AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Finally Rec'd Ancestor's Civil War Pension File!
I was both thrilled and saddened to receive my gggrandfather's Civil War Pension file. It just arrived the day before yesterday, and I reworked all my plans for the day to pore over the pages. This I did from mid-afternoon until 4AM (and several times thereafter).
What really impressed me was both the volume (over 450 pages) and the caliber of the information contained therein. Yes. It gave me the two ultimate pieces of information I was seeking. It contained the name of my gggradfather's father! It also contained the name of our family's slave-holder. Hence, the matter was resolved as to why my gggrandfather was known by so many names (both his father's and the slaveholder's), and so many variations in spelling of both the names.
It provided me with a couple of surprises, as well. My gggrandfather had two children with his second wife rather late in live. In fact, his youngest daughter was just six months old, at the time of his death.
These are the matters that troubled me. My gggrandfather seemed to be a healthy strapping young man, until his service. During which, he developed a lifelong case of rheumatism he attributed to sleeping on the ground during cold weather. He also passed out during a "hard march," and had to be carried off the field. It was attributed to sunstroke, and consequently, for the rest of his life, he developed severe headaches in the heat.
Nonetheless, my gggrandfather made a living for himself and his large family. I realize that dollars in his day were not what they are now. I was disheartened to find, however, that he had to make do for many years with a pension of $6 per month. It took him many years to have that amount increased, and it was with great reluctance by the pension board. At no time in his life was it ever more than $12 per month, and his appeals appear to have ceased just a few years before his death in 1910.
Also disheartening was the fact that his widow died just six years after him, leaving two minor children in the care of a guardian who ultimately absconded with their pension money. That guardian was removed, and they were placed in the care of a good friend of their mother's. That woman, according to a letter from one of the children at the age of 20, shipped them off to boarding school and had little to do with them. It didn't prevent her, nonetheless, from writing the Pension Review Board to entreat them for more money for the support of the children.
Though the good feeling I got from finally being able to read all of this, it was tempered by the sadness of so much of the information it contained. Although I feel so much compassion for my late gggrandfather and his immediate family, I am so grateful to now know. I feel I know them all so much better, having a fraction of understanding of what they endured. I would -- and WILL -- do it all over again, as I order more and more pension packets of other relatives, including his brothers.