Archive for the ‘Military Records’ Category

Registration documents are especially interesting because even though they’re short, they include such things as physical descriptions,  birthdate, wife’s name and of course the applicant’s signature.  Here’s one William Clay Sherman completed September 12, 1919.

Since it’s a bit difficult to read, here’s what the various sections say:

1.  William Clay Sherman

2.  Drummond, Granite (County) Mont.

3.  Age: 32

4.  DOB: Sept. 19 1855

5.  Race:  White

6.  U.S. Citizen: Born here

7.  Rancher

8.  Employer: Self

9.  Drummond, Granite, Mont.

10.  Wife:  Josie Sherman

11.  Drummond, Montana

William is described as medium height, medium build with dark completion and black hair.  He had no physical impediments.  This picture of Will as a handsome young man was probably taken around 1905.

SOURCE:  WWI Registration Card, Ancestry.com, digital image, 1/19/2007

Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington,  10/21/2011.  All rights reserved.

Picture is the sole property of Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington


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The Civil War involved so many of our ancestors and most have left some “tracks” of their participation in the war;  Many of these tracks are now available to us from the National Archives and Records Administration as well as other sources.  In the case of Charles Warren Hartwell, we sent off to NARA and received two different files, one of compiled service records (13 pages) and the other of Pension Files (242 pages).  And after reading these files several times over we’re still not exactly clear on the activities of Charles Hartwell during the war years so we decided to post some of the more pertinent documents and let them speak for themselves.  All of these documents pertain to Charles W. Hartwell, Private, Company D, 4th MichiganCavalry.

Compiled Military Service Records for Charles:

Prisoner of War/Misc. Information  Card

Discharge from Company D., 4th Regiment of  Michigan Cavalry showing enrollment on 30 October, 1863, discharge on 21 July, 1865.  Personal description states that he was born in Linden (Lyndon) Vermont, was 28 years old, 5 ft., 11 inches high with light complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.  Occupation was given as “Mechanic.”

Individual Muster-out Roll dated in Detroit, MI, July 2, 1865, clothing and money advanced and owing, $71 plus a bounty of $25 was owing.  This document shows Charles was taken prisoner on April 10, 1865, paroled April 27, 1865.

Detachment Muster-out Roll dated Edgefield Tenn. August 15, 1865 with an account owing of $76.76 for clothing or money advanced and $25 Bounty paid.  This order was revoked.

Descriptive List of Deserters Arrested dated June 16, 1864 in Ohio.  Record 8/30 “says himself he was assigned same camp and Regiment.”

Muster and Descriptive Roll dated June 17, 1864 listing Charles W. Hartwell as a deserter.

Company Muster Roll for September and October 1864 shows Charles absent and on detached service at Provost Marshal, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Company Muster Roll for January and February 1865 shows Charles as present. March and April show him as absent.

Company Muster-out Roll dated Nashville, TN, July 1, 1865 “Recruit taken prisoner at Columbus, GA  April 16, 1865, Paroled at Columbus, GA April 25, 1865, a subsequent document lists Charles in  April, 1865 as absent, sick at Columbus GA. April 17, 1865.

Roll Rooms, Division A.G.O., dated January 19, 1882 is requesting information on Charles and states that Charles W. Hartwell was “Drafted in 2nd Dist and forwarded from Grand Rapids Mich, December 8, 1869, his whereabouts from that date to September or October ’64 and any record of desertion….. This man was sent from Michigan Draft December 8, 1863 to the 4th Mich Cavalry, Dept ….No officer’s report on file.  He deserted at Nashville, TN, (no date given) arrested May 28, 1864 2nd Dist Michigan and sent to Detroit Mil Post 1.1 18… $30 allowed.  Again arrested June 13, 1864, 10 Dist Ohio as a deserter December, 1863 Kalamazoo, Mich and sent to Columbus, Ohio, June 7, 1864 to Regiment via Cincinnati O. same day, $30 reward allowed.  Delivered at Mil. Post Cincinnati O to Capt McCleery expenses of transfer $5.64.”

