The most interesting person in my family tree is my Great Grandfather Joseph W. Sargent. The only information I had on Joseph’s civil war record came from my mother. She was told that her grandfather was shot in the leg at the battle of the wilderness. I was able to get Joseph’s military record from The National Archives in Washington, D.C.; this gave a more detail account of his time in the service.
I Joseph W. Sargent, born in the State of Maine, age 34 years, and by occupation a farmer, Do hear by acknowledge to have agreed with William H. Flagg Esq. of Bangor, Maine to become his SUBSTITUTE in the Military Service, for a sufficient consideration paid and delivered to me, on the second day of September 1863; and having thus agreed with said William H. Flagg, I do hereby acknowledge to have enlisted this Second Day of September 1863, to serve as a soldier in the Army of The United States of America, for a period of Three Years, unless sooner discharged by proper authority: I do also agree to accept such bounty, pay, ration, and clothing, as are, or may be established by law for soldiers. And I do solemnly swear that I will bear true and faithful allegiance to the United States of America; that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all enemies or opposers whomsoever; of the Officers appointed over me, according to the Rules and Articles of War. I, Joseph W. Sargent, desiring to enlist in the Army of the United States for three years…
Name: Joseph W. Sargent
Nature of casualty: wounded May 6 1864
From what source this information was obtained: Private J. W. Sargent was in the 1st Brigade, 3rd. Division, 2nd. Corps, dated from March 3 to July 1 1864. Private Sargent was wounded on May 6, 1864 in the battle of the Wilderness. Joseph was not wounded in the leg as I was told he was shot in the upper right side of the chest. Joseph spent the next 12 days in the hospital in Washington D.C. then was transferred to Baltimore, Maryland. On May 19, 1864 Joseph was Furlough for 30 days.
Specification 1st. against:
Private Joseph W. Sargent
Co. H, 17th, Maine Vol.
In this that he, Private Joseph W. Sargent, Co. H, 17th Maine Vol., having been duly enlisted and mustered into the Services of the United States on or about the 3rd. day of September 1863, for the term of three years, did absent himself from his Post, Company and Regiment without leave from proper authority, and desert said service at or near Bridgewater, Maine. Where he was when his leave expired on or about the 20th. Day of June, and remained absent without leave from proper authority until arrested at Houlton Me. as a deserter, on or about the 3rd. day of August 1864. Expense of arrest $8.75 this at or near Bridgewater, Maine.
In this that he Private Joseph W. Sargent, Co. H, 17th Maine Vol., having been arrested and held in custody as a deserter from the military service of the United States, did escape from custody and again deserted said service at or near Augusta Me. in the month of August 1864 and remained absent without leave from proper authority until arrested as a deserter at or near Bridgewater, Maine on or about the 29th of October 1864, expenses of arrest $300.00 Reward.
4 July 1864
I hear by certify that I have this day carefully examined Private Joseph W. Sargent H Co., 17th. Regt., Maine Vol. in furlough from U. S. Hospital, Washington, D .C. and find that the gunshot wound in the right side is not healed. Also a kick from a horse in the left knee is very swollen very bad, by reason of which he is not able to travel without endangering his life. I further declare my feeling that he will not be able to travel within the space of twenty days.
A.W. Bliss Surg.
Dept. Provost Marshal Captain Elijah Love 4th District Me. August 27, 1864.
Sirs, The bearer Joseph W. Sargent of Bridgewater in the County a member of Co. H, 17th. Reg., Vol. Is here without means of transportation I forward him by stage. Please have his transportation increased on his furlough and hand the money to the driver of Mattawamkeag Stage. Mr. Sargent met with a severe accident some three weeks since from the kick of a horse, which has prompted him from returning before.
Dept. Prov. Marshal
From Aroostook, County
As I try to put this all together Joseph was to return back to duty on July 20th. 1864 but according to Dr. Bliss on July 4, 1864, he was kicked by a horse three weeks earlier on or about the 15th of June, five days before his furlough was up. Dr. Bliss also said Joseph’s wounds had not healed sufficiently for him to travel safely. Because Joseph did not return on time the army listed him a deserter so they had the Prov. Marshall in Houlton check on him. By the time Joseph was well enough to return to duty in the fall all charges were cleared up as Joseph was transferred to Co. H. Heavy Art’y until his discharge on June 22, 1865 for disability.
One thing I try to do is look at this in the time of 1864 when travel and communication was slow. Also the battle of the Wilderness was very bad and I wonder if Joseph was in no big hurry to go back. I know when men went to war a large group went from each town and if one deserted it would be hard to go back home. I don’t think this was the case with Joseph as he was wounded and sent home to heal but was not given enough time to recover from his wounds.