Walter was 5 feet 9 inches tall, and had a light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair [or dark hair, according to the descriptive roll], and was a farmer.(1) (According to the descriptive roll and his 1863 re-enlistment, he was a morocco dresser.(2)) His enlistment was credited to the 13th ward of Philadelphia.(4)
He had a brother, Alfred Walter, who also fought in the Civil War.(43) Alfred Walter was mustered into service in company E of the 109th Pennsylvania Infantry on 14 March 1862, was promoted to corporal on 1 June 1864, and was discharged on 10 April 1865.(44)
Before enlisting in the 91st, he was a student of medicine and surgery, and a cadet in a military school.(58)
He enrolled on 2 August 1861, within a month after he had been discharged from 3-months' service.(5) He enlisted for three years, on 20 August 1861, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,(6) and mustered in as a sergeant on 30 September 1861, at Philadelphia.(7) He was enlisted by Captain Starr.(46)
He was promoted to 2nd sergeant on 16 June 1862, by special regimental order number 133.(9)
On the November/December 1862 muster roll, he was absent, as a paroled prisoner at Camp Parole, Annapolis(10), having been captured when he attempted to retrieve the regimental wagon, which had been abandoned. He had returned to the regiment on 22 February 1863 (42).
He was wounded on 3 July 1863, at Gettysburg PA, when a cannonball struck his right foot and jammed the bones of the front part over each other.(12) After being admitted to the 2nd division 5th corps Field Hospital,(13) and treated on the field for about 40 hours,(14) he was transferred on 9 July 1863,(15) initially to Camden Station Hospital in Baltimore, where his mother worked.(16) He helped the surgeons with the linens, but wasn't placed on the hospital rolls.(17) The Provost Marshall gave him a pass to the hospital at Wilmington DE, and the Provost Marshall there gave him another to go to Philadelphia, because the hospitals were filled with more seriously wounded people.(18)
He was again admitted to the regimental hospital on 4 September 1863, with diarrhoea, and returned to duty on 9 September.(19)
He intended not to reenlist, but changed his mind when he was told that his reenlistment "was necessary to secure the reenlistment of the regiment as a veteran organization".(58) He was discharged at Bealton VA, on 25 December 1863, and was then due $6.70 for clothing not drawn in kind.(20) He reenlisted on 25 December 1863, as first sergeant of company A, and mustered in on 26 December 1863.(21)
He was present on the muster roll for Mar/Apr 1864, but was absent without leave 3 Mar to 17 Mar 1864.(22) He later claimed to have been commanding company A "through nearly all of the Wilderness campaign, the most terrible and exhausting a great army every went through."(58)
On 18 June 1864, his right shoulder and spine were injured by a rifle ball, at Petersburg.(23) present on the muster rolls up to 21 Oct 1864. He stayed at the front at first, because the wound didn't seem serious.(58) (On 10 October 1864, the Governor of Pennsylvania signed a commission for Walter.(23a)) He was sent to City Point, and then to Washington and to Baltimore, for treatment, when he "began to suffer from nervous trouble and lassitude".(58) On 4 November 1864, he received a furlough from 5 November to 25 November 1864, from the surgeon in charge of the hospital, and was then to return to the General Hospital at Camden St Baltimore, Maryland.(24) He apparently returned on the 28th.(25)
He believed that the treatment had not helped him, and told Lieutenant-Colonel Sellers that he was incapable of performing his duties.(55), (58) Sellers replied that he could only be excused from duty by the surgeon.(54) According to JHR Storey, who served on the 109th Pennsylvania, Sellers admitted many decades later that he had "got even with" Walter and others of "Gregory's pets", who were "Christian Association fellows".(58)
He received a commission as first lieutenant on 14 December 1864, appointed to replace lieutenant John G Brass, who mustered out on the expiration of his term.(26) The commission was dated 15 Oct 1864.(27) He was discharged as sergeant by special order #347, headquarters 5th Army Corp, 27 December 1864, and was promoted to first lieutenant as of 10 October 1864; mustered in on 30 December, to date 14 December 1864.
On the muster rolls for November/December 1864 and January/February 1865, he was present in arrest, as a first lieutenant.
