Discussion Looking for information on teamsters

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
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Apr 18, 2019
Teamster.png

Image of Union Teamster (likely with the 2nd Vermont) - source Library of Congress

In various research I've done I've come across service cards for teamsters. They seem, to me, to exist somewhere in an in-between state - not soldiers and yet not civilians. I'd love to get some clarification on these men. For instance:
  • Were they enlisted men?
  • What role did they play?
  • Did they qualify for pensions?
  • Were there differences between the CSA and Union teamsters?
I really need a "Civil War Teamsters for Idiots" level instruction here! Thanks in advance to all who answer.
 
Last edited:

redbob

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Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
What I know about the subject is that the armies (both) either used their own personnel or hired civilians for the job. They drove the supply (feed, food, bullets, officer's possessions, artillery shells etc.) wagons in the wagon trains that accompanied the armies. The military personnel evidently qualified for benefits and pensions as in a cemetery near me there is a government tombstone and the gentleman's military position is labeled as "wagoneer" (aka teamster). Slaves (both freed and still enslaved ) also acted as wagoneers.
 
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Aug 2, 2019
Most of the "Citizen prisoners" at Andersonville were teamsters. Some were members of the military; many were not. Those who were not were employed by the Quartermaster's Department. They transported goods and sometimes had the misfortune to be captured along with the company that they were making deliveries to. In the North, at least, it paid fairly well, and quite a few farmers would hire on in the winter months to make some extra money. Because they were not military personnel, they did not qualify for pensions. If they were unfortunate enough to die in prison, there would be no pension for their families. I've seen a couple of cases where the families applied only to be told that there was "no provision' to aide the families of the men who were not enlisted in the army at the time of their capture.

I have a half written chapter about "Citizen" prisoners at Andersonville on my laptop.
 

Coonewah Creek

First Sergeant
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Jun 1, 2018
Location
Northern Alabama
In various research I've done I've come across service cards for teamsters. They seem, to me, to exist somewhere in an in-between state - not soldiers and yet not civilians. I'd love to get some clarification on these men. For instance:
  • Were they enlisted men?
  • What role did they play?
  • Did they qualify for pensions?
  • Were there differences between the CSA and Union teamsters?
I really need a "Civil War Teamsters for Idiots" level instruction here! Thanks in advance to all who answer.
I've identified about 15 men detailed to teamster duties at various points in time in the 2nd Mississippi. Typically they were Privates simply detailed to regimental, or in a case or two, brigade teamster duties.
 

Tom Elmore

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There were over 3,000 teamsters directly serving the Union and Confederate armies in the Gettysburg campaign and their duties were virtually identical. The vast majority were privates who were detailed from the ranks, although they received an additional allowance (typically 25 cents extra per day). They drove vehicles at the level of regiments, brigades, divisions or corps, hauling everything needed for use by an army, including baggage (trunks, carpet bags, valises, knapsacks, mess chests), provisions (for animals and men), cooking utensils, entrenching tools, ammunition (small-arms or reserve artillery rounds), medical supplies, litters, paperwork (records including roll books and forms), musical instruments, etc. The vehicles mainly comprised wagons or ambulances with teams of either two, four, six or eight animals (mules or horses), which the teamsters were responsible for feeding and maintaining. Teamsters were issued an overcoat, but not a personal blanket like the foot soldiers, although they could access a horse blanket.

See also: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/support-services-teamster.110922/#post-1074711
 

Tom Elmore

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I have found via Fold3, the pension application for an ancestor who was a Waggoner (Union) , I don't know if that is the same as a teamster .
The two terms, wagoner and teamster, were used interchangeably. Also called a "driver," but for some reason the latter was more often associated with an ambulance. There also existed a managerial position known as the "wagon master," who was paid more and was mounted on a horse.
 

Lusty Murfax

Sergeant
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Feb 18, 2017
Location
Northwest Missouri
My Great Great Grandpa was a teamster during the War. However, he served the Army by hauling supplies to the forts in the Plains. He owned two four horse teams and two wagons. Presumably, he had at least one employee to drive the second team. My understanding is that he was of military age, but being a Southern man refused to join any of the Union militia groups formed in Missouri. His Teamster service was apparently a compromise approved by the Union military authorities and prevented his family from suffering the worst of the depredations brought by occupation forces on the civilian population.

During the early stages of the War the family freed or ran off their three field hand slaves, but kept the females and children with the family. Grandpa's duties required him to haul Army supplies westward from the river port at Nebraska City, Nebraska, which is across the Missouri River from the extreme northwestern tip of Missouri. The family established a farm near Rock Port in Atchison County, Missouri. The household included GG Grandma (they were newly married), her elderly parents, two adult female slaves and their four children. At some point during the War the family was forced to free or separate from the remaining slaves. The slaves were transported across the river to an underground railroad camp near Nebraska City, where they eventually established their homes. One of my distant relatives has reached out to the descendants of the family's slaves and helped them with their genealogy search. Reportedly, dna tests confirm some of the descendants are blood relatives.

