Welcome (Céad Míle Fáilte!) to Small-leaved Shamrock

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On this date in 1862: "I, William Cowhey, do solemnly swear..."

It was on this date in 1862 (one-hundred and fifty-one years ago) that my great-great-grandfather enlisted in the U.S. Regular (Union) Army 5th Artillery. He (along with his brother Thomas) had served three months of volunteer service beginning in April of 1861. William Cowhey would go on to serve out this additional three-year term and receive an honorable discharge in 1865, about three months before the Civil War came to a close.

The document below (William's recruitment contract dated January 30, 1862) is important to me for several reasons. Not only is it the document that set him off on his three years of service to the Union during one of the most trying times in our nation's history, but it has his personal signature, lists his place of birth, lists his occupation before the war, and also describes several of his physical features.

Before I had this document in my possession, I knew that William had been born in the state of New York, but could only guess that he might have been born in New York City. This provided confirmation.

I was also interested to learn that he had been employed as a boatman before his term of military service. After the war, the railroad was his employer.

It was also fun to see that he had the dark hair, light eyes, and short stature that are so common within this branch of my family tree. Now, if only I could find a Matthew Brady portrait of him!
William Cowhey's recruitment contract dated January 30, 1862 is part of his
Compiled Military Service Record from the collection of the National Archives
(Click to enlarge)

Here is the text of the recruitment contract as I have transcribed it:
"State of Pennsylvania
"Town of Pottsville
"I, William Cowhey, born in New York City in the State of New York aged twenty-eight years, and by occupation a boatman do hereby acknowledge to have voluntarily enlisted this thirtieth day of January 1862, as a soldier in the Army of the United States of America, for the period of three years, unless sooner discharged by proper authority: Do also agree to accept such bounty, pay, rations, and clothing, as are, or may be, established by law. And I, William Cowhey, do solemnly swear, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whomsoever; and that I will observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the Rules and Articles of War.  
"Sworn and subscribed to, at Pottsville Pa. this thirtieth day of January 1862 before A.V. [unsure of surname] Capt. 5th Arty. Rectg. Off.    William Cowhey [Signature of William Cowhey]
"I certify, on honor, that I have carefully examined the above named Recruit, agreeably to the General Regulations of the Army, and that in my opinion he is free from all bodily defects and mental infirmity, which would, in any way, disqualify him from performing the duties of a soldier. [signed] John I. [unsure of surname], Asst. [unsure of title] USA  
"I certify, on honor, that I have minutely inspected the Recruit, William Cowhey previously to his enlistment, and that he was entirely sober when enlisted; that, to the best of my judgment and belief, he is of lawful age; and that, in accepting him as duly qualified to perform the duties of an able-bodied soldier, I have strictly observed the Regulations which govern the recruiting service. This soldier has grey eyes, black hair, dark complexion, is five feet four inches high. [signed] H.V. [unsure of surname] Capt. 5th Arty. Recruiting Officer"

Key to Transcription

Black = pre-printed on form
Blue = handwritten
Red = not in record; my notes

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It is hard to say good-bye to these dear women

This month, within the span of a week's time, I lost two very special ladies: my beloved Aunt Barbara and my dear Great Aunt Molly.

It is hard to say good-bye to these women.

They each lived many states away from me, and that has been the case for most of my years (with the exception of my early childhood and a few years about a decade ago when I had the joy to live close to one of them). Yet, they each figured largely in my life in ways that they may not have even realized.

First as a child, then as a young lady and a grown woman, I have often looked to the women in my family for inspiration and example. I have gained courage for my own life through their stories, their struggles and their vibrant personalities. They have walked ahead of me on the journey through girlhood into adulthood, but we share so much - the same larger than life ancestors who have helped to shape us; the same struggle to make sense of and to find courage for the challenges in the life of a woman.

I have often been inspired by the stories of women ancestors that I never had the chance to meet, yet these dear aunts have touched me in a special way. Both had lively personalities, a great sense of humor, and unrelenting strength of will which gave them the ability to overcome their own personal difficulties. I will remember Barbara especially for her warmth, openness and honesty. I will remember Molly for her delightfully spunky personality. I have been blessed that my life crossed paths with each of theirs, if even for short time, and that I have had the gift of their sweet and strong influences over the years.

Rest in peace, sweet ladies. You are both very dear to my heart.

(This tribute to my aunts Barbara and Molly has been cross-posted over at my blog 100 Years in America.)


Related Posts with Thumbnails