In an affidavit in his pension file, he notes that he was unable to perform his duties as an officer, and was 'placed in a very unfortunate position by reason of the inability of the surgeons of my regiment to understand the nature of my case'.(28), (58) He received advice from a 'very prominent medical firm in New York', which helped.(58) But on the March/April 1865 muster roll, he was listed as cashiered by sentence of general court martial, Order No 14 Hd. Qrs. Army of the Potomac 16 Apr 1865.(29)
The General Court Martial was appointed on 7 January 1865, by General Order, headquarters 1st division 5th army corps (Maj Genl Griffen). It then consisted of Brevet Brigadier General H G Sickel (198 PA Vol), Brevet Col Chas P Herring (118 PA Vol), Maj E C Davison (188 NY Vol), Capt A H Barber (185 NY Vol), Capt A H Barber (185 NY Vol), Capt E D Hill (189 NY Vol), Capt John S Donnel (91 PA Vol), Capt I H Seeholtz (188 PA Vol), 1st Lt Edwin Bailey (198 PA Vol), 1st Lt E F Mott (188 NY Vol), and 2nd Lt George Janney (198 P [?] V). On 8 Jan Hill and Mott were relieved and 1st Lt Wm R Bliss (188 NYV) was added (by special order 5, headquarters 1st division 5th army corps).(38).
Walter was tried on 12 January 1865. Walter accepted the court. He was charged with disobeying orders, by Lieutenant Colonel Eli G Sellars, in particular, "that said Thomas F Walter 1" Lt. Co "A" 91" Pa. V. Vols. having been duly detailed to go on picket by the Adjutant, on the 31" day of December 1864 and having been told by Col. E. G. Sellers Comdg. the Regt. that he could not be excused unless by Surgeon's certificate did positively refuse to obey the order. All this at the Camp of the 91" Regt. Pa. Vet. Vols. on or about the 31" day of December 1864.". Walter pled guilty. He offered only one witness, Brevet Brigadier General Edgar M Gregory, who swore that his character 'as a gentleman and a soldier [was] good'. (Gregory volunteered to testify.(58)) He did not address the court. He later claimed that he did not understand the importance of making a statement to the court.(54) The court then found him guilty, and sentenced him to be cashiered. Griffin approved the findings and sentence on 28 February, and Meade on 21 March.(39) According to one secondary source, he was discharged on 6 April 1865.(47) However, the regiment reported on 29 April 1865 that he had been cashiered.(52)
By the time his court martial verdict was approved, he was better.(58) General Gregory wanted to have him restored to duty by General Griffin.(58) Walter declined because he "felt so outraged and indignant", and because the war was almost over.(58)
He married Anna (or Hannah) Springer.(63)
On 13 November 1868, the Assistant Adjutant-General of the US Army wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania, stating that the US government would not object to his offering Walter a commission in the army.(58) He also wrote Walter, claiming that "[t]he effect of this action is to remove the stigma resting upon you by reason of dismissal and is equivalent practically to an honorable discharge".(58) Walter reasonably understood this as meaning that his dishonorable discharge had been revoked, and that he had (retroactively) been honorably discharged.(58) Unfortunately, no one had authority to revoke the conviction or to make Walter eligible for a pension, and his conviction was still valid.(58)
In 1870, he was living in the 20th ward of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was living with his wife, Hannah, and children Frank and Nina, along with Jabez Jenkins (perhaps a boarder?).(50)
In 1876, he applied for membership in post 8 of the GAR.(58) Colonel Sellers was then officer of the day.(58) His application was approved unusually quickly, without waiting for a committee to be appointed.(58)
Post 8 made him their chaplain at the next election.(58)
In 1880, he was living in Philadelphia.(45) He was an upholsterer. He was living with his wife, Hannah E Walter, who was 40 years old, had been born in New Jersey, and kept house and ran a trimming store. Four children were living with them:
Starting in about 1881, his shoulder and spine wounds left him largely disabled.(54)
He applied for a pension three times, on 19 December 1873, 27 May 1894, and 4 March 1907. In 1873, he stated that he had been honorably discharged on 16 April 1865.(32) In 1891, he left blank the space to record his honorable discharge.(33) In 1907, he presented himself as having been honorably discharged at Bealton on 25 December 1863, and also having served after that.(34)
His application was rejected at least in the first two cases (in March 1874, and November 1899), and apparently also in the third.(54) One problem was the absence of clear evidence that his wounds had disabled him.(54) In particular, four examinations (in February 1874, August 1891, February 1893, and October 1899) found no scars on his right foot or shoulder.(54) The third examination did find excessive nervousness, for which they rated him eligible for $6 per month for neurasthenia.(54)
In 1890, he was living at 28 or 38 North 16th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was an upholsterer.(48)
In 1891, he explained his disability in detail: he had lost his vigor, was subject to weakness, and had problems with the nerves in his legs, apparently caused by a chronic inflammation of the spine. His memory had worsened, and he was no longer able to climb ladders, raise his hands, and tilt his head backwards to see above him.(35) One physician claimed that he had "chronic myelitis, especially of the anterior columns, such as would be induced by an injury similar to that received by him at Petersburg".(54) (I assume he wasn't still an upholsterer.)
