Private Mohammed Kahn: Civil War Soldier
May 21, 2019 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Private Mohammed Kahn, also known as John Ammahail, was born in Persia, circa 1830. Raised in Afghanistan, he immigrated to the United States in 1861. About two months after his arrival he enlisted in the 43rd New York Infantry Regiment, following a night out with friends who convinced him to join.
posted by Etrigan (14 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's interesting that they name him as Kahn. People often misspell Khan as Kahn and I wonder if this error also entered the National Archives :) It wouldn't surprise me.
posted by peacheater at 6:24 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


A few days after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863,  Kahn was separated from his unit and arrested in Hagerstown, Maryland, by a Union guard...Though Kahn tried to explain that he was a member of the 43rd New York, the guard did not believe him, insisting that he could not be part of a white unit, as he was not a white man. Kahn was eventually sent to Philadelphia with recently escaped slaves to work...

...and later got back to the front lines to fight as an elite sharpshooter. What country was he fighting for, and why?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:47 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


I wonder if this error also entered the National Archives

If so, the misspelling goes back to his original pension application, which was written by Leonard Martin, "a Special Agent of the Pension Office". Every other page of his testimony, which I think Martin transcribed, features a signature line with "His Mark X" which may indicate that Kahn was illiterate? I'm not sure.

...and later got back to the front lines to fight as an elite sharpshooter. What country was he fighting for, and why?

Just in case you're not joking, I am pretty sure the answer is The United States of America, which is why he applied for a pension.
posted by timdiggerm at 7:01 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


What a cool find, thank you for posting this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:20 AM on May 21


I wish I could travel back in time and let my younger self know that there are stories like this, that there are people who look like me and have the same skin colour as me who are impacting and shaping history. Growing up in Texas, our text books were pretty conservative and very white when it comes to which subjects were taught and who was the focus of our attention. I'm glad this was posted to the blue because we need to educate everyone and let them know that the Civil War, that history in general is more than just straight white men.

Thanks again for posting this.
posted by Fizz at 9:29 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


“Came to this country In 1861 with an american officer consul or some officer like that, but do not remember his name and could not speak one word of English at that time. About two or two and a half months after my arrival I enlisted in “H” [?] 43 N.Y. volunteers at New Haven, Conn. Having been persuaded to enlist while under the influence of liquor. Much of my company was raised at the above named place by Professor Turner, who after words become 1st lieut. of the company and a man named Drable [?]was Captain.”

Old men forget, and bureaucrats make mistakes (so do archivists) and veterans sometimes remember their service with advantages, but there is still some strangeness here.

The official record of the 43rd shows a John Kahn, enlisted in 1862 at Albany, aged 21, discharged with severe wound to his hand (pg 37, bottom right). The wound was incurred May 5, 1864.

The article refers to our guy as getting a hand wound on the last day of Spotsylvania, which was May 21. This cite says it happened on May 12, but for our purposes, no matter - the discrepancy suggests we may talking about a different person. Let us soldier on.

The roster confirms that the NY 43rd did have a Francis Turner who at age 48 enrolled in H company as a second lieutenant at New Haven, though the company as a whole was gathered at Canajoharie NY, 140 miles away. (Yale professor who couldn’t catch a break in the CT recruitment office? "Admire your zeal, Turner, but at your age, well....") Odd, but there it is.

The official roster also lists one John Amamahe (aka Ammahie aka Amamahaie) aged 31, who enlisted in Company H at New York City. (He later transferred to Company E.)

Congressional Record of 1876 (five years before the petition) notes that Seocond Augitor is to settle the pay and bounty amount of John Amamahaie or Ammahe. Pay and bounty are distinct from pension, so it's not double dipping, but the act does raise the question why he had to have an act of congress to get it.

Can’t find that captain, and there seems precious little on the 43rd NY (which, given their record is a little surprising). Don’t have access to 1880 census for Massachusetts (the would be pensioner cites this as his then residence), but this could be fun for someone with more time than I have right now.

Also AWOL is the unnamed mystery man who brought the non-English speaking fellow to the US in the first place. As far as I can see, the US didn't have official connections to Aghanistan or Persia at that time. Anyone?

