Archive:Civil War Pension File, Joseph Newell Whitney

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Archives > Archive:Military Records > Archive:Civil War, Pension Files > Civil War Pension File, Joseph Newell Whitney

Civil War Pension File of Joseph Newell Whitney
Invalid Applic. # 660240 Cert. # 454906
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.

He is identified as Joseph Newell8 Whitney (Zachariah Leach7, Isaac L.6, Isaac5, Isaac4, Nathaniel3, Benjamin2, John1))


1st Lieutenant, Company B, 2nd Rhode Island Cavalry

Joseph N. Whitney signed a Declaration for Original Invalid Pension on 11 June 1888 from Washington, District of Columbia. He is 51 years old and a resident of Washington, D.C. In November 1862 he entered as a 2nd Lieutenant into Company B of the 2nd Rhode Island Cavalry commanded by Colonel A. W. Corliss. He was honorably discharged at Annapolis, Maryland on 11 March 1865 by reason of disability. His personal description is age 51 years, 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark complexion and grey eyes. While in the service and in the line of duty at Libby Prison, Virginia; Macon, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina between the years 1863 and 1865 he contracted chronic diarrhea, scurvy, and malarial poisoning. Said illnesses appeared gradually, and his sickness during the last four or five years from dyspepsia and general derangement of the mucous membrane of the stomach and bowels is the result of hardships and deprivations during his confinement in the rebel prisons for 21 months. He was not treated in hospitals. He had served previously from June to September 1862 in Company B, 7th Squadron, Rhode Island Cavalry for three months. Since leaving the service, his occupation has been that of a clerk at the Treasury Department. Prior to entry into the service he had been a teacher and student. He is now partially disabled. His address is Bureau of Statistics, Washington, D.C.

In support of the application are two Affidavits to Origin of Disability given by two fellow prisoners of war. The first is given from Dane County, Wisconsin by G. M. Van Buren of Madison, Dane Co., Wisconsin. He is 53 years old, and served as Major in the 6th Regiment of New Mexico Cavalry. He knew Joseph N. Whitney when he was a prisoner of war between July 1863 and March 1865. Joseph incurred disability as follows. "When captured and while in Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia from 18 July 1863 to 7 May 1864 said Whitney appeared was one of the healthiest and strongest men we had and was well or I would have known it, for we were quite intimate. But from that time and in Macon, Georgia in June and July, 1864 I observed him to run down from want of proper food, would eat and have to go as soon as through eating and sometimes before to evacuate. He seemed to have no control of his bowels. This continued at Charleston, South Carolina in August and September, 1864 to my personal knowledge. While near Columbia, South Carolina in November, 1864 we escaped together, going for seven nights through the country to Augusta, Georgia, living on raw beans and raw potatoes. He became enfeebled and could hardly walk and was emaciated. We were recaptured and returned to Colombia, where he was afflicted with scurvy and a fever, I supposed malarial. He had very little clothing, and the winter of 1864-5 left him almost a skeleton. At our exchange and parole in March, 1865 he seemed to have a stomach disease and hardly any control of his bowels. I saw the said Whitney from the fall of 1865 almost daily in Washington until the spring of 1869. I often talked with him of his condition and he still complained of diarrhea and disease of the stomach and poison in his system, always attributing it to the improper food and want of clothing while a prisoner of war for 20 months."

The second affidavit on the origin of disability is given by Benjamin F. Whitten from Dixon County, Nebraska. He is 52 years old and a resident of Wakefield, Dixon Co., Nebraska. He knows the said Whitney as "he was a prisoner of war with the said Whitney in the southern prisons from July 1864 to March 1865 in Macon, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Columbia, South Carolina; and knew said Whitney during that time personally and intimately, having messed with him during the greater portion of the time. That while in said prisons, said Whitney suffered much from the want of sufficient food and adequate clothing and shelter. Also, that while in the above named prisons, said Whitney was in an enfeebled and emaciated condition and was as I believed suffering from chronic diarrhea, scurvy, and malaria. Also that the said Whitney continued in that enfeebled condition up to the time of his discharge at Annapolis, Maryland in March 1865."

In the file is a certified copy of the birth of Joseph N. Whitney from the town records of Raymond, Cumberland Co., Maine. His birth date is recorded as 13 September 1836. The record is certified by Orrin B. Lane, Town Clerk of Raymond, Maine.

