Archive:Civil War Pension File, Franklin P. Whitney

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Archives > Archive:Military Records > Archive:Civil War, Pension Files > Civil War Pension File, Franklin P. Whitney

Civil War Pension File of Franklin P. Whitney
Private, Company H, 1st Maine Cavalry
Invalid Application #375149
Certificate: none
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.


On 9 June 1880 Franklin P. Whitney signed a Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension from Penobscot Co., Maine. He enrolled at Bangor, Maine on 1 January 1864 in Company H of the 1st Regiment of Maine Cavalry commanded by Henry C. Hall. He was honorably discharged at St. Petersburg (sic), Virginia on 1 August 1865. He is 46 years old, 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall, of dark complexion, brown hair, and hazel eyes. While in the service and in the line of duty at St. Mary's Church, Virginia on or about 24 June 1864, he received a gunshot wound to the head. He also suffered during the campaign of 1864 from diarrhea and malaria. He has ever since been disabled more or less by dumb ague and weakness of his bowels. The wound in his head affects his eyesight and health generally. Since leaving the service he has lived at Dexter, Maine, where he has been employed as a watchman. Prior to his entry into the service he was a farmer. He is now partially disabled from obtaining his subsistence! from manual labor by reason of the injuries stated. His residence is Dexter, Penobscot Co., Maine.

On his Claimant's Affidavit he states that he was born in the Town of Thorndike, Waldo Co., Maine, and lived there until ten years old, when his parents moved to Dexter, Penobscot Co., Maine. Since his discharge he has lived in Dexter, Maine, where he is a watchman and canvasser. His disability arises from a head wound suffered at St. Mary's Church, Virginia on 24 June 1864. He also suffers from malaria and from nervous prostration brought on by the head wound and exposure. He was treated medically by Dr. James Todd of Ripley, Somerset Co., Maine until 1 September 1868. Dr. Todd died in 1871. Dr. Charles Foss has treated him since 1 October 1869. He suffers acute rheumatism and severe pains in the head and spine, which has been so severe that he can do no hard labor. He can labor but a little while at a time without being sick for a long time thereafter. While in the service he was never in the hospital because of sickness or head wound. He dressed the wound in cold water, a! nd continued to do so until it healed. For the chronic diarrhea, he used to get blackberry leaves and bark from the roots of the bushes, and gum tree bark and make a tea of it to drink until they went into camp on or near the Jerusalem Plank Road, where he was doctored by Dr. Northrop, the Regimental Physician until 1 April 1865. In June and July of 1865, he was treated by Dr. Bodfish while they were at Chesterville Courthouse.

The investigation by the Pension Office found no record of the wound or any disability in the military medical records. They also found no record of disability in the civilian medical records. Therefore, the application for a pension was rejected.

The attorney representing Franklin was Jonathan P. Cilley of Rockland, Maine. On 28 April 1882, Franklin addressed at letter to him from Blaine, Aroostook Co., Maine. It reads:

Dear Sir: This morning I received your letter after the reunion last fall at Dover, as I was expecting at that time. I strolled into this county and am here as yet. In regard to what you have written respecting treatment in hospitals, I never went to any hospital whilst we were at or near Louise (sic) Courthouse. The morning before we started on the second raid in the spring of 1864, Lieutenant Andrews told me there was an ambulance there to take me to the hospital. But I begged him to let me go with the company. If I died, I had rather die with the Boys than in a hospital. I was excused from duty quite often by our Regimental Doctor, and he gave me such medicine as he though proper. When I was wounded in the head at or near St. Mary's Church, I washed the wound with cold water and kept it wet in water until it got well. After I enlisted and whilst at Camp Berry, Portland there were quite a number of us into the musician's quarters. One evening, one of them asked us where we! were all a-going. We told him into the Army of the Potomac. Well, said he, Boys, now you are all green as to Army life. I suppose I will give you a little advice, for I have been down in the Gulf States three years. And perhaps it won't come amiss to you. Said he, don't buy any pies or cakes on the road out, but eat what fruit you want and such. As applies after you get to you different companies, if you are sick, stay with you company just as long as you can make one foot fowler (sic) the other, to use his own language. Said he, if you are sick and you go to a hospital, they will kill you as sure as hell. And I always thought of what he said and kept away, choosing to be with the Boys on the march and run my chance. This is the whole sum and substance of the matter. I have stated before that I never went to any hospital.

Yours truly,
F.P. Whitney

P.S. if you have to write to me any more, please direct to Blaine, in care of P. Hersom.


