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Charles Trass Civil War Pension File

Original documents from the National Archives

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[Bureau of Pensions]

Charles Trass stood 6' tall, weighted 165 lbs., was light complected and had blue eyes and brown hair. He enlisted on 6 August 1862 at Solon, Cortland County, New York, in the 157th New York Volunteers (commanded by Col. P. P. Brown, Jr.) as a Private in company C (commanded by Capt. Frank Place).

While in the line of duty at the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the 1st day of July, 1863, Charles received a gunshot wound in the upper left arm about four inches below the shoulder. The regimental surgeon wanted to amputate, but somehow he ended up in the U.S. General Hospital at West Philadelphia, where surgeons removed more than seven pieces of bone fragment, but left the rest of the arm intact. He was treated there about seven months and returned to his regiment via a convalescent camp. Friends who served with him testify that on the last raid from Georgetown through Sumterville, Florence, Camden, and Ingles Mills, South Carolina, in the spring of 1865, Charles on various occasions complained of rheumatism and heart trouble during the raid. The weather was bad and wet and they had to sleep without cover, not having any tents with them, and they suffered greatly from wet and cold. Trass became unable to walk, dropped out of ranks, and had to be carried on a wagon.

After his discharge on 10 July 1865 at Charleston, South Carolina, Charles returned to live in the the towns of Solon, Preble (in Cortland County, New York), and Lebanon (in Madison County, New York), where he earned his living as a farmer. Later in life he moved to Oneida, New York.

In 1870, while living in Lebanon, Charles applied for disability pension. His pension was granted and he was paid from the day after his discharge at the rate of $4 per month. In 1875 he applied for an increase in pension. In 1887 he applied for additional pension based on heart disease and rheumatism.

In a 1898 questionnaire, Charles identifies his wife as the former Miss Abigail Bisbee and names his children. In 1900 he applies and recieves an increase in pension. In 1907 and 1908, Charles again applies for an increase in pension. In 1908, When the process drags out, Charles get help from Representative Michael Driscoll, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Elections No. 3. Driscoll gets quick response from the Commissioner of Pensions, who informs him that Mr. Trass is now pensioned at $17 per month (while they finish all the physical examinations, etc. to make determination on the request for increase). In the end, it was ruled that the $17 per month he was already getting was sufficient. Driscoll asks for reconsideration, but the Commisioner of Pensions stands firm in his decision.

In 1909-1910 Charlse tries again. He is receiving a pension of $24 per month and applies for an increase. There is difficulty in having Charles appear for (yet another) physical examination, because at this time he is virtually housebound, too ill to travel to meet with the board. In 1912 Charles applies to have his pension reissued and is awarded $30 per month.

In a 1915 questionnaire, Charles, now living in Clinton, New york, says he was born at Plymouth, Chenango County, New York, 31 December 1838 (one of his pension applications has him born in Sherburne, New York), that he married Miss Abigail G. Bisbee, 13 September 1866 in Oneida, New York (David M. McFarland officiating). Abigail died in 1911, and he married Mrs. Fannie E. MacGregor, 6 November 1912. Fannie died in Bedford, Ohio, 4 March 1914. This is interesting because there was a very large V.A. Hospital complex in Bedford at this time. He also lists the names and births of all his children.

In a note to the Commissioner of Pensions in 1915, Charles tells him, "I am unable to write and I can not feed myself very well as my hands shake so badly." Charles died in 1916 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Nellie Eaton, Clinton, Oneida County, New York, who along with her sister, Mrs. Lettie Eaton, had cared for and nursed him in his final years.

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