Monday, June 1, 2009

Britton Wainright - Part II

Genealogy is an interesting hobby. You always have loose ends. One of my loose ends was what exactly happened to Britton to cause his death. I knew from the pension file that he died of heatstroke. I imagined him building barricades in New Albany to protect the town from Morgan.

As I do periodically, I "googled" his unusual name and found it referenced in a journal published by the staff of the National Archives. Here is the link:

The author of the article, John Deeben, is a genealogy archives specialist in the Research Support Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. His article was written to encourage genealogists to consider the records they may have that could help provide information they are seeking. In the article was the following quote:

Personal and family records appear most prevalently in the pension-related claims because of the need for a widow and dependents to document their relationship to a deceased soldier. The claim of Mary E. Wainwright, whose husband Britton died while serving with Kunkle's Company, Seventh Indiana Legion (Home Guards) during the Civil War, included a notarized copy of their marriage record from the probate court of Hamilton County, Ohio. The record identified their wedding date (May 1, 1847), Mary's maiden name (Darby), and the name of the presiding minister (Rev. James H. Perkins).

At the end of the article, the following footnote appears: "Notarized copy of Wainwright marriage license, Jan. 10, 1866; Mary E. Wainwright File; Accompanying Papers [43A-D1]; Legislative Proceedings; 43rd Cong.; RG 233; NAB."

I contacted the author of the article and he pulled the file from the archives. He told me by phone that the file contained eye-witness testimony of commanding officers who were with Britton when he died. It also contained the appeal on behalf of Mary Elizabeth for a pension that she had previously been denied because Britton wasn't officially "mustered in" at the time of his death.

I ordered a copy. There are several affidavits from witnesses to Britton's death on a "forced march" from New Albany to Edwardsville, IN to head off Morgan's Raiders.

Sample quotes:
1) From James McCurdy - I was the Colonel and in the command of the 7th
Regiment of the Indiana Legion. That on said day in obedience to my orders as commander aforesaid, said regiment made a forced march from the city of New Albany to Edwardsville, Indiana to meet the rebels under John Morgan. That on said day and on said march, I saw Britton Wainright, who was a private in Capt. Thos. S. Kunkle's company of said regiment stricken down with a sun stroke while in the performances of his duties as a soldier. That I saw said Britton Wainright die in less than one hour after he was stricken down and from the effects of said sun stroke received while in the ranks of said company and while making said march.

2) John Stacy - First Lieutenant - . . . "That on said march I saw Britton Wainright, who was then a private on duty in my said company, stricken down while in the ranks of said company and in the performance of his duty as a private of said company , with a stroke of the sun and I saw him die in less than thirty minutes afterward, from the effects of said sun stroke."

3) Charles Bowman - physician and surgeon - I saw Britton Wainright . . . die from the effects of coup de soleil (sunstroke) received while on duty . . .

4) Captain Kunkle - Captain and commander of a company in the 7th Regiment of the Indiana Legion - "That Britton Wainright was a private in said co. That he was a healthy able-bodied man at the time he entered said service. That while he was engaged in the line of his duty in said service . . . to meet the rebels under John Morgan, he became overheated and fell in the ranks, and he died from said overheating about half an hour after he fell in the ranks on said day while in the line of his duty in said service. That he was a good man made a good soldier and did his duty well and cheerfully, and had nothing the matter with his health previous to said marching."

I finally knew how he died. It wasn't in battle, it wasn't building fortifications, it was on a march in very hot July weather as part of a group of home guards preparing to defend their town from Morgan's advances.

His death notice appeared in the New Albany Daily Ledger, July 10, 1863 on p.2.

There is an error in the notice as Britton left a wife and three children. So how was a widow with three children going to support herself? I'll answer that question in the next post.

1 comment:

  1. Great piece of research, Kathy. Thanks for taking part in the Challenge!


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