Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pay Form for Prisoner of War

Here is a document that fascinates me since it is the first one of these I have ever seen, or even heard about. I had never before thought about how pay due to captured soldiers was handled. It also leads me to wonder what similar processes have escaped my attention.

This form shows the payment of six months pay (July through December 1863) for Corporal Robert Good. It was payable to his wife Elenora, as Robert was a prisoner-of-war when this form was completed on September 16, 1864. The document is in decent shape, but is fragile as it had been folded for a long time and is starting to tear along the folds. There are also pencil marks on it, as a previous owner apparently thought it was a good idea to write on it. Nonetheless, it does still exist and is still mostly legible, giving some insight into this overlooked detail of the war.

After reviewing the form itself in this post, I  will make another one discussing Robert Good, the soldier it mentions.

Front of form
This is a fairly basic form, with the soldier's information at top, followed by the payment due, listed as $14 per month for 6 months for a total of $84. 

The department paymaster signs it, then it has a spot for Elenora's signature, but in this case she "made her mark" like many people in the nineteenth century did on legal documents.

At the bottom, it has pre-printed instructions. It is, again, pretty straight-forward, but does note: "the certificate to the petition must in all cases be made by a Judge of a Court of U.S. or of a Court of Record of the State in which the applicant is a resident." It was then to be sent to Major William Allen, Chief Paymaster, District of the Cumberland, in Louisville. This was obviously an attempt to combat fraudulent claims, which may have been easy to attempt in a war with so many soldiers being captured.

Back of Form

On the back, the "extract" section gives information from an 1861 War Department order about who could file a claim and receive payments.

The next section was for the swearing in of the claimant, followed by the information about the soldier, including name and when and where captured, using the line "has remained, and still remains, a prisoner in the hands of the so-called Confederate States Government." (my emphasis.)

Following this is the signature and information of the judge making the request. In this case the judge was George W. Johnston of the city court of Louisville. Unfortunately, some of the handwritten information is illegible, though it appears to be legal-ease concerning Elenora's mark and the judge acknowledging it. (Here is a one-sentence story about Judge Johnston still enforcing slavery in a case in Louisville in June of 1865, two months after Robert E. Lee's surrender, as Kentucky had not yet abolished slavery.)

Cover of Form

This next page is the cover page when the form is completely folded. It is printed in "portrait" format while the other pages are "landscape" when unfolded, so I made a separate image of it.

Again, much of the handwriting is illegible, but it identifies the soldier's name, unit, date for which payment is due and the amount due.

Overall, this form may be nothing special, other than its newness to me and its assistance to me in realizing how many such day-to-day happenings I have never considered. I find this document, and the story it helped uncover, to be rather fascinating. I will soon post about the Civil War career of an Irish immigrant and American soldier, Corporal Robert Good of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry, the main subject of this form. 

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