1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free! If you aren't ready for that, try posting your question or comment as a guest!

"Discharged by Special Order"

Discussion in 'Researching Your Civil War Ancestry' started by r.j.potts, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. r.j.potts

    r.j.potts Guest

    Hi,

    I'm digging around in some muster rolls, looking at individuals who ended up in the GAR in San Luis Obispo after the war. One soldier is H. Hall, who I believe is the Henry Hall on this muster roll here:

    http://www.pa-roots.com/pacw/infantry/190th/190thcok.html

    It was the third Pennsylvania unit Henry Hall had served in during the war. Much of this unit was apparently captured and spent time as POWs.

    It says that he was "Discharged by Special Order", as opposed to being mustered out or discharged by general order. He was the only member of the company to be discharged on the date given.

    So my question is, under what circumstances would a solider be described as having been "Discharged by special order"? Might this mean a dishonorable discharge, or is it more likely if say, there were special circumstances at home (if he had to go and look after the farm if his dad fell ill or whatever). Is it impossible to say at this distance of time? Or is the phrase one which tends to mean the same thing whenever it crops up?

    Any help would be, er, helpful.

    Thanks,
    Richard
     
    east tennessee roots likes this.

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. Bonny Blue Flag

    Bonny Blue Flag 2nd Lieutenant Member of the Month

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    3,433
    Location:
    Irving, Texas
    r.j.

    The only info I have found so far is mentioned in several sites dealing with military discharge, lists "special court-martials". Have yet to find anything regarding "special discharge" specifically.

    --BBF
     
  4. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2010
    Messages:
    2,978
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    I understand that discharges by special order could be due to hardship or some other special reason (inability to adjust to Army life?) I've seen one 1865 discharge by special order because the soldier in question was able to get a substitute fill in for him. It's probably some form of unsuitability not related to medical or criminal reasons.

    I had one ancestor (PVT Hall of 15th Maine) enlist 20 Dec 1861, muster, then be discharged "by order 28 Feb 1862," just as the rest of the regiment was shipping out from Maine for Ship Island, MS. According to the State Adj Gen'l records, in 1862 he and several others were mustered out “By order, for various reasons." In those same records, other soldiers were listed separately for medical discharges and for discharges resulting from court martial, so I don't think his discharge was due to either of those reasons.. Unfortunately, I've not yet been able to determine exactly why he was discharged. He was married at the time of the war, and his wife died in 1865, so perhaps she had some lingering illness (such as TB) and he was discharged to go home to take care of her and the kids. He lived until 1902, having married again.

    Good luck finding out.
     
    r.j.potts and AndyHall like this.
  5. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    2,477
    Location:
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    I had an ancestor / relative in the Confederate 60th TN that was discharged because he couldn't " stand up to the rigors of military life. " In his later years he tried to obtain a Confederate pension because of " poor health " His former company commander, a minister at that time, tried to put in a good word for him. He said he remembered him as a " good and faithful comrade " what time he was in the army, but a " very delicate man " Needless to say, No pension !
     
  6. r.j.potts

    r.j.potts Cadet

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Many thanks for answering. Fascinated as we are by the subject of the war, it's easy to forget that the people of the time had to deal with the rigours of everyday life as well. I remember hearing in the Ken Burns documentary about a man who just dropped dead in camp one day. Not of a disease contracted while bivouacking somewhere on campaign, or through enemy action, just because he had a stroke or a pulmonary embolism or something; it would have happened wherever he'd been. The only reason I (a foreigner, 150 years later) know that he lived at all is because he died surrounded by people who were fighting a war I happen to be interested in. Your ancestor's story is another case in point; life can be hard in the 21st century but it was a good deal harder in the middle of the 19th. I think Hall's story was probably similar: Something just came up; we don't know what, and probably won't find out. As a historian, frustration comes as an occupational hazard....
     
    ExNavyPilot likes this.
  7. r.j.potts

    r.j.potts Cadet

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    2

    Hi- thanks very much for your response! It's entirely possible that this man underwent something similar; it's likely that we'll never know for sure. I'd hate to think how I'd "stand up to the rigors of military life" if I ever had to- I'm pretty sure there'd be a lot of people who'd do better than I would.
     
    east tennessee roots likes this.
  8. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    2,477
    Location:
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    Same here ! Especially that era and that war !
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page