In 1891, his post office address was 38 N 16th St., Philadelphia.(36)
In July 1891, he wrote to the Pension Office, asking for a copy of the proceedings of his court martial. They replied on 16 July 1891.(65)
In 1892, Baker Post number 8 experienced "some apathy and discouragement" because of "the Frazier episode" and several courts martial against prominent members. Walter claimed, however, that they had the largest turnout ever that Memorial Day. The post also took part in ceremonies in Washington, in September, and had a fair in November.(62)
His application for a pension on 10 July 1894 under the act of 27 June 1890 (which did not require physical disability resulting from service) was rejected because he was not honorably discharged.(54)
In May 1895, William Twombly wrote the Pension Office about him, asking something about his remuster. They replied on 18 May 1895.(65)
On 13 June 1895, he wrote the Pension Office, applying for a Medal of Honor. They replied on 13 June 1895.(65)
In September 1896, the War Department Auditor wrote the Pension Office about him, asking for a re-examination of his date of enrolment. They replied on 9 September 1896.(65)
By 4 October 1896, he was divorced.(53)
In 1899, the Commissioner of Pensions wrote the Records office, asking about his status as a volunteer granted an honorable discharge. They replied on 10 March 1899.(65)
In February 1900, a physician reported that he wasn't able to sleep well, because he couldn't sleep on his right side (because of his hip), on his left side (because of his lung), or on his back (because of pain from his spine).(54) He also had continual pain in his wounded foot, and often limped because of it.(54) He had been dropping tools for about 6-8 years, was occasionally unable to speak clearly, and had had bowel problems since the end of the war.(54)
In May 1900, the House Committee on Invalid Pensions recommended that the House pass a bill granting Walter a pension of $17 per month.(54) (The bill as introduced would have given him a pension of $50 per month; the committee recommended replacing the proposed wording and reducing the pension to $17 per month.(54))
In 1900, he was a lodger living at 909 Carlisle Street. He was still an upholsterer. He was divorced.(49) His ex-wife, Anna Walter, was living at 1912 Fairmount Avenue, with her children Elbert (who was a draper) and Darrah Belle (who had been married for four years). Anna had had four children, all of whom were stil living.(51)
The House bill granting him a pension was reintroduced.(55) In February 1902, the House Committee on Invalid Pensions again recommended approving it (at a rate of $17 per month).(55) In March 1902, the Senate Committee on Pensions also recommended approving it.(56) Unfortunately for Walter, after the House and Senate passed the bill, President Roosevelt vetoed it because Walter had been cashiered for disobeying an order.(57) Roosevelt claimed that to give Walter a pension "would be to condone an inexcusable offense by a commissioned officer, to detract from the high estimate in which the pension roll ought ever to be held, and to do an injustice to soldiers now on that roll".(57)
Post 8 of the GAR unanimously "endorsed" the March 1900 resolution at another meeting in December 1905.(58)
In 1906, he claimed that he had never had whisky, despised alcohol, and had never been addicted to tobacco.(58)
Walter tried for a pension once more. This time, Senator Boies Penroe introduced a bill revoking his conviction.(58) In May 1906, the Senate Committee on Military Affairs recommended approving a revised version of the bill.(58) In February 1907, the House Committee on Military Affairs recommend approval.(59) The House informed the Senate on 1 March 1907 that they had passed the bill.(60) On 2 March 1907, the signed bill was presented to the President.(60) As far as I know, he did not sign it.
