Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Red Tape! Period Civil War Pension Ephemera in the "Schmidt Collection" #2

You think YOU have problems filling out claim forms for your insurance company?! The graphic and text below are from a 3-page letter in my collection of Civil War pension ephemera.

The pension scheme required veterans to secure affidavits from physicians attesting and confirming disabilities and disease. The Pension Office in Washington served as a gatekeeper, passing judgment on the applications. Pension attorneys promised to secure increases and often used political clout to achieve those ends. As the letter below demonstrates, though, veterans often found themselves in the middle of politico-medico-legal red tape.

May 22, 1891
Department of the Interior
Bureau of Pensions
Washington, D.C.

To Henry H. Williams
19th Maine Volunteers
Bowdoinham, Maine


In reference to your above-cited claim for increase and additional pension, you are informed that part of your claim which relates to increase of pension is now in process of review by the adjudicating Board of this Bureau. You will be advised at an early date of the decision reached.

In regard to your claim of additional pension on account of disease of lungs and kidneys, you are informed that it requires the affidavit of a commisoned officer or first sergeant of your company showing when and where disease of lungs was contracted.

If such testimony cannot be obtained, you should state the reasons under oath, when the affidavits of one or more enlisted men of your company will be considered.

The affidavit of Captain Charles E. Nash, now on file, cannot be accepted, the statement therein showing that he has no personal knowledge of the alleged diseases. The affidavits of Alonzo Starbird and Anaziah E. Googins fail to cover diseases of lungs.

The affidavit of a surgeon, or assistant surgeon, of your regiment as to treatment while in the service is also required.

You should also furnish the testimony of two credible witnesses showing whether you have suffered from disease of lungs and kidneys during each year since 1878.

The affidavit of Dr. A. H. Cheney, now on file, fails to cover this point.

Upon receipt of the testimony indicated, your claim will be promptly considered.

Very Respectfully,


See more Civil War pension ephemera from my collection here:

#1 - Leaflets advertising the services of an attorney to help settle claims regarding desertion and loss of horses and equipment.

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