And to wrap it up for now, here's his grave. In Brooklyn. RIP.

(I did not read the entire document, so there may be further clues in there. Possibly also the 1889 Mass census, which I don't have access to right now. If anyone goes to town on this, I would be most grateful to learn what you find out.)
posted by BWA at 10:46 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


I'm working on it and will hopefully have more later tonight.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:42 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I still haven't got the full story but will post some updates now because my notes are getting unwieldy.

Q: Why did Congress get involved?
A: He was recorded as a deserter while he was away from his unit, and this later affected his pension etc. He went to Congress many times over at least ten years (1874-84) to get this fixed. In 1876 they actually passed an act ordering it to be fixed, but then it wasn't actually fixed, and later Congresses (most explicitly in 1884) refused to enforce the order, for unspecified reasons. I still haven't completely nailed all the details here.

Citations in the next comment.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:23 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Notes:
- In context, all of the following short motions etc are among similar "motion to provide relief to John Smith"-type things, where a congressperson is directly discussing some person's military pension issues. So it's not unusual for that to be happening with Ammahaie.

- His name is spelled many ways: Ammahaie [on his gravestone, most likely correct], Ammahe, Ammahoe, Ammahail [modern mistranscription of the "e"], Ammahae, Amamahe. Also interesting, the name Mohammed Kahn isn't there in 1876, but is in 1879 and subsequent years.

- Pension first applied for 25 April, 1874, per his pension index file.

- Bold type in the quotes below is mine

1874: Congressional Record - May 18, 1874 p 3990
JOHN AMMAHE.
Mr. BUTLER, of Massachusetts, introduced a bill (H. R. No. 3391) directing the Second Auditor to settle and pay the bounty acounts of John Ammahaie or Ammahe; which was read a first and second time, referred to the Committee on Military Affairs and ordered to be printed.
1875: Congressional Record - House of Reps - Jan 15, 1875 p 498
JOHN AMMAHE.
Mr. COBURN, by unanimous consent, from the Committee on Military Affairs reported back, with the recommendation that it do pass, the bill (H. R. No. 3391) directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounties account of John Ammahaie or Ammahe, and the same was referred to the Committee of the Whole on the Private Calendar, and the accompanying report ordered to be printed.


1875: Report on "John Ammahe [i.e. Ammahaie]. January 15, 1875. -- Committed to a Committee of the Whole House and Ordered to be Printed -- Issue 99 of Report, United States Congress -- Issue 1656 of United States congressional serial set." It's not clear to me if there is a detailed report, but I've not been able to find it if so.

1876: 44th Congress, 1st session, House of Rep's, Report No. 483 - Congressional report on John Ammahaie or Ammahe. May 5, 1876- two pages - My transcription since there isn't a copyable version online just this one google books version that I find.
44th Congress, 1st session, House of Representatives, Report No. 483. JOHN AMMAHAIE or AMMAHE. May 5, 1876 - Committed to a Committee of the Whole House and ordered to be printed. Mr. Strait, from the Committee on Military Affairs, submitted the following REPORT to accompany bill H.R. 1075:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - REPORT - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It appears from the records of the Adjutant-General's Office that John Ammahaie was enrolled on the 2nd day of August, 1861, at New York, in Company H, Forty-third Regiment of New York Volunteers, to serve three years or during the war, and was mustered into service as a private in said regiment on the 30the of August, 1861; that, for the months of September and October, 1861, he is reported present for duty, and present on subsequent rolls to June 30, 1862, when he was transferred to Company E of said regiment, and was reported present on roll for July and August, 1862; reported as a deserter August 25, 1863; on the roll for March and April 1865, he is reported as "returned from desertion under President Lincoln's proclamation of March 11, 1865, to make good his absence of 19 months and 2 days." He was mustered out and honorably discharged on the 27th of June, 1865.