In 1907, his post-office address was 1629 Columbia Ave.(37)
On 2 May 1911, Elbert V Walter died. He was the son of Thomas Walter (born in Delaware) and Anna E Springer. Unfortunately, his newspaper death notice does not mention his father.(63)
Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster)
Walter's pension file: 'Walter, Thomas F SO-188-601'
pension index, by regiment (Thomas F Walter)
'Thomas F. Walter', House Report 1612, 56th Congress, 1st session, in Serial Set volume 4026 (session volume 6)
'Thomas F Walter', House Report 493, 57th Congress, 1st Session, in Serial Set volume 4401 (session volume 3)
'Thomas F. Walter', Senate Report 921, 57th Congress, 1st Session, in Serial Set volume 4261 (session volume 6)
'Thomas F. Walter', House Document 567, 57th Congress, 1st Session, in Serial Set, volume 4361 (session volume 94)
'Thomas F. Walter', Senate Report 3309, 59th Congress, 1st Session, in Serial Set volume 4905 F (session volume F)
'Thomas F. Walter', House Report 8050, 59th Congress, 2d session, in Serial Set volume 5067 E (session volume E)
Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, being the second session of the Fifty-ninth Congress, begun and held at the City of Washington, December 3, 1906, in the one hundred and thirty-first year of the independence of the United States. Serial Set volume 5058, 59th Congress, 2nd session. Pages 389, 423, 435, and 463.
[I did not find him in Ancestry's index to the pension index by name (searched October 2005)
Walter's compiled service record 'Walton [sic] Thomas F., Co. A, 91 Penn Inf.', including:
Thomas Walter, 'Personal recollections and experiences of an obscure soldier', Grand Army Scout and Soldiers' Mail, various issues of volumes 3 and 4. NB: I haven't extracted all the information from these articles yet.
Pennsylvania Memorial, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Thos F Walters)
court-martial file, 1st Lt. Thomas F Walter 6W4/R10/C4/BX1998, record group 153
letter, Sellers to Bartlett, 25 December 1864 [requesting Walters' discharge to be mustered in as 1st lt]
charge and specification preferred against Thomas Walter, 4 January 1865
consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 22 February 1683
1870 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, second enumeration, 20th ward, district 63, page 80
1880 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, supervisor's district 1, enumeration district 390, page 99C line 48 to page 99D line 3 (stamped page numbers)
1890 US census, veterans' schedule, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 9th ward, 8th division, supervisor's district 1, enumeration district 173, page 1 (Thomas F Walter)
1900 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, enumeration district 703, page 61 A = 2 handwritten
1900 US census, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, supervisor's district 1, enumeration district 2175, page 13A = 151A stamped (image 25 of 27) (Anna Walter et al.)
1910 US census, Pennsylvania, Erie, Erie City, ward 1, Pennsylvania Soldiers and Sailors Home, supervisor's district 19, enumeration district 72, microfilm series T624, film 1342, page 109 = 2 A handwritten (Thomas F Walter)
company A descriptive roll, entry 88 (Thomas F Walter)
Civil War Veterans' Card File, available at the Pennsylvania State Archives, searched 5 May 2004 (Thomas F Walter)
'Divorces granted'. Philadelphia Inquirer 4 October 1896 page 11 (Thomas F Walter)
Pennsylvania burial record (Thomas F Walter)
1. Furlough 5 to 25 Nov 1864; supplementary muster in and descriptive roll of vet. vols., 26 Dec 1863; Company A descriptive roll, entry 88. Civil War Veterans' Card File at the PA State Archives has dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair.
3. Declaration for pension, 4 March 1907. This is consistent with the 1880 census, which records him as 38 years old, born in Delaware, and with his father born in Delaware. The company A descriptive roll lists him as born in Christianna, Delaware. According to the 1900 census, he was born in March 1843.
4. Supplementary muster in and descriptive roll of vet. vols., 26 Dec 1863
5. Company muster roll 2 Aug to 31 Oct 1861; company muster roll 2 Aug to 31 Dec 1861
7. Adjutant General's Office service summary, 31 Jan 1874
8. Declaration for invalid pension, 9 Dec 1873; Declaration for pension, 4 March 1907
9. Company muster roll, May/June 1862
10. Company Muster Roll, Nov/Dec 1862
12. Declaration for invalid pension, 9 Dec 1873; Officer's certificate of disability, 17 December 1873, by 1st Lt John G Brass; Declaration for invalid pension, 5 Nov 1894. He is listed on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg, as a sergeant in company A.
