Ever since a childhood visit to the Gettysburg battlefield, Katherine has maintained and nurtured an interest in the Civil War. That affection carried through until the 1990s when, while engaged in undergraduate studies, she received several boxes of family letters and other documents, including a diary dating from 1851.
Knowing that her great-grandfather had served in that war, as had four great-granduncles, Katherine began delving into the military record of Lewis Merwin Hobbs, the Chaplain of the 3rd U.S. Colored Troops. This initial research opened new avenues of investigation leading to a full examination of the regiment itself and its individual members.
While Reverend Hobbs did not join his regiment until December 1863, he did journey to the Gettysburg battlefield in the summer of 1863. Carrying supplies to the wounded as part of the Christian Mission Society, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, branch, he also found time to roam the fields of carnage.
"I was there three days, one week after the battle," Hobbs said. In an 1895 letter to his youngest son, he described how dead soldiers still occupied trenches, and decaying horses by the hundreds lay about. He said, "the stench was awful."
Thousands of wounded soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were quartered in churches, houses, barns and tents. The scene, he wrote thirty years later, "is indelible in my mind."
Though it is unlikely he ever saw Gettysburg after that, he wrote that he had "often desired to revisit it."
Katherine's undertaking the writing of the 3rd U.S. Colored Troops is to honor her great-grandfather and those with whom he served.
It is hoped this regimental history will help observe the 150th Anniversary of the Third's organization and mustering in the summer of 1863.
With the necessary research nearly completed--as if research is ever so--the writing has begun.
It is expected that the book will comprise three main sections: One, the history of the regiment; two, biographies of nearly 60 officers; and three, biographies of approximately 650 enlisted men.
The book's lesser sections will include the requisite preface, introduction, endnotes, appendices, bibliography, index, and acknowledgments.
Pertinent photographs will also be presented. Additionally, a chapter of Errata will address the serious historical errors relating to the regiment found in previously published works.