a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Union giant of the Civil War

A photo of a Civil War veteran known to some as the "Greene County Giant" is on display at Washington County Historical Society's LeMoyne House, a Pennsylvania group that has also claimed him as a local soldier.

By Scott Beveridge

WASHINGTON, Pa. – Civil War veteran William Patrick Bane was a man of great stature, so much so that he has been called the tallest Union soldier to have served in the Civil War.

But just how tall he stood has become a matter of debate, as has his place of residency.

The Washington County Historical Society boasts a photo of Bane with information stating he was 7 feet, 1 inch tall. An online genealogy link listed him as having stood an inch taller.

There also has been a long-standing disagreement as to whether he hailed from Washington County or its southern neighbor of Greene County, sources at the Washington group said.

Many folks over the years have referred to him as the "Greene County Giant." Meanwhile he was photographed, at left, in 1896 outside Sharp Store, a business in Washington, Pa.

Historians have agreed, however, that Bane served in the Ringgold Cavalry, a ragtag Civil War battalion of mostly Washington County farmers, whom kicked ass while protecting the Monongahela River Valley and Pittsburgh from Confederate raids.

Those who have kept the argument going might not have not turned to the pages of the 1914 book, “Elwood’s Stories of the Ringgold Cavalry, 1847-1865,” by Sgt. John W. Elwood of Coal Center, Pa.

The book, one of a few definitive histories of the cavalry, contained the lyrics of a song, “To the Ringgold Cavalry,” penned by May Grant Riggs, a relative of some of the Ringgold boys. It appeared to have solved part of the mystery.

It contained the following passage: “From Greene county then comes tall Pat Bane O’re seven feet and mighty strong.”

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