13. Surgeon General's Office medical summary, 17 Feb 1874
14. statement, Thomas F Walter
15. Surgeon General's Office medical summary, 17 Feb 1874
16. statement, Thomas F Walter
17. statement, Thomas F Walter
18. statement, Thomas F Walter
19. Surgeon General's Office medical summary, 17 Feb 1874; Company muster roll for Sept/Oct 1864
20. Detachment muster-out roll, 25 December 1863
21. Supplementary muster in and descriptive roll of vet. vols., 26 Dec 1863
22. Company muster roll, Mar/Apr 1864
23. Declaration for invalid pension, 5 Nov 1894. General Affidavit, Thomas F Walter 27 May 1891
24. Furlough, 5 to 25 Nov 1864
25. endorsement, furlough, 5 to 25 Nov 1864
28. General affidavit, 27 May 1891
29. Officers' casualty sheet; company muster roll, Mar/Apr 1865; company muster-out roll, 10 July 1865
30. Declaration for pension, 4 March 1907
31. Declaration for invalid pension, 19 Dec 1873
32. Declaration for invalid pension, 19 Dec 1873
33. Declaration for invalid pension, 5 Nov 1894
34. Declaration for pension, 4 March 1907
35. General affidavit, 27 May 1891
36. General affidavit, 27 May 1891
37. Declaration for pension, 4 March 1907
44. Bates. Volume 3, page 968.
57. 'Thomas F. Walter', House Document 567, 57th Congress, 1st Session, in Serial Set, volume 4361 (session volume 94); see also 'Walter's pension vetoed', Philadelphia Inquirer 18 April 1902 page 9, Thomas F Walter
60. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, being the second session of the Fifty-ninth Congress, begun and held at the City of Washington, December 3, 1906, in the one hundred and thirty-first year of the independence of the United States. Serial Set volume 5058, 59th Congress, 2nd session. Pages 389, 423, 435, and 463.
66. 1910 US census, Pennsylvania, Erie, Erie City, ward 1, Pennsylvania Soldiers and Sailors Home, supervisor's district 19, enumeration district 72, microfilm series T624, film 1342, page 109 = 2 A handwritten (Thomas F Walter)
The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4964) for the relief of Thomas F. Walter, have given the same careful consideration and report it back with the following amendment and as amended recommend that it do pass:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof the following:
That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to review the record of Thomas F. Walter, late first lieutenant of Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and to revoke the order of courts-martial promulgated in orders dated April sixteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and grant to him an honorable discharge as of the date of his separation from the service: Provided, That no pay, bounty, or other emoluments shall accrue by virtue of the passage of this act.
This officer had a very honorable service from the date of his enlistment, in August, 1861, up to the date of his separation from the service, in April, 1865. He was but 19 years old when entering the service. During this service he was captured while serving as a volunteer in a perilous trip from near Warrenton, Va., into Snickers Gap, in the Blue Ridge, and passing through the enemy's lines about 30 miles. He was in prison at Winchester and, in a march of nearly 100 miles to Libby Prison, "got away on a 'flag of truce boat' and returned to the front without waiting to be exchanged." He participated in the Chancellorsville movement and the Gettysburg fight, where he received a severe wound by cannon shot, necessitating his absence and treatment for several weeks, when he returned to the front of his own accord and served faithfully until the end of his enlistment, when he reenlisted with his company and regiment in the field and was placed in command of his company through nearly all of the Wilderness campaign. In the first attack on Petersburg he was severely wounded, injuring his shoulder and lung, but, notwithstanding, he continued to serve until he began to suffer from nervous trouble and lassitude, when [page 2] he was sent to the hospital for treatment. Afterwards he was sent to Washington and to Baltimore, and later was sent back to the front, not having fully recovered from his disabilities. When he returned to his regiment he desired his discharge, giving as a reason that he was not physically able to continue in the service, but instead was given a command as first lieutenant, and while in this debilitated condition he was ordered to duty that he did not feel able to perform, which resulted in his court-martial and dismissal.
