Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Last year for Memorial Day, Long Since Dispersed marked the service of Azariah Rider in the Union Army of the Civil War.  This year for Memorial Day, there are new documents that provide details and context. 

On May 9, 2018, a visit to the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Research Center in Washington, D.C., provided two document files related to Azariah Rider great-great-great grandfather and his wife, great-great-great-grandmother Mary Jane Jacobs Rider.  

This is important information that has not been located elsewhere.  The 95th Illinois Infantry served in the southern and western arenas of the Civil War.  The story shown here of the ground they covered, their exertions and undoubtedly their terrorizing experiences are well beyond what I had expected to learn.  Azariah sacrified three years of his life to the infantry, and although not life-threatening to this Illinois farmer, the accidental gun shot wound and loss of his right thumb clearly affected his future as you will see in a separate blog post. Despite his injury, Azariah remained in the army although later documents state that he may not have returned to full duty.

From the Declaration of Invalid Pension dated August 6th, 1866:

"That while in said service and in the line of duty at Lake Providence in the state of Louisiana on the 7th day of February, 1863, he received the following wound or disability, to wit:  The loss of the thumb from the right hand – by accidental gunshot.  That his gun was loaded and lying behind his bunk – applicant in endeavoring to take it from behind the bunk raised the hammer a little and coming down caused the gun discharge and the loss of applicant’s thumb.”

Accessed May 9, 2018 at the National Archives and Records Administration Research Center, Washington D.C.

One NARA file contained the payroll cards for his entire military service from 1862-1865.  The second contained all actual documents concerning his pension application(s) and subsequent documents, and the application Mary Jane Rider submitted following Azariah’s death in 1895 for a widow’s pension. Together the files contained over 130 pages which includes date stamps and reverse sides for each. There were submissions as the pension benefit laws changed over the decades and as his health declined, appeals, additional supportive documents and various affidavits from officers, friends and neighbors, certificates of approval and terminations with their deaths. 

It was not necessary to copy or photograph all the documents.  NARA has opened an “Innovation Hub” featuring Epson HD flatbed scanners and desktops so that researchers can digitize the documents.  This is a full description of the center and the process by the blogger Ellen Anderson in March, 2017:  https://andersonology.com/2018/01/27/how-to-use-naras-innovation-hub/.

Azariah's documents will be available in a NARA catalog, described as essentially a searchable URL specifically for Azariah Rider so each of you can view all the documents for Azariah and Mary Jane, perhaps as early as July, 2018 (NARA staff quality control my scans before posting).  This is the link for the current entry for Azariah using just an index card from Ancestry's military records site Fold3.com: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/49811460.  I did receive a CD with all documents but finding a way to post all of them is tedious so I will include the documents most important to understanding their history.  
Rather than post each payroll card (a technical feat I could not accomplish not to mention that it was very time-consuming), I matched each of the payroll periods (generally bi-monthly) to two different regimental histories from the period by location so that you can see the movement of the army.  The six pages of this chart were added as photos rather than one file and the print is small but I think you can expand them to read more easily especially with a tablet.  If you wish, I will send you an email with this chart or a thumb-drive with the scanned files but they will be available very soon online, I trust.  The links shown on the chart below as sources are not active and are repeated below: 

Page 2 Military Service
Page 3 Military ServiceService
Page 4 Military Service

Page 5 Military Service

Page 6 Military Service

Context and Sources (It may be necessary for you to search for the 95th Illinois Infantry because some are .pdf files or there is no direct path to the section):

Illinois 95th Infantry Regiment per National Park Service Unit Details  

The pension file documents identify this general area as the one where Azariah's Company F was stationed at the time of his injury.

The area occupied by Azariah Rider's Company F of 95th Illinois Infantry can be visited today:

Google Map Lake Providence, Louisiana
Google Map Lake Providence, Louisiana to Vicksburg, Mississippi

So, thank you Great-great-great-grandfather Azariah for your service!  And, a safe and happy Memorial Day to all of you.