As part of my continuing work on Civil War pension files, I returned again to Scotland (for my previous work on Scots in the Civil War see here and here), to comprehensively map all the American Pensioners in Scotland recorded in the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll. In 1882 Congress instructed that this list be compiled in order to document all individuals then in receipt of monies for service in the American military. In addition to mapping where these people lived, I also wanted to find out more of their personal stories. To that end I also sought to explore in detail each of the 30 individuals who were receiving pensions in Scotland during 1883.
What the pensions reveal are a series of fascinating insights into Scottish emigrants in the 19th century. Clearly apparent is the dominance of Scotland’s Central Belt among those who claimed these pensions, but other interesting aspects are also revealed; for example the presence of a number of weavers among those men who emigrated, and of the traditional emigration links between Scotland and Canada and Ireland and Scotland. Differing realities with respect to marriage are also revealed– below you will find details on a husband who left his wife for America immediately after their marriage, of a husband who committed bigamy against his wife, and of a man who returned briefly to marry in Scotland before leaving once again to serve the American military. Many of the pensioners had been affected by some of the great battles of the Civil War, such as Fredericksburg and Petersburg. The horrors of Andersonville Prison also loom large, and we see some last letters transcribed for the first time. The resource below starts with the mapping element, prepared on Google Fusion Tables. Beyond that are the relevant biographies, which I hope readers find of interest.
Anthony Hillcoat, Ardrossan, Ayrshire. United States Navy.
c. 1823. Enlisting in the Navy in 1857, he served as a First Class Fireman aboard USS Saranac and USS Niagara. His first injury occurred when he fell down on a pipe. He recovered and served aboard USS Niagara on her trip to Japan, a voyage that brought Japan’s first diplomatic mission to the U.S. home. He was later assigned to work as a boiler maker in Pensacola, where he was hurt in another fall, which resulted in his discharge on 12 September 1861. Returning to Scotland, he had to wear a truss all the time due to his incapacity. He received his pension for this injury to his abdomen and orchitis, getting $8 per month from 1879.
Isabella Sherret, Brechin, Angus (Forfarshire). Widow of Graham Sherret, 67th New York Infantry.
Graham Sherret and Isabella Milne had married in Brechin on 20th May 1853. Graham had been a mason at the time, and they were both living on the City Road in the town. Graham enlisted in the Union army on 24th June 1861, serving in Company K of the 67th New York Infantry. He was promoted to Corporal on 1st February 1863. Graham was shot in the head and mortally wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia on 6th May 1864. Isabella lived at 40 Union Street in Brechin when she was in receipt of her pension, which was $8 a month and was approved in 1865.
Union Street in Brechin, where Isabella Sherret lived after her husband was killed at the Battle of The Wilderness, Virginia.
James Wilkie, Dundee, Angus (Forfarshire). 1st Michigan Cavalry.
Born c. 1835. A member of Custer’s famed Michigan Brigade, the Wolverines. Enlisted in Company C of the 1st Michigan on 30th October 1863 in Detroit and was discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on 10th July 1865. Received a pension of $2 per month for a wound to the left leg from 1879. His name is remembered on the American Civil War Memorial in Old Calton Cemetery, Edinburgh.
Henry Myers, Dunfermline, Fife. “Old War” Service.
Henry received his pension of $4 per month for a wound to the right leg. His pension was for “Old War” service, i.e. service that predated 1861 (and included conflicts like the Mexican War).
Jane Fortune, Thornton, Dysart, Fife. Widow of John Fortune, 5th Ohio Infantry.
John Fortune and Jane Paterson were married by Minister James Lowe in Thornton Parish Church on 10th May 1858. John was a labourer from Leven while Jane worked as a weaver in Dysart. John had enlisted on 19th June 1861 and served in Company E of the 5th Ohio. He was killed in action on 15th May 1864 at the Battle of Resaca, Georgia. Jane collected $8 per month dating to 1866, receiving payments until her death in the 1890s.
Thornton Parish Church, where John Fortune and Jane Paterson were married. John was later killed in action at Resaca, Georgia, as Sherman campaigned towards Atlanta.
