforcement and ammunition resupply, the Confederates would be unable to follow up their victory at Gettysburg.

When word reached the Confederate capitol at Richmond of the disastrous loss of Vicksburg the Confederate government most likely would have recalled its army from Pennsylvania.

On the south bank of Pipe Creek, the Union army would have seen the Confederates withdrawing. The Union army may not have recovered enough from its recent Gettysburg defeat to pursue the Confederates.

In the East President Lincoln has an intact and formidable army that survived a defeat. In the West he has a major victory.

While his job would be easier if he had two victories instead of one, he uses what he has to sustain Union morale, continue the war for almost two more years, and defeat the Confederacy.

Smithsonian magazine’s new Gettysburg battlefield map

Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg

Smithsonian magazine has published a new interactive Gettysburg map that combines an 1874 battlefield map with modern digital data and 3D graphics is available at

Among its features are illustrations of lines of sight at critical moments.

General Lee’s July 2, 1863 viewpoint from Seminary Ridge.
Screenshot from the Smithsonian’s “A Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg


150th anniversary of Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan at the 1863 siege of Vicksburg

June 4, 2013
Siege of Vicksburg

Map of the campaign at Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi (Click for larger image.)
Regiment symbol north of Vicksburg above “Sherman”: Approximate location of the 20th Michigan from early June to the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863.
Regiment symbol north of Jackson: Approximate location of the 20th Michigan during the assault and recapture of Jackson, Mississippi on July 17, 1863.
Public domain map from the U.S. Military Academy.

150 years ago on June 4, 1863, Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan were ordered to leave Kentucky and join General Grant at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

On arrival the 20th Michigan was deployed north of Vicksburg under General Sherman’s command.  The main Union forces  had surrounded Vicksburg. General Sherman’s forces were protecting their flanks from Confederate General Joe Johnston’s forces.

On July 4, the day after the Confederates were defeated at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Vicksburg surrendered.

Immediately afterward the Union army including the 20th Michigan chased General Johnson’s forces and by July 17 recaptured Jackson, Mississippi. After the Confederates retreated the 20th tore up railroads north of  Jackson.

The 20th Michigan remained near Vicksburg until August 4 when it returned to Kentucky.

The capture of Vicksburg secured the Mississippi River for the Union and divided the Confederacy in two.

At times the Union victory at Gettysburg overshadows their capture of Vicksburg.  While the war continued for almost two more years, the Confederacy never recovered from those two losses. Both were equally decisive in the military defeat of the Confederacy.

Postal Service issues stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of the siege of  Vicksburg

Vicksburg & Gettysburg stamps

The Battle of Vicksburg stamp is a reproduction of an 1863 lithograph by Currier & Ives titled “Admiral Porter’s Fleet Running the Rebel Blockade of the Mississippi at Vicksburg, April 16th, 1863.”
Copyright © 2013 USPS. Fair use.

For more information:

Vicksburg National Military Park Civil War 150th Events

Anson Croman and the  Civil War: 1863

Anson Croman (20th Michigan Infantry Regiment) and the Civil War

Gettysburg, Vicksburg Civil War Forever Stamps Issued: Third of Five-Year Civil War Sesquicentennial Stamps Series Continues

If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve and share the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment. Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomatox, Virginia in 1865.

The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendents of Anson Croman and is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.


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