Discharge papers dated July 21, 1865 at Detroit, MI. for Charles describe him as 28 years of age, 5 ft 11 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and a mechanic* by occupation.

*Described as a laborer.


These documents were all hand written and so, in some cases a bit difficult to read, but hopefully I’ve gotten the pertinent information correctly transcribed.  In any case these records seem to paint a picture of Charles Hartwell’s military record as unsatisfactory.

The next post will contain several excerpts from Pension Record Affidavits filed after the War.


SOURCES: NATF 86 Compiled Military Service Record for Charles W. Hartwell

Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington, February 20, 2011.  All Rights Reserved

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Which was he….scoundrel or victim?   That’s the question that surfaces as one reads Charles Hartwell’s pension file.

First let me say that the file contained 242 documents and probably more than 3/4 of were applications for pension increases, letters begging the government to increase his pension, and affidavits or letters of support or disagreement.  The remaining documents were administrative orders, summaries of his case, acceptance and rejection letters, and other miscellany.

Charles applied for his invalid pension stating that he suffered from sciatic rheumatism and a shell wound under his left eye, both of these conditions resulting from his military service.  He was granted a pension for service of one year, seven months and 29 days. The first payment on July 22, 1865 was $2, his monthly allotment.

Here are some excerpts from the file:

Basis of Claim: “Alleges in declaration file December 5, 1879, that he received a shell wound of left eye at Selma, Ala, April 2, 1865. That he contracted rheumatism at Montgomery, Ala., April 13, 1865.” This from a document approving a special investigation and reopening the claim.

“Approved for rejection on the ground that there is no record of the alleged shell wound of head or rheumatism and claimant having declared his inability to prove their incurrence in the service.  Dated Nov 28, 1882.”

October 16, 1884 Charles wrote the following letter,  original spelling and punctuation retained:

“To the Department of the interior

Sir I herby state under oath to the best of my knolage of the request you ask of me.  First for three years before I inlisted  I lived in East Haven an Island Pond Vt. my native home and worked at carpenter work that has ben my ocupation through life  since I came out of the army I have lived in township of Hersey Oceola Co Mich and was treated by Dr. Wood I lived at Croton Newaygo Co Mich and was treated by Dr. Trask & Dr. Cory at Martin Hurts House then I moved to Hersey and six years last april I come to Victory where I now live I have ben treated hear by Dr. McConal of Ludington I have never recieved eny reilief from a Doctor for an I consulted verious Doctors an they all tell me that the sciatica canot be cured so I used Patent medisons.

The firs atack of my discease I think about the midle of April 1865 it lasted while the frost was don in the spring and it comenced in the fall when the first frost comes some seasons it is harder then others some of the time for 2 or 3 weeks I cant lay down nor sit Down an some of  the time they give up all hopes of my living threw spill through this I can prove by my neighbors I have never had eney acute Discus I have performed manual laibor for that is all that surports my family but nevr have I don a days work without more or less pain I canot chop my fire wood at eney time I can work through the months of June July August an September very well I have a small farm of 4 acres and poor house to live in an seven in my family to surport an I help to surport – the consitution of the united states. Now will the united states help to surport me an mine as it has promised to do if not Burn this.  (signed) C.W. Hartwell Victory, Mich.”

In 1887, 1888 and 1889 Charles filed for an increase of an invalid pension but had difficulty locating officers who could corroborate his statements.  According to one statement by of the circuit court “he has made diligent efferts sic) to ascertain the whereabouts of …officers or two comrades who were present when he contracted his disability, but without avail.  He requests that the hospital records be accepted to show that said disabilities were contracted in service and in the line of duty.” The file does contain some records of Charles time in the hospital, but doctors who he claimed treated him over the years didn’t remember him except for one who states he was never paid for his services.

There are numerous other letters in file, one from James Peale who was investigating the claim.  He talked with Cyrus Luce, governor, who stated he’d known Charles Hartwell and described him as “a sort of Jack of all Trades…. who when he wanted to could do a good days work, but had formed a bad moral character in the neighborhood and after the war had led a vagrant sort of life.”

