Discussion Questions on Promotions and Wounded lists

Kurbs62

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Joined
Jun 17, 2017
Good morning! My great great grampa was mustered into the 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in Monroe 22nd of August, 1861

He was 19. Initially assigned to Landers Stone Brigade and within a couple months promoted to 1st Sergeant. He was then promoted to Sergeant Major in 1863. His initial promotions were from Lt. Hall and Amos Steele. Less than a year prior to mustering out, he was assigned to COmpany F and his rank reduced to Sergeant. So 2 of 3 years he served as Sgt. Major then a reduction back to Sgt. He is on the Congressional Pension list, which was given to those with service related disabilities, though I never saw him on a wounded list.

I understand this regiment had high losses and changed commanders a few times. Hall was discharged for illness and Steele was killed in battle.

So my questions are:
1. It is possible that his promotion was a field promotion after Fredericksburg after he was in the 1st launch boat to make way for the pontoons. Then prior to mustering out that was reduced to the prior rank, although the pension pay would be about the same.
2. Would a wound that kept him from duties as a Sgt. Major have been the reason he was reduced to Sgt and assigned to another company?
3. Though it is established he had a pension, I can find no record of what disability or wound or battle received in records. Is there any way those records
are somewhere I have not looked?

Any info would be great if I can use it.
 

Kurbs62

Cadet
Joined
Jun 17, 2017
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
I was going to say "What a cool name!" until I realized how it was probably pronounced. We once had a parish priest who was a World War II vet, and the running joke was that he was one of the "Liberators of Bologna" during the war. Which he actually was, he fought in Italy.

Anyway, promotions and rank are not my strong suit, but I'm told that sometimes if two units merged, they might find themselves with too many NCOs and would demote some of them as a matter of course. I suppose the same might happen in the case of a transfer from one company to another. I remember coming across a POW who was transferred to a different company after he was captured and his rank was reduced, which became a point of contention when the war ended and he mustered out and went to apply for a disability pension - the higher your rank, the more money you got.

To see his pension file, you'll need to get a copy from the National Archives, and they've got about a year's worth of backed up requests and are still not open. Here's the index file with the pension number on it that you'd need. Sometimes Fold3 has complete pension records online, but in your case, they only have the index card. The pension file would have a record of his injuries and where they were sustained, complete with a naked drawing of "Fig leaf guy" on which the examining doctors would have drawn any scars or injuries that they observed.

1609157337549.png
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
I was going to say "What a cool name!" until I realized what the other kids probably called him in school. We once had a parish priest who was a World War II vet, and the running joke was that he was one of the "Liberators of Bologna" during the war. Which he actually was, he fought in Italy.

Anyway, promotions and rank are not my strong suit, but I'm told that sometimes if two units merged, they might find themselves with too many NCOs and would demote some of them as a matter of course. I suppose the same might happen in the case of a transfer from one company to another. I remember coming across a POW who was transferred to a different company after he was captured and his rank was reduced, which became a point of contention when the war ended and he mustered out and went to apply for a disability pension - the higher your rank, the more money you got.

To see his pension file, you'll need to get a copy from the National Archives, and they've got about a year's worth of backed up requests and are still not open. Here's the index file with the pension number on it that you'd need. Sometimes Fold3 has complete pension records online, but in your case, they only have the index card. The pension file would have a record of his injuries and where they were sustained, complete with a naked drawing of "Fig leaf guy" on which the examining doctors would have drawn any scars or injuries that they observed.

View attachment 386026
 

Kurbs62

Cadet
Joined
Jun 17, 2017
Thank you! You confirmed my initial suspicion about transferring and rank reduction. Which explains later why he applied to have his pension adjusted up by 2 bucks a month after discharge and was approved. I did check out the national archives and there are blanks in his. Fold3 is where I found the record. I could possibly go by the dates and see which battles were fought just prior to promotion, which 1 would be Fredericksburg. Being on the 1st boat could have done that.

Also, what is the Invalid vs. Dependent section on that attached form?
Invalid (The soldier survived the war but is sick, incapacitated or disabled). Dependent would be any surviving member of a solider killed in action.

Transfer could have been due to his wound whatever it was if he could no longer perform as Sergeant Major prior to heading to F company. Possibly the reason his pension was reinstated to top level noncom after he left service.
 
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Kurbs62

Cadet
Joined
Jun 17, 2017
I'm sure you've already done this, but quite a bit comes up about him if you google him.
Yeah just not the more tiny details I guess. He and I have a very similar life pattern, leaving home at the same age, joining military young, etc.

I know what battles he was in, and about his life after the military. And some prior to his coming to America. But any descendant left now knows little to nothing. So I have been building a memorial of sorts to keep his legacy alive in the 5th and 6th generations of family. I visit his grave annually and am impressed as he was a humble and friendly man from what the older generation remembered.

Seeing he was only 5' 3", as was my great grampa, and the rest of us generations stand well over 6' he impressed me greatly. No one knows what became of his uniform or weapons, medals, but he was a GAR Commander and advised on many re-enactments. So I know he was proud of his service.

I believe these Cavil War soldiers changed the entire direction of a young nation and should be held in greater esteem than it seems they are. Fredericksburg alone formed a massive Amphibious Assault and hand to hand door to door street fighting tactics that changed history.
 
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lupaglupa

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Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
I have seen records of soldiers demoted after an injury - the files usually say "reduced to ranks" - it wasn't a demotion per se, they needed people to fulfill those roles so when a soldier was injured they were taken from rank so someone else could be put there. But from what you've out lined I think you and @Gary Morgan are probably right to suspect the transfer may have been the cause. Was his unit consolidated at that time?

As to your question about the Invalid vs. Dependent sections. I have seen many of these cards and they all look like the one posted above - multiple records on one card with no clear use of the side wording. I've never seen an official explanation but it seems to me they printed the cards with the thought to use one per man and quickly ditched that system to put several men on each card, without making new cards or tossing the old ones. Maybe they got thrifty? I've learned to ignore the printed marks and just use what's handwritten.
 

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