This disability, resulting from his dismissal by court-martial, was removed in letter to the governor of Pennsylvania under date of November 13, 1868, in which the Assistant Adjutant-General, United States Army, stated "by direction of the President of the United States the disability resulting from the dismissal of Thomas F. Walter, formerly a first lieutenant in the Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, by sentence of general court-martial, promulgated in General Court-Martial Order No. 14, dated April 16, 1865, from headquarters Army of the Potomac, is hereby removed and he may be recommissioned should your excellency so desire," and on the same day a letter was addressed to Mr. Walter by the then Assistant Adjutant General, notifying him of the removal of the disability and stating, "The effect of this action is to remove the stigma resting upon you by reason of dismissal and is equivalent practically to an honorable discharge."
In view of the most excellent services rendered by this soldier during a period of about four years, and the injustice which was done to the officer by reason of his court-martial and dismissal from the service, your committee believe that in all justice Lieutenant Walter should be relieved from this disability.
Attention is respectfully invited to the accompanying report from the Record and Pension Office, together with affidavit of the claimant in petition to the Congress of the United States and sundry other affidavits, including communication of J. H. R. Storey to the President of the Unitd States.
It is shown by the official records that Thomas F. Walter was enrolled August 20, 1861; that he was mustered into service August 20, 1861, as a sergeant, Company A, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers, to serve three years; that he was captured by the enemy November 14, 1862; confined at Richmond, Va., December 1, 1862, and paroled at City Point, Va., December 12, 1862; that he returned to his company and was appointed first sergeant January 1, 1863; and that he reenlisted as a veteran volunteer December 24, 1863. He was commissioned as first lieutenant of the company, and is recognized by the War Department as having been in the military service of the United States as of that grade and organization from October 15, 1864.
On January 12, 1865, he was tried before a general court-martial on the charge and specification as follows:
"Charge.--Disobedience of orders.
"Specification.--In this, that the said Thomas F. Walter, first lieutenant Company A, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, having been duly detailed to go on picket by the adjutant, on the 31st day of December 1864, and having been told by Col. Eli G. Sellers, commanding the regiment, that he could not be excused unless by surgeon's certificate, did positively refuse to obey the order."
He was found guilty of both the charge and specification, confirming his plea and was sentenced to be cashiered.[page 3]
The proceedings, findings, and sentence of the court were approved and promulgated by competent authority in orders dated April 16, 1865.
The disability resulting from his dismissal was removed in a letter to the governor of Pennsylvania, dated November 13, 1868, of which the following is a copy:
"WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
"Washington, November 13, 1868.
"The GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA, Harrisburg, Pa.
"SIR: By direction of the President of the United States the disability resulting from the dismissal of Thomas F. Walter, formerly a first lieutenant in the Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, by sentence of general court-martial promulgated in general court-martial order No. 14, dated April 16, 1865, from Headquarters Army of the Potomac, is hereby removed, and he may be recommissioned, should your excellency so desire.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,"THOMAS M. VINCENT,
On the same date a letter was addressed to Mr. Walter by this Department, of which the following is a copy:
"SIR: I have respectfully to inform you that the disability resulting from your dismissal by sentence of general court-martial promulgated in General Court-Martial Order No. 14, dated April 16, 1865, from headquarters, Army of the Potomac, has been removed by letter of this date to his excellency the governor of Pennsylvania.
"The effect of this action is to remove the stigma resting upon you by reason of dismissal and is equivalent, practically, to an honorable discharge.
"I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"THOMAS M. VINCENT,
With reference to the assertion relative to the effect of this action it should be stated that it was in 1868 and is now beyond the power of any executive officer to afford relief in cases of this character, as there is no authority of law vested in any such officer by which he can annul, set aside, or modify a duly confirmed and executed sentence of a general court-martial or grant to an officer dismissed thereby an honorable discharge. The so-called removal of disability in the case of Lieutenant Walter was merely a declaration that the Government would not object to receive him again into the military service should the governor of his State see fit to recommission him, but did not affect his previous dismissal or entitle him to an honorable discharge.
