Civil War Records of Andrew J. P'Simer
Andrew Picklesimer's application for an invalid pension makes for a fascinating read when compared to the more straightforward applications of grandfathers Elder and Lolley, although sorting fact from fiction is a bit difficult. If even half of what he states in his letters is true, the family had an extremely difficult time during and after the war which may explain why they fell off the map after the mid-1870s.
To Andrew's credit, his convictions were so strong that he left his home in Kentucky, a state of divided loyalties, and volunteered in Ohio at the beginning of the war. Those convictions, however, failed him after one battle.
Andrew applied for his pension without the assistance of an attorney. The handwriting of the affidavits signed by Justice of the Peace, Jesse Hays, and District Court Clerk, C.N. Brooks, appears to be identical to Andrew's. Even the spelling of such words as "criple" is consistent with Andrew's letters. It could be that they allowed Andrew to fill the forms, and then just signed them, although the records show no stamps or seals. The requests from the Pension Office for better documentation shows that they may have had some concerns about their legitimacy.
At the bottom of this page are equally interesting documents concerning Asa P'Simer's apparent use of his cousin Andrew's identity.
Hillsborough, Hill Co., Texas
Nov 16, 1875
Commissioner of Pensions
I was an enlisted man in Co. C. New organization or the 2nd organization. Had belonged to the old organization to Co. K. 56 Ohio Vol. Inft.
I am a Sothern man by birth was a Union man in 1861. Was driven from my home went to Ohio where I enlisted in Co. K. 56 O. Reg. Vol. Inft.1 where I served until the Reg. went to Ft. Donaldson with General Grant. 2
After the fall of Ft. Donaldson 3 I met with many old acquaintances it being my former place of Residence,4 who persuaded me to desert and go home with them. I was young and inexperienced, did not stop to think properly on the matter.5 I deserted went home with them. They hid me from view until General Grant went on up the Tenn. River to Pittsburg Landing or Shilo.
I staid round there until the Winter of 1863. The Rebels suspected that I had some good feelings toward my Union friends and on account of it they persecuted me a greate deal. I became tired of this. They called me a yankee deserter. This I did not like. I left for (Ky).6
While there during the winter of 1863, I saw a paper containing president Lincoln's proclamation to deserters offering to commute them for the crime of desertion if they would volentarily report to their Regiments. I availed myself of the provisions of that publication.
I reported to my Reg. at New Orleans about the first of May 1864. The Reg. was starting home on a furlough. After Veteran enlistment I reported to Major A. D. Nelson of first U.S. Regulars who was Provost Marshal. He reported my case under the proclamation to Gen. Hurlbut then commanding the Dept. of the gulf who ordered me through Gen. Reynold to report myself to Lieut. Col. Varner who commanded the nonveteran portion of my Reg. at Algiers, La.7
To duty I reported as soon as I received the order. The Col. put me to duty with my old command Co. K. where I done duty for six month. In this condition then I was not paid on account of this very record. About the 15th of Jan. 1865 I refused duty until paid and demanded a court of inquiry to see if there was a law to make a man do duty with out pay unless it was by virtue of a Court Marshal.
I at this time had been turned over to Veteran portion of the Reg. belonged to Co. C. Vet. organization. The Court Marshal was granted by Gen. E.R.S. Canby, its findings ordered me to duty again with pay from the first of May 1864 and to be paid as the other Veterans except Veteran Bounty.
I served on in this way until in July when I was detached from my Reg. and ordered to report to Mr. T. W. Conway Commissioner of the Freedmans Bureau where I served until the first of Oct. or at least where my pay roll was kept on the 27th of August 1865.
I went with written order from Capt. Andrew Morse Provost Marshal Gen. of Freedmen to arrest a man on St. Thomas St. I had no other than side arms, he drew a pistol from his pockett and shot me in the breast. The ball ranged round toward my right shoulder and has made a confirmed criple of me so that I am not nor have not been [well] since the disease or sore cured up. The ball is still in my shoulder and rises and runs profusely every Summer.
I have lost all my property by fire. I am very poor now. I would have applied before this but have been detered from it by the complication of my Muster Roll at Washington City. It is my distress that compells the act. I lived on my means until it is all gone. Now I must ask to be placed upon the Pention Roll or both starve and go naked.
