Annapolis National cemetery

William H. Kirkland - update 8/28/2016

William H. Kirkland was born in 1842.

In 1860 there was one William H. Kirkland, age 14 and born in Michigan, son of William H and Mary, living in Almont, Lapeer County, Michigan

William was 20 years old and possibly living in Jamestown, Ottawa County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company I on April 8, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years and was mustered the same day at Detroit.

William died of disease on June 7 or 8, 1862, at Annapolis, Maryland, and was reportedly buried in the “Citizen’s Graveyard” at Annapolis; he was eventually interred in Annapolis National Cemetery, section N, grave no. 11.

No pension seems to be available.

George E. Hammond - update 8/28/2016

George E. Hammond was born in 1827 in Cayuga, New York.

By 1850 George was possibly working as a farmer for and/or living with the family of John Shantz in Aurelius, Cayuga County. He was married to New York native Hannah (b. 1829) and they had one child, Ella (b. 1855). They moved to Michigan from New York sometime between 1855 and 1860 when George was living with his wife and child and working as a master carpenter and cabinet-maker in Bingham, Clinton County. By 1861 George was either divorced or a widower (during the war his sister Libby took care of his daughter).

When the war broke out George was First Corporal of the Boston Light Guards, a prewar militia company. Formed in the Boston, Ionia County area many of whose members would serve in Company D.

Indeed, he stood 5’9” with dark eyes and hair and a light complexion and was 34 years old and residing in St. Johns, Clinton County when he enlisted as Sergeant in Company D on May 13, 1861 (and was possibly related to Benjamin Hammond and Marshall Hammond, both of whom would also enlist in Company D).

On November 22, 1861, George wrote to his sister Libby (who was taking care of his daughter Ella) from Fort Lyon, Virginia, telling her “My health is pretty good at present with the exception of a slight cold which makes me cough. . . .” And on February 23, 1862, he wrote from Camp Michigan to his daughter Ella, who was apparently living with George’s sister Libby and her husband Charley. “We are encamped near Mount Vernon, in Virginia on the east side of the Potomac River. I am pretty well and I hope you are the same. It is a good while since I have heard from you but I hope it will not be long for the war is almost over and when the last shot is fired I will return home to see my Ella and then I will tell you about the war. You must be good to your Uncle Charley and Aunt Libby. Go to school and learn to read and write. Remember the prayer your mother learned you.”

George was wounded in the leg at Second Bull Run, on August 29, 1862, and subsequently absent sick in the hospital from October of 1862 through January of 1863, and probably in Lincoln hospital in Washington, DC from February through May of 1863. In March of 1863, he wrote his friends the Smiths in Michigan from Lincoln hospital in Washington, DC.

I just received a letter from some kind friend who resides I think in St. Johns stating that my brother's health was very poor & also that my little Ella was not properly cared for; it was sad news for me. My health is very good. The one that [sic] (wrote) to me said Charley is going away and that he intends to take my little Ella with him. I feel as though she was the only one on whom my future hopes are concentrated. To be sure I have neglected her, but I had the assurance that she would be taken care of in case I got wounded or; now then it is my request that she be permitted to stay in the village & I do not want my things to be taken away. I sent Ella five dollars in care of Leonard Traver [Leonard Travis?] Feb. 11th, but I have not head [sic] from him since he got his discharge. Neither have I heard from Charles nor the things I sent by him.

I still hold to the Village of St. Johns as my place of residence. I can't tell whether I will get my discharge or not, my wound is healed & I am taking care of the wounded soldiers in the hospital. There has been an act passed in the house [of Representatives] that all wounded soldiers must have have their pay in sixty days. Then I shall send Ella some money to buy her some clothes. Now then Mrs. Smith as you & your husband have been a friend in need I wish you would write a few lines about my little Ella; if you see Emily tell her if Charles goes away, to take Ella and find a place for her as I do not want her to go away. I wish the friend that wrote me would write & let me know his or her name.

I would like to hear from Mrs. Brown that used to visit my family. I hope she is still living & many other friends & e'er long when the war is o'er & the dark clouds have passed away I will return to greet you once more as a citizen & a friend & to all that are loyal to our Nationalities. John, give all my respects to those who may inquire.

On April 16, 1863, while still in the hospital, George wrote home to Libby and Ella. He wanted them to know that he was well, although his future in the army remained uncertain for the moment.

I don't know how long I shall stay in the hospital. The surgeons are sending of all that are fit for duty to the field. My health is pretty good. My wound is almost sound but I think it is not sound enough for a long march yet the government is sending the convalescent & such soldiers that can do something to guard forts & hospitals. Perhaps it will be my lot to do such duty until my time is out, unless the war ends soon. You said you was going the first of May to see about Ella's pay from the County. Charles is gone I suppose by this time on the Lakes. I got a letter from Samuel Harris stating that Libby had arrived in Auburn. You take care of my things & live in the house until I come. I have got just one dollar & thirty cents & I will let you have the dollar & keep the 30 cents when I get my pay which will be in May about the middle I think, I will send you more. Emily it costs more to get things here in Washington than it does in Michigan. I can't get enough of tobacco to last me a day for 10 cents, so I will give up chewing. A great many of our soldiers depends on the charity of the Relief Committee so they can send their money home. All I ever got was about 5 cents worth of tobacco & the calico shirt & sent to Ella. Here is a picture of 100 dollar Treasure [sic] Note on green back. Give it to Ella and have her put it in her mother's work box until I come home. The likeness that you got of a mother & child belonged to a soldier in a Pennsylvania Regiment; he was sick in this hospital & he gave it to me to keep for him., He was sent to his state and forgot to take it. Emily write & let me know how Libby left things when she went away. No more at present. Learn Ella to write if you have any time. Let me know how mother is if you know.

