Tag Archives: pensions

- A Wedding, a Death, and a Pension: Charles and Sarah Butler’s Story

Commemorative stamp based on painting, dated 1892, by J. Andr_ Castaigne (painting courtesy of the West Point Museum, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York).

Portsmouth, Virginia, occupied by the Union army, was the scene of a wedding in November 1863.[i]  The happy couple was Charles “Charley” Butler, a private in Company E, 1st Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT), and Sarah Smith.  Butler’s service record at the National Archives shows that he joined the Army on 17 June 1863 at Mason’s Island (now Theodore Roosevelt Island) in the District of Columbia, and that he was a nineteen-year-old farmer born in Prince William County, five feet seven inches tall, with “Very Black” complexion, “Black” eyes and hair, and “scars on right foot and breast.”  His next of kin was listed as a brother in Alexandria.[ii]  Sarah later stated that she and Charles “married by consent of our respective parents, being both free born.”[iii]  Sarah appears in the Norfolk County Register of Free Negroes in 1853 as a sixteen-year-old with “dark” complexion, height four feet eleven and a half inches, “born free in this county,” daughter of Nancy Smith.[iv]  Charles has not been located in antebellum records but may have been the son of Flora Butler, who was listed in the 1860 census as a 55-year-old free black washerwoman in Alexandria.  Living with her was 20-year-old blacksmith Alonzo Butler, who was presumably the brother mentioned in Charles’s service record.[v]

Charles had … read more »

- Prince Edward Co. Declarations for Revolutionary War Pensions

While examining Prince Edward County court records for chancery suits, former Local Records Archivist Catherine OBrion found a group of declarations to the justices of the peace of Prince Edward County.  The declarants were Revolutionary War veterans seeking to obtain pensions under an act of Congress passed on 7 June 1832. The applicants present detailed testimony of their time of service during the Revolutionary War. Information found in the declarations include date and location applicants entered into service, names of military companies they served in, names of military commanders they served under, names of fellow soldiers they served with, length of service, their ages, and their places of birth. The declarations also include affidavits from witnesses who could verify information provided by applicants.

The predominant portion of the declarations consists of narratives of the veterans’ tours of duty during the Revolutionary War.  William Hines, age 78, presented an account of his service under General George Rogers Clarke in present-day Kentucky.  Clarke’s army was pursuing Native Americans along the Ohio River.  Hines shared how, during the campaign, he was severely wounded by two musket balls which broke both bones of his right arm below the elbow.  Hines was personally assured by General Clarke that he would receive a pension.  William Worsham, age 80, presented an account of his service from the time the war began in 1775 to the British … read more »

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