In the statement sworn to, of Ammahaie, he says:
I served with them, (the Forty-third New York Volunteers) until about September 1862, when I was detailed by Quartermaster Russell to assist him at brigade headquarters; I was with him until after the Gettysburg fight. When the regiment was encamped near South Mountain I was sent to Frederick City, Md, and while absent the quartermaster's train moved, and while attempting to return to the train I was arrested as a contraband, (being of a dark complexion and speaking very imperfect English, having been born in Afghanistan, India) in spite of my protestations that I was a member of the Forty-third New York, and was sent to Harrisburgh Pa, with a squad of contrabands. I has no means to pay my way back to the regiment, and when I asked for transportation they told me that I was not a member of that regiment, as it was a white regiment. I went to Philadelphia, in hopes of getting transportation from there, and was unable. I finally hired out as a servant to the captain of the Fourth Connecticut Heavy Artillery, who took me with him to Petersburgh, Va. At that time my regiment was in the Shenandoah Valley. I remained with the Fourth Heavy Artillery until the regiment returned to Petersburgh, when I again joined my regiment, and staid with them until the close of the way, when I was honorably discharged. * * * After my arrest I used all diligence in my power to join my regiment, at the earliest possible date. I am unable to read or write English, which was a great hinderance to my reaching my regiment sooner.
A certificate of E. B. Goodyear, late captain of Company A, Firty-third New York Volunteers, sworn to on the 17th of October, 1874, contains the following statement:
He (John Ammahe) was on detached service in the Quartermaster's Department during the summer of 1863, and while there was arrested in Hagerstown Md, as a contraband, and thus was absent from his duties, and was reported as a deserter through no fault of his own, and is justly entitled to the pay and bounty accruing during his absence from the regiment.
Miles W. Goodyear, formerly quartermaster Firty-third New York Volunteers, in a statement sworn to on the 24th of October, 1874, says
I remember the fact of John Ammahaie being arrested as a contraband while a private in the Forty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, and of his being reported on regimental rolls as a deserter in consequence thereof. * * * I have no interest in his obtaining his pay further than the fact of my belief that he is entitled to it.
Edward H. Chipman, in a statement sworn to on the 19th of June, 1874, says that he, Chipman, during the fall of the year 1864, was sergeant in Company K, First Connecticut Artillery, and was stationed at Battery No. 10 in front of Petersburgh, Va; that about the end of September, 1864, there was a person named John Ammahaie, a soldier, who was almost daily, from that time for about two months afterward, or perhaps more, in and around the said battery, acting in the capacity of sharp-shooter.

It appears from the certificate of the Second Auditor of the Treasury that the name of John Ammahie is borne on the muster and pay rolls of Company E, Forth-third New York Volunteers, and that he was paid as private from October 31, 1862 to February 28, 1863, inclusive.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1876: May 5, 1876
JOHN AMMAHAIE OR AMMAHE.
Mr. [Horace Burton] STRAIT, from the Committee on Military Affairs, reported back a bill (H. R. No. 1075) directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty account of John Ammahaie or Ammahe, with the recommendation that It do pass; which was referred to the Committee of the Whole on the Private Calendar, and the report ordered to be printed.
1876: Congressional Record - House of Reps - June 30, 1876 p 4297
JOHN AMMAHIE
The next business on the Private Calendar was the bill (H. R. No. 1075) directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty account of John Ammahie or Ammahe. The bill was read. It directs the Second Auditor of the Treasury to settle the claim for pay and bounty of John Ammahe or Ammahie, of Companies E and H of the Forty-third New York Volunteers, and to issue a certificate for such amount as appears to be due, any charge of desertion upon any rolls of the regiment to the contrary notwithstanding. There being no objection, the bill was laid aside, to be reported favorably to the House.
1876: Private Acts of 44th Congress - Session H, Chs 5,6,8,11,13 - Dec 20, 1876 pg 86
CHAP. 6.-An act directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty account of John Ammahaie or Ammahe. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United Pay and bounty States of America in Congress assembled, That the Second Auditor of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to settle the claim for pay and bounty of John Ammahe or Ammahaie, of Companies E and H of the Forty third New York Volunteers and to issue a certificate for such amount as appears to be due, any charge of desertion upon any rolls of said regiment to the contrary notwithstanding. Approved, December 20, 1876.
1879: Congressional Record - House of Reps - December 15, 1879 p 110
Mr KNOTT introduced two bills re "Mohammed Kahn, otherwise John Ammahoe" to get him paid; HR 2915 and 2916, sent to Committee on Invalid Pensions, and Committee on War Claims, respectively

