William was Charlie’s 2nd great granduncle. William never married and each census record finds him living in different households, but always with some member of the extended family.
To be honest, William’s 41 page pension is a bit of a snooze-fest, however, tracking William through the censuses enabled me to find a married sister, so I have a small fondness for him. William enlisted in two different units during the Civil War:
- 30 Jun 1863 – 16 Aug 1863 Private in Co A, 40th Regiment PA Military
- 13 Jul 1864 – 11 Nov 1864 Private in Co H, 197th PA Infantry
William’s pension application is straight forward. He applied under general disability, and that required a physicians exam. You can see from the doctors summary: William was 5′ 1/2 inches tall, weighed 101 pounds was 50 years old and was weak and delicate looking. He had a fissured tongue and was subject to bouts of pain, not sharp pains, but dull pains. The summation of the doctor is: “This man is weak, debilitated & nervous. heart action is excellerated but no abnormal symptoms are found pointing to organic disease, liver & spleen normal, appetite poor. Six-eighteenths for general debility. No other disability found to exist.”
The result of the doctors findings meant that William initially received a pension of $6 dollars a month with gradual increases to $15 per month at the time of his death.
All in all, a rather bland pension file, but one that provides additional information about this man and, by extension, his family. What amazes me is the courage it must have taken to prompt this 5′ tall, 100 pound, nervous, weak man to enlist in the Civil War, not once but twice. Combat is no place for a small, weak, nervous men. The risk he took, in and of itself, makes a statement about the kind of man he was.