Today’s post continues my earlier post on the rediscovery of Lewis Black’s Civil War honorable discharge certificate. The discharge document dates to 1864, and was fairly frequently used by Lewis (to collect the final bounty and a supplemental bounty for his service, to secure travel back to his home town, and presumably to aid in getting himself the medical assistance he required for his war injury), and then by his widow, Ruth, in securing her widow’s pension.
When I presented this yesterday, I did so quickly and didn’t present any details or analysis of the document. In today’s post, I’ll take a close look at the discharge document to see what I can learn from it.
Description of the document
The discharge paper is yellowed, lightly stained and has layers of written and stamped endorsements and additions to the document. The document has been folded in at least three different ways over the years—from what I can discern, first the original military tri-fold, then further folding into twelfths (perhaps by Lewis, to fit into his wallet), and then last into more exact thirds to fit in a standard envelope.
The paper measures 8.5 inches by 11 inches and spent much of its later life folded in thirds and stored in an 3.9 by 8.9 inch envelope (addressed to Lewis Black from the U.S. Pension Agency, postmarked June 13, 1900—so definitely not originally associated with the discharge).
The front of the document reads as follows:
To all whom it may Concern:
Know ye, That Louis Black, Private of 1st Lieut. Warner Mills Company G, 32 Regiment of Ohio Infantry VOLUNTEERS who was enrolled of the 1st day of August one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one to serve three years or during the war, is hereby Discharged from the service of the United States, this 28th day of August 1864, at Chattanooga Tenn by reason of expiration of term of service (No objection to his being re=enlisted is known to exist.)
Said Louis Black was born in Fairfield Co, in the State of Ohio, is 22. years of age, five feet six inches high, dark complexion, black eyes, dark hair, and by occupation, when enrolled, a farmer.
Given at Chattanooga Tenn this First day of September 1864.
W C [Ide]
Capt 13th Infty
C. M. 17th A.C.
Major 32nd Ohio Infty
The back side of the document has not been filled out, and is blank aside from a stamp and two added notes.
The age cited (22) was unexpected (implying a birth date ca. 1842), and does not match his likely birthdate (ca. 1839) as indicated by several other sources. I suspect that the person writing the form copied the data from Lewis’ enlistment three years earlier, when he was 22 years old.
One thing that stands out right away is the fact that Lewis is always spelled “Louis” on both sides of this document. While the details given for Louis Black are all in agreement with those I know for Lewis Black, I’d be a lot happier if I had solid evidence that the two names referred to the same person.
Well, that was surprisingly fast! In a search of Civil War military service record index cards, I found the card pictured at the right, which clearly shows that this particular Lewis was referred to in military records with both spellings of his name.
Stamps and endorsements on the document
I’ll try to place each of these notes in something close to chronological order to see what story they can tell.
Lewis’ name was written in pencil at an unknown date, presumably to be visible when the document was filed in its original tri-fold state.
On the back of the form, probably written when in the original military tri-fold state, was the notation “P.O.A Bremen Fairfield Co Ohio”. I believe this is a notation from a military clerk designating the final destination of Lewis, for purposes of providing payment for transport: Point of Arrival: Bremen, Fairfield Co., Ohio.”
This endorsement, dated September 15, 1864, just two weeks after the date of the discharge document, notes that Lewis was paid, but does not state the reason or amount. This may have been a final bounty, or it may have been funds for transport home, or both.
Along the right side, written vertically is an undated signature of E. A. T__ap, Pay master, [N.O.A.]. This may have been the signature of the Pay Master who approved the payment(s).
A word that looks like “Carpenter” has been written in pencil at an unknown date in the top left corner of the document, and was later overwritten in blue pencil with the number “100”. I do not know what either of these marks mean.
This stamp has a date of September 15, 1864, and the writing around the margin indicates that the stamp was added by an agent of the Jeffersonville Railroad. It appears to have taken Lewis two weeks to get from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Jeffersonville, Indiana—a straight-line distance of 225 miles. The Jeffersonville Railroad stamp indicates that from Jeffersonville, he boarded the train for Cincinnatti, Ohio, via Madison, Indiana.
This stamp, dated September 16, 1864, was added by S. T. Baker, a ticket agent for the Little Miami & Columbus and Xenia Railroad, in Cincinnati, Ohio. This stamp indicates that Lewis took the L.M.&C.&X. Railroad from Cincinnati to Xenia, Ohio, via Newtown, Milford, Morrow, Waynesville, and Spring Valley.
Xenia, Ohio, is 80 straight-line miles due west of Bremen. From Xenia, Lewis could have first taken the “Little Miami” railroad 55 miles to Columbus, Ohio, via London and West Jefferson.
My best guess is that once in Columbus, Lewis would have boarded the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad back home to Bremen.
Below is a map showing the Lewis’ route while travelling back home after the war, as outlined above. I know nothing of how he got from Chattanooga to Jeffersonville, hence the straight line between those two cities. I’ve also had a hard time locating the old rail route from Jeffersonville to Madison, so it may have differed from what I’ve drawn below.
Later addition to the document
This stamp was added 3½ years later and notes that on February 19, 1868, Lewis was paid an additional bounty of $100, as per the congressional act of July 28, 1866. The person who disbursed the additional bounty was D. Taylor, Pay Master.
Lewis Black’s honorable discharge paper was richer in information than I had suspected, and there is still much to decipher. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to interpret the railway stamps and to be able to piece together the last half of Lewis’ trip home. I wonder how he travelled that first part of his trip—did he travel west to the Mississippi and take a steamboat up the Mississipi river to Cairo, and then along the Ohio river to Jeffersonville? The Mississippi was certainly one of the most heavily used routes for quickly ferrying soldiers north and south. But the distance from Chattanooga to the Mississippi river is actually a bit longer than the distance due north to Jeffersonville. Still, if a railroad or a well-travelled supply route existed between Chattanooga and any city along the Mississippi, it may well have been the simplest (and perhaps fastest) route, even if substantially greater in mileage.