On the right we see that Ovila Cayer from Quebec also had a sense of adventure... or perhaps humor. This document tells us that the MOH recipient, for actions at the Weldon Railroad also in 1864, was applying later in life for a pension. When asked if he was married he clearly stated that he ... "never was married & dont wants." To further this philosophy of life, he responded to the number of children he had with the note that he had... "no children living that I know of."
On the left is a document from the files of Michael Charles Asten of Halifax Nova Scotia. He earned his MOH in the navy in a battle along the Red River, yet again in 1864. The above document, written by his widow years after he died, discloses that he hated his first given name and thought the men would tease him if he used it. So he used his second name. Which became a problem when the widow tried to collect a pension years later.
On the right is a document out of the files of Stephen O'Neill (aka O'Neil) who was awarded for his bravery with the medal after action at Chancellorsville in 1863. His file evidences his being born in Quebec, though most sources state New Brunswick. The above shows that, for yet to be discovered reasons, he also used the name Robert Neely.
The centre upper picture shows me searching for a few names in this book. One of these was Nova Scotia born Joseph Noil who served on the USS Powhattan and earned his medal, I believe the first to be awarded after the Civil War came to an end. His award was dated in December of 1872.
A curious entry is that of sailor Noon, who is listed above the Noil's entry. It is claimed that there is a "GAP" in the records and so there is no apparent evidence why he was awarded a MOH, but awarded he was, in 1873. Strange that it is listed in a book that had to be compiled in or after 1924. Strange because the medal was rescinded apparently in the illegal fiasco known as the Purge of 1916-17. Illegal for reasons explained in past blogs.
If the medal was purged, presumably because of the gap and no evidence that the individual's activities met the new medal requirements that were forced to be retroactive for half a century, why is it listed with no supporting evidence of its legitimacy ????? Are all of the close to 900 purged, also listed??? Something to check on another visit. It would have already been done but the government shutdown prevented further access while I was in the DC area.
Was I getting to close? hehe
A volunteer assistant at the archives actually took the picture for me. He then gave me a lecture about having a pen in hand... a major no-no at the center. I just took it out of my pocket to pose with...and got caught. hehe.. You are only allowed to use pencils...that get dull very fast needing constant walks to other counters to get sharpened again. Lucky they had electric sharpeners.
Here's some irony. On return home I was contacted by an archivist doing some research for a display for next year on the veterans in a portion of Delaware. (More in a future blog.) He loved some writings of mine he had discovered on Leonard Chadwick, of which many of you have read in past blogs. And he sent me a great tidbit I did not then know and could have shared with archive staff while in DC. Back in 1907 Chadwick, a MOH recipient from cable cutting days in the Spanish American War, actually invented the electric pencil sharpener and held patents to prove it. A few years later he even got another patent for improving it.
Across the top of each page are a series of headings and below each would be an entry of the sailor joining the ship.
Here are those headings and the entries for Newfoundland born John Neil who earned his Medal of Honor at Fort Fisher in December of 1864.
Under the heading of birth place it lists... "New-Found-Land" and under comments, though not noted above...much higher on the page it says he was enlisted from the army, and had arrived, like 13 others on that page, with no paperwork whatsoever. In the COMMENTS column there is an entry made later on mentioning that he came from a ship called the "Mary Mears."
While not known till I went to DC, these and other files show that Neil served in the army briefly before joining the navy and served on several ships, the last being the Mary Mears, before being assigned to the Agawam.
Much more on Friday and some most interesting disclosures.