1882: Congressional Record - House of Reps - March 17, 1882 p. 2024
MOHAMMED KAHN, OR JOHN AMMAHOE.
Mr. RANNEY, by unanimous consent, introduced a bill (H. R. No. 5241) granting a pension to Mohammed Kahn, otherwise John Ammahoe; which was read a first and second time, referred to the Committee on Invalid Pensions, and ordered to be printed.
JOHN AMMAHAIE, OR AMMAHE
Mr. RANNEY also, by unanimous consent, introduced a bill (H. R. No. 5242) explanatory of an act directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty of JohnAmmahaie, or Ammahe, pas ed June 30, 1876; which was read a :first and second time, referred to the Committee on Claims, and ordered to be printed.
1884: Congressional Record - House of Reps - January 8, 1884 pg 280 -
JOHN AMMAHAIE.
Mr. ROGERS, of New York, also introduced a bill (H. R. 2454) explanatory of an act directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty account of John Ammahaie (or Ammahe) passed June 30, 1876; which was read a first and second. time, referred to the Select Committee on the Payment of Pensions Bounty. and Back Pay, and ordered to be printed.
1884: Congressional Record - Senate - January 14, 1884 - pg 372 -
Mr. HOAR: I have been requested to introduce a bill which is I suppose practically in the nature of a petition, but the person interested in the bill takes this mode of asking the action of the Senate. I have no knowledge in regard to the merits of the bill.
By unanimous consent, leave was granted to introduce a bill (S. 1058) explanatory of an act directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty account of John Ammahaie (or Ammahe) passed June 30, 1876; which was read twice by its title, and referred to the Committee on Military Affairs.
Mr. HOAR also {by request) asked and, by unanimous consent, obtained leave to introduce a bill (S. 1059) to increase the pension of Mohammed Kahn, otherwise John Ammahae; which was read twice by its title and referred to the committee on pensions.
1884: Congressional Record - Senate - March 18, 1884 p 1997
Mr. HAMPTON, from the Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 1058) explanatory of an act directing the Second Auditor to settle the pay and bounty account of John Ammahaie (or Ammahe), passed June 30, 1876, submitted an adverse report thereon, which was agreed to; and the bill was postponed indefinitely.
[I think Mr Hampton is Wade Hampton from South Carolina and former Confederate army guy.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:35 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


1880 - June 8, 1880- Senate - Mr Call introduced bill S 1826, granting a pension to Mohammed Kahn otherwise John Ammahoe

1881 - Congressional Record - Senate - Feb 10, 1881 - p 1402 -
JOHN AMMAHOE. Mr. WITHERS. I move to take up Senate bill No. 1826. The motion was agreed to; and the Senate. as in Committee of the Whole, proceeded to consider the bill (S. No.1826) granting a pension to Mohammed Kahn, otherwise John Ammahoe. It provides for placing on the pension-roll the name of Mohammed Kahn, otherwise John Ammahoe, late private in Company E, Forty-third. Regiment New York Volunteers, his pension to date from his discharge from the service. The bill was reported from the Committee on Pensions with an amendment, after the word" volunteers," in line 7, to strike out the words "his pension to date from his discharge from said service, and on account of disability incurred in said service." The amendment was agreed to. The bill was reported to the Senate as amended, and the amendment was concurred in. The bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, read the third time, and passed.
1882 - Congressional Record - Senate - July 8, 1882. On April 18, 1882, Mr Hoar had introduced Senate bills 1742 [pension] and 1743 [settle the pay and bounty amount passed in 1876]. Then in July, Mr. Van Wyck, from the Committee on Pensions, submitted the following adverse Report no. 798. (To accompany Bill S. 1742.):
...that there is among the papers no proof as to the present disability of the pensioner, nothing showing that he is entitled to an increase in pension, and recommend that the bill be indefinitely postponed.
1884 - Congressional Record - House of Reps - Jan 29, 1884 - p713
MOHAMMED KAHN, OR JOHN AMMAHOE.
Mr. HOLTON also introduced a bill (H. R. 4092) to increase the pension of Mohammed Kahn, otherwise John Ammahoe; which was read a first and second time, referred to the Committee on Pensions, and ordered to be printed.
1895 - Summary of bills - "List of private claims brought before the Senate... from the 47th to 51st congresses", Vol I, 1895 . Note, 47th Congress covers 1881-3; 48th Congress is 1883-5; 49th Congress is 1885-7. This lists five bills that came up in the Senate relating to his case during 1881-7, none of which passed:

Congress:Session, Senate Bill number. Description: Committee. Report; Outcome [x=no report or outcome listed]

Re: John Ammahoe, Ammahie, Ammahe, Mohammed Kahn:
-47:1, S1742. Increase of pension: Pensions. Report 748, Adverse; Indefinitely postponed
-48:1, S1050. Increase of pension: Pensions. x
-48:1, S1058. Explanatory of an act to settle his account: Military Affairs...Report 342, Adverse; Indefinitely postponed
-49:1, S825. Increase of pension: Pensions. x

Re: John Ammahois or Ammahae:
-47:1, S1743. Supplemental act to act passed June 30, 1876 to settle his pay and bounty accounts: Claims. x
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:40 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Other info, record sources in brackets -

Pension index card:
Mohammed Kahn, alias John Ammahaie
member of both Co. E and Co. H of NY 43rd Inf.
Invalid pension application no. 192169, pension no. 193744
Filed 25 April, 1874

Washington DC city directory - not confirmed that this is out guy, but it's a rare name:
1870 75 77 78- no Kahns
1879 - Mahomed Dean Kahn, physician, 1107 7th St NW.
1880 - Mahomed D Kahn, physician, 914 11th SE
1882 - Mahomed Kahn, "varieties", and Ali Kahn, clerk, both at 914 21 st NW.
1883 - Moses S Kahn, clerk, 209 D NW - no other Kahns
1884 - no Kahns

1882 and 1883 - [U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938]
At the Eastern Branch National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
Togus, Kennebec County, Maine
John Anmahaie alias Mohammed Kahn
born Teheran Persia; age 51 at admission 20 July 1882
Married; [unspecified relative but I'm guessing wife?] Marietta Kahn lives in Washington DC
served in Company E, 43rd NY Vols, Aug 7, 1861 - June 27, 1865
Injuries: gun shot wound of head and face. [!]
"Discharged 6 Sept 1882 at request papers[?] given himself in person. Applied for readmission July 1883. Readmitted Oct 1883 to labor 3 months without pay. Summarily discharged Nov 1883."

1890 - [1890 Veteran's Census] - June 1890
At the Eastern Branch National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
Togus, Kennebec, Maine
John Kahn, 43rd NY Infantry, Co. F.
Disability incurred: gun shot wound right hand
[also in 1890 there's also a John Kahn living in Albany, from the 7th NY Inf, no mention of gunshot wound to hand]

1891 - [NYC, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948]
Mohamed Kahn, died 26 May 1891 in Manhattan, age 68
death certificate #18577
[findagrave] - buried in Cypress Hills National Cemetery, 625 Jamaica Avenue Brooklyn NY
Section 2, Site 5009.
as John Ammahaie, pvt US Army, 26 May 1891
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:30 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


working on it and will hopefully have more later tonight.

Oh, well done, well done you!
posted by BWA at 5:45 PM on May 24


I've gone through the whole pension file and been looking for more confirmation of details. Here's a roundup of what I have so far.

FAMILY and BIO-
He went by other names, including Gray (in DC) and Smith (in Boston). One Boston doctor says that he told him "Muhammad Kahn was his name in the land of his nativity". [p 31]. His name is spelled many ways including John Emahe; John Kahn; Ammahaie and every permutation.

On the intake form for the soldier's home in Togus Maine, he says he was born in Tehran. In most of his military-related records he says he doesn't know the exact year of his birth but gives his age consistent with being born about 1830; but in his death record his age is consistent with being born about 1823. Born Iran/Persia, immigrated to Afghanistan, married, came over with American official of some kind in 1861.

In one statement he says he came over in 1861 on the ship Deneta (or similar name), about two months before enlisting -- i.e. probably May or June.