Dr. McConnell examined Charles and stated “I find a flesh wound trivial…there are no physical signs of rheumatism and claimant appears to be healthy and robust…..”

John Arnold’s deposition included the information “he came back (from the war) in uniform and lay around for quite a while, he, I think claimed to be on furlough, and my impression is that David M…. who was Provost Marshal at Coldwater came out and arrested him and took him off….”

Note:  Part II of The Life and Times of Charles Warren Hartwell includes military muster roll information about his service as well as his record of  desertion.

Despite the above troubles Charles had with military service he was granted an honorable discharge. His last pension payment increase was granted June 10 of 1918 increasing it to $38 per month. Charles died November 5, 1919.

I started this post asking whether Charles Hartwell was a victim or a scoundrel.  If he had sciatica there’s no doubt he’d have times of major pain and be unable to work.  However the overwhelming amount of data in his pension file points one in the direction of scoundrel. Maybe he was both, hurting and disabled, but working the system to get the most out of his questionable injuries.


SOURCE: Form 85A Full Pension File #324743 for Charles Warren Hartwell


Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington, February 25, 2011, All Rights Reserved

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Five sons of Solomon Leach served in the Civil War: Philetus, Francisco, Enard, Sylvester, and Edgar. All lived through the battle to return to their families and take up their lives again, but with physical disabilities that in some cases rendered them unable to lead normal lives. Sylvester Leach applied for a pension based on his bouts of “pleurisy” and “rheumatism” that weakened him to the point he wasn’t always able to work. Enard Leach reported having a horse roll on him during the battle of 2nd Bull Run, and was left with back and leg problems described as “lameness.” Philetus, Edgar and Francisco Leach also applied for “Invalid Pensions.” A list of their service units and pension application dates follows:

Philetus E. Leach served as a Private in the 2nd Regiment, Company A, Iowa Cavalry. He applied for an Invalid Pension on September25, 1885; died February 21, 1915 at Forest City, Missouri.

SOURCE: Civil War Pension Index: Images. (Footnote.com. http://www.footnote.com/image/2089197 accessed 2/1/2008). Entry for Philetus E. Leach, application# 550-487, widow Louisa Leach, application# 1042.754 dated March 4, 1915 and minor Louisa L. Wall, application# 1079.262 dated 12/1/1916.

Francisco Leach served first in Company F, 5th Infantry Regiment, Ohio, and later in Company B, 6th U.S. Cavalry. His Invalid Pension application is dated May 25, 1885. He died September 18, 1893.

SOURCE: Civil War Pension Index: Images. (Footnote.com. http://www.footnote.com/image/5962647 accessed 2/1/2008) Entry for Francisco Leach, application#540.698, minor Hiram J. Russell (Gdn) application# 592.553 dated March 17, 1894.

Enard Leach served in Company I, 6th Regiment, Ohio Cavalry and applied for an Invalid Pension on September 5, 1882. Enard died February 20, 1920 at Clio, Michigan.

SOURCE: Civil War Pension Index: Images. (Footnote.com. http://www.footnote.com/image 6022249 accessed 2/1/2008) Entry for Enard Leach, application# 459.053, widow application# 1153626 dated March 4, 1920.

Sylvester Leach was a Private in Company D of the 23rd Ohio Infantry. His Invalid Pension application is dated May 27, 1889; he died May 25, 1928 in Millington, Michigan.

SOURCE: Civil War Pension Index: Images. (Footnote.com. http://www.footnote.com/image 5836493 accessed 2/1/2008) Entry for Sylvester Leach, application# 706759.

Edgar Fenton Leach served in Company D, 23rd Regiment, Ohio Infantry. Invalid Pension Application was filed June 23, 1880 and he died May 25, 1922 at Forest City, Missouri.

SOURCE: Civil War Pension Index: Images. (Footnote.com. http://www.footnote.com/image 5836487 accessed 2/1/2008) Entry for Edgar Leach, appleaction# 399.382, widow application# 1192.148 dated 7/27/1922.

These records show only the barest of minimum about the lives of these five men… but there’s more, and I’ll start adding it in the next few days.

Sue Edminster

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