Alexander McNeil, Dysart, Fife. United States Navy.
Alexander was born on 19th October 1837 in Sinclairtown, the son of a linen weaver from Pathhead, Dysart. He spent much of his life at sea, and like many sailors wore tattoos on his hands (an “A.M.N.” on the back of his left hand, an anchor on the back of his right). He enlisted in the Union Navy at Brooklyn in February 1865 and served a Seaman aboard the receiving ship USS North Carolina (until March 1865), the torpedo boat USS Naubuc (until July 1865 when he returned to the North Carolina) and finally aboard the training ship USS Constitution (which survives today, and is a major tourist attraction). While on the Constitution at Annapolis on 16th August 1865 a hawser cable came apart and struck him while the vessel was being hauled over a bar by a tug. The impact took away his left eye and deformed the left side of his face, while also fracturing his left forearm and left thigh. In later years cataract in his right eye would severely reduce his sight. After treatment he was discharged in August 1866, and was given permission to operate a cake stand beside the Constitution, which he did for a period after the war. In 1870 he left Annapolis and returned to Scotland, marrying factory worker Elizabeth Murray on 1st January 1872 at Coalgate, Dysart, with the ceremony being performed by the Reverend William Guthrie. They would go on to have at least five children. He received a pension of $15 per month until his death at 47 High Street in Dysart on 20th October 1913 from a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 74. His wife Elizabeth subsequently made a claim for the payments. Including in the file is a newspaper clipping provided by Elizabeth, which charted Alexander’s life and is reproduced below.
Alexander Smith, Edinburgh, Lothian. 66th New York Infantry.
Alexander was 42-years-old when he enlisted on 7th September 1861, becoming a private in Company G of the 66th New York. He was promoted to Sergeant on 1st January 1862, and was wounded at Fredericksburg on 11th December 1862, as a result of which he lost his right foot. He was discharged for wounds on 1st May 1863 at Harewood Hospital in Washington D.C. Returning to Scotland, he received a pension of $18 per month from October 1863. His name is remembered on the American Civil War Memorial in Old Calton Cemetery, Edinburgh.
John Owens, Falkirk, Central Lowlands. 7th U.S. Infantry.
John served in Company C of the 7th U.S. Infantry, and received a pension of $4 a month from January 1881 for a disability to his lungs. He may well have served with the unit during the Indian Wars, though this is yet to be confirmed.
Margaret Affleck, Galashiels, Selkirkshire. Widow of Thomas Affleck, 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.
Margaret Kyle and Thomas Affleck, a woollen weaver, were married in Lilliesleaf, Roxburghshire on 4th December 1846. They had five children but only two sons, Robert (b. 1847) and William (b. 1856), survived. Thomas travelled to the United States and became a member of Company F of the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavies on 29th February 1864. Captured during the fighting in Virginia, he died a prisoner of war at Andersonville in Georgia on 6th November 1864 of Scorbutus. Margaret lived on Roxburgh Street in Galashiels while she collected her pension of $8 a month, which was granted in 1868. She died on 8th November 1906.
Andrew Angus, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. 72nd New York Infantry.
Andrew Angus enlisted in the 72nd New York as a private on 9th November 1861 at Dunkirk, New York. The 36-year-old served in Company H. He was wounded at Williamsburg, Virginia on 5th May 1862, and re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer on 24th December 1863. He was again wounded on 6th May 1864 at The Wilderness, Virginia, and was transferred to Company E of the 120th New York while still recovering. On 1st June 1865 he was again transferred, to the 73rd New York Infantry, but had still not regained his health. He was absent in the U.S. General Hospital at muster out in July. Andrew received a pension of $8 a month for a wound to his left groin paid from November 1865. He died on 26th November 1896, after which date his wife received a widow’s pension.
John Carr, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. United States Navy.
The details of John Carr’s service in the Navy are still to be established. He received a pension for total blindness from July 1875 amounting to $72 per month.
Janet Dempster, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Widow of John Dempster, 7th Rhode Island Infantry.
