Thursday, March 26, 2015

Killed Twice?

Nathaniel D. Riggin was the second son of my space alien, three times great grandfather, Alfred Riggin and his wife, Sarah "Sally" Piper. He grew up on his parents' farm in what became Jarvis Township in Madison County, Illinois. At the age of 22, he married Sarah A. Matlock on 12 March 1859.

He was soon caught up in the Civil War, serving as a Private in Company I, 7th Illinois Infantry Regiment. He had one of the skimpiest muster roll files I have ever seen -- two general index cards which listed his name and military unit -- both undated. So I have no idea when he began his service.

Company I was originally formed from men mostly from Springfield, Illinois. Perhaps Nathaniel and Sarah had moved to the state capitol? The city had become the state's third capitol city in 1839.

Color Bearers of the 7th Illinois Infantry Regiment; photograph courtesy of
the Illinois State Historical Library

The 7th saw plenty of action near and in Alabama in 1863 and 1864. I do not know exactly when or where Nathaniel was captured, but he was. The Illinois Adjutant General issued a history of the regiment's wartime service. It included the following description of fighting:

"Arrived at Pulaski Feb. 27, 1864, where the regiment was mounted, and left for Florence, Alabama, 90 miles distant, to patrol the Tennessee river and watch Forrest's command, which were just leaving Tuscaloosa, Ala., on the memorable raid on Paducah and Fort Pillow. The regiment was divided into three detachments - four companies at Florence, two companies at Sweetwater, and four at Centre Star.
April 8th, Col. Rowett returned to the regiment, whose headquarters were at Florence, Alabama, and again assumed command, having been relieved from the command at Camp Butler, at his own request.
On the morning of the 7th of May, General Roddy's rebel brigade crossed the Tennessee, between Sweetwater and Centre Star, and attacked the companies at Florence and Sweetwater. After six hours severe fighting against ten times their number, the companies were obliged to retire with a loss of three officers and 32 men wounded and captured. On the 13th of May, the 7th returned with the 9th Ohio Cavalry, under command of Colonel Rowett, and drove the rebels across the Tennessee, capturing a number of prisoners. Was engaged in patrolling the river until June 14th, when the regiment was dismounted and ordered to report to the Brigade Commander at Rome, Georgia. Arrived at Chattanooga, Tennessee on the 17th of June, and was ordered to Tilton, Georgia, to patrol the railroad from Dalton to Resaca, which was then threatened by rebel Cavalry. On July 7th was relieved by the 18th Wisconsin Infantry, and proceeded to Rome, Ga., and went into camp on the south side of the Etowa river. On the 29th of July the non-Veteran officers and men were mustered out by reason of expiration of term of service. Capt. Hector Perrin was mustered as Lt. Colonel, and Capt. Edward S. Johnson as Major. On the 3rd of October 1864, the 4th Division, 15th Army Corps, (to which the Seventh was attached) commanded by Gen. John M. Corse, was ordered to Allatoona Pass to assist in the defense of that important station, then threatened by Hood's army. The 3rd brigade consisting of the 7th, 50th and 57th Illinois, and 39th Iowa, commanded by Col. Rowett, reached the Pass on the morning of October 4th. The railroad being destroyed after the passage of this Brigade, the rest of the Division failed to reach its destination. On the morning of the 5th the Pass was attacked by Gen. French's rebel Division, numbering six thousand men. The 7th, armed with the Henry rifle, (or 16 shooter,) did gallant and fearful work -- successfully repelling four separate charges made by the desperate and hungry enemy on the line occupied by them -- its torn and bleeding ranks told at what a fearful cost. Its colors, under which fell many a gallant bearer that day, were never lowered."
It is possible it was during this period of fighting that Nathaniel was captured. He ended up at a prisoner of war camp in Cahaba, Alabama, at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba rivers not far from Selma. It was also known as Castle Morgan. The prison opened in 1863 and used a existing cotton warehouse as the main building. It was originally intended to house 500 prisoners but by October 1864, 2,151 Union soldiers were imprisoned there. Despite the unsanitary conditions and lack good water, it had one of the lowest deaths among prisons on both sides. Records indicated between 142 and 147 men died there.

Castle Morgan; drawing courtesy of Wikipedia

On 16 November 1864, Nathaniel D. Riggin joined that statistic. He died of variola smallpox. His mother received a pension for his service on 26 September 1882.

All of the records seemed pretty definitive until I went to the Illinois State Archives website and found this on Nathaniel's record

Death Remarks on the record index at the Illinois State Archives for
Nathaniel D Riggin

There was a riot at the Charleston, Illinois, courthouse in March 1864 where some soldiers and civilians were killed. It was thought the Copperheads had instigated it. But I have not yet found a reference to mob violence in Springfield a few days later, though those arrested in Charleston were transported and held in Springfield.

So when and where do you think Nathaniel D. Riggin died?

I usually leave the sources on my family tree and just tell stories here, but the conflicting sources are part of the story:

Illinois State Archives, Illinois Adjutant General's Report, Regimental and Unit Histories, containing Reports for the Years 1861-1866, online:
National Archives and Records Administration, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. NARA T288. Held by
National Archives and Records Administration, Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1860 and 1900, compiled 1949, documenting the period 1861-1942. NARA T289. Held by
National Archives and Records Administration, Registers of Deaths in the Regular Army, compiled 1860-1889. Records of the Adjutant General's Office. Record Group 94. ARC ID: 1226156. Held by
National Archives and Records Administration, Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, compiled 1861-1864, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94. ARC ID: 656639. Held by
National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, online
Northern Illinois University, Illinois Copperheads and the American Civil War, (accessed 6 March 2015)
U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Place: Marine, Madison, Illinois; Roll M423_119; Page: 561A; Image 462. Held by
Wikipedia, Charleston Riot, (accessed 6 March 2015)

Did Widow Riggin Remarry?
Who's Your Daddy, Alfred Riggin?

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