Respectfully submitted.F. C. AINSWORTH,
GENTLEMEN: In explanation and in support of the bill introduced in my behalf by Hon. Boies Penrose, United States Senate, I beg to make the following statement:
I was one of the first men mustered for the Ninety-first Regiment, August 20, 1861, having just started into my nineteenth year. I remained with the regiment till after Lee's surrender. I had been a student of medicine and surgery and a cadet in a military school, and began instructing recruits before I was mustered in. I was made fourth sergeant when Company A was organized and color bearer early in 1862. I was with the company in the Antietam campaign and all its other services till November 1862, when I was preferred, as a volunteer, to lead in a perilous trip from [page 4] near Warrenton, Va., into Snicker's Gap, in the Blue Ridge. This was a desperate venture and a forlorn hope, as we had to go nearly 30 miles through the enemy's open country and into the rebel lines by stealth to obtain our object. We were captured, as was expected, and had some rough experiences in prison at Winchester, on a march of nearly 100 miles with the rebels, and in the Libby Prison. Got away on "flag of truce boat" in December, and in February returned to the front without waiting to be exchanged. I had been promoted to first sergeant; had full share in the Chancellorsville movement and fight and the strenuous journey to Gettysburg, where I received a severe wound by a cannon shot driving against the side of front part of my right foot.
I was absent for treatment seven weeks and returned to the front again of my own accord. I served in the various movements in the autumn and the trying Mine Run campaign. Reenlisted with my company and regiment "in the field" late in December, 1863. I intended to not reenlist till close to the limit, and only changed because it was represented to me directly and specifically that I was necessary to secure the reenlistment of the regiment as a veteran organization. I was in command of the company through nearly all of the Wilderness campaign, the most terrible and exhausting a great army ever went through. Started with 54 men present. Our captain was absent, ailing; our first lieutenant commanding Company H, and I was in my twenty-first year. In the first attacks on Petersburg I was severely wounded again by a slug from a rifle striking the lower edge of my shoulder blade that bruised my lung and injured my spine without penetrating it. The wound did not seem serious at first, and I stayed at the front. A few weeks later I began to suffer from nervous trouble and lassitude, and early in October was, by the colonel's order, sent to the hospital at City Point to get more efficient treatment. The day following I was sent to Washington and soon afterwards to Baltimore.
In December I was sent back to the front in as bad a condition as when I left it. The surgeons seemed to be ignorant of what ailed me, nor did they concern themselves to give me any discriminating examination or rational treatment. The hospital records show that I was treated for diarrhea, which is utterly false. When I got back to the regiment I was desperate on account of the way I had been used and the long continuance of my malady that I knew might result in wrecking me mentally and physically. I wanted my discharge, but was given a first lieutenant's commission with a prospect of a staff position to allure me. I held back from being mustered till I received positive order to be, and when I was detailed for picket on the following day, refused to serve, as a matter of duty to myself. Our lieutenant-colonel commanding (Sellers) had me court-martialed and I plead [sic] guilty, and after being four months under arrest the verdict came, April 16, 1865, that I was cashiered. During all this time I was with my company and fought in every action, great or small, that my company was engaged in. I should have plead [sic] not guilty and had the whole wrong exposed. The verdict came after Lee's surrender and I was well then, as I had sent to New York for medicine that, in about two months, put me in good condition. Our colonel (Gregory) wanted to take me to General Griffin and get me put on duty, but I felt so outraged and indignant, and the war being about ended, I declined. Colonel Gregory volunteered to tell the court that he knew me to be a man of sterling integrity as a man and a soldier, and also volunteered to take a statement of my case to President Johnson after the war.
I have two regular honorable discharges of more than usual merit--one on reenlistment, one on being commissioned. I never took a drink of whisky in my life and despise all alcoholic drinks. I never was addicted to tobacco, and had the esteem and confident of my comrades to an unusual degree. Colonel Sellers was officer of the day, and two other members of our regiment in high position when they took me in Post 8, in 1876, without laying my application over and appointing a committee, as the law directs. They insisted on making me chaplain at the next election, and later I was appointed adjutant without my consent. In 1892, when the post had more than 760 members they unanimously made me its commander and have continued to honor me till I have protested.
The Union Veteran Legion takes me in and wants to treat me the same way.
Does the President know a worthy soldier so much better than all these?
I am seriously affected, physically and mentally, by the wounds received, and more than twenty years' distress with piles, so that I am not fit to labor half the time, and am without other means of support.THOMAS F. WALTER.
