Sunday, June 23, 2013

it's ok, i'm with the band.

there were a lot of people carrying the name carr in the mid 19th century in springport and aurora, ny. and of course aurora was the civil war recruiting center for the area, so the records have them all enlisting there.

i am just going to hazard a guess that they're mostly family of some kind just because of the sheer number of them and the number of them who share first names. a lot of these guys are named george.

what makes the carrs of this area interesting to me is that a weirdly high percentage of them enlisted as musicians with the 19th new york infantry, later redesignated the 3d light artillery. in 1861 there are maybe twenty musicians to a regiment, but four of those guys in the 3d artillery are carrs.

CARR, ALBERT H.—Age, 27 years., Enlisted, November 19,1861,
at Auburn; muistered in as musician in the band Nineteenth Infantry, May 4, 1861, to serve two years; designation of regiment
changed to Third Artillery, December 11, 1861; discharged, August 30, 1862, by order of War Department.

CARR, ASHBEL W.—Age, 34 years. Enlisted', May 4, 1861, at
Auburn; mustered in as musician in the band, Nineteenth. Infantry, November119,1861, to serve two years; designation of regiment changed to Third Artillery, December 11,1861; discharged
for disability, March 1862, at Fort Corcoran, Va.

CARR, GEORGE E.—Age, 21 yeans. Enlisted, May 4, 1861, at
Auburn; mustered in as musician in the band, Nineteenth Infantry, November 19,1861 to serve two years; designation of regiment changed to Third Artillery, December 11, 1861; transferred, August 30, 1862, to Battery G and discharged, June 2, 1863; again enlisted, August 20,1863, and mustered in as a private, Battery K; captured, February 2,1864, at Beech Grove, N. C.; paroled, date not stated; discharged on writ of habeas corpus, date not recorded.

CARR, HENRY C—Age, 22 yeans. Enlisted, May 4,1861, at Auburn ; mustered in as musician in band, Nineteenth Infantry, May
4, 1861, to serve two years; designation of. regiment changed to
Third Artillery, Decemiber 11, 1861; discharged, May 2, 1862, at
Newbern, N. C.

i started looking at these guys because i happened to have been walking by the grave of ashbel carr and noticed that his headstone says MUSICIAN, which is a thing i have never seen. i have known forever about the presence of bands in the civil war and their work which involved getting shot at a lot like the other guys, only carrying horns and also their secondary jobs working as medics and corpsmen in the grisly hospitals.

there's a really good article about these bands here. i came across this article because i was trying to figure out why, of these four guys, one was transferred to another unit on august 30 1862 and why one would be discharged on that same date by order of the war department. usually they just discharge the guys for disability or muster them out when it's time, but a discharge by order of the war department made me wonder.

what i learned was that in the second year of the war the expense of every regiment having its own band was just too enormous so the war department discharged the bandsmen. some of them re-enlisted as regular soldiers, and some had seen enough and went home.

because i am a musician by training and trade, i feel a kinship with these men more maybe than others.

so then as i was reading these records, i noticed the words "discharged on writ of habeas corpus", which is a thing i had not yet seen, so of course i googled it and it turns out it's not all that uncommon.

the tricky bit now for me was figuring out what that actually MEANT, because while i have a rudimentary understanding of what habeas corpus is, i did not get how that might apply to the discharge of a soldier.

so here's a nice dense article about the writ of habeas corpus in the civil war, but it doesn't really explain what's going on when you see it in the discharge records. apparently (and this just gives some examples) when soldiers are discharged on writ of habeas corpus they are usually either underaged, or else they enlisted in the army as a way to escape legal prosecution at home.

when you read the brief service records of the men in a unit you can get some clues about how things were going for them.

in this particular regiment there seem to be a higher number than usual of men who show up in the inspection or muster roll but there is no record of service. there are also a lot of guys who go missing after furlough. some of them return and some don't.

on the other hand, there's a high incidence of the words "captured" and "andersonville" in these records, too.

ashabel carr, musicianbetween the phisterer tables and the regimental history it would be possible to think that henry carr was simply among those of his unit up for discharge in may 1862, but his record says his term of enlistment was for two years, so even though his record does not specify that he is discharged for disability, he is discharged a year early and from a town with a union hospital pretty soon after his unit took its highest casualties of the war.

the discharge of ashabel carr is a little more of a mystery to me, though. during the time of his service only five men of his unit are wounded at all, and fort corcoran, while overcrowded, had some of the nicest conditions of any war posting because of its accessibility and proximity to cities.

so i just don't know.

but his headstone is on chestnut hill, and he was a musician.


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