Bad News, Good News, Good News, Unexpected News
I mentioned about two weeks ago that I found some information about two Civil War Army soldiers, Everett Gaskill and Erastus Murray, on ancestry.com and also that I had requested their Compiled Military Service Records from the National Archives & Records Administration. Because I found both soldiers in the New York Archive’s Civil War Muster Roll and Everett in the Pension Index, I assumed (bad girl) there would be compiled records to find.
Well, NARA got back to me very quickly on both. I thought Everett would be an easy find for them because, silly me, he existed in the family record. And I thought Erastus would be a tougher find because he is one of the mysteries in the family.
So first the bad news-They found nothing on Everett. Zilch. Nada. Zero. I was very disappointed. Now the good news--I sent an email to NARA telling them I received a "negative search", but that I knew the soldier in question was in the Pension Index, in the NY muster rolls, and in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. I got a very quick response from NARA telling me they did, in fact, have a Compiled Military Service Record for Everett Gaskill. They will be mailing copies to me!
Then still more good news-They found Erastus with my original request. And now I know what his signature looked like (and know for sure it was Murray, not Murry):
I’ve been trying to learn what happened in his life in the early 1860s that caused the family to fall apart. What I learned from this record doesn’t solve the mystery, but it does provide a little snapshot of the time. As I paged through the documents, I saw there was a summary page mentioning three enclosures: Certificate for Discharge, Enlistment Papers and Casualty (!) Sheet.
I was fascinated by the Enlistment Papers because part of it was written in his hand—proof that he could read and write. But I know he lied about his age. On August 9, 1964, he would have been about 52, not the 45 he claimed. I wonder if he joined because he was desperate for money ($100) or maybe there was a quota that the recruiters needed to meet, so they all looked the other way.
Then came the Casualty Sheet—blank??? Wait, another Casualty Sheet on which he was listed as a Recruit: “Recommended for Discharge, by Med. Examig Board, at Elmira, NY, Oct. 1, 1864”. Only two months from the time of enlistment? What could have happened?
Then the Certificate of Disability for Discharge (the handwritten portion is shown in italic):
We certify that we have carefully examined the said Erastus Murray of Captain ________ Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of…. Want of teeth.
The unexpected news, he enlisted for free tooth extractions??? And the Examining Physician didn't notice a dental problem in August??