In June George was reported to be in the “Invalid Corps” (the Veterans’ Reserve Corps) through August, and by December he had been reduced to the ranks for offense(s) unknown, and he was a private. On December 5, 1863, he wrote to Libby and Ella from Brandy Station, Virginia.

I shall tell you of all the hardships & privations that I have gone through since I left the hospital for to go to the battlefield. I have been in 3 more fights with the rebs since I left. I have suffered extremely for the want of clothing” and that “the weather is so cold that it freezes our clothes on us. Many a soldier freeze so that he is not fit for duty. The other morning we were ordered out on picket & to find out where the rebs were. It was long before daylight. Well in going about a mile & a half we found them on the other side of a deep ravine with a few trees between us. Our captain wanted to know who would go down to the woods & see if they were there. There was three & myself that run down as quick as I got down I saw a rebel officer pointing towards us & telling his men the damned yanks were coming, so [I] brought my gun down on him and fired. I saw him pitch forward and fall. Well the result of it was I had about a dozen shots fired at me.

Well I set behind my tree until the sun came out then we were ordered to charge on them. We drove them clean up to their breastworks. Well we lost a good many men. The rebs wanted us to surrender. Some of our Regiment did, but Co. D would not give up our guns. We made up our minds that we would sooner die. There is only 15 men left of us and I am the only one from St. Johns. If I live to get home I will tell you all I am going to send you some money. I saw Steve this morning and he got a letter stating that you were going to break up house keeping. You had better try and keep up until I come. I begin to count the months which is only six and soon I can count the days.

He went on to say that he had sent $7.00 home and that he planned to “send you $5.00 more and keep on sending you every week until I send you 25 dollars and then when pay day comes next month I will send you $15.00 more. I shall send you $50.00 this winter & spring unless the rebs get me . . . for I have got 52 dollars in my pocket which I have kept for you and Ella. I send you 50 cents to buy some postage stamps; send me 8 stamps & keep the rest for yourself. I would send you the whole now but I am afraid you would not get it. Tell Ella to be a good girl. My hand & arm is poisoned with ivy that I can't write.”

George reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Boston, Ionia County, and probably returned to St. Johns on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864.

He presumably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February and by May of 1864 he was again absent sick in the hospital. He eventually rejoined the Regiment and was transferred as a Sergeant to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

George was taken prisoner on June 22 near Petersburg, Virginia, and probably exchanged or released in late November or early December of 1864. He was a Corporal when he died either on December 15, 1864, in the general hospital Division no. 1 at Annapolis, Maryland, or on December 16 on board the hospital steamer Northern Light. In any case, he was reportedly buried in Annapolis National Cemetery, official no. 638 or 666, presently reported in section L, grave no. 126.

In 1867 a minor child pension application was made by one Charity Harris reported as guardian (no. 121688).

Solomon D. Biggs

Solomon D. Biggs, also known as “Briggs”, was born 1833 in Jackson (?), New York, possibly the son of Jeremiah (b. 1781) and Elizabeth (b. 1795).

In 1840 there was one Jeremiah Biggs living in Salem, Washington County, New York. By 1850 Solomon was probably working as a laborer for a wealthy farmer named Freeman Fuller and living with his parents Jeremiah and Elizabeth and two older siblings in Salem, Washington County, New York.

Solomon eventually left New York and headed west, settling in western Michigan.

He was 25 years old and living in Berlin (now Saranac), Ionia County when he married 15-year-old Julia A. Woodworth (1844-1919) on August 18, 1859, in Ionia (probably in Berlin). They had at least two children: Harriet E. (b. 1860) and Charles A. (b. 1864). Curiously, Julia is listed as Julia A. Woodworth and living with her parents Benjamin and Mary in Ionia County in 1860; no mention of Solomon is noted.

Solomon stood 5’6” with gray eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion and was a 29-year-old farmer probably living in Ionia County, Michigan. when he enlisted in Company D on February 5, 1862, at Saranac, Ionia County for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.)
Solomon testified in March of 1863 that he had been wounded on May 31, 1862, at the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia. He claimed to have been “shot through the right leg near the ankle -- breaking the fibula [causing] partial anchylosis of the ankle.” In fact, he had been treated for remittent fever from April 14-29, and then for bilious fever around August 5, and suffering from dropsy around August 10. He was admitted on or about August 13 or 31 to the general hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he remained at least until around October 10.

