Morrison's Pensions

Civil War

Wanted: Pension Applications

Pension application of Michael Kelly, Civil War.
Donated by Tracy Lawrence.
Transcription of a letter he wrote to support his pension claim.

October 20, 1888.

My age is about fifty years. My occupation before enlistment was Rail-making, but I have not been able to do any work since I came home from the Army. My post office address is No. 50 Susquehanna Street , Binghamton NY .

I landed in this country from Ireland August 2, 1856 and enlisted the 28 th of the same month (Aug 1856)) at the Cedar St NY recruiting rendezvous where I was examined by a regular army doctor, and a few days afterwards I with other recruits, was sent to Governour's Island, NY and was then and there re-examined by another regular army doctor. I have forgotten the names of both those doctors that examined me.

I remained on Governors Island NY about three weeks when I was sent with a batch of recruits to fill up Co. I 4 th US Artillery then stationed at Fort Independence , Boston Harbor .

Shortly afterwards we were sent to Ft Myers Florida , to subdue the Seminoles. We were transported there by the clipper ship “Thistle”. We spent about a year in Florida between Ft Myers, Ft Brooke at Tampa Bay , Ft Mead, a military crossing at Kissimmee River and the Everglades . I was off duty about a week on account of ague at the crossing of Kissimmee River .

In the fall of 1857, we went from Florida to Ft. Leavenworth , Kansas , and during the following winter we had a hard campaign in camping out during very severe weather with insufficient clothing, while we were detailed to subdue the “Border Ruffian Riots” about Topeka , Lecompton and other places in Kansas whose names I have forgotten. Our supply of clothing was insufficient because where we were detailed for this duty it was thought that our services would not be required so long as to carry us far into the winter, but throughout the whole campaign my health remained perfect in every respect.

In the spring of 1858 orders were received to proceed to Utah , and immediately we started for that place but halted at Ft Larimore Neb as the Peace Commissions had meanwhile settled the Mormon difficulty.

In this march to Ft Laramie we traveled over twelve hundred miles through a very rough country poorly supplied with water and many of the men were disabled, and all the draught horses were worn out so that their places had to be supplied by mules. This march occupied about four months but I was never sick any day during the whole time. We remained at Ft Laramie NEB about one year on scouting duty and nearly half our command were taken sick with scurvy there, for want of proper food, but still my health remained good.

After leaving Ft. Laramie we proceeded about six hundred miles to Ft Randall near the head waters of the Missouri river . Here we did regular scouting duty and went on an expedition to Yankton Oak. To subdue and Indian outbreak there. We settled the difficulty and returned to Ft. Randall .

In the Spring of 1861, when the Missouri River began to clear of ice, we started for the seat of war, that had just begun, under orders to proceed to Ft Pickens, Fla. The boat that was to convey us was the first one up the river that spring and brought us the news of the election of President Lincoln and the firing upon Ft. Sumter .

We (Co.'s “I” and “E” 4 th U.S. Artillery) now reduced to about ninety men in both companies, proceeded down the Missouri River until we reached a point somewhere about the Iowa line when we left the boat and made a forced march across the state to either Burlington or Des Moines, I forget which, in order to save our small force from a large body of the enemy which appeared.

While on the passage by boat which lasted about five days, I was on guard duty one night at the bow of the boat when it rained very hard with a cold head wind and I got wet and chilled through. I suffered with chills and cramps, having no medicine, but didn't feel the full effects of the exposure until a day or so afterwards, when we left the boat and undertook the forced march. I mentioned before. This march continued about a week and on no day of it was I able to keep up with my company on account of griping and bleeding from my bowels and the piles which appeared for the first time. My eyes also began to trouble me then. Sometimes it would be near morning before I could overtake my company, and would then have to start out again the next day with only a few days rest.

The exact date on which I contracted disease of eyes and piles I can't give, but as near as I can remember they both named diseases appeared at nearly the same time, about the latter part of April, 1861, while serving in Co “I” 4 th US artillery, on our way east from Ft Randall.

From Burlington (or Des Moines ) Iowa, we were conveyed by railroad to Cincinnati , Ohio , by way of Chicago Ill.

We arrived in Cincinnati in May 1861 and camped on the Orphan Asylum Lots, Elm St. , but this time my eyes were almost closed and running water so that I could hardly see to move around. The piles also gave me great trouble, with bleeding from the bowels like a diarrhea. Here my company was filed up with new recruits and horses and artillery were furnished.