Joseph N. Whitney was submitted for admission for a pension on 1 November 1889. In an application for increased benefits, Joseph answered an inquiry from the Bureau of Pensions on 4 June 1898. He is married to Charlotte S. Whitney, formerly Charlotte S. Burroughs. They were married in Washington, D.C. on 23 November 1865 by Dr. Hall, Rector of Epiphany Church. A record of the marriage exists in the records of Epiphany Parrish. Neither party has been previously married, and they have no living children.

On 3 October 1906 Joseph applied for further increase in benefits. He declares that he is seventy years old and a resident of Washington, D.C. He enrolled at Providence, Rhode Island in June of 1862 as a private in Company B, 7th Squadron, Rhode Island Cavalry, and was honorably discharged at Providence in October 1862. He also served as 2nd Lieutenant in Company B, 2nd Regiment of Rhode Island Cavalry from November 1862 until about 11 March 1865, being a prisoner of war from June 1863 until March 1865. His personal description at the time of enlistment was: about 5 feet 10 ½ inches tall; light complexion; grey eyes; dark brown hair; occupation student and teacher. He was born 14 (sic) September 1836 in Raymond, Maine. Since leaving the service he has lived at Raymond, Maine about 1 month, Portland, Maine about 2 months, and since the latter part of June 1865 in Washington, D.C. He is partially disabled due to age alone, and does not wish a medical examination. His current address is 1335 F St., N.W., Washington, D.C.

A further declaration for increased pension benefits signed 18 September 1911 is witnessed by Elizabeth C. Brown and Frank H. Brown, both residents of Bridgton, Maine. Elizabeth is Joseph's sister, and Frank is his brother-in-law. Joseph N. Whitney was last paid at $20.00 per month to December 4, 1911. He was dropped from the pension rolls because of his death on 10 January 1912.

This file also contains a successful application for pension benefits from Joseph's widow. It is unusual to find a pension application filed under the certificate number of the soldier when a widow receives a pension certificate. It is usually filed under her certificate number, and I have no explanation for this circumstance. On 14 February 1912 from Washington, D.C., Portia C. Whitney, Joseph's widow, signed a Declaration of a Widow for Accrued Pension. Her age is omitted, and her address is 1415 Chapin Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. The last payment was made to her husband on 4 December 1912 (sic), and he died 10 January 1912. She was married under the name Portia C. Sprague at Atlantic City, New Jersey on 1 July 1910 by Joshua Jacmetty, J.P. She had not been previously married. The soldier's first wife was Charlotte Whitney nee Burroughs who died 18 March 1909 at Washington, D.C. Renette E. King and Irene B. Barr, both of Washington, D.C. witnessed the declaration.

In support of her application, Portia submitted a transcript of the death record for Joseph N. Whitney from the District of Columbia, number 202869. The date of his death is 10 January 1912. He is 75 years old, and his occupation was retired clerk. He was born in Maine, as were his parents. He had resided in the District of Columbia for fifty years. His place of death was 1415 Chapin Street, N.W. The primary cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage of six weeks duration, and the immediate cause was exhaustion and edema of the lungs of 24 hours duration. His place of burial is Rock Creek Cemetery, where he was buried 12 January 1912.

Also submitted is a certified copy of the marriage record of Joseph N. Whitney and Portia C. Sprague from the City of Atlantic City, New Jersey Department of Health. The date of the marriage is 1 July 1910 at Atlantic City. He is 70 years old and widowed, and she is 37 years old. Both are residents of Washington, D.C. The names of their parents are not given. His occupation is government clerk. The record is certified by John J. Mahoney, Registrar of Vital Statistics.

Also submitted is a Transcript from the Record of Deaths in Washington, D.C., of Charlotte S. Whitney, record #185061. Her date of death is 18 March 1909. She is 77 years old, and no occupation is stated. She was born in New York, as were her parents. She had resided in Washington, D.C. for 55 years. The place of death was 1619 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., her place of residence. The primary cause of death was chronic endocarditis of 1+ year's duration. The immediate cause was (Senility) Acute Angina of 20 minutes duration. She was buried 20 March 1909 at Arlington National Cemetery.


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

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