| The National Archives and Record
Administration files show that Charles M. Smith applied for and
received a pension under "soldier's certificate No. 922811" (Can
No 18986, Bundle No 34). The title page of his
papers lists his rank as Corpl with service in Co B 12 NY Cav. The promotion
to Corporal occurred on June 30, 1864. His signatures on the various papers
received from the NARA compare favorably with the signature on the note
found among the papers from the MacCallum estate.
The NARA file contains several items
of information, including the fact that Charles, " while on duty at New
Bernie, N.C. on or about Fall of 1865 __ 1865, __ was
disabled by deafness of both ears." He was treated
at the Regimental Hospital. His service was from enrollment on August 29,
1862, to his honorable discharge on July 1, 1865 by reason of close of
the war. The pension application was in 1895 when he listed three subsequent
disabilities, being reumatism, kidney trouble, and
disabled wrist. At that time he lived in Demster.
Other papers included affidavits from others that attested to his infirmities
including the fact that his wrist was broken
when he was doing carpentry work and fell off
a ladder in January 1889.
Charles' personal information was
that he 5' 8" with dark eyes and dark complexion. The family information
included a response to a questionnaire in early 1915, listing his wife,
maiden name not clear, but probably Mary E. Alderich, who was his
only wife and who had died 4 years earlier, their marriage, and the single
child, Frederick D. Smith of New Haven, Oswego Co NY.
The military records from the NARA
show his various pay vouchers, his enlistment form, and cancellation of
a desertion charge lodged against him when he did not
appear for his final discharge. These records
show his voluntary enlistment on August 21, 1862 at Oswego City NY, for
a period of three years. He was transferred from Co A to Co B on May 20
1863 and was promoted to corporal on May 1, 1864.
The continuing muster rolls for Co.
B, 12 Reg't N. Y. Calvary, show him "present" through June 1865, well after
the end of the Civil War. Charles M. Smith, as he was always designated
on the records, "Appear(ed) on Returns as follows:
May 1865 On extraordinary duty on courier
lines." Again, this was after the war ended.
The next record, "Muster_out Roll" for
Charles M. Smith, from Raleigh NC July 19, 1865, under remarks, states
as follows: "deserted at Halifax NC, July 1 1865.
Due US for one Sabre, Pistol & account ???
complete also carbine sling & swivel stolen Book mark: 3682 a (EB)
74." Another record in the materials states "NOTATION, Book mark:
3682 _ a _ 1874, War Department AGO, Washington Dec 15, 1885. The charge
of desertion of July 1, 1865 against this man is removed and he is discharged
to date July 1, 1865 under the provisions of the act of
Congress, approved July 5,1884. Discharge certificate
furnished by War Department Dec 18, 1885. The notation of Jan. 31, 1884
Perhaps someone can interpret what
happened here. I am given to understand that after the end of the war that
many soldiers were either told they could go home and
did, or were discharged from a medical facility.
In the case of Charles M. Smith, he was a special courier just before
the muster out and perhaps he was simply not
present for the final call. The NARA did not send
any copy of an application that he might have submitted to change charge
of desertion so the official basis for the removal is not known. Would
anyone have any further information on this? In any event, the supposed
desertion was AFTER the war was OVER, and therefore not a desertion in
the face of the enemy, and most likely it was an administrative problem
that was later corrected. Certainly if there had been a serious problem,
he never would have been awarded a pension in a later year. An actual desertion
just before honorable discharge simply makes no sense what so ever, and
at best was a shabby way to treat one who served honorably in such a horrible
Jon K. Holcombe descendant of the sister of
Charles M. Smith]