I often research people in my own genealogy with much interest. I also often research their family members that aren't in my direct line, since they also lead sometimes to wonderful pieces of information about my own lines.
But I also research people who aren't in my line at all. Sometimes, I do that kind of research for others as a pay it forward or on a freelance basis. Sometimes, I do it because the person may have had an impression on those in my lines.
This is the story of one such person. This is the story of Captain Charles Wesley Chapman.
I have no relationship to the man. I never had. But his story fascinates me because, well, he is the namesake of one of my ancestors. He rubbed shoulders with another. And he died leaving no heirs and no one to tell his story. So I have taken it upon myself to try to learn, at the very least, a little about the man.
|Photo of Charles W. Chapman, taken from the book Under the Red Patch (between pages 152-153)|
Source: Internet Archive
Charles Wesley Chapman was born around the year 1838 in Pennsylvania to William Chapman, a immigrant from Ireland, and Maria Dunlop of Chester County, Pennsylvania. He had at least three older brothers, James, William, and Joseph, and possibly one sister named Ann.
Not much is known about his early life, at least not that I could uncover doing my typical research. But what is known is that he lived in the Third Ward of Pittsburgh when the 1850 census was enumerated. Also in the household were his parents William and Maria, and . William worked at a glass house. Also enumerated were 23-year-old James, 22-year-old William, and 18-year-old Joseph (which were likely Charles' elder brothers, and a 25-year-old woman named Nancy Armstrong. It's the only census I found where Charles was listed with his parents, as he was not in residence in 1860 with them. There are a few candidates for Charles in the 1860 Federal Census Enumeration, but I did not have as much time to devote to research as I would have liked, so I did not take the time to chase them all down to figure out which one was the correct Charles.
In 1861, Charles was living in Lawrenceville, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, boarding at a residence on Chestnut Street near North. He was listed in the local directory as working in the oil business, but that career was short lived due to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Chapman started his military service actually with the Pittsburgh City Guards, which became the 12th regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was the third sergeant of the City Guards under Alexander Hays. When the City Guards were then re-organized into companies on the Twelfth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Charles became the 2nd Sergeant of Company K. This regiment mustered in 25 April 1861.
Because at the time, the Union had thought the war would be over soon, the men were only enlisted to three month terms. The Pennsylvania Twelfth Regiment was tasked with the protection of the rebuilt Northern Central railroad running from Harrisburg to Baltimore, with Charles' company stationed at the headquarters in Cockeysville. While most of the regiment were not able to drill, being scattered along the line, company K was able to be drilled regularly and soon became veteran soldiers. They were mustered out of service after three months at Harrisburg on 5 August 1861. Most of the men then re-enlisted for three years, including Charles.
On 23 September 1861, he was appointed the captain of Company K of the newly formed Sixty-Third Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, known as the "Hays' Guards." *I wrote a history on the company years ago available in my HubPages articles.*
On 5 March 1862, a reconnoitering party of one hundred men, led by Lt-Col Morgan, was being guided by a man by the name of Williams towards the direction of the Occoquan River near Pohick Church in Virginia. A detachment of Texan Rangers passed by in the night, which the party thought was another scouting party. When the party realized their mistake, they gave chase, but the Texans had already hid themselves in the bushes and ambushed the party as they came. Captain Chapman, Quartermaster James M. Lysle and Private Moore were in the front of the party and were killed instantly. Another private was shot in the arm (which later had to be amputated). The rest of the party was able to rout the Texans and gave chase, but the Texans evaded capture.
According to the eyewitness account of John Rudolph Marti, a sergeant in Company A, Chapman was struck by a ball under his left eye. The bullet went through his head and came out by the collar of his coat, killing him instantly. Lysle was shot through the arm in such as way that the bullet went through his chest and he lived about ten minutes. Moore was shot in the chest and survived almost half an hour.
Sgt. Marti also wrote that Chapman was one of the best officers in the entire regiment and that his company in particular really loved him. Joe Hoopes, a private in Company C, also echoed that sentiment when he wrote to his family that some of the best men in their regiment were lost that night.
Alexander Hays, the commander of the Sixty-Third Regiment, wrote a letter to his wife dated 10 March 1862. He had this to say:
"You have heard of a tiger robbed of its whelps, and you can imagine what species of tiger I represent. I have not scolded anyone -- the fault is to egregious to be within my jurisdiction, and I am patiently awaiting the action of higher authority....... The bodies were forwarded on the 7th to Pittsburgh. Before leaving, all were borne to the church tent, and I never knew the Doctor (Marks) more eloquent." ~ Transcription in Gilbert Adams Hays' book Under the Red Patch: Story of the Sixty Third Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1864, pages 417-418
After the memorial service from the regiment, Charles' body was sent via train to Pittsburgh and arrived the next day, which was a Sunday. After an afternoon service at the Chapman residence in Lawrenceville, Charles was buried in Allegheny Cemetery in section 25, lot 74, grave 1.
He had never married nor had any issue. He died at 24 years of age.
His elderly parents, who had been subsisting on what Charles could send them from his Army pay, were bereaved. William Chapman, Charles' father, was an invalid and had been for ten years, unable to make a living.
Maria Dunlop Chapman, at the age of 65, applied for a mother's pension on 8 June 1865 from the couple's home in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. Some of my readers may wonder why it took her over three years to file for the pension. First off, the act allowing her to even apply for the pension in the first place was not passed by Congress until 14 July 1862. One provision in that act allowed for dependent mothers to be entitled to receive the full pension of a son killed in the line of duty or died from the result of wound received or disease contracted while in service as a result of the line of duty provided that the soldier did not have a wife or children.