John served in Company E of the 7th Rhode Island. He enrolled at Providence on 13th August 1862, and was killed in action at Fredericksburg, Virginia on 13th December 1862. Janet received $8 per month from December 1871.
Catharine Fleming, Tradeston, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Widow of Archibald Fleming, United States Navy.
Scottish emigrants Catharine McLauchlan (who lived in Philadelphia) and Archibald Fleming were married in New York on 13th March 1856 by Presbyterian Minister John Brash. The couple had three children William Alexander (born in New York in December 1856), Catherine (born in St. Mary’s, Perth, Canada West in February 1859) and Isabella (born in New York in July 1861). Archibald enlisted as a Fireman in the Navy on 16th January 1864. He was assigned to the gunboat USS Chenango, which proceeded from New York to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron on 15th April. One of her boilers exploded, scalding over 30 men, 28 of whom died. Archibald was one of those fatally scalded, and was brought back to New York where he passed away at 1.30 am on the morning of 16th April. Catharine’s pension was approved in April 1873, and she received payments for the remainder of her life at 38 Nelson Street in Tradeston. She died around 1903.
Mary Liston, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Mother of Robert Liston alias Henry Clark, 1st New Jersey Infantry.
Mary was the mother of Robert Liston (sometimes Leiston) who served in Company G of the 1st New Jersey Infantry. He is recorded as having mustered in as a private on 23rd January 1864. He was serving in Company B of the 1st Battalion at Petersburg, Virginia when he was wounded in action, and he died at Lincoln U.S. Army General Hospital as a result on 14th April 1865. Mary, though officially listed as his widow on the roll, appears to have been his mother. She received a pension of $8 per month from June 1878.
John McCann, Bridgeton, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. United States Navy.
John, a native of Glasgow, enlisted at Boston on 14th October 1872 and served as a Seaman aboard USS Richmond. He received a pension of $8 per month for a right inguinal hernia suffered in the service aboard the Richmond at Key West, apparently caused when wrenching his body in an effort to keep his vessel from chafing alongside a burning ship, the Northwester. John ultimately returned to Scotland, where he died at 188 Preston Street in Bridgeton on 30th January 1909, having been bed-ridden for a year. A claim for reimbursement for his burial was made which included a bill from William Hood MacKinlay Undertakers of 205 Dalmarnock Road in Glasgow.
Margaret McFarlane, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Widow of John McFarlane, 11th New Hampshire Infantry.
Margaret Alexander and John McFarlane were married by the Reverend Robert Paisley in Partick on 14th October 1842. Their son Walter was born around 1858. John was enrolled in Company B of the 11th New Hampshire from Portsmouth on 17th December 1862 (he was borne as McFarland). He contracted chronic diarrhea and died at the Ninth Corps Hospital at City Point, Virginia on 10th October 1864. Margaret received $8 per month from June 1866 in pension payments.
Thomas Provan, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. 28th Massachusetts Infantry.
Thomas Provan enlisted in the 28th Massachusetts of the Irish Brigade and was mustered into Company D from Somerville, Massachusetts on 18th March 1864. A boiler-maker by trade, he was recorded as having blue eyes, brown hair, a light complexion and was 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall. Thomas was wounded in the hand while on picket at Totopotomoy Creek on 31st May 1864. He was captured at the Second Battle of Deep Bottom on 16th August 1864, and confined first in Belle Isle, Richmond (where he suffered from intermittent fever) and then in Salisbury, North Carolina. He was paroled at North East Ferry, North Carolina on 1st March 1865, and was furloughed from Camp Parole in Maryland on 19th March. He spent time in hospital in Readville, Massachusetts, but returned to his unit on 15th May 1865 and was mustered out on 30th June 1865. He was allowed a pension of $4 per month from September 1878.
Elizabeth Shepard, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Widow of James Shepard, 6th United States Infantry.