I had all my little stock of means burned up because in Arkansas I voted for Gen. Grant.8 My discharge was burned also the order that I received ordering me to my Reg. and the one dated Oct. 1st 1865 ordering me to Report to Capt. A. H. McDonald No. 99 Canal St. N.O. to be mustered out of the service. I was mustered out of the service on the 5th day of Oct. 1865 at New Orleans by A. H. McDonald Capt. & Asst. Com.9
I claim back pay pention from the 27th of Aug 1865 till date and from now until the end of life.
Will you please take the trouble to examine the Rolls of the 56 Ohio Reg. Vol. Inft. and see if the Rolls will not justify all I have said about this matter. Please let no more delays than is indispensably necessary be had in the case for my family is in a precarious condition.
Please send all blanks that is actually necessary to me & I will fill them if I can.
Direct your answer and blanks to
Rev. A. J. P Simer
Hills Borough, Texas
My full name as it appears on the Rolls is
Andrew J. P Simer
1. Andrew enlisted in Company K of the 56th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteers on December 16, 1861 in Scioto County, Ohio. Most of the men enlisting in Co. K were from Jackson County, Ohio.
2. Fort Donelson, Tennessee
3. The fall of Fort Donelson was on February 16, 1862. According to records below, Andrew was reported as having deserted February 28, 1862.
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C. Nov. 30, 1875
Respectfuly returned to
the Rev. A. J. P.Simer of
Hillsborough, Hill Co., Texas
with blank for original pension inclosed.
When properly executed, it may be returned to this Office, and the same will receive due consideration.
DECLARATION FOR INVALID PENSION
To be executed before a court of record or some officer thereof having custody of its seal.
State of Texas
County of Hill
On this 3rd day of Feb. A.D. one thousand eight hundred and seventy-six personally appeared before me, Clerk of the District Court, a court of record within the county and State aforesaid, A J. P Simer, aged 40 years, a resident of Hill county, State of Texas, who, being duly sworn according to law, declared that he is the identical A. J. P Simer who was ENROLLED December, 1861 in company K of the 56 regiment of Ohio Vol. Inft. commanded by P. Kinney, and was honorably DISCHARGED at New Orleans, La. on the 5th day of Oct. 1865; that his personal description now is as follows: Age, 40 years 1; height, 5 feet 9 inches; complexion, fair; hair, dark; eyes, blue. That while a member of this organization aforesaid, in the service and in the line of his duty at New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana on or about the 27th day of August, 1865
I was shot in the breast while executing an order of arrest from Provost Marshal of Freedmen was treated for said wound at No. 28 Corondolett St. 2 by Dr. Gilkison who was assigned to duty as surgeon at said Head Quarters.
That he was treated in hospitals as follows: I was not treated at any Hospital but as stated above was treated in Quarters.
That he has not been employed in the military or naval service otherwise than as stated above: I had been a member of the 56 Ohio Reg. Vol. Inft. Co. K. old organization. Co. C. New Organization.
That since leaving the service this applicant has resided in the State of Tenn.3 and in the State of Ark., and his occupation has been that of a Preacher. That prior to his entry into the service above named he was a man of good, sound, physical health, being when enrolled a Preacher. That he is now disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor by reason of his injuries, above described, received in the service of the United States; and he therefore makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the invalid pension roll of the United States.
Claimant's signature: A. P. Simer
Also personally appeared Hiram West residing at Hill County and Lewis Butts, residing at Hill County, persons whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to credit, and who being by me duly sworn, say they were present and saw A. J. P Simer, the claimant, sign his name (or make his mark) to the foregoing declaration; that they have every reason to believe, from the appearance of said claimant and their acquaintance with him, that he is the identical person he represents himself to be; and that they have no interest in the prosecution of this claim.
(signatures of witnesses)
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 3rd day of February, A.D. 1876.
C. N. Brooks
1. Census records show Andrew having been born around 1825, making him about 51 at the time of this filing. Why he shaved 10 years off his age is unclear, unless he wanted to back up his original letter in which he stated that he was young and inexperienced at the time he deserted.
3. The family moved frequently after the war. According to Andrew's statement, since the war's end they lived in Tennessee and Arkansas. In 1870 they appear in the census for Crawford County, Arkansas with their last three children listed as being born in Ohio (1865), Kentucky (1866), and Arkansas (1869). A thorough search of the 1880 census of Hill County, Texas shows the family must have moved again, but where they went is unknown.
