Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pension Records are a Great Source of Information, Part II

In those pension records that I had ordered from the National Archives so long ago were also ones from another Union ancestor, Robert F. Boles of Overton County, Tennessee. Boles is my great great great uncle. He was the son of John and Matilda Beaty Boles. His father John was a Tennessee state legislator in the 1850s, and his mother Matilda was the sister of well known Union scout/guerrilla Tinker Dave Beaty. His younger brother George Washington Boles was one of Beaty's men.

In Robert's pension file is a report from the War Department, Adjutant General's Office in Washington D.C. and dated Sept. 23, 1883. In it there is information that is likely contained in Robert's service records, which I do not have at present. It states that he was enrolled as a private in Company D of the 2nd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry on Sept. 1, 1861 at Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky. Since Tennessee had seceded, Unionists from the Volunteer State usually had to make it to Kentucky to enlist, even though at this time Kentucky still was officially neutral. However, a later records in the file says he enlisted on Nov. 1, 1861. A unit history I found and that has information taken from soldiers' service records corroborates the Sept. 1 date of enlistment and says he was "mustered at Camp Wildcat, 24 Oct. 1861."

This paper continues with some other interesting information. It says he was "wounded in action March 14, [18]62 and left in Tenn. (The Co. was in a skirmish March 14, 62 at Big Creek Gap, Tenn)." It also stated "Left near Cumberland Gap Tenn sick Sept 17, 62" and that "The Co. left Lexington March 25 63, and spent 9 days and nights in advancing and retreating before a rebel force not more than half our number and finally halted at Stanford, Ky." Surprisingly, it reports "Deserted at Somerset, Ky About June 30, 63 exact date not known" but follows up a line later "The charge of desertion is removed and he is honorably discharged for disability to date June 30, 63."

On a 1912 form Robert stated he was born on Independence Day, 1829 in Overton County, Tennessee and that he was discharged at Louisville on June 13, 1863. On an 1890 form he stated that he was discharged June 13, 1863 at Jamestown - not sure if he meant Tennessee or Kentucky.  The reason given that he was "unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of....Deafness of right ear; gun shot wound of left thigh and hip and also gun shot wound of the left ankle." Apparently Robert was already a pensioner when this form was filed "on account of gun shot wound of right knee." Sounds like Robert was a bullet magnet.

On a form stamped 1889 it gave a description of Robert. Age 53, height 5'5", complexion "fare," hair "light," eyes "blue," and that at Cumberland Gap in July or August 1862 he "contracted deafness of right ear."  It also says that "at Big Creek Gap, state of Tenn about 14 Mar. 1862 received Gun shot wound of left thigh and hip and also a gun shot wound in left ankle. He gets a pension of $8 per mo. by No. 114033 for Gun shot wound of right knee. He also asks an increase on said disability." And, in addition it indicates that he was treated in "Rebel Line as a Prisner." In a long line of disclosure he said "I am the above Claimant. I was in the U.S. army. I Enlisted n the 1st day of November 1861 and I was a [?] soldier up to the date I was shot in the hip and knee in the left leg and right [?] at the Battle of Big Creek Gap in Tenn. I was a member of Company D 2nd Tenn Reg. Vol." The rest is difficult to read but I can make out "they were Georgians."

There are a number of other affidavits and forms that are difficult to read due to bad spelling and handwriting. One of the last form though was from November 12, 1902 and the information was provided by Robert's son S.G. Boles who was 26 at the time. It stated that the pensioner, Robert had been married 3 times, all said wives were dead.  Robert was married to Oena [sp] Worley who died in 1873, Patsey Reagan, who died in 1886, and Suzie Owens, who died in 1909. Apparently Robert and his last wife Suzie were divorced.

There is some conflicting information in the files, especially with dates, but apparently that did not keep Robert from collecting his pension and may have resulted from information that amended to the form later by the record keepers.

These records provide a deeper look into the life and service of these soldiers than their basic soldier records provide. Thank goodness they have been preserved and are accessible so we can learn about our ancestors experiences from them.

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