Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Winter of 1864--an Amanuensis Monday follow-up

In a past post, Amanuensis Monday -- The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter, Part 2, Albert W.  Elliot had given sworn testimony that Isaac Carter had become ill during Guard and Fatigue Duty in Carolina City, NC in the Winter of 1864. 

As I started researching this element of the story, I started looking for Civil War engagements during that time period, and almost immediately was drawn to the Confederate triple-prong plan of attack to retake New Berne. This occured in the Winter of 1864 (February 1-3, 1864). 

When I checked the Civil War Chronology in Eastern North Carolina, however, three lines stood out among the entries:
Jan. 30, 1864 - 3rd NC Colored Infantry organized at Norfolk, VA.
Feb. 8, 1864 - Designation of NC Colored Regiments changed to US Colored Troops.
Mar. 17, 1864 - 14th US Colored Heavy Artillery organized at New Bern & Morehead City, NC.
The attack on New Bern took place February 1-3, 1864 . . . the 14th Heavy Artillery USCT hadn't been organized until March of that year . . . in the Spring of 1864.

Checking Isaac Carter's service dates once again, I found that he was mustered in on March 12, 1864 and discharged at muster, December 11, 1865.

There was no way that this illness was in any way connected to an assault against New Bern, which took place during the Winter of 1863-64. The time period referred to in the Pension File, however, was actually the Winter of 1864-65.

I remembered an email correspondence with Paul Branch, Fort Macon's historian and author of the book, Fort Macon: a history, back in 2007. The following is an email sent to me Tuesday, October 2, 2007, where he delineates the sources I need to research:
RG 393 is in the main Archives in downtown DC.  It is not in any of the outlying regional archives.  Yes, I had to go there to access them.  It is a huge record group of Army records with minimal organization from post-War of 1812 to post-WWI, but mainly Civil War.  Somewhere I have an index of Fort Macon post records I got there, which was very helpful.  In the past I was able to use that and had some of the Fort Macon stuff microfilmed for the park, but I really need to go back and pay through the nose to have the entire collection of Fort Macon post records microfilmed so that we will have a copy of everything at the park. 
If you live within easy driving distance to the park, you are welcome to come to the park to look through what I did get (mostly letterbooks of letters sent).  That way you could get through at least part of the collection and get an idea of what it is like.  I do not recall there was a whole lot on the 14th USCHA itself but there are some letters from its commander while he was in command there.
If you do go to the Archives, be sure to check Adjutant Generals Office records (RG 94).  It should have some records of the 14th USCHA itself, including muster rolls.  On the muster roll forms is a space on the back entitled "Record of Events".  If the officers bothered to fill this out (and they frequently did not) they will include all important things that happened to the regiment or company during the two-month period covered by each muster roll.  This includes battles, orders received, movements, etc.  They are very useful--when anyone bothered to fill them out!
Let me know if you would like to visit the fort and perhaps we can map out how and where you can get the records you need.
While the prospects of going to NARA anytime soon is highly unlikely, I will have to write around this point for the time being.