Samuel Aldrich

Samuel Aldrich was born in 1820 or 1826 in Uxbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

He reportedly served in the Mexican war, and if so it was quite likely while he was still residing in Massachusetts.

Samuel married his first wife, Irish-born Eliza Sherwood (b. 1816) in 1852, and they eventually settled in Michigan. By 1860 Samuel was working as a shingle-maker and living with Eliza (who was working as a tailoress) in Norton, Muskegon County.

He stood between 6’5” and 6’7” tall, with blue eyes, gray hair and a fair complexion, and was probably 40 years old and living and working as a sawyer and shingle maker in Norton when he enlisted on April 29, 1861, as Sixth Corporal in F company, crediting Spring Lake, Ottawa County. (Curiously Samuel did not join either the Muskegon-based Company H or the Ottawa County-based Company I.)

Samuel was present for duty through February of 1862, and then absent sick in his quarters in March and April and also in May and June.

Apparently, on May 5, 1862, while “on the march from Yorktown to Williamsburg,” Virginia, Samuel was carrying “the Regimental colors and marching much of the way very rapidly on the double quick when near Williamsburg, being a large and very tall man, he could not endure the excessive fatigue became exhausted and Major Byron R. Pierce, commanding the Regiment, finding that” Samuel “could not keep up with his Regiment told him to fall out and give the colors to another which he did. About two days after this,” about May 8, “varicose veins made their appearance around, above and below his left ankle, also upon his left leg nearly to his hip.”

He was listed as absent sick in a general hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, from August 18 through the end of the year. And indeed, he was subsequently hospitalized at Patterson Park hospital in Baltimore during all or part of the months of August and September. In August of 1862, he was reported sick in the hospital, and was dropped from the company rolls on December 30, 1862 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia.

From Patterson Park he was transferred to West’s Building hospital in Baltimore, where he remained about three months. He was then sent to the Convalescent Camp, in Alexandria, Virginia where he remained until he was discharged on February 16, 1863, for varicose veins of both legs, although he claimed in later years that he had been shot with a poisoned bullet, which produced the varicose veins.

After he was discharged from the army, Samuel returned to Michigan and was probably living in Lenawee County when he married his second wife, Anna Odell (b. 1818) on November 23, 1863, in Ionia County. (It is unknown what became of Eliza.)

Samuel subsequently enlisted in the Second Veterans’ Reserve Corps on December 19, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Grand Rapids’ First Ward. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.) Samuel may have been assigned to the rendezvous camp in Jackson, Jackson County. In any case, he allegedly deserted from Company B, Second Regiment, VRC on either April 6 or July 6, 1865.

After the war Samuel lived in Grand Rapids where he woked as a laborer and at one time resided at 36 Waterloo Street. He was probably still living in Grand Rapids when he was admitted to the Central Branch, National Military Home, in Dayton, Ohio on April 1, 1867, and was eventually discharged from the NMH. He again returned to Michigan and was living on Ottawa Street, in Grand Rapids in 1870 when he applied for a pension (no. 113,746, drawing $6.00 per month in 1887). He claimed he was suffering from the effects of varicose veins dating back to May of 1862.

Samuel was working as a laborer and living in Montague, Muskegon County, Michigan when he married his third wife, the widow Sarah Griffin Sargent (d. 1903), on December 3, 20 or 30, 1872, in Oceana County, Michigan. (Sarah was the widow of Fernando Sargeant or Sergeant, who had served in the reorganized Third Michigan infantry.)

It seems that Samuel had neglected to divorce Anna, however, and had apparently abandoned her. In 1875 Sarah reportedly “filed a bill of complaint” against Samuel claiming that when they were married he had another wife, thus nullifying their marriage. She was also seeking divorce from Samuel on the grounds of cruelty. It is not known whether the divorce was granted or not.

Samuel was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Henry Post No. 3 in Montague, Muskegon County, and of Champlin Post No. 29 in Grand Rapids.

In 1880 Samuel was a resident of the NMH in Dayton, listing himself as married and his occupation as lumberman, and he was still in the National Home in Dayton in 1883.

In any case, Samuel was reportedly residing in Grand Rapids when he returned to the National Home in Dayton, Ohio where he died of pneumonia on January 22, 1888. (It is curious that he did not choose to go to the new Michigan Soldiers' Home in Grand Rapids.) He was buried in the Dayton National Cemetery in section G, row 8, grave 12.

In 1897 Sarah was living in Licking, Texas County, Missouri, but by 1901 she had returned to Michigan and was living in Muskegon; she applied for a pension (no. 658553) but the certificate was never granted. In fact it appears that she reapplied for a pension based on the service of her first husband, Fernando Sargent.