However, fees had to be paid while applying for pensions, most often by pension attorneys who often charged $10 for each application. It also cost $5 to file the application with the government, $1.50 per affidavit, and $1.50 for surgeon's exams (which William had to be subjected to because he had to prove he was totally disabled). If Maria and William Chapman were dependent on Charles while he was in the Army, they likely had to wait until either they could scrape the money together to pay the fees or have someone pay it for them.
On 12 July 1865, she was approved to receive $20 per month. I imagine the pension the couple received helped their situation immensely. William Chapman died 12 December 1867 and was buried in Allegheny Cemetery. Maria survived both her youngest son and her husband, passing away from chronic bronchitis on Forty-Second Street in the 17th Ward of Pittsburgh on 11 December 1870. She was buried with her husband in Allegheny Cemetery.
But the legacy of the young captain of company K of the 63rd Pennsylvania Volunteers lived on. I'm not sure how many young men were named after the beloved captain, but I am quite sure that one of Chapman's fellow soldiers DID name his son for his fallen comrade.
One of the sergeants in company K was a man by the name of John Devender Wood. On 24 May 1875, John's youngest son was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. John decided to name the newborn Charles Wesley Chapman Wood, after his fallen friend. That young newborn was my father's grandfather, named for a soldier who paid the ultimate price in the American Civil War.
Additional Evidence in the Mother's Army Pension for Maria Chapman, filed 8 June 1865 ; Photocopy provided by NARA in the pension file for Charles W. Chapman, pension application number 81254, certificate number 51280; citing Pension application files based upon service in the Civil War and Spanish-American War ("Civil War and Later"); Records Relating to Pension and Bounty-Land Claims 1773-1942, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, RG 15; 2,807 rolls, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Ancestry.com, "1850 United States Federal Census," database online, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2022), Entry for Charles W. Chapman in household of William Chapman, Year: 1850, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 3 Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Roll: 745, and Page: 141a; citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865: prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature, 5 Volumes (Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869), volumes 1 and 2 referenced.
Civil War Pittsburgh, "Night of March 5, 1862,"Facebook, 6 March 2022 (https://www.facebook.com/civilwarpittsburgh/ : accessed 27 May 2022).
"Died - Maria Chapman," death notice, The Pittsburgh Daily Commercial (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 13 December 1870, page 1; online images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 29 May 2022).
Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities, 1861-1862 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: G. H. Thurston, 1861), 51, "Chapman Charles W., oil business, bds Chestnut, n North, L(awrenceville)"; digital image, University of Pittsburgh, Digital Research Library, Historic Pittsburgh (http://historicpittsburgh.org : accessed 27 May 2022).
Find A Grave, database with images (www.findagrave.com : accessed 27 May 2022), memorial page for Charles Wesley Chapman, Find A Grave Memorial # 122224413, citing Allegheny Cemetery (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), memorial created by KBStewart, photograph by DGG.
Gorman, Kathleen L."Civil War Pensions: History of the Union Federal and Confederate State pension systems," Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech, Essential Civil War Curriculum, 2021 (https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/civil-war-pensions.html : accessed 4 March 2021).
Hays, Gilbert Adams. Under the Red Patch: Story of the Sixty Third Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1864 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Sixty-Third Pennsylvania Volunteers Regimental Association, 1908).
Historical Data Systems, comp., "U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865," database online, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2022), Entry for Charles Wesley Chapman, co K, 63rd Pennsylvania; Historical Data Systems, Inc.; Duxbury, MA 02331; American Civil War Research Database; citing data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA.
"How Capt. Chapman and Lieut. Lysle Were Killed," Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 10 March 1862, page 3; online images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 29 June 2017).
"The Klled at Pohick," The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 8 March 1862, page 4; online images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 27 May 2022).
"Letter from John Rudolph Marti, Sergeant, Co. A, Camp Johnson, Near Alexandria, March 10, 1862," Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 17 March 1862, page 2; online images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 27 March 2022).
Mother's Army Pension Application for Maria Chapman, mother of Capt. Charles W. Chapman, filed 8 June 1865; Photocopy provided by NARA in the pension file for Charles W. Chapman, pension application number 81254, certificate number 51280; citing Pension application files based upon service in the Civil War and Spanish-American War ("Civil War and Later"); Records Relating to Pension and Bounty-Land Claims 1773-1942, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, RG 15; 2,807 rolls, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
"Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963," database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2022), Entry for William A Chapman, died 28 Dec 1907, cn 122336; citing Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Parents names and places of birth referenced.
"Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Allegheny Cemetery Records, 1845 - 1960," database online, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 May 2022), Entry for Charles W Chapman, buried 10 Mar 1862; citing Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh.
"Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Allegheny Cemetery Records, 1845 - 1960," database online, FamilySearch, Entry for Wm Chapman, buried 19 Dec 1867.
"Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905," database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 May 2022), Entry for Maria Chapman, 11 Dec 1870, FHL microfilm 505,816.; citing Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-2012," database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 May 2022), Entry for Chas. W. Chapman, died 1862, Pennsylvania State Archives; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Civil War Veterans` Card File, 1861-1866; Series Number: 19.12; citing Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1777–2012. Digital Images, 3–5. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Archives and History. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
"Remains Arrived," The Pittsburgh Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 10 March 1862, page 3; online images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 29 May 2022).
"Remains Coming," The Pittsburgh Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 8 March 1862, page 3; online images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 27 May 2022).
Rothbard, Murray N. "Beginning the Welfare State: Civil War Veteran's Pensions," The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, 22:1 (Spring 2019): 68-81
U. S. Congress, The Statutes at Large, Treaties and Proclamations of the United States of America, vols. 1-18 (Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1789–1875), 12: 566-569, 14 July 1862, "An Act to grant Pensions," 165