He had two wives [in his statement p. 12-3]. The first unnamed wife who he "married in Asia" about a year before coming over -- i.e. married in about 1860. He sent for her in 1865, they did not have children yet; she came to Boston and he didn't see her until after he was mustered out of the service in the summer of 1865. On pg 10 he says he wrote to his wife in Boston to send him a good rifle in early 1865. He lived around Boston for about 8 or 9 years, during which time his wife died. They had two children -- when the children were about 1 and 2 years old, the wife died on a trip visiting friends in Providence RI. He had her body brought back and buried in Boston.

The second wife was a Miss Kinney from Charlottesville Virginia. Married her "within about a month" of coming to DC, then they moved to Boston about three months later. It's unstated whether they had any children of their own. His doctors/pharmacists in Boston mention his wife is a "bright looking" "mulatto" or "yellow" woman who helps make beadwork that he sells. As of Oct 1880 he says she was living in Boston or Lawrence Massachusetts, with "my children". In June 1881 he hadn't seen her since the previous fall and couldn't give her address, but thought she was still in Boston area or Baltimore.
He says in 1874 document [p. 180] that his wife is named Minerva [?], that they married in 1869 in Washington DC, and that she lives in Westfield Mass. In summer 1882, checking into Togus Maine soldier's home he names her Marietta [?], as living in Washington DC.

I haven't found the kids names, or the family in any census; the father went by several surnames. In the 1881ish city directory for DC, he's listed as Mohamed Dean Kahn, [herbal] doctor, and another man, Ali Kahn, clerk, is listed living at the same address - so, possible this was a brother or even son?

The medical exams have physical descriptions of him -- around 5'5" or 5'6", 130lbs, dark skin, hair, eyes.


Generally what he did for a living -
In the army, soldiered, cooked, was a sharpshooter. In Philadelphia 1863-5, when he was away from his military unit and while he was back in that city on furlough from the hospital there, he says he begged and slept in the streets. From the timing, he must have been in Philadelphia for six months or even longer before heading south and meeting his unit at the battle of the wilderness -- not clear why it took so long, the pension investigators are skeptical, so there may be more of a story here as to what he was doing. He didn't speak English or read, so clearly there were legit barriers. In 1864 he rejoined the army but not his own unit, being a sharpshooter etc with other units, then getting injured/sick and shipped back to Phila for several months for treatment -- so didn't rejoin his original unit until another year had elapsed.

(Somewhere along the way, in the NY Civil War Muster Abstracts record that says he was a deserter, the information was introduced into one page of his file that says he was born in Charleston South Carolina and his occupation was hunter; I don't find any other source for this, whereas the story that he's from Persia is repeated consistently over the years including people who met him in the army and clearly remember that; the South Carolina info must be an error but not clear where it came from.)

In May 1874 [p 80-1 pension file], the charge of desertion was officially removed.

In Boston, late 1860s thru 1870s, he grew his hair long and made a living by selling beadwork items and baskets. He appears to have consistently told people he was from Persia and at least one person says he helped him read from the Koran [p25-6]. But other people are confused and say he may have represented himself as American Indian, selling bows and arrows, etc.

Bounced back and forth between Boston and DC.

In DC in the mid-1870s thru 1880s, there are testimonies from his friends one of whom says he roomed with the guy's aunt and uncle and didn't have regular work and owed them money [p122ff]. That testimonial was collected as part of the pension office's attempt to deny him an increase of pension, so I regard it with skepticism. But everyone including him seems to agree that he did drink too much; for at least two important appointments, it's recorded that he was too drunk to fulfill the purpose of the appointment [eg p 99]. It says he was a Freemason and got help from fellow masons, as well as black employees of the Treasury who took up a collection for him [103-7]. Several sources mention that he had an herbal doctoring business for a few years.

In the later 1880s, bounced back and forth between DC and the Togus Maine and Hampton/Elizabeth City Virginia soldier's homes.

He died in Manhattan May 1891, but it's not clear how he came to be there. He had been in Maine in summer 1890 veteran's census.


INJURIES AND PENSION
The congressional stuff was largely about undoing the incorrect "desertion" charges in his records. But at the same time, he was also trying to get a greater disability/invalid pension. He was awarded a pension of $4/mo from 1865 to 1875 for rheumatism and resulting disease of heart; then $8/mo from 1875; then $12/mo from 1885; then $14/mo from 1888.

