Daniel G. Slavens, a son of Isaiah Slavens, was a pioneer resident of southern Iowa and also served in the Civil War, despite being older than most soldiers. While his pension file doesn't contain much genealogical information-- since he was in his late 60's at the time of his pension application, his children were well past 18-- but it does have interesting information nonetheless.
An interesting discrepancy appears on Daniel's Certificate of Disability for Discharge, dated February 28, 1863. It states that Daniel was enlisted into Captain W. Glasgow's company (Co. D) of the 23rd Iowa Infantry Volunteers, at Corydon, Iowa, on July 26, 1862, to serve three years. It states he was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky, was 44 years of age,, was 5 foot 9 inches tall, with light complexion, black eyes, black hair, and was a farmer. However, the discharge states that his is 53 years old. Did Daniel or Captain Glasgow fib about his age during enlistment? While there wasn't a formal upper age limit for enlistees-- a couple months after Daniel's enlistment, the noted "Greybeard Regiment" would be formed in eastern Iowa of men mostly in the 60's-- men over 45 were generally considered too old for combat service. Also, note how Daniel's height decreased in a later examination.
Despite having his age listed on many of the examinations, discrepancies in the ages doesn't help us in narrowing Daniel's birth date to a specific month-- and hardly to a specific year. Here are the ages and dates:
68 on June 8, 1880
75 on May 27, 1886
76 on September 5, 1887
75 on December 22, 1887
77 on April 25, 1888
79 on June 22, 1889
79 on January 23, 1890
80 on May 6, 1890
79 on June 9, 1890
Daniel was living near Allerton, Wayne County, Iowa, in 1881; in Ritchey, Newton County, Missouri in October 1885; and in Pierce City, Lawrence County, Missouri in July 1891.
Original invalid pension was declared June 16, 1880, while he was living at Corydon, Wayne County, Iowa. Daniel was a private in Company D, 23rd Iowa Infantry. He enlisted July 28, 1862, and was discharged February 28, 1863. It states "while in the line of duty at Fort Patterson, Mo., in the month of December 1862, he contracted rheumatism and also near that time he sustained a severe rupture, from both of which he still suffers and gets worse all the time disabling him for manual labor."
In an affidavit sworn December 7, 1881, Daniel states that the regimental surgeon, Surgeon East, was the only doctor that treated him for the hernia while he was as Camp Patterson. Daniel stated that at that time it was small and the surgeon gave him a liniment for it, so that it wasn't bothering him much when he went to the general hospital at St. Louis. He doesn't remember if he was examined for the rupture at St. Louis. Daniel stated that he had a letter written to East at Clarinda, Page County, Iowa, but never heard back from the letter, and that he believes that the doctor was dead. Daniel also stated that he is living in Wayne County at the residence of his son, post office address Allerton, and when he is next ordered for a surgeon's examination that he be sent to someone in Iowa or Missouri near his present home.
Daniel supplied an additional evidence affidavit March 13, 1882, stating that he was 71 years of age, and that his residence and post office address was Allerton, Wayne County, Iowa. He states that he cannot furnish the testimony of a commissioned officer in support of his claim of being ruptured "for the reason that he did not tell the captain about it, being of a private nature" and that he was detached from his company "as a nurse and waiter on comrades and did not see much of the officers in an intimate way."
A document from the Surgeon General's Office, War Department, on Nov. 14, 1882, states that records there show that Daniel G. Slavens was discharged from the service February 28, 1863, at Sisters of Charity G.H. (general hospital?), St. Louis, "by reason of 'neuralgia', old age, age 53." It states that there are no records on file from the hospital showing that Daniel was treated, nor does his name appear on the hospital records from the hospital at Camp Patterson, which only exist from October 18 to November 3, 1862. It also states that there are no records on file from the regiment, nor from the hospital and Van Buren, Arkansas,
The government fought his claim over the rupture for several years, saying that medical records from December 1862 did not mention any treatment for rupture. However, another official noted that "the evidence on file shows very conclusively that the soldier did complain of the alleged injury of rupture at or about the time he claims it was incurred." That evidence must have been the following statements sworn by fellow soldiers in 1881-5:
Henry Shane of Wayne County, Iowa supplied an affidavit stating that he was in the same company as Daniel and remembers that he suffered a rupture "while unloading commissaries" at Camp Patterson in Missouri at the end of 1862.
Calvin Gleason of Wayne County, Iowa supplied an affidavit stating that he knew Daniel Slavens for two years before the war and knew him as a stout and robust man. He was also in the same company as Daniel and remembers that he suffered a rupture lifting commissary stores from a wagon when a box slipped and hurt him on the right side. While Gleason did not see the rupture he said that Slavens complained of a rupture or hurt right side right away after the accident. He also stated that Slavens also had a severe attack of rheumatism, and was left at the hospital at Patterson, Mo. in January 1863. Gleason stated that he has known Slavens for many years and thinks that he is an honest man.