Prairie Valley, Hill County, Texas
May 8th, 1876
Dr. A. C. Martin of whom I am personally acquainted come before me and made oath that the statements in regard to an examination made by him as to condition of Andrew J. P Simer is to best of his knowledg and skill true; he swears that he on the 6 day of May 1876 did examine Andrew J. P Simer and that he did find him unable to make a living by manual labour. Said disability is caused by a Gun Shot wound in his left shoulder [right shoulder according to Andrew's original letter] the ball entering below the left clavacle and passing through to the Scapula and lying under the bone has caused a shrinkage of the musles and a contraction of the ligaments thereby disabling him to the extent of the loss of his left arm or the use of it.
Jesse Hays, J.P.
Justice of Peace
and Exificio Notary Public
Hill Co., Texas
May 6th 1876
Invalid Pension Claim No. 214.350
Personally appeared before me Jesse Hays an acting Justice of the Peace for Hill County, Texas, Andrew J. P Simer of whom I am personally acquainted and made oath to the following facts.
1st that he is the identical man mentioned in the Invalid claim for pention No. 214.350 and that
2. He was detched from his Regmt Co. at the time that he received the alleged wound. And that he was on duty at the office of the Freedmens Bureau No. 28 Corondolette St. City of New Orleans, La. and that he was wounded while in the line of duty as alleged in the declaration now on file in the Pension office in Claim No. 214.350.
3. That there was more of his command present at the time that he was wounded and that he does not know whether Capt. Andrew Morse Pro. Mar. Gen. of Freedmen is a live or not. That he does not know the address of any of the soldiers that was on duty at the office at the time and that he has no other means of proving the validity of his claim at this time here in Texas but by his own oath and the oath of the witnesses whose affidafits are now on file in this case that he is a man of truth and veracity.
4. That he was treated not in any Hospital but was treated in Qutrs at No. 28 Corondolette St. N.O., La.
5. That he has not been in neither the Land nor Naval Service of U.S. or in any other Service since the 5th day of Oct 1865 and that he was treated by Dr. Gillkison a surgeon on duty at Mr. T. W. Conways office. Mr. T. W. Conway was at that time Commissioner of the Bureau of Freedmen Reffugees and abandoned Land for Dept. of the Gulf and the wound of which he complains he swears was inflicted by a man who had unmercifully beaten a litle child, son of a Freedman living on St. Thomas St. Complaint having been made to Capt. Andrew Morse Provost Mar. Gen. of Freedmen for Dept. of the gulf. He was ordered by Capt. Morse to arrest the man at an Ice House. While performing the duty the man shot him, the ball lodgeing under the left scapulia or shoulder blade and making him a criple for life.
6. He further swears that he was a stout hearty man before said service or at the time of his enlistment and that up to the 27th day of Aug. 1864 that he had been well and free from any thing calculated to stiffen his arm into its present cripled state.
Sworn to this the 8th day of May 1876 before me an acting Justice of the Peace and Exificio Notary of Public for the County of Hill and State of Texas.
Peoria, Hill County, Texas
July 15th 1876
I received a circular from the Pension office requiring my certificate of Discharge to which I have to say that I stated in my application for pension that my Discharge Certificate was burned up in Arkansas and I cannot send it.
I have furnished the office of Pensions with all the evidence that I can with the facilaties that I have. I have no money to do anything with. I am suffering from poverty. I hope that the government will grant me the pitance that I have asked. I wish you to send all my mail to Peoria, Hill County, Texas in stead of Hillsborough, Texas.
Andrew J. P Simer
Department of the Interior
August 5, 1876
The following are requirements of this Office in the prosecution of claims to Invalid Pensions; and in the claim No. 214.350, of Andrew J. P Simer, the requirements for its completion are set forth as follows.
The claimaint's allegations must be corroborated by the affidavit, or, if still in the service, the certificate of a commissioned officer of his company or regiment.
If not treated in general hospital, then the affidavit of the regimental surgeon as to the fact, time, and duration of treatment for the alleged wound or disease while in service must be furnished.
The post-office address of each witness must be stated in every case; and all interlineations and erasures in affidavits must be certified to by the officer taking the deposition.
H. M. Atkinson
Adjutant General's Office
Washington, D.C. August 7th, 1876
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt from your Office of application for Pension No. 214,350, and to return it herewith with such information as is furnished by the files of this Office.
It appears from the Rolls on file in this Office that Andrew J. P. Simer was enrolled and mustered into service as a private on the 16 day of Dec., 1861, at Scioto County, Ohio, in Co. K, 56 Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, to serve 3 years, or during the war.
On the Muster Roll of Co. K of that Regiment, dated February 28th, 1862, he is reported Deserted. March & April '62, Deserted. May & June '62 same report. July & Aug '64, Present. Returned to Co. July 27, '64. Returned to regt. as deserter May 13, '64.