On 10th August 1860 James Shepard and Elizabeth Spence (then a widow) were married in Ayr, aged 36 and 39 respectively. At the time both were residents of the Allison Street in Newton. It seems likely that a decision had already been taken that James would go to America, as he enlisted in the U.S Army only weeks later on 1st November 1860 and served in Company G of the 6th U.S. Infantry. During his time in America he wrote home on a number of occasions to his wife in Scotland. James’s first letter was written in December 1861, when he lamented the poor political condition in the country and suggested that the time was not right for his wife to join him:
Washington City Dec 20th 61
My dear and affectionate wife I recived your welcom letter of the Second of Oct and nothing gave me more pleasure then to hear that you and my familey is all well and in good health my dear wife I think that you had better not come out to this country for the preasant the times hear at preasant is very troublesom and there is no sine of it getting any better at preasent my dear wife nothing gave me more trouble and sorrow then to hear that you ware in bad health but I hope in gad that by the time this reaches you that it will find you restored to perfect health I am very sorry that the troubles in this country has caused the the trade in Scotland to be so dull as it is my dear wife my advise you would be for to set up some kind of a shop with what money you have at preasent but please yourselfe dear wife give my best respects to Jane Gaston and I hope she wont get married until I go home and to youre sister margaret and my love to agnes mary and thomas if anything should happen me amy sickness or other misfortune you will write to Captain Levi C Bootes of Company G 6th Infantry Give my best respects to all enquiring friends I send my love and kind regards to you my dear and affectionate wife
No more at present I remain your affectionate husband
Co ‘G’ 6th US Infantry
Direct for me James Shepard Company ‘G’ 6th United States Infy Regular Armey Washington City or Elsewhere
James decided having finished this letter to write another to his wife on the same day, outlining his journey from the west coast to the east, and containing much fascinating detail:
Washington City Dec 20th 
My dear wife I forgot to tell you something about our voyage from Caliafornia across the pacific and atlantic ocions the trip was one of the finest ever made we had on board about five hundred troopes on board and a large number of citizens we put into mananella a mexican port on the pacific and I believe the convoy is the grandest I have ever seene everything was greene and looked fine it was very hot our next port was Acapulca another mexican port on the pacific it is very beautifull out next stopping place was the Isthmus of darien or the city of panama the oldest city in america here you can buy a monkey for two shillings and a parrot for one shilling all kinds of tropical fruits grows here such as oranges banas plantans coco nuts and such like the distance across the Ismus is 47 miles there is a railroad across it from panama to aspiniwall on the atlantic there is a perpetual spring here all the time it is very hot of our voyage on the atlantic there hapened nothing worthey or remark the distance from panama to San Francisco is 3264 miles and from aspinwall to N. York is 2950 miles so you have a prety good idea of our voyage as we left San Francisco the greatest enthisiasm prevaled canons was fired from all the forts and ships of war in the harbor the inhabitance crowded the quays to suffication the bay was alive with boats full of people waveing their hancherchiffs and chearing us as we moved from the pier of our reception in new york and philadelphia I could not say two mutch in N. York particularly as we paraded the streets to our quarters Chear after chear went up from the patriotic citizens of that loyal city as we passed through philiadelphia we had a fine super prepaired by the inhabitance after dinner the band played hil columbia yankey doodle and the star spangled baner which drew chear after chear from the excited mob and such was the feelings of the people that old men totering on the verge of the grave came to us shook us by the hand and toasted us for to fight for the honor of our flag and country as our fathers did before children scarcely able to lisp the word liberty would run to us with flags in their hands and say god bless the soldiers
My dear wife I forgot to tel you that our pay is raised it is thirteen shillings and three pence per week and we recive 2lbs of beef 24 ounces of bread and an abundance of all these kind of rations we also more clothes then we care ware so that I believe that this is the best armey in the word and I am well contented dear wife I am altogether temperate and I am going for to put ten pounds in the bank pretty soon I send all the children and yourself my love and best respects
I remain your affectionate husband
James died of chronic diarrhea at Eckington Hospital in Washington D.C. on 23rd October 1862. During the course of Elizabeth’s application she included the two letters transribed above as evidence of their relationship. Elizabeth also had friends such as Hugh McLellan and Robert McEwan of the Tylefield Street Factory in Glasgow give evidence on her behalf. She received a pension of $8 per month from 1866.
Daniel Stewart, Kinning Park, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. United States Navy.
