Tuesday, February 12, 2013

soldiers' lot

last october i was in the valois cemetery, because there is a geocache at the back corner, up where the vineyard borders it.

i think i have mentioned before that it is my habit to look for the civil war dead and that i sometimes look them up.

on my way i stopped at the soldiers' lot to read the monument and the headstones. despite the fact that every so often new flags get put on the graves, the men who are buried in the soldiers' lot typically do not have people to remember them.

the men buried in the soldiers' lots often did not have families to be buried with or else they were too poor to afford cemetery plots. occasionally it is a matter of pride to be buried with the other veterans, but usually these lots are marked, as this one is, "dedicated to the burial of indigent soldiers and sailors".

we do not look too closely at why these men were indigent in such large numbers.

anyway i can't say for sure why i picked just these three men to look up when i got home, but i have spent the better part of a day finding their records and thinking of their lives.

samuel lindsley (var. linsdsey, lindsly) served with the 109th NY infantry, company G. although this unit was present at spotslyvania courthouse, wilderness, and cold harbor, its casualty listings for those battles suggest that this unit was not among those thrown into the thick of the fighting. they saw their worst casualties in the siege of petersburg where they took daily losses and fought in the battle of the crater.

have you seen that thing? the crater?

he was discharged with his unit so he made it through the war standing up, but there's an 1883 invalid pension record for him.

john d. pulfrey was a challenge for me. it was hard to read his headstone, which was maybe why i chose to take its picture. a lot of the time if i can't make out the soldier's full name on the stone i can figure out who he is by his regimental history.

it's tricky with the 19th new york infantry, because the regiment was redesignated the 3d light artillery after a little disturbance regarding terms of service that ended up with some of the men being sent to prison camps for it. there's an interesting newspaper account of it and the subsequent celebration of the returning soldiers.

clearly pulfrey was among the soldiers returned to duty, since the record indicates that he was discharged with disability at newburn, north carolina some time later.  regimental records show that his company (K)  met action at whitehall bridge and it is here that i believe he was injured.

on the 1890 census of surviving soldiers his disability is listed as "varicose veins" and he is described as "old, lame, deaf and poor".

i was only able to find records of him through the listing of the valois cemetery, by searching men buried in the soldiers' lot from this regiment. there's only one of him, so the trail runs back from there.

edward d. hall served with the 23d ny infantry, company I.  the regiment saw blessedly little action and took relatively few casualties.

hall mustered in and out with his regiment, and the 1890 census of surviving soldiers makes no special note of him.

in the 1875 census he is seen to have a wife and children living at home, but in the 1900 census he is widowed, living alone, and 4 months unemployed.

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