Waves of Union Army troops washed over Washington, D.C., 150 years ago today, marching in a blue-clad cadence of both victorious jubilation and mournful reflection.
Sons of the region were there, marching alongside thousands of fellow Union Army soldiers lucky enough to survive — and win — a war that claimed as many as 700,000 lives.
Saturday and today mark the 150th anniversary of the Grand Review, a two-day parade of tens of thousands of federal troops through the streets of our nation's capital, celebrating the end of the Civil War.
Woven into that celebration were the lingering strands of battlefield trauma for the survivors — and the dark shroud of intense loss they experienced while fighting in what still ranks as our country's bloodiest war.
Regular readers of my column know of my deep appreciation for the Civil War, its supreme importance to our nation's tenets of freedom and the role hundreds of Northwest Indiana men played in winning it.
As we prepare for our community Memorial Day parades Monday, let's take a look at some of the region men — and at least one woman — who survived to the Grand Review, weathering battlefield hazards and camp diseases to return home to the south shores of Lake Michigan.
John F. McCarthy and Mary McCarthy
This husband and wife duo served as surgeon and nurse respectively, volunteering their services at the war's onset in 1861 and serving through December 1865, seven months after the Grand Review that ended it all.
Before the war, John McCarthy was a respected Valparaiso community physician whose wife, Mary, worked as a nurse in the practice.
In 1861, they traded in their Valpo civilian house calls for the bloody, disease-ridden trenches that were Civil War camp and battlefield hospitals.
As a Civil War surgeon, it's likely that three out of every four procedures performed on Major McCarthy's operating table would have been arm and leg amputations. It was the most common treatment of the era for bullet wounds inflicted by the lead Minie ball, a cone-shaped bullet that splintered bones and made salvaging affected soldiers' limbs virtually impossible.
The McCarthy couple returned to Valpo after the war, picking up where they left off with their family medical practice.
Lt. John Merrill, the son of Merrillville's namesake, no doubt arrived at the Grand Review with both elation and sadness.
As an officer in the 99th Indiana Infantry, Merrill saw action in major engagements of the war's western theater, including Gen. William T. Sherman's famous (in the north) or infamous (in the south) March to the Sea. The march included burning southern commerce, warehouses and other assets from Georgia to the Carolinas.
Merrill's celebration while marching in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865, would have been tempered by the one-year anniversary of his brother James' death.
James Merrill, who served in the 20th Indiana Infantry, fell to a Confederate bullet at the Virginia Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864.
John Merrill marked his post-war life as a prominent region citizen known to lobby for fellow veterans pursuing disability pensions.
If anyone knew the scorching burn of hell on Earth, it was Sgt. Jarius Jones, who marched in the Grand Review on May 23, 1865, with other surviving members of the 20th Indiana Infantry.
In his four years of service, Jones, of Merrillville, survived nearly every major battle of the Civil War's eastern theater, including the Battle of Gettysburg, the war's bloodiest engagement.
Jones survived a wound at the May 1864 Battle of the Wilderness. He returned home for a short time after that battle, marrying his sweetheart Eliza Merrill, who was the daughter of Merrillville namesake Dudley Merrill.
By late 1864, disease, battlefield casualties and expired enlistments had laid waste to the 20th Indiana Infantry's original ranks.
What had been a 1,000-man volunteer regiment in 1861 was down to just 74 by the time Confederate forces began surrendering to the Union in April 1865.
Jones had the rare distinction of serving in the regiment from start to finish.