Daniel enlisted in the Navy on 5th February 1870, when he was around 25-years-old. He first served as a machinist aboard the USS Vermont and later USS Plymouth. After his first stint in the Navy Daniel appears to have briefly returned home to Scotland, where he married domestic servant Agnes Cunningham at St. Andrews Street in Kilmarnock on 8th August 1873. He was soon back in America, however, where he re-enlisted in 1873 and served on the USS Vermont and USS Ossipee until his discharge on 13th April 1874 on a certificate of disability. The sailor had been injured when his right hand was caught in the machinery aboard the Ossipee on 29th December 1873. It resulted in all his fingers being lacerated and his middle and little fingers broken. Daniel was living at 272 Scotland Street, Kinning Park in Glasgow when he was receiving the monies, consisting of $12 per month. He and Agnes had a number of children, including Margaret (b. 1875), Thomas (b. 1878), James (b. 1880), Daniel (b. 1884), Mary (b. 1886) and Robert (b. 1893). After his time at sea Daniel worked as a brush maker, and in his final years he and Agnes made their home at 30 Broompark Drive, Dennistoun in the city. He died on 6th September 1909 of disease of the mesenteric glands. His widow Agnes sought a pension following his death.
30 Broompark Drive in Dennistoun, the area where Daniel and Agnes Stewart lived.
Agnes Wilson, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. Widow of Archibald Wilson, 25th Connecticut Infantry.
Archibald Wilson and Agnes Buchanan were married on 9th December 1849 in the City of Glasgow by the Reverend McFarlane. At the time Archibald worked as a glass cutter. Their son William was born at 78 Stockwell Street in Glasgow on 6th October 1850, while their daughter was born after emigration to America, coming into the world at Winter Street in East Cambridge, Massachusetts on 24th November 1853. Archibald enlisted on 9th October 1862 and was mustered in to Company A of the 25th Connecticut on 11th November. He was killed in action at Port Hudson, Louisiana on 28th May 1863. Returning to Scotland, Agnes claimed a pension of $8 per month from September 1864. She died on 30th May 1891.
James D. Wilson, Glasgow, Lanarkshire. 82nd New York Infantry.
James served in Company I of the 82nd New York Infantry (2nd New York State Militia). He was 30 years-old when he enlisted on 3rd July 1861. He was wounded in action in the first major battle of the war, at Bull Run, Virginia on 21st July 1861 and discharged for disability on 10th November 1861 at Poolesville, Virginia. He was granted a pension of $18 per month for an injury to his right hand, with the application approved in April 1863.
Elizabeth Burgess, Kinghorn, Fife. Widow of John Burgess, 79th New York Infantry.
John Burgess and Elizabeth Simpson were married in Kinghorn on 2nd January 1843. On 28th May 1861, at the age of 37, John enlisted in the 79th New York, a unit with a Scottish identity, becoming a private in Company K. He was promoted to corporal but subsequently returned to the ranks. He was killed in action at Knoxville, Tennessee on 29th November 1863. John appears to have adopted the name Dan Driskcoll to marry a woman called Elizabeth Collins in New York on 4th March 1853, thereby becoming a bigamist. John’s second wife claimed a widow’s pension until 1872- stating in her application that Dan Driskcoll was his real name, and that John Burgess was an alias. Back in Scotland, John’s first wife Elizabeth successfully applied for a pension based on the service of the husband who had deserted her. She received $8 per month from 1870 until she died at 8 George Street in Leith on 26th October 1902.
Mary A Borland, Leith, Midlothian. Widow of John Borland, 17th United States Infantry.
John Borland, a clerk living at 18 Salisbury Street in Edinburgh and Mary A Allen were married in the Parish Church of St. Cuthbert, Edinburgh on 30th April 1838. John enlisted on 7th March 1862 in Company H of the 17th U.S. Infantry, and died of pneumonia in Convalescent Camp in Alexandria, Virginia on 20th December 1862. Mary first applied for the pension in Portland, Maine. She received $8 a month from 1863.
Elizabeth McPherson, Montrose, Angus. Widow of William McPherson, 14th New York Heavy Artillery.