"Was tried by G.C.M. for desertion, was found guilty and sentenced to forfeit all pay and allowances which may have been due him previous to and on the 11th of May 1864 and to make good the time lost, by reason of his absence from the service, being two years and two months. Sentence promulgated in G.O. no. 8 Head Qrs Southern Div. of Louisiana, N.O. Feby 28, 1865."
Transferred to Co. C and reported on roll of that Co. for July & Aug 1865, Detached at Bureau of Refugees. Muster roll of a detcht. of regt. serving at Bureau of Ref. Freedman dated New Orleans, La. Aug. 31, 1865 reports him Present. Roll of Co. for Sept. & Oct. 1865, Present. Nov. & Dec. 1865, Deserted. M.O. Roll of C dated April 25, 1866 reports him Deserted Nov. 3, 1865, at New Orleans, La.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
J. W. Benjamin
Assistant Adjutant General
The Commissioner of Pensions
Washington, D. C.
Peoria, Hill County, Texas
October 20, 1876
Hon. Z. Chandler, Sec. Int. U.S.A.
I have prosicuted a suit for pension in the Dept. of Intr. It is headed Invalid Pension Claim No. 214.350 file in clerk room No. (T). It has not been handled satisfactorily to me.
I was a strong and hearty man with sound _____ and body when I enlisted in the 56 O. Reg. Vol. U.S.A. in December 1861. In 1865 (27) day of Aug. I was wounded while on duty as set forth in said claim.
I am now suffereing for the pitance the law provides for and its tecnickilities [technicalities] keep me from getting. I am not able to imploy council to attend to it. A word from you to your subatterny might get for me the litle pitance that I need so badly.
I am wretched - a poor criple, the scorn and scoff of the Sothern people. I was a Sothern Unionist and had to wade through blood almost to get to Ohio at the time that I went to join the Army.
The Rebels all tell me here that old Zach Chandler and Grant would see me in Hell before they would allow my claim.
I hope that you will give this matter a little attention for (3) causes. First because I am suffering for the money. Secondly because the people have made sutch fun of me for supporting the administration and for asking the Government for a pension. Judges Norton & Ford sais it would be worth thousands to the Republican Party if it was granted.
Yours with true regard,
Andrew J. P Simer
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C. March 19, 1877
Respectfully returned to the Surgeon General U.S.A.
The claimants name is Andrew J. P.Simer, 56 Ohio. He allerges that he was wounded by a pistol shot while arresting an offender under orders from the Provost Marshall of Freedmen at New Orleans, La. Augst 27th, 1865 and was treated by Dr. Gilkison of the said Provost Marshalls office who was surgeon at Hd. Qrs. 3996.
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C. March 19, 1877
Respectfully referred to the Adjutant General, U.S.A.
This claimant was informed that that this office cannot further consider his claim until the records shall be so amended as to show his discharge from Co. K. 56th Ohio Vols. and that correspondence should be had with your office.
The enclosed is referred to you for your consideration with a view to giving him a discharge.
Andrew J. P. Simer
Surgeon General's Office
Record and Pension Division
Washington, D.C. Apr. 3, 1877
Respectfully returned to the Commissioner of Pensions.
No information bearing upon this inquiry has been obtained from the records of the within named Regt. or of Med. Dir's office Dept. of the Gulf subsequent to July '65. No records of the Pro. Marshall's off., New Orleans, La. on file.
BY ORDER OF THE SURGEON GENERAL
To All Whom it May Concern
Know ye That Andrew J. P. Simer a Private of Captain William G. Snyder’s Company “C” 56th Regiment of Ohio Infantry VOLUNTEERS who was enrolled on the sixteenth day of December one thousand eight hundred and sixty one to serve three years or during the war, is hereby dishonorably Discharged from the service of the United States this third (3rd) day of November 1865 by reason of Desertion.
Given at Washington D.C. this fourth (4th) day of April 1877.
L. H. Pelouze
Asst. Adjt. General
Department of Interior
April 10, 1877
Sir: In the INVALID CLAIM, No. 214.350 of Mr. Andrew J. P. Simer, the testimony indicated in paragraph No. 1 and 2 should be furnished.
1. The affidavit of a commissioned officer of claimant's company or regiment, which should state when, where, and the circumstances under which the alleged wound was received and describing the wound.
If such testimony cannot be obtained, the fact and reasons should be stated under oath by claimant, when the affidavit of two comrades, who should state the names of their company and regiment, will be considered.
