Henry B. Slavens Civil War Pension Information.

Henry Slavens wound Update: This pension file has been digitized at the National Archives by a citizen volunteer, Amy Billerbeck, as a part of the NARA's Citizen Scanning Project. The entire 130 page file can be viewed-- or downloaded as a pdf file-- at this link. The scans are MUCH easier to read than the photocopies I got from the NARA in 2007!

The following information was extracted from various papers in the pension file for Henry B. Slavens of Miller and Camden counties, Missouri. (This Henry was a son of Stewart Slavens, who died in Camden County, Missouri, in 1870.)

Henry B. Slavens enrolled as a private in Company D, Woods Battalion, 6th Missouri Cavalry Volunteers, on February 7, 1862, at Rolla, Missouri, for three years' service. He was 5 foot 8 inches in height, fair complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair, and was a farmer by occupation. He was discharged on surgeon's certificate of disability at Helena, Arkansas, on November 10, 1862, by reason of a g.s.w. (gun shot wound) received on March 13, 1862, while in an engagement with the enemy at Salem, Arkansas. According to various statements, a rifle ball entered the right side of his trunk just at the lower edge of ribs and passing beneath the spinal column and escaping two inches higher up on left side, fracturing one or more ribs. While it was never stated in any of the documents, because of the path of rifle ball upwards through his body, he was probably on horseback when shot-- he was in a cavalry unit, after all.

The file states that he was born June 2, 1839, at Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. He married Nancy Jane Wamack (most common spelling of several in the file) on either December 24, 1856, or December 26, 1858; both dates appear in different affidavits. The marriage took place near Huston, Texas County, Missouri, with John Prince officiating. One of those present at the wedding was Henry's brother, James R. Slavens, living at Linn Creek, Camden County, Missouri, at the time of the statement. Henry and Nancy's children-- at least children mentioned in the file-- were Julia A., born April 5, 1876; Minnie M., born February 18, 1879; and Eva A., born July 23, 1881. Henry died May 27, 1892, in Miller County, Missouri.

Henry first applied for invalid pension in January 1864 in Camden County, Missouri. Later applications for increases stated his residence was Linn Creek, Camden County, Missouri in January 1873, and New Haven, Franklin County, Missouri, in July 1876. Like many veterans, his file contains several statements from neighbors attesting as to how much the wound affected Henry's ability to work, and conflicting statements from various doctors assessing the degree of disability. Henry's physician, Dr. Wade, stated "The last sickness which resulted in death was dysentary, inflammation of the bowels..." Dr. R.T. Harrison gave an affidavit that he was called in consultation with Dr. J. W. Wade about May 15, 1892, and found Henry troubled with dysentary, greatly aggrivated by the wound in his spine, from this he died the 27th of May 1892."

Nancy J. Slavens, living at Iberia, Miller County, Missouri, filed a widow's application for pension on June 27, 1892. Her widow's income statement said that she owned 40 acres of poor hill land, value $400, mortgaged for $200 with interest due for two years; ten head of sheep, two cows and two horses; that the whole value of the personal property not worth more than $200; that there was a chattel mortgage of $50 on personal property; and that she was not able to pay husband's funeral expenses. The income statement was dated August 31, 1892. Nancy asked for an increase in her pension on August 20, 1906, and was living at Eldon, Miller County, Missouri. In another petition in 1904 she claimed to be nearly blind. In another in 1916, she stated that she was 78 years of age, was born in Tennessee, and was a resident of Versailles, Morgan County, Missouri.

Of special interest was a letter from 19 members of the Versailles community to the Bureau of Pensions asking for an increase in Nancy's pension as she had no home and no one to assist her. "We know her to be of good character and to be a pure-hearted old lady." The signers included the postmaster, druggist, merchant, grocer, doctor, county clerk, probate court judge, and others. The letter was dated March 23, 1907.

Nancy died June 6, 1918, in Versailles, Missouri, and is buried in the Versailles city cemetery. Cause of death was stomach trouble and old age. Nancy's daughter Oma Willbanks swears that she and her daughter Reba Willbanks cared for Nancy from about May 15, 1918, until her death. However, there was a dispute over who should be reimbursed by the government for Nancy's medical and burial expenses. There was a statement from Ed Nelson, Furniture and Undertaking, of Versailles, addressing the request of Oma Willbanks to be reimbursed for the funeral expenses of Nancy J. Slavens. He states he knows of Oma Willbanks and that she is a daughter of Nancy Slavens, but does not know her personally. He states that he knows that Charley Crafton, a grandson, lived with Nancy the past several years to help care for her. He states that the costs of the funeral was $60, and that $48.50 has been paid to date by Charley, so he feels that if there is government reimbursement of the burial expenses it should go to Charley and not to Oma.

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