By The Greater Astoria Historical Society
When Flushing’s last Civil War veteran, Ringold Carman, turned 100 in October 1943, the Star Journal interviewed him.
Their discussion ranged from the Civil War to World War II, the conflict that, at the time of the interview, engulfed the world. As to the latter war, the paper said he “peered in the future with a vision born of 100 years as a soldier and patriot and predicted Germany’s defeat.” The centenarian scoffed, “Hitler is the cause of this whole conflict and I am so mad that I feel I could lick him myself.” He said Japan would be out of the way on its own accord soon after Germany’s fall.
Carman’s sharp criticism of those “who apparently don’t realize that there is a war on” has a particularly contemporary feel that resonates to this day.
“For a decade after the Civil War, I traveled as a salesman throughout the United States. I saw what this country meant to those people … blood, sweat and tears. They were willing to support the country with money, power and life itself,” he said.
“That feeling has changed a good bit during the passing years. Today I see some people acting as though they didn’t realize that the United States is not fighting the greatest war it has ever fought. A good many people are interested only in themselves and their personal matters and if these few spent as much time on the war effort as they did on themselves, the war would be over that much quicker.”
The last Queens survivor of the George Huntsman Post, Grand Army of the Republic, Cmdr. Carman was born in Philadelphia on Oct. 4, 1843. When he was 15, he ran away from home to enlist in the 24th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry as a drummer boy. He served in an artillery command under Gens. Butler, Burnside, Hooker, McClellan and Grant until the end of the war and took part in the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Malvern Hill.
He was a sharpshooter at Chancellorsville when Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was killed a short distance away. One of his best recollections of the Civil War was his meeting with President Abraham Lincoln while he was detailed as a color guard sergeant in Richmond.
For many years he held “one-man meetings” of the post until he gave the charter over to the Flushing Historical collection at the Flushing Library in 1941.
For more information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit astorialic.org.