Why the witness wasn’t Charlsie
There was that one nagging issue in The Legal Genealogist‘s thinking.
The thinking that led to last Saturday’s family blog suggesting that the second youngest daughter of William and Ann (Jacobs) Battles posed as her sister Charlsie, the youngest daughter, to support her then-widowed mother’s claim for reimbursement before a special examiner of the Southern Claims Commission on 1 June 1874.
In that blog, you may recall, I came up with the theory that Julia (Battles) Hale pretended to be her younger sister Charlsie when she testified that General Sherman’s Army had taken animals, fodder and other items from the Battles farm in northeastern Alabama in the fall of 1864. Union loyalists were entitled to reimbursement of their losses from such takings from the Southern Claims Commission after the war.1
Only one problem.
This family was going to have more than a little trouble proving they’d been Union loyalists.
William and Ann, after all, had sent six sons into the Confederate Army: George, Guilford, Azariah, William, James Franklin, and Lewis (also called Richard).2 Two of those sons never came home. Azariah died in Confederate Service in November 1862.3 Guilford was reported as having deserted in 1864;4 more likely, he was killed — he certainly never made it home.5
Julia herself would have had credibility issues on that loyalty score: she was the widow of Elias L. Hale — who died while on active duty in the 19th Alabama Infantry, in the service of the Confederacy.6 Which may explain why all the characteristics of the witness “Charlsie Battles” actually fit Julia, and not Charlsie at all.
But that leaves an open issue, doesn’t it?
Why wouldn’t Charlsie herself have testified?
The most likely explanation, it turns out, is that Charlsie wouldn’t have been any more credible a witness than her sister.
Because Charlsie wasn’t Charlsie Battles on the first of June 1874. She was Mrs. F.M. Davis.
And he’s clearly Francis M. Davis in the records of the Civil War — a private in Company G, 29th Tennessee Infantry, captured by the Union forces near Marietta, Georgia, on 27 June 1864, held first at the Military Prison in Louisville, then sent to Camp Morton, Indiana, in July 1864, and ultimately discharged on taking the oath of allegiance on 20 May 1865, after the surrender.10
That it’s the same guy is shown by the statement he submitted in Alabama in 1921 as part of a statewide enumeration of Confederate soldiers.11 He reported that he was a widower living with a grandson in Collinsville, on the Cherokee-Dekalb County border. He named his four living children: Julia, Francis, Maud and Mittie — and each can be found with their parents, including Charlsie, on at least one census record.12
In other words, Charlsie’s husband was another Confederate — and a living breathing Confederate whose records could well have been readily accessible to the federal government folks who’d be checking on the issue of loyalty. And a Confederate who’d surely had just about as much to do with the Yankees as anyone would want in one lifetime.
So — why not Charlsie? Because Frank Davis had every reason not to have his wife testify. And the wife of a Confederate veteran who’d been held in a Union prison camp wouldn’t have been a credible witness anyway. No more than her sister, the widow of a Confederate.
The only possible witness whose testimony might have helped, then, was the unmarried “Charlsie Battles.”
The non-existent unmarried “Charlsie Battles.”
The witness who wasn’t.
Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The witness who wasn’t,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 3 Apr 2021).
- Judy G. Russell, “And nothing but the truth …,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 27 Mar 2021 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 3 Apr 2021). ↩
- See Deposition of Anna Battles, 1 June 1874, Depositions page 5, William Battles, dec’d, v. United States, Court of Claims, Dec. term 1887–1888, Case No. 967-Congressional; Congressional Jurisdiction Case Records; Records of the United States Court of Claims, Record Group 123; National Archives, Washington, D.C. ↩
- Azariah Battles, Pvt., Co. A, 31st Alabama Infantry; Compiled Service Records Of Confederate Soldiers Who Served In Organizations From The State Of Alabama, microfilm publication M311, roll 272 of 508 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1961); digital images, Fold3.com (https://www.Fold3.com : accessed 3 Apr 2021), file of A Battles, p. 2. ↩
- “Alabama Civil War Service Database,” entry for Guilford Battles; Alabama Department of Archives and History (https://archives.alabama.gov/ accessed 3 Apr 2021). ↩
- There are no records of Guilford after 1864. His wife Anna Elizabeth (Keener) Battles can’t be found on the 1870 census; she was enumerated as the widowed head of household in 1880. See 1880 U.S. census, Cherokee County, Alabama, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 23, p. 4 (penned), dwelling 35, family 37, Anna Battles; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Apr 2021); imaged from NARA microfilm T9, roll 6. ↩
- See “Alabama, Confederate Pension Applications, ca. 1880-1930’s,” widow’s application of Julia Hale, 16 Apr 1887, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 17 Mar 2021). ↩
- 1880 U.S. census, Cherokee Co., Ala., pop. sched., Beat 9, ED 23, p. 17 (penned), dwell. 131, fam. 133, Franklin Davis. ↩
- 1900 U.S. census, Cherokee County, Alabama, population schedule, Brindley, enumeration district (ED) 124, p. 138B (stamped), dwelling/family 108, Francis M Davis; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Mar 2021); imaged from NARA microfilm T623, roll 7. ↩
- Ibid., indicating 34 years of marriage. See also statement of Francis M. Davis, 19 Feb 1921, “Alabama, U.S., Census of Confederate Soldiers, 1907, 1921,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Apr 2021); citing Census or Enumeration of Confederate Soldiers Residing in Alabama, 1921, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama. There he said the marriage was in 1867. ↩
- Francis M. Davis, Pvt., Co. G, 29th Tennessee Infantry; Compiled Service Records Of Confederate Soldiers Who Served In Organizations From The State Of Tennessee, microfilm publication M268, roll 239 of 359 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1960); digital images, Fold3.com (https://www.Fold3.com : accessed 3 Apr 2021), file of Francis M. Davis. ↩
- Statement of Francis M. Davis, 19 Feb 1921, “Alabama, U.S., Census of Confederate Soldiers, 1907, 1921,” Ancestry.com. ↩
- Julia and Francis were both enumerated with their parents in 1870. See 1870 U.S. census, Cherokee County, Alabama, population schedule, Township 10 Range 8, p. 270B (stamped), dwelling 60, family 54, Julia A.E. and Francis L. Davis; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Mar 2021); imaged from NARA microfilm M593, roll 7. Maud, one of twins born in 1878, was enumerated with her parents and older siblings in 1880. See 1880 U.S. census, Cherokee Co., Ala., pop. sched., Beat 9, ED 23, p. 17 (penned), dwell. 131, fam. 133, Mauda Davis. Mittie, born in 1881, was enumerated with her parents in 1900. 1900 U.S. census, Cherokee Co., Ala., pop. sched., Brindley, ED 124, p. 138B (stamped), dwell./fam. 108, Mittie Davis. ↩