After the War ended, GG Grandpa sold his teams and wagons to the Army, he sold his clothes and replaced them with raged clothing and a worn out mule. He sowed the money into his clothes and rode the mule back to northwest Missouri. His intention was to appear poor to prevent being robbed on his journey. He rode the mule all the way back to his Andrew County farm and his war was over.
 
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Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
In various research I've done I've come across service cards for teamsters. They seem, to me, to exist somewhere in an in-between state - not soldiers and yet not civilians. I'd love to get some clarification on these men. For instance:
  • Were they enlisted men?
  • What role did they play?
  • Did they qualify for pensions?
  • Were there differences between the CSA and Union teamsters?
I really need a "Civil War Teamsters for Idiots" level instruction here! Thanks in advance to all who answer.
What an interesting topic. However I know nothing more than has already been posted. However I do know about two freed backs who were hired as teamsters for the ANV. As I recall their pay was quite surprisingly good. If you’re interested in that particular story I can look it up and point you to it.
 

Tom Elmore

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So nearly everyone who has a record of serving as a teamster should also have a service card for enlistment etc.?

Generally yes, except some slaves were hired out by their masters to the Confederate army as teamsters (with some free-born too), and some ex-slaves drove teams in support of the Union army, including in the wagon train captured by J.E.B. Stuart in Maryland during his summer 1863 ride into Pennsylvania.

Teamsters who were detailed from the ranks often spent much or all of their army service doing nothing else, but sometimes they were rotated and returned to the ranks. Also, some partially disabled soldiers who were not fit for other service could handle teamster duty.
 

Tom Elmore

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Did people volunteer for this duty? With the extra pay it must have been desirable. I assume you would want people who already had skills working with a team.
With the thousands of teamsters needed for the armies, I'm not sure most of them had prior experience. But yes, if they did, they would be likely candidates, like F. Pope Rucker in the 15th Alabama, who had been a professional stage driver and "hence was made a teamster" in the words of Colonel William C. Oates. I have a feeling that those selected were often not among the best "foot soldier" material, but on the other hand, a large group of Confederate teamsters who were armed to counter Federal cavalry during the retreat from Gettysburg acquitted themselves quite well. When the shooting started, however, teamsters as a rule moved their teams to the rear as quickly as possible.
 

Miles Krisman

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Feb 15, 2012
I believe that the teamsters were also responsible for their wagon and team. On the retreat from Gettysburg, a Confederate ambulance wagon was swept away while crossing the Potomac River. Another teamster had to make a swore statement in defence of the driver to avoid charges.

During the crossing of the Potomac River, one of the ambulances of O’Neal’s Brigade was lost. This was a serious event which could have resulted in severe consequences for the teamster. A Driver of another ambulance, William Young Idom of Company D, 5th​ Alabama Infantry Regiment, made a sworn statement on December 23, 1863, that the loss was an accident that it could not have been prevented.[1]



[1] Compiled Service Record of William Young Idom
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Rereading Leander Stillwell’s memoirs. He was with the 61st Illinois so in the western theater. He says himself he was no horseman but was glad to be a teamster for a few days because he couldn’t really walk - he was so sick. He didn’t comment on this arrangement as something unusual so I imagine the Captain of the group adjusted the situation as needed. Leander was no shirker either by a long shot, so sometimes these arrangements may be done for good soldiers vs. the shirkers.
 

TarheelRob

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Feb 3, 2021
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Bermuda Run, NC
View attachment 392899
Image of Union Teamster (likely with the 2nd Vermont) - source Library of Congress

In various research I've done I've come across service cards for teamsters. They seem, to me, to exist somewhere in an in-between state - not soldiers and yet not civilians. I'd love to get some clarification on these men. For instance:
  • Were they enlisted men?
  • What role did they play?
  • Did they qualify for pensions?
  • Were there differences between the CSA and Union teamsters?
I really need a "Civil War Teamsters for Idiots" level instruction here! Thanks in advance to all who answer.
 
Last edited:

TarheelRob

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Joined
Feb 3, 2021
Location
Bermuda Run, NC
I've been wondering about the role of teamsters as well. One of my CSA ancestors was a "teamster" with the 33rd NC Co. I "Confederate Stars" from the regiment's beginning in September of '61. His name was Romulus Flynt. He was severely wounded in the Wilderness battle, and after that was in the invalid corps until the 33rd surrendered with the ANV at Appomattox. His Fold3 records have "teamster" listed on several of them and he's listed as a private on all the regimental rosters I've found online and in books. His family was quite wealthy and prominent so I almost wonder if he was given the job as a "cushy assignment". He led a successful life after the war. Overall, I just don't have many clues personally about him or the teamsters beyond that, but following this thread to hopefully learn something about them.
 
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