In October he was reported absent sick in the hospital, and in fact he was admitted to a ward at the hospital in West Philadelphia on October 10, suffering from “granular lids”, an opthomological problem.

While in the hospital in Philadelphia Solomon apparently attempted to procure a discharge any way he could. According to Dr. E. Dyer, surgeon in charge of the ward where Solomon was a patient, Biggs apparently feigned blindness in his right eye. However, Dyer had developed a “foolproof’ method for detecting suspicious cases of soldiers who were suddenly struck blind in one eye. Using a small prism, Dyer performed a simple test using a long object. On January 31, 1863, Dyer explained that

The following case of feigned blindness of one eye is noted inasmuch as there are so many physicians who have been called from private practice and who are not expecting the deceptions of soldiers, to examine recruits, persons claiming exemption from draft and soldiers seeking discharges from the service. Every kind of imposition is attempted and in many instances the unsuspecting surgeon is deceived. The following method is so simple and . . . so exact in discovering . . . blindness in one eye, that it may be worth while to lay it before army surgeons. It can never fail, and by this plan I have seen cases exposed in the Prussian army which had withstood all conceivable attempts to detect [feigned blindness, such as] sudden darting of knives at the eye, leading them through holes, unexpected blows, etc, in which a sharp man on his guard can anticipate the object of the surgeon and frustrate his experiments.
The idea of the method is based upon the principle that a prism of glass bends a [ray of light] and consequently the image of an object towards its base. The most convenient prism for use in these cases is one in which the two sides form with each other an angle of about 14 degrees each side about 1 1/2 in [length] which is large enough to handle with ease (see diagram [in file]). If such a prism be held before one eye with the base downwards, and any long object like a gun . . . be held horizontally before the eye, the rays from such an object will not coincide with the proper axis of vision, but will be bent downwards and strike the retina at a point before the macula lutea; consequently the object will be projected upwards. The patient in this case actually sees the object 2 or 3 inches above its real position, and if asked to strike it suddenly will pass as much above it.

Dr. Dyer then went on to explain how he tested his method for detecting feigned blindness on one of his patients. He noted that Solomon Biggs, of Company B, Third Michigan infantry,

came into my ward on Oct 10th 1862 with granular lids, for which he was treated for three or four weeks, during which time he sought his discharge on account of some private business. To show that he was anxious for it the fact is mentioned that he offered $25.00 for it. After being in the ward three or four weeks he told me suddenly that he was totally blind in his right eye. I at once suspected the truth of this statement, but he was willing to swear that when his left eye was closed he could not . . . distinguish the windows in the ward, and denied that he had any perception of sight whatever. I closed the left eye and held up my hand, but he affirmed that he could not see it. I then took such a prism as has been described and holding a pen horizontally and at the same time placing before the right eye the prism with the base downwards asked him if he did not see two pens; he said he did; I asked how they were related to each other; he said one was above the other. The explanation was simple enough: the axis of vision most always remained in the same horizontal plane; and the macular lutea were on the same line. . . . Of course if the right eye had been blind no image would have been recognized by the right eye -- and the pen would not have been seen double. . . . To place the affair beyond all doubt, I closed the left eye securely with . . . plaster, and a thick bandage, and left [orders] that the patient should be watched. I learned that he ate his meals and walked through the ward avoiding the chairs and stove, etc. with perfect facility and also played cards with the assumed totally blind eye. The same deception has never been attempted in the ward.

To confuse matters, however, it was also reported by Dr. William Thomas in Philadelphia that Solomon had in fact been shot in the lower third of his left leg, fracturing the fibula.
In any case, Solomon was discharged on January 5, 1863, at West Philadelphia hospital for general debility.

After he left the army Solomon returned to Saranac, and in late March of 1863 applied for a pension (no. 15956), again apparently trying to work yet another deception, this time regarding his alleged wounding in May of 1862. (Interestingly, one of those to witness his testimony was Edward Simmons, who would eventually marry Solomon’s widow.) In any case, the certificate was never granted and the claim abandoned. By early 1864 Solomon may have been living in Grand Rapids.

He reentered the service in the Second company of sharpshooters attached to M (?) company, Twenty-seventh Michigan Infantry on February 26, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day, giving his residence as Grand Rapids but crediting Berlin (Saranac). Biggs was promoted to Sergeant and reported missing in action on July 30 at Petersburg, Virginia. He may have been held prisoner briefly, and if so, was soon exchanged. It is also possible that he was sick in a hospital and simply unaccounted for.

Either way, Solomon died of chronic diarrhea on November 3, 1864, in the First Division general hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, and was buried at Annapolis: original grave no. 150, presently section J, grave no. 47 of Annapolis National Cemetery.

His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 39988) but in 1867 Julia married Edward Simmons (d. 1901), presumably in Ionia County. Subsequently a pension was filed on behalf of a minor child and granted (no. 109789). After Simmons’ death in 1901 Julia refiled for a pension, drawing $25 per month by 1919. She was living with her son Charles in Lowell, Kent County when she died in May of 1919, and was buried in Alton cemetery, Vergennes Township.