William McPherson and Elizabeth Rioch were married on 24th February 1860 in the MacNab Street Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Canada. Their son Hugh was born on 7th June 1861 in Sullivan Township, Gray County, Canada. William was enlisted in the 14th New York Heavy Artillery on 15th October 1863 and mustered into Company F. Captured near The Wilderness, Virginia on 8th May, he died on 30th August 1864 as a Prisoner of War in Andersonville, Georgia, from scorbutus. Elizabeth first applied for a pension from Hamilton in what is now Ontario, Canada. She was approved in May 1867 and received $8 per month.
The McNab Street Presbyterian Church in Hamilton where William and Elizabeth were married.
Neil Lucas, Oban, Argyll & Bute. 179th New York Infantry.
Neil was a 39-year-old ship carpenter when he enlisted on 13th April 1864 at Stillwater. He was initially mustered in as a private in Company A of the 180th New York Infantry but was quickly transferred to Company G of the 179th New York on 23rd July 1864. He was absent sick at the muster out of the regiment. He successfully applied for a pension of $8 per month from October 1866, awarded due to an abscess in his right breast.
Catharine Breckinridge, Paisley, Renfrewshire. Widow of Walter Breckinridge, 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry.
Walter Breckinridge (sometimes Brackenridge) and Catharine Pollock were married in Paisley’s High Church Parish on 22nd June 1832. Walter was therefore not a young man (probably in his 50s) when he enlisted. He initially joined the 66th Pennsylvania but was transferred to the 73rd and enrolled in Company K on 25th July 1861. Taken prisoner at The Wilderness on 8th May 1864, he died at Andersonville, Georgia as a Prisoner of War on 24th August of diarrhoea. Catharine was 60-years-old when she applied for the pension in 1865 from Underwood Mill in Paisley. Catharine received a pension of $8 per month from April 1875.
Bridget Wallace, Paisley, Renfrewshire. Widow of Michael Wallace, 4th United States Artillery.
Bridget’s husband Michael is likely the Michael Wallace who enlisted in New York on 4th May 1871. The 24-year-old was not a native of Scotland, but of Limerick in Ireland. He was described as having auburn hair, a ruddy complexion and being 5 feet 11 inches in height. A member of Company K of the 4th U.S. Artillery, he was killed on 26th April 1873 at the Battle of Sand Butte in California’s Lava Beds during an engagement with Modoc warriors led by the Chief known as Scarface Charley. Bridget received $8 a month from November 1874.
William Connelly, Scotland. United States Marine Corps.
William served as a private in the United States Marine Corps aboard USS State of Georgia. He was in receipt of $3 per month for the loss of his right finger. It was not recorded where in Scotland he lived.
Ellen McDonald, Scotland. Widow of Allan McDonald, United States Medical Department.
Allan McDonald, a worsted spinner, and Ellen Wiseman, a dressmaker, were married on 28th July 1852 in Barnsley, Lancaster, England when both were 25-years-old. Among their children were twins Colin and Eliza (b. 1855), Donald (b. 1856), Roderick (b. 1858), Reginald (b. 1860) and James (b. 1866). Allan was a Hospital Steward, having enlisted in D.C. on 6th December 1866. He died on 9th March 1869 0f Erysipelas, a bacterial skin infection. She initially applied for her pension in Washington D.C. and was award $8 per month from 1869. Ellen died on 26th February 1891. It was not recorded where in Scotland she received the payments.
James Cusiter, Stromness, Orkney. United States Navy.
The James Cusiter in receipt of a pension of $3 per month in Stromness was likely the 30-year-old man who enlisted in New York on 21st September 1859 as a Seaman for a period of 4 years. He had blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 5 feet 8 inches in height.
A wide range of references were utilised in constructing the details above, including the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll, Civil War Widow’s Pension Files, Navy Widow’s Certificates, Navy Survivor’s Certificates, Naval Enlistment Weekly Returns, Regular Army Enlistments Returns, Pension Index Cards, Numerical Pension Index, Regimental Rosters, New York Muster Rolls and Regimental Histories. If any readers wish to receive specific references for any of the individuals covered above please contact me.