2. The affidavit of the surgeon, or assistant surgeon, of claimant's regiment as to treatment for the alleged wound describing it while in the service. It is desirable that the description of the disability should be as far as practicable, in the hand-writing of the surgeon.
There is no record of the wound and the above mentioned evidence is necessary before the claim can be further considered.
If claimant is unable to furnish any part of the testimony indicated, he should state the facts and reasons under oath.
EACH WITNESS MUST STATE HIS POST OFFICE ADDRESS AND MEANS OF KNOWING OF THE FACTS TO WHICH HE TESTIFIES.
All erasures and interlineations in testimony must be certified to by the officer before whome the affidavit is executed - who may be any person authorized to administer oaths, his official character and signature being certified to under the seal of the proper officer.
J. A. Bently
The dishonorable discharge meant that Andrew's claim was denied, but with this final letter they were giving him one last chance to prove his claim. That letter sat unclaimed at the Peoria, Texas post office for ten days before it was returned as undeliverable on April 27, 1877.
It appears that in 1884, Andrew made another attempt at an invalid pension. The records are incomplete and don't state where he was living at the time. This is the only readable document that survives.
Attention is called to the fact that Dr. Wm. N. King late Surgeon of the 56th Ohio Vols. has offered his affidavits wherein he admits having no knowledge of claimaint's disability and in consequence thereof, all his affidavits should be received as worthless.
Commissioner [of Pensions]
Andrew's Cousin Assumes His Identity?
What follows is a second set of records on an A. J. P'Simer from the National Archives. They were intially confusing because this A. J. P'Simer was a Confederate posing as a Union soldier. After more research, it became apparent that he was Andrew's cousin Asa.
Before the war broke out, Asa had run into some trouble with the law in Lewis County, Kentucky and fled to Tennessee where he became a Chaplain in the 5th Tennessee Infantry.
It appears that Asa posed as Andrew, who he knew was in Co. K of the 56th Ohio Volunteers, to get through Union lines back to Kentucky. His plan failed when he was captured July 15, 1862 in Russellville, Kentucky. He eventually ended up as a P.O.W. at Camp Chase, Ohio and was released November 16, 1862 after taking the oath of loyalty to the U.S. government.
June 20, 1862
A. J. P Simer Capt. of Com. K in the 56 Regt. of O. V. [Ohio Volunteers] U.S.A. has leave of absence from his company and Reg. until July 30th 1862 at which time he will report himself at these head quarters or what ever place his regiment then be at or otherwise be considered a deserter and treated as such.
Said P Simer is 29 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, hazel eyes, dark auburn hair curly. Weighs 160 lbs. Scar above the right eye near to the hair.
Preacher by profession by post office Vanceburg, Lewis Co. Ky.
P. Kinney Col.
Lew. Wallis Maj. Gen.
Bowling Green July 15, 1862
By Telegraph from Columbus, Ohio July 14, 1862
To Col. S. D. Bruce
No person named Simer holds commission in 56th Ohio Regiment.
Chas. W. Hill
Adjt Genl Ohio
August 25, 1862
To Col. Allison,
Sir, I will make a clean breast tell you the whole truth in my case and let you know how it is I left my residence in Stewart Co., Tennessee July 12th, 1862.
Before starting I consulted a soldier of the 71st Reg. O.V. U.S.A [Ohio Volunteers]. He told me if I started to my mother's with out a passport I would be taken up and detained a prisoner. He also told me if I would give him five dollars he would fix me out papers to pass me off for a Federal officer going home on a furlough and I could show it and I would be by it enabled to get through Ky. to my mother.
I acknowledge that I done wrong by accepting it but God knows I had no other purpose in view than to see my mother. I will make a proposition to the officer set a part to investigate our cases. I am willing to take the oath and go beyond the Union lines if required to. God knows my only crime is accepting that furlow. It was wrong and I am truly sorry that I did it.
I preached a while for the 50th Tenn. Rebel Reg. but did not get a commission since the Union troops got possession of the place. I have not seen a Rebel Company of soldiers since then. I have submitted my case to you. If I have not given a full account of all the facts and you will inform me of anything else, I will tell you the whole truth about it. I am going to own the truth and make it my line of policy in the case. I am willing to take the oath go home to my wife and children and remain with them for I am tired of session and rebellion for it is plaid out.
I live in a seceeded State being an English man and have never taken the oath of allegiance to the Federal government in my life. I will now take it and maintain it. Excuse this long note.
Your humble servant
A. J. P Simer, Junior
P.S. If you will except my proposition send me a line.
Source: National Archives