Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Charles Edward Jennings' Civil War Pension Application

At the age of 70 my great grandfather, Charles Edward Jennings, moved from Roanoke, Virginia, to Erwin, Tennessee and lived with his daughter Leta Vernon (Jennings) Womack and her family. Two years previously, in 1911, he had placed his three living children by his second wife with relatives and in an orphanage.

After living in Tennessee for a few years, he applied for a pension from the State of Tennessee for his service in the Confederate States of America (CSA) Army. He would qualify for a pension after providing information about his service, how he got out of the Army, his disability or indigency, and a doctor or a trustee of a county had to provide information about his character. He completed his application on 24 March 1917, five months before he died.

Charles Edward Jennings; courtesy of Janie Darby

Soldier's Application for Pension

I, Charles Edward Jennings, native of the State of Virginia and now a citizen of Tennessee, resident at Erwin, in the County of Unicoi, in the State of Tennessee, and who was a soldier from the State of Virginia, in the war between the United States and the Confederate States, do hereby apply for aid under the Act of the General Assembly of Tennessee, entitled "An Act for the benefit of the indigent and disabled soldiers of the late war between the States, and to fix the fees of attorneys or agents for procuring such pensions and fixing a penalty for violation of the same." And I do solemnly swear that I was a member of Company H, 19th Virginia Infantry, in the service of the Confederate or United States, and that by reason of disability or indigence I am now entitled to receive the benefit of this Act. I further swear that I do not hold any National, State or county office, nor do I receive aid or pension from any other State, or from the United States, and that I am not an inmate of any soldier's home, and that I am unable to earn reasonable support for myself or my family. I do further swear that the answers given to the following questions are true:

In what County, State, and year were you born? Amherst Co., Va. 1843

When did you enlist and in what command? Give the names of the regimental and company officers under whom you served? March 1, 1862. J. T. Ellis, Captain Taylor Berry and Ben Brown, Captain. Col. Struggs, Regimental Commander.

In what battles were you engaged, and, if not wounded, state what disabilities did you receive, if any? Williamsburg and Seven Pines.

What was the precise nature of your wound or disability, if any? X

Were you incapacitated from service by reason of said wound or disability incurred? X

Were you discharged from the army by reason of said wound or disability? X

If discharged from the army, where were you and what did you do until the close of the war? X

What was the name of the surgeon who attended you? X

How did you get out of the Army, when and where? Appomattox, at end of war.

Were you ever in prison? If so, state what prison and when released? No.

Were you paroled? If so, when and where? No.

Did you take an oath of allegiance to the United States Government? No.

If so, when and under what circumstances? X

Have you applied for a pension before this? If so, about when? No.

Are you married or have you been married? Widower.

If so, what is the size of your family living together? None.

What are the respective ages of your wife and the children living with you? None living with me, but support one 15-year-old.[1]

To what sex do your children belong? Both, 5 males and 3 females.

In what business are you now engaged, if any, and what do your earn? None.

What estate do you have in your own right, real and personal, and what is its actual cash value? Real estate about $2,500.

What estate has your wife in her own right, real and personal, and what is its actual cash value? X

State the gross income of you and your wife from all sources for the past year. This must included all money received either from wages, rents or interest on loaned money, if any. Also family supplies raised or received from rents and used by your family. $432.

How have you derived support for yourself and your family for the past five years? Rent from property.

How long and since when have you been an actual resident of Tennessee? About three years, since Dec. 1913.

Have you an attorney to look after this application? No.

Give his name and address? C. E. Jennings, Erwin, Tenn.

Witness my hand this 24 day of March 1917.


W. T. Woodward
Erwin, Tennessee

T. C. Payne
Clifford, Virginia

E. B. McGinnis
Amherst, Virginia

24 March 1917 doctor's assessment of the health of Charles Edward Jennings;
courtesy of Tennessee State Library and Archives

The trustee of Unicoi County certified that Charles Edward Jennings had no property and W. S. Erwin, clerk of the county, certified that the answers provided on the application were true on 24 March 1917. His doctor appeared before a notary public and provided an assessment of Charles' health:

Bronchial asthma, rheumatism, and valvular lesion of the heart. This man is entirely or totally incapacitated from performing any manual labor whatever. As a result of his heart lesion, he has swollen feet, tires easily, has shortness of breath on exertion, etc. This man needs an attendant most of the time.

W. H. Carter, clerk of the Unicoi County Circuit Court, certified that E. B. McGinnis and T. C. Payne were good, upstanding citizens of the community and personally appeared before him to witness Charles' application and verify it was truthful. They also swore he had good habits and was "free from dishonor." E. B. McGinnis also swore he served with Charles Co. H, 19th Virginia Infantry for three years and he was a "true and loyal soldier."

10 Apr 1917 response from the War Department;
courtesy of Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Board of Examiners queried the War Department on 7 April 1917 regarding the service particulars of Charles Edward Jennings. The War Department responded on 10 April with the following information:

Charles E. Jennings enlisted 1 Mar 1862 as a pvt. in Co. H, 19th Regt. Va. Inf., C.S.A. Roll for July, Aug. 1864, last on file, shows him absent, detailed in hospital Lynchburg, Va. No prisoner of war record found.

15 Jun 1917 letter to Charles Edward Jennings in response to
his pension application; courtesy of Tennessee State Library
and Archives

On 15 June 1917, two months before Charles died, the Tennessee Board of Pension Examiners, wrote to him:

Mr. C. E. Jennings
Erwin, Tennessee

Dear Sir:

In examining your application for pension, the last record I can find of you reports your "absent, detailed in hospital at Lynchburg, Va." It will be necessary for you to prove that you remained in service until the close of the war by someone who was with you, and who can speak from personal knowledge."

In reply, Charles had W. D. McDaniel certify before a notary public that he served with Charles in Company H, 19th Virginia Infantry until the close of the war.

It did little good. Charles Edward Jennings' pension application was rejected by the State of Tennessee.

The War Department was correct. He was detailed to work in a hospital in Lynchburg per a surgeon's certificate due to curvature of the spine. A board of medical examiners declared him fit to return to his regiment on 21 October 1864 and there his service records ended. So I am left with the same question I had after finding his military records, did Charles return to his unit, which was captured en masse at Saylor's Creek on 6 April 1865? Or did he simply go home to Amherst County?

I also have some new questions. Why did he not state on his application he had been detailed by special order[2] to serve in hospitals in Lynchburg? And how did he find witnesses who swore he served with the regiment during the entire course of the war when he obviously did not.

[1] The 15-year-old child was my grandfather, Marvin Edward Jennings, Sr., who was placed in an orphanage in Salem, Virginia. His father paid a fee for his care.
[2] The special order was signed by Gen. Robert E. Lee and commanding the following on 18 May 1863: "Private Chas. E. Jennings of Co. H, 19th Virginia detailed for duty in Genl. Hosptl. at Lynchburg, Va. and will report to Sargt. W. O. Owen in charge for assignment."

No comments:

Post a Comment