Saturday, June 28, 2008

Introducing James H. Cory

I have come across a brief series of letters from another regular cavalry enlisted man, this one from the 6th U.S. Cavalry. This series of six letters will be featured here over the course of the next month. The letters are from the Archives and Regional History Collections at Western Michigan University.

James H. Cory was born in Lenawee County, Michigan in 1842. He was working as a farmer at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was enlisted into Company E, 6th U.S. Cavalry by Lieutenant Stephen S. Balk at Adrian, Michigan on September 17, 1861. His enlistment papers describe him as nineteen years old, five feet ten inches tall, with a ruddy complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. One can tell from his letters that James was from a poor farming family, and wasn’t overly literate, but they tell an interesting story nonetheless.

James served with the 6th Cavalry until June 4, 1862, when he was discharged for disability because he had been unfit for duty for 60 days in the previous two months. Lieutenant Benjamin Hutchins was commanding Company E at the time of his discharge.

He wasn’t with the regiment at the time of his discharge, but assigned to the Eruptive Fever Hospital Kalorama in Washington, D.C. The medical reason given by his examiner, acting assistant surgeon Robert J. Thomas, was “atrophy of the deltoid muscle of the right arm, the result of suporation from a large abscess the seguilar of variola confluence.”

Cory wasn’t out of the war yet, however. A year later he returned to service, this time in the navy. He enlisted as a “landsman” on August 27, 1863, and served on the gunboat “Signal.” Apparently he continued to have issues with his arm, because he was discharged again “in accordance with a medical survey” on Deecember 15, 1863 from the receiving ship “Clara Dotson.”

James H. Cory was killed in Chicago, Illinois on August 28, 1865. I haven’t yet discovered the cause of his death.

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