He claimed several types of disability:
-rheumatism caused by illness and exposure in the service [and this led to heart disease] - affirmed in physical exams but question about source
-a head injury from a rifle butt to the top of the head - semi-affirmed in physical exams, two dents/small marks
-a broken nose scar from the same rifle butt to the face - affirmed in physical exams, scar on face
-an injured left hand from a gunshot passing thru between two fingers of the hand - little and ring fingers - affirmed in physical exams, scar and limited mobility of finger

They gave him disability mainly for the heart condition resulting from the rheumatism, which made it hard for him to even walk later in life. Later he had other conditions too, piles etc. More than once, it's mentioned that he was drunk for some event - eg unable to have a medical exam because drunk [p 99], he says he was drunk once while accepting an affadavit from someone, etc. It's mentioned by a few people from his Boston time that he was unstable of mind at times [eg p27-8, p 176], and I wonder if that was from the head injury.

He had a lot of back-and-forth with the pension office over which of his claimed injuries he could get disability for; this is what most of the pension file is. He lived in National Soldiers' Homes in Togus Maine and Hampton/Elizabeth City Virginia, on and off, for the last ten or so years of his life. Doctor exams testify to his worsening health.

He filed many applications to increase his pension amount, collecting a lot of paperwork -- affadavits from friends and doctors he had seen -- and getting physical exams each time. The pension office investigated his claims multiple times with skepticism. One strand of skepticism was that perhaps his claimed rheumatism was really a result of syphilis rather than military service - over the years, several doctors said it wasn't [p 60], a few said it could have been, but the pension office seems to have at times accepted that it was. Another strand of skepticism surrounded his head wound, which he didn't have a solid date for, his testimonials seemed divided over where/when it happened, and then later medical examiners said his head has a noticeable dent but they couldn't say how disabling it was -- but imo, he seems to have had a number of symptoms consistent with TBI aftermath. Final strand of skepticism is imo racism, see the statement of the pension office investigator [p103-108] in which he has "cheek," is a lazy freeloader, has been helped by network of black friends who for some mysterious reason aren't eager to talk to the investigator, etc.

A partial index of stuff in the pension file - I'm not doublechecking this so caveat emptor -
His own statements - p 2-14; 33; 76-8, 87, 144-5, 155, 166, 180
Pension office investigations - p. 23-32, 103-108, 118-128, 191-3,
Pension office explains denials - p. 74-5, 49-52, 147, 186, 201ff
Affadavits from friends/soldiers who knew him - p. 17-22, 39, 66, 68, 70, 97, 101, 118-128, 135, 168, 175
Affadavits from doctors/pharmacists who knew him - p. 23-32, 47, 56, 92, 112-3, 147, 159, 161, 176, 184
Medical exams - p. 58, 60, 62-4, 86, 99-101, 107, 116, 139, 159, 165-7, 182, 185, 187, 199,
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:19 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


A couple other bits -

- Belva Lockwood was his lawyer for one of the applications! [p.99]

- Partial quote from the skeptical pension office investigator in 1881, pp103-7:
Claimants character from what I could learn is good although he is somewhat addicted to drink. He has no visible means of support, lives by begging or borrowing money on the strength of his future pension. A couple of colored men in the Treasury informed me that during the fast two years, they have given him small sums of money and that other colored men have done the same. has also been assisted , as he says, by the masonic fraternity. He is shrewd and has any amount of cheek and has no doubt rehearsed a great many times to Congressmen + others the story he told me. He is well posted as to war matters especially those connected with the army of the Potomac and with his seeming intelligence it appears marvelous that he found it impossible to get back to his regiment from Phila as he states or still more marvelous that he should have re- turned in just such the way he did, arriving in the nick of time to be conveniently wounded in the hand. This story looks very thin to me. When he is in hospital in Phila he is granted a 30 days furlough, without asking for it, and takes his recreation by begging around the streets & sleeping in the gutters. & enquired of him why he did not return to hospital where he could always get good food & lodging, rather than lay around the streets especially as it was in the Winter. His reply to this was "that he did not go back because he was at that time a d ---d fool." He has certainly got over this failing at the present time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:08 AM on June 3


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