Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Civil War Twice?

Francis A. Champion was my great grandfather and lived in Perry County, Indiana most of his life.  Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Indiana infantry in the Fall, 1861 and was discharged in early 1862 due to disability.  It was thought that he would not live to travel from the Union hospital at Trenton, Missouri to his home in Derby, Indiana. However, he lived until 1879.  He applied for a Civil War pension in 1863 which was denied.  All of this is set out in my "Anxious To Get Away From Here" page on my website.
I have just discovered some surprising information about Francis.  In October, 1864, he again enlisted in the Union Army, this time at Owensboro, Kentucky as a substitute for Benjamin Davidson of Hancock County, Kentucky.  Davidson was the superintendent of the Victoria Coal Mine in Hancock County.  Perry County, Indiana is just across the Ohio River from Hancock County.  I also have copies of Francis’ bimonthly pay vouchers and some of them show that he was again hospitalized.  I've not yet determined if it was caused by illness or battle injury but the hospital was located at Evansville, Indiana.  I have other documents which show that Francis was struggling to support his family. I have theorized that he managed to convince the Army in Kentucky that he was able bodied so he could fight and therefore might have a second chance at qualifying for the pension.  I’m sure he collected a fee from Benjamin Davidson for fighting in his place.  The customary fee for a substitute enlistment at that time was about $300 which, in terms of todays dollars based on an average inflation rate of 3.25% is about $35,000.
I am positive that this Francis A. Champion is the same person as the Francis A. Champion from Derby, Perry County, Indiana.  The Substitute enlistment states he was born in Indiana.  More importantly, I've compared the signatures on these documents with the signatures on the Indiana pension application and, though I'm not a handwriting expert, it is obvious that it is the same signature.

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