Monday, September 9, 2013

Military Monday: John B Armstrong, Civil War Veteran or Not?

I am unsure any of ancestors fought in the Civil War.  Which seems strange, since many of my ancestors resided in the United States during the war.  I have uncovered evidence that two of my relatives took part in the Civil War Battle of Portland, Maine which I blogged about in a previous post.  I don't believe either of those relatives were active military.

However, I have reason to believe that my 2nd great grandfather, John B. Armstrong, was a veteran of the Civil War.  While researching some cemetery records, I found the plot record for the Armstrong gravesite in S. Portland, Maine.  The plot record indicated that John B. Armstrong was a Civil War veteran.  This notation was probably useful when they put out flags for memorial day and/or veteran's day.

The only problem is that when I have conducted research on John B. Armstrong's participation serving in the Union Army in the Civil War, I wasn't coming up with any records which show in what capacity he served in the war.

Recently, I found a record on familysearch.org  of Maine, Veterans Cemetery Records, 1676-1918
for John H. Armstrong with the same  date of death and in the same Armstrong plot as my ancestor.  This looked promising and it was understandable that the person who created the record may have made an error on this cemetery record between John B and John H Armstrong.

What was exciting was the record showed that John H. Armstrong had served in the Maine 7th infantry regiment, company G.  Enlistment date was listed as August 21, 1861.  He had entered as a private and was discharged as a sergeant.

So there you go.  John B. Armstrong, Civil War veteran.

The thing is that I didn't stop there.  I could have been satisfied to know that my ancestor was a veteran, but I went on to research the regiment to see if what I could find about their history of battles.  Also, I looked for more Civil War records that might show my ancestors role and involvement in the war.

Maine has such a wealth of genealogical records online, but they haven't made the Civil War records searchable, but I did find the records on familysearch.org.  The military records are under the Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957.  Once you are under the archive collection, don't look at the individual Maine county records.  The civil war records AREN'T there.  They are under the first option "Maine".  Click on Maine and you will be able to select Military Records-Civil War.  From there you can browse records by the different Maine regiments and companies.

You have to review them one by one to find the records you are looking for.  Luckily, I knew the regiment and company and date of enlistment...so that should make it easy to find the records I was looking for.  

Which caused a problem.  I found the Enlistment Rolls, which includes the new recruits.  There is no listing for a John B Armstrong from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, but there is a John H. Armstrong from Portland, Maine.  Other records for John H. Armstrong for this regiment and company indicated he was born in 1838...my ancestor was born in 1822.  The discrepancies were adding up.   I suspect that there really was a John H. Armstrong and my ancestor was getting confused with his military records.

The last indicator that lead me to this conclusion was the US, Civil War Draft Registration, 1863-1865 on Ancestry.com.  The draft record indicated John B Armstrong of Cape Elizabeth, Maine eligible to be drafted in June 1863.  Seems very unlikely that an active military personnel would be listed as eligible to be drafted.

Did my ancestor, John B. Armstrong, serve in the Civil War?  I still don't know, but I feel confident it wasn't with the Maine 7th Infantry.

My search continues......


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