Robert is fond of exploring the Southern Claims. For his line of research, it makes all the sense in the world. People who filed those claims either were unionists, fence sitters, or … as many of the disallowed claims allude to… wanted to be unionist/fence sitters.
To be honest, I haven’t had much reason to explore the claims. With a few notable exceptions (or shall I say “Noble” exceptions?) there are not many cannon stories in the claims. So my line of research tends to keep me on the other side of the files. But on occasion I have reason to look through those records.
One such case I’ve taken an interest is that of Walter Reeves, of Leesburg, Virginia.
In August 1871, Reeves filed for compensation citing a horse and hay taken by Federal troops in June 1863… June 20, 1863 to be exact. And what was happening in Leesburg on June 20, 1863?
Well, the Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac enjoyed its second day as guests in town. And that evening, Federal engineers began building a pontoon bridge over the Potomac. Is there any connection between those events and Reeves’ horse? Maybe…
In his claim, Reeves called out the Twelfth Corps and General Henry Slocum by name.
Now Robert would, at this point, start looking to find any other indications of Mr. Reeves’ loyalty. Me, I’m interested in that horse! Wonder if it crossed the pontoon bridges? Did it serve the Army at Gettysburg? Perhaps pulling a gun or caisson. (Although there would be a pretty good chance the hay never left Loudoun… watch your step there….)
On the other hand, maybe Reeves made up the entire claim without basis. The claim was filed in the disallowed section. No reason is provided with the file.
The 1860 census lists Walter Reeves as a 57 year old cooper, living with his wife and at least five children. His son John served in Company H, 8th Virginia Infantry. John spent much of the war as a prisoner, captured at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. (Which again makes me wonder about where that horse got to!)
John’s service could have been the justification for disallowing Walter Reeves’ claim. Then again, his affidavit of loyalty was sworn in Monroeville, Alabama. Perhaps those reviewing the claim were just not fond of To Kill a Mockingbird….