Sylvester Greenman of Franklin County, Nebraska, also supplied an affidavit stating that he knew Daniel Slavens for three years before the war and he an able bodied man then. He states he knows that Slavens was hurt while unloading commissary stores and knew it was the cause of a slight rupture.
J.B. Ormsby of Princeton, Mo., a 2nd Lieutenant of Company D, 23rd Iowa Infantry, supplied an affidavit stating that he had enlisted Slavens and knew he was in good health at the time. He knew that Slavens was injured while unloading commissary stores at Camp Patterson, and was left behind at the hospital when the regiment was ordered to Van Buren, Mo,
The previous four statements were all given in 1881-2 to support Daniel's original claim.
On July 29, 1885, John Root of near Pierce City, Lawrence County, Mo. supplied an affidavit stating that he knew Daniel since 1856 in Iowa, and continuing to the present day, with both moving to southwest Missouri to 1872. He stated that he frequently worked with Daniel in Wayne County from 1863 to 1868, and Daniel was afflicted with rheumatism to the point that he could only do one-fourth to one-third an able-bodied man's work. Another Lawrence County neighbor, W.H. Kinyon, who had also known Daniel in Iowa from 1858 on made a similar statement, with the additional statement that "he was totally dependent upon his children for support. The year 1864 he was almost constantly confined to his bed with rheumatism. From 1863 to 1867 it was the general belief of his neighbors that he would not recover. His health was completely broken and down and has been so ever since."
James Moore of Allerton swore an affidavit that he became acquainted with Daniel when Company D was organized, and that he remembered his to be a hale and hearty man, and he continued to be until he contracted rheumatism in December 1863. Moore states he recently had seen Daniel and his appearance indicates that he is still suffering with the disease. He states that doesn't remember Daniel sustaining a rupture while at Camp Patterson. This statement was sworn in December 1881 for Daniel's original pension request.
L.H. Rankin swore a similar affidavit on same day as Moore, with much the same information. Rankin states that Daniel was taken sick with rheumatism and jaundice, "by which he was prostrated; the he was moved on sick train or government wagons to a camp on he Currant River in Missouri, and from there to Rolla, where he took the train for St. Louis, Mo. and was sent to the Marine hospital."
Dr. W.H. Duden in Clio, Wayne County, Iowa, stated that he was the physician for the Daniel Slavens family before his enlistment and would say that he was a sound man. He treated the family until they moved to southern Missouri around 1870 and does not remember treating Daniel. When Slavens made visits back to Iowa he gave him several prescriptions for piles and rheumatism.
Dr. D.F. Moss of Jasper County, Mo. stated that he knew Slavens was a stout healthy man up to the year 1853, as he was well acquainted with him in their young days back in Indiana. He didn't see Slavens again until June 1867, when he lived 1/4 to 1/2 mile from Slavens until 1883. Since 1883 he has seen him every five to six weeks. From 1867 to 1883 he treated Slavens for rheumatism and rupture every week or two. The treatments gave him relief for only a few days at a time, and he has not been able to do more than a day two of labor at a time since 1867.
Dr. E.J. Dickinson supplied an examining surgeon's certificate for an examination on Nov. 1, 1882, in Corydon, Iowa. He states that Daniel has an inguinal hernia, allowing the bowel to descend into the scrotum, filling and distending it to the size of two fists. He states that Daniel doesn't wear a truss, and the Daniel stated that he seemed to do as well or better without a truss. Dickinson also examined Daniel's shoulders and arms for rheumatism but couldn't find evidence of the disease beyond Daniel's description of the symptoms. He stated that "Applicant appears as an honest old man and one justly deserving a pension on the grounds of disability." He put Daniel's disability at 50 percent.
Daniel had another examination, by Dr. A. Coffer in Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri. He noted the hernia, and put Daniel's disability from it at three-fourths. He also found stiffness in Daniel's joints, worsened by the cold and damp, and a feeble pulse. He put the disability from these symptoms at one-half. Other examinations in 1884 in Carthage, Mo. and and 1888 in Pierce City, Mo. had similar statements, with the addition of a tremor that is worse on the right side of his body and in the upper extremities. In an 1891 exam when Daniel was 80, it was noted that he was 5 feet 4 and half inches tall and weighed 130 pounds. In addition to his hernia, rheumatism, and tremors, he has now lost most of his eyesight. He had 18/100 vision in his right eye and couldn't count fingers at three inches with his left eye. The near-blindness was due to a complete cataract in the left eye and an incipient cataract in the right. The doctor described him as very feeble and his mind sluggish; he has difficulty in getting about and does not recognize friends readily; and is "totally disqualified from the performance of any manual labor, even without taking his age into consideration."
Daniel did receive a pension in the ealry 1880's for his rheumatism, and eventually the government accepted his claim for the hernia as well. From the paperwork it appears that his payments started at $2 a month and had been increased to $6 a month by 1890. There's no final payment information, which should have given us a death date.
Copyright © 2007 Larry Slavens. All rights reserved.