Archive:Civil War Pension File, Francis N. Whitney

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Archives > Archive:Military Records > Archive:Civil War, Pension Files > Civil War Pension File, Francis N. Whitney

Civil War Pension File of Francis N. Whitney
Mother: Rebecca W. Whitney
Mother's Applic. # 51448 Cert. # 94715
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.

He is identified as Francis N.8 Whitney (Nathan7, Nathan6, Nathan5, Nathan4, Nathaniel3, Benjamin2, John1). His mother's lineage is Rebecca Weston7 Whitney (Joseph6, Nathan5, Nathan4, Nathaniel3, Benjamin2, John1).

Although Francis had no descendants, I thought his story interesting and revealing, both about him and his family members. I'm afraid you may not like what you learn about Nathan Whitney, but it goes along with genealogy.


On July 19, 1866 the Adjutant General's office supplied information about the military career of Francis N. Whitney. Francis was enrolled on 27 August 1861 at Augusta, Maine in Company B, 4th Regiment of Maine Volunteers to serve three years. He was transferred to the Gunboat Service 17 February 1862. There is no evidence of death on file in the Adjutant General's Office.

Rebecca W. Whitney signed an Application for Mother's Army Pension at Machias, Washington Co., Maine on 16 April 1864. She testifies that she is 57 years old, and the mother of Francis N. Whitney, who was a Private in Company B commanded by Captain Walker and afterwards by Captain Mitchell in the Fourth Regiment of Maine Volunteers. Francis was transferred from Company B to the gunboat service on the Mississippi River in February, 1862 and died in the service of the United States on board the steamer "Judge Torrance" on or about the first day of August 1862 at Helena (Arkansas). He died unmarried, leaving no wife, child, or children. Nathan Whitney, the father of said Francis and husband of said Rebecca abandoned the support of his family entirely about eight years ago, and is a man of grossly intemperate habits. The said Rebecca has kept her family together since his desertion. She signed the application as Mrs. Rebecca W. Whitney.

There is a copy of the marriage certificate in the file from the Town Clerk of Jonesboro, Joshua Whitney for Nathan and Rebecca W. Whitney. It sates that Mr. Nathan Whitney and Miss Rebecca W. Whitney, both of Jonesboro, were joined in marriage 30 November 1825. They were married by Joseph Shorey, Justice of the Peace.

On 18 May 1863, Henry F. Harding and Ladwick Holway, two residents of Machias, Maine, provided testimony about the financial and social conditions of Rebecca W. Whitney. They testify that they are personally acquainted with Mrs. Rebecca W. Whitney of Machias, the mother of Francis N. Whitney who was a Private in Co. B of the 4th Regiment, Maine Volunteers. Although Rebecca has a husband living, he does not live with his wife and children and does not provide anything for their support, having entirely deserted them about seven years ago. Said husband is a man of grossly intemperate habits, and Rebecca has held her family together since the desertion. They testify that she was dependant in part, if not wholly, upon Francis, her son, for her support for a period of at least five years prior to his entering the service.

There were several letters written from Francis N. Whitney to his sister Euphemia D. Whitney, who married Stephen Hadley in 1865. The first letter was written when he was healthy, and the rest after he had become severely ill and doubted his own survival. The letters report his heath and state of well-being, but his major concern is his mother's support. He wants his sister to tell him whether his monthly paychecks have reached his mother. He is obviously concerned about the well-being of his family back home.

In 1867, Daniel Wheaton of Machias, Maine and the 2nd Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers provided testimony about the military career of Francis N. Whitney. He testifies that he was acquainted with Francis N. Whitney before he entered the service, they having gone to school together as boys in Machias. In the spring of 1862, he met Francis in Baltimore, Maryland. They went to Cairo, Illinois together, both having been detached to the Gunboat Service on the Mississippi River. In March 1862 has saw that Francis was drafted on board the gunboat "Judge Torrance", and a few days later, he was drafted onto the "St. Louis". Shortly thereafter they went down the river to Columbus, Tennessee, and thence to Island No. 10. After the capture of Island No. 10, they went to Fort Pillow. He did not see Francis N. Whitney then, but was informed by one of the crew of the Judge Torrance that he was ill with diarrhea. On or about 12 June 1862 at Memphis, Tennessee, he saw Francis, who at the time was suffering chronic diarrhea. Francis looked very bad, and Daniel did not think he could live a great while.

On or about 6 July 1862, Daniel Wheaton became ill, and he went aboard the Hospital Boat Red Rover. He was taken to Vicksburg, and while there about August 1, 1862, he heard that Francis N. Whitney was dead. Daniel went to the hospital at Memphis, and then to Cairo, where he went on board the Judge Torrance, which was fitted up at that time as a hospital ship. There he saw one John Grant, whose acquaintance he had made on board the receiving ship at Cairo in March 1862. Grant had been drafted on board the Judge Torrance with Francis Whitney. Grant told Daniel Wheaton that Francis N. Whitney was dead, and that he had died of chronic diarrhea contracted in the service of the United States, and in the line of duty.

In the month of December 1862, Daniel Wheaton went down river in a transport as far as Napoleon, Arkansas, and there saw Francis N. Whitney's grave. There was a head board on the grave and on it was the name of F.N. Whitney, and also the date of his death, which he does not exactly recollect, but he thinks it was the last of July. Daniel says that he saw Francis Whitney was a healthy boy with a strong constitution, and when he met him in Baltimore in the spring of 1862, he had no disease or appearance of disease upon him. When he last saw him in June, 1862, he was so far gone with chronic diarrhea contracted in the service of the United States and in the line of duty that he did not then think that he could have many days. He verily believes that Francis Whitney died of said chronic diarrhea.

The commissioner of pensions, Joseph H. Barrett, forwarded to the Office of the Adjutant General the information that Francis N. Whitney died at Helena, Arkansas on 2 August 1862. The pension office was informed that Rebecca W. Whitney died at Machias, Maine 15 May 1901. She was last paid $12.00 to 4 March 1901. Francis N. Whitney supported his mother long after his death.


Copyright © 2006, Kenneth L. Whitney and the Whitney Research Group

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