The asylum lots were too small for drilling purposes and we were moved to the Fairgrounds about six miles outside the city where my company remained after about six weeks when it went to West Virginia as Gen. McClellan's body guard. I was left behind as totally unfit for duty. My eyes were entirely blinded by disease so that the hospital steward would have to place my food in my hands, while the piles gave me great trouble also.

The “hospital” was the grand stand of the fair grounds, where the bunks were fixed on the steps and platforms.

After remaining here about four weeks longer Co. E was ordered to the front and I was carried along with them as far as Clarksburg , Virginia where they halted.

My term of enlistment for five years expired while here and I was discharged Aug 29, 1861 . My condition had improved by this time as that I could walk around the camp. I went to Wheeling W. Virginia to get paid by Major McPherson (paymaster) and while there the clerk was making out my final statement the major introduced me to Gov. Pierport of West Virginia as a veteran from the front after five years service, and the governor insisted on me taking a captain's commission on his staff to help him in organizing recruits, but I told him that I was just after being discharged from hospital and needed further care and rest so I was recommended, and went. To the “Sister's Hospital” there, where I remained about three weeks. I then went with others of my late company whose term had also expired, to New York City , where I enlisted with Captain Ireland , who was recruiting for the 13 th US Infantry while I was yet convalescent and put on recruiting service. The date of my enlistment was about Oct 1, 1861 . I traveled with Capt Ireland recruiting in New York City , Oswego and Binghamton , NY . By orders from headquarters, our recruiting services was closed while at Binghamton and I was promoted to 1 st Lieut of Co G, 109 NY Vols. – Aug 13 1862 in the date on my commission as such.

After drilling and organizing there about a month and moved to Annapolis Junction Md and after a couple of month's duty there my company was detached for duty at Bladensburg , Mo. My disease of eyes and piles never got well but gradually increased again until I was discharged on the doctor's (Johnson) certificated of disability on account of these diseases – April 17, 1863 .

I then came home to Binghamton NY where I remained about eleven months under medical treatment of Dr. Orton Dr. Brooks and a traveling specialist on eye diseases, whose name I have forgotten, besides medicines I got in drug stores which I found useful and recommended by others, during this time my health improved but the diseases if the eyes and piles were not entirely cured. Still I went to Scranton , Pa. for the purpose of reenlisting in a company going to the front. I showed my papers of prior service and was accepted into Co. G 187 of Pa. Vols, about March 1 st 1864 , for three years service. The company went to Reading , PA , and was there divided into two parts. Lt Diemer and myself as 1 st duty Sgt went with one of the detachments to Easton , PA , on Provost duty, while there I was sick with diphtheria and treated by Dr. Roseberry, contract Surgeon, and after about two months we went to Harrisburg Pa , where the Rgt was consolidated and assigned to the 5 th corps and ordered to the front. We went to Cold Harbor, Virginia and participated in skirmishes, about Petersburg, Virginia, afterwards, where I was taken prisoner about June 20, 1864, confined in a tobacco warehouse there for about a week, then taken to Libby prison and held about three weeks there, where we were removed to Andersonville Prison, where I was kept about four months longer, when I was paroled with a bathch of ten thousand sick and wounded under special agreement. I had been again severely attacked with an increase on disease of eyes and piles besides scurvy. I meant to say that we were paroled at Miller, Ga. To which place we were removed from Andersonville Prison from Miller we were sent by rail to Savanna, Ga, and a rebel boat took us from there to our government transport lying at the mouth of the Savannah River . Thence we were taken to Annapolis Md. and placed in hospital there. I got a sick furlough there, for thirty days, and computations for rations while a prisoner, which I received at the commissary general's office Baltimore , Md.

At the expiration of my furlough I reported back to Annapolis and after a short time I was forwarded to my Regt then stationed at Camp Cadwallader Phila Pa, soon after the war was ended and I was discharged there about Aug10, 1865 since which time I have not served in the military of naval serves of the U.S.

Prior to my enlistment in the US service I was of sound health and never needed the services of a doctor. I was free from all kinds of disease, especially piles, and disease of eyes which I claim pensioner, having contracted them, as stated, in the service and line of duty and which has continued ever since, bringing with them some other diseases, neuralgia, nervous prostration and partial paralysis, chiefly caused by loss of blood by profuse bleeding of the piles.

Dr. Stone was our Surgeon at the time of incurrence of said diseases and shortly afterwards he was succeeded by Dr. Wright. Both of those doctors told me that they didn't have the proper medicines for me as the medical stores were exhausted and they were not replenished for some time after we reached Cincinnati from the far west, and I had no money to purchase medicines on reaching the city as we hadn't been aid for about six months previously on the plains.


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