In another letter to his attorney dated 14 May 1883 from Dexter, Maine he writes:

Dear Sir: I received your (sic) and will give the true time and circumstances in relation to my case, as near as possible, as I have always done before. Soon after we started on our first raid, in the spring of 1864 about the first of May, I was taken with severe pain and cramp in my bowels, which terminated in the diarrhea, and remained on me until late in the fall. I think it checked in November. It may have been as late as December. We had built winter quarters. I use (sic) to get blackberry leaves and the bark off the blackberry roots and gum tree leaves and steep and drink when we were raiding. After we got into camp, Dr. Northrop use (sic) to give me Dover Powders and quinine. When the diarrhea stopped, the chills set in, a shivering cold through my shoulders and body, and a nauseous sick feeling at my stomach, with dull and indescribable pains in my arms and legs when I lay down to rest. In relation to dimness of eyesight, the 24th day of June , at or near St. Mayrie'! s (sic) Church I was wounded in the head by a musket ball by the enemy, and ever since then, I have had verry (sic) severe pains in my head, and my eyesight has failed. So, I have not been able to read common print or see marks on work without glasses. This is the tenth year I have had to use glasses. For three years previous to using glasses I scarsely (sic) took a book or paper in my hand. The letters all run together, and I was afraid I should be totally blind. The last time I was examined, they asked me how long I had used glasses. I told the mini (sic) years, up to the present time, ten years, but did not think to tell him about the three years previous to using them. What I have written is every word true. I know there has bin (sic) a great amount of fraud practiced, and I do not blame them for driving the business sharp.

Yours with respect,
F.P. Whitney


On 18 August 1883, J.P. Cilley once again received a letter from the Pension Office rejecting the pension claim on the grounds of no disability from the alleged health problems from his service in the war.

Franklin P. Whitney wrote directly to the Commissioner of Pensions from Dexter, Maine on 17 November 1883. He wrote:

Honorable Commissioner of Pensions, Dear Sir,

In justice to my physician Dr. Charles Foss, my comrades, neighbors, and myself, I, Franklin P. Whitney of Dexter, County of Penobscot and State of Maine, 1 Cavalry, Private of Co. H, claimant of Invalid Pension 375149, I will respectfully say to Your Honor that I was verry (sic) much supprised (sic) at the decision of the examining board of Physicians at Bangor, Maine in my case. I will say to Your Honor that I can prove by gentlemen and Ladies who have taken care of me during these severe attacks of diarrhea and cramps and at other times of Rheumatism so severe that I could nor help my Self (sic) but very little for weeks at a time. Since 1870 I have bin (sic) single and have boarded in private families most of the time, and during these intervals of sickness have bin (sic) taken care of by them My kindred being all in the West, and that my expenses have bin (sic) a good deal more than I could earn, and what I had laid by previous to and during the rebellion is all gone, a! nd I am a poor man with poor health, and it makes me feel sad as I frequently have to look to others for assistance until I can get able to work again. I can further prove to Your Honor by Dr. Wilber A. Bumps who has bin (sic) called to my assistance at three different times when Dr. C.M. Foss has bin (sic) absent from town, and whose treatment I have bin (sic) under the past year. I think you will find that my case has not bin exagerated (sic), and I have every reason to believe that Your Honor will do justice in my case. I will refer Your Honor to gentlemen and Ladies who have taken care of me, and with those I have boarded with most of the time since 1870. These families I have boarded with are mostly moved away at the present time to other towns. The factories here being shut down, that is the largest of them. With malice toward none, love and charity for all, and the greatest of these is charity.

I am respectfully yours,
Franklin P. Whitney, 1 Maine Cav., Co. H, Private

Note: The file contains many testimonies from neighbors, comrades, acquaintances, and physicians concerning their knowledge of Franklin's health.

On 24 June 1884, Attorney J.P. Cilley wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions, informing him of the death of Franklin P. Whitney. He died 16 June 1884 at Floral City, Hernando Co., Florida. He had gone there for his health. Counselor Cilley requests an adjudication of the claim in order to pay his expenses. His request was once again rejected on the same grounds as it was previously rejected.

Additional Comments by Ken Whitney

I have not received a posting from a member of the WRG in over 2 weks, so I thought I would shake things up a little. Below you will find my abstract of the Civil War pension file of Franklin P. Whitney. His ancestry is John1, Benjamon2, Nathaniel3, Nathan4, Asa5, John6, Franklin7.

Franklin's fate is rather sad, but since he died unmarried, there are no descendants to bemoan his fate. I have transcribed his letters for you because I feel that beyond the suffering man is a story shared by many of his fellow soldiers. Through his letters we can try to understand the war experience of these soldiers. We have celebrated a Memorial Day to them, and will celebrate July 4th the freedom that they helped preserve. Franklin's experience was shared by many of them, and we should be thankful to them.

Also, I feel this pension file may give us some perspective on how the Bible and the record of the family of Rev. John and Hanna (Rich) Whitney could to be for sale in the not distant past in North Carolina.That Bible record is preserved on the WRG web site. Enjoy!


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

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