Cornelius Austin

Cornelius Austin was born October 25, 1835 in Lysander, Onondaga County, New York, probably the son of Sally (b. 1815).

Cornelius’ parents were both born in New York and presumably married there. In 1850 Cornelius was probably the same Cornelius Austin, aged 14, attending school with his siblings and living in Lebanon, Clinton County, with one New York-born Sally Austin -- and two brothers Eli, aged 16, and John, aged 7, all born in New York. In any case, by 1860 Cornelius was living in Robinson, Ottawa County working as a farmer. (In 1860 his younger brother John was probably living with the Groat family in Essex, Clinton County.) Also living in Robinson in 1860 were Benjamin and Ira Austin, both of whom would also enlist in the Third Michigan.

(It appears that Cornelius may have been related to William Cobb from Clinton County; Cobb too would join Company I in 1861.)

He stood 5’10” with blue eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was 25 years old and still living in Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with Benjamin, Ira and James Austin. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County. )

Cornelius was sick in the hospital in August of 1862, probably in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he remained through the remainder of the year, and was discharged for chronic diarrhea at Philadelphia on October 23, 1863.

It is quite possible that he was the same Cornelius Austin who returned to Michigan and was married on November 22, 1863, to Anna Vallehide (b. 1846) or Woodchide in Bingham, Clinton County (the witnesses were Mr. And Mrs. John Groat of Bingham). And in fact Cornelius would have been home in Clinton County at the time (see below).

Cornelius was 27 years old when he (probably) reentered the service in Company A, Twenty-seventh Michigan Infantry on March (?) 24, 1864, at Essex, Clinton County for 3 years, crediting Essex, and was mustered on April 14, 1864, at St. Johns, Clinton County. (Benjamin Austin, formerly of Company I, Third infantry also enlisted in Company A, Twenty-seventh Michigan but on March 15 at Grand Rapids.)

He was sent to the Regiment on May 2 and quite probably participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and North Anna during the month of May and Cold Harbor in early June. The regiment then moved to the siege of Petersburg, where, according to one Captain Porter Perrin of L company (also known as the First Sharpshooters), Cornelius was shot by a bullet in his left shoulder, near the shoulder blade and came out of the right side of his neck, in a charge on the confederate defenses at Petersburg, Virginia, on June 16.

Cornelius was transferred to the hospital at City Point, Virginia and then sent on to Washington. He was subsequently absent wounded from about June 22 until July 2 when he was furloughed for 30 days. Cornelius returned on August 2 and was returned to duty about August 24.

From September 27 to 30 he was ill with malaria complicated by acute bronchitis. He was admitted to the depot field hospital, Ninth Corps on September 24, and was a patient in the Second Division hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, when he sent home to St. Johns on furlough on October 25. He was ordered to return to the hospital by November 13, and when he failed to report back to the hospital he was reported as a deserter as of November 15. Apparently his furlough was extended to December 9 and he was again declared a deserter when he did not report following the end of his extension.

In fact, Cornelius suffered a relapse while at his home in Clinton County and on November 24 he was examined by Dr. O. C. Joslin, who testified that Austin “was quite low with pneumonia” and “that he lingered with said disease until” December 2 when he died of pneumonia. (There was no record of his death reported in the Regimental rolls.) He was buried in Mt. Rest cemetery in St. Johns.

Shortly afterwards Anna applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 83898), drawing $8.00 per month in December of 1864.

In August of 1865 Anna was married to one John W. Austin, probably Cornelius’s younger brother, and by 1870 they were living in Bingham, Clinton County. John probably served in Company M, Seventh Michigan cavalry and Company B, Eighth Michigan infantry and if so applied for and received a pension in 1877 (?) In 1899 Anna, his widow, applied for and received a pension as his dependent widow (cert. No. 439,956).