Oscar N. or O. Gaines

Oscar N. or O. Gaines was born 1843 in Michigan or in New York.

Both of Oscar’s parents were reportedly born in New York. In 1860 Oscar was a farm laborer working for and/or living with Isaac Keeler, a farmer in Thornapple, Barry County, along with another future member of Company K, Edward Bugbee.

Oscar was an 18-year-old farm laborer probably living in Middleville, Barry County when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. Whiel the details are unclear, he was transferred to the First United States cavalry on December 17, 1862, and probably joined the regiment somewhere along the Rappahannock River in late December.

The First U.S. cavalry participated in Stoneman’s raid April 29-May 8, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3 and subsequent pursuit of Lee’s forces back to Virginia. It was assigned to the defenses of Washington in September, participated in the Mine Run campaign of November 26-December 2.

In any case, Oscar enlisted (or perhaps reenlisted) in Company H, First United States cavalry on February 12, 1864.

The regiment also participated in Custer’s raid into Albemarle County February 28-March 1, 1864, the battles of the Wilderness May 5-7, Todd’s Tavern, May 7-8, Sheridan’s raid to the James River May 9-24, the battle of Cold Harbor May 31-June 1, Sheridan’s Trevallion raid June 7-24 and the siege of Petersburg from mid-June to August. It was then assigned to a role in Sheridan’s Shenandoah campaign August 7-November 28.

During his service in the cavalry he reportedly suffered from what was described as a “mild form of insanity,” and was discharged on February 12, 1866, at New Orleans, Louisiana.

After his discharge from the army Oscar eventually returned to Michigan, and settled in Ludington, Mason County, where he may have worked as a farmer.

He was married to New York native Emma (b. 1843).

By 1880 he was working at “driving a team” and living with his wife Emma on Filer (?) Street in Ludington.

Oscar was admitted as a single man to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 88) on November 24, 1885, and reportedly had no pension. (That same year he listed his nearest living relative as residing in Mishawaka, Indiana.)

Oscar died of “disease of the brain” on September 11, 1887, at the Home and was buried in the Home cemetery: block 1 row 4 grave 11.