SIR: By direction of the President of the United States the disability resulting from the dismissal of Thomas F. Walter, formerly a first lieutenant in the Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, by sentence of general court-martial promulgated in general court-martial order No. 14, dated April 16, 1865, from headquarter's [sic] Army of the Potomac is hereby removed, and he may be recommissioned, should your excellency so desire.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,THOMAS M. VINCENT,
SIR: I have respectfully to inform you that the disability resulting from your dismissal by sentence of general court-martial, promulgated in general court-martial order No. 14, dated April 16, 1865, from headquarters Army of the Potomac, has been removed by letter of this date to his excellency the governor of Pennsylvania.
The effect of this action is to remove the stigma resting upon you by reason of dismissal, and is equivalent, practically, to an honorable discharge.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,THOMAS M. VINCENT,
This action of the President I have always regarded as an honorable discharge and as setting aside and making void the court-martial proceedings, and all of my comrades and companions have looked upon and regarded said order in the same light. If we have been mistaken in that our mistake has been honestly made and with no intent to deceive.
All of which is respectfully submitted.THOMAS F. WALTER
Thomas F. Walter, being duly sworn according to law, deposes and says that the facts set forth in the foregoing statement are true and correct.THOMAS F. WALTER
"Whereas Thomas F. Walter, a member of E. D. Baker Post, No. 8, Department of Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic, Philadelphia Pa., applied to Congress for a special act in his pension claim, No. 7203, now in the hands of the Committee on Pensions of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.:
"Be it resolved, That we, his fellow-comrades of said post (numbering nearly 500), do hereby desire to record ourselves on behalf of Comrade Walter's claim. He is a past post commander in good standing, a comrade of high character and integrity, and an honorable gentleman, who we know from personal acquaintance is disabled and entitled to the relief he asks for in the bill, and it should receive prompt action, as he is growing old."
Unanimously adopted by the post at its regular meeting, March 8, 1900, and respectfully forwarded.
At a regular meeting of the post held this day, the post, on the recommendation of its pension committee, unanimously indorsed the resolution passed on March 8, 1900.WILLIAM B. MAGEY, Commander.
GENTLEMEN: Referring to the bill introduced by Hon. Boies Penrose for the relief of Thomas F. Walter, late first lieutenant Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, having for its object the correction or change of the verdict of a court-martial promulgated April 16, 1865, I beg to refer you to the statement of Comrade Walter, more fully setting forth the facts in relation to the act of so-called disobedience for which he was court-martialed, and to further say that I have been acquainted with Lieutenant Walter since the close of the war of the rebellion and have known him to be, during that entire time, an honest, sober, industrious man, an abstainer from the use of liquor and tobacco, and he carried on an upholstering business until he was compelled, by reason of his disability, occasioned by his wounds received in service and line of duty, to cease his occupation entirely. And in this connection I beg to say that during the Fifty-seventh Congress a bill originated in the House (No. 5761) entitled "An act granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter" passed both Houses, but was vetoed by President Roosevelt on the ground that he was not deserving a pension because of the act of disobedience for which he was court-martialed and convicted, and in order to bring the matter more fully to the President's attention I made a thorough investigation into the question of disobedience and subsequent court-martial, and embodied the same in a letter addressed to the President, a copy of which is herewith fully and entirely set forth.
I would further state that I have no objection to the stand taken by the President in the matter, for the reason that I detest conduct in an officer wherein it is shown that it was premeditated and actual disobedience for the purpose of securing immunity or discharge from the service of our country in time of its need, but, as the facts are that Lieutenant Walter not only made no effort to secure immunity, but did faithfully and honorably perform service from his original enlistment as sergeant until his muster out of the regiment July 1, 1865, and especially so while laboring under the stigma of disgrace of being under arrest from December, 1864, until April 16, 1865, during which time he served in every action in which his company and regiment was engaged, and for that reason, he was a victim, as will be seen by my letter to the President of February 3, 1903, of spiteful work on the part of his commanding officer, the conclusions are that the bill before you, being the only proper course to pursue, should become a law, thereby relieving Comrade Walter of the disgrace and giving him a pensionable status.J. H. R. STOREY,
Sworn and subscribed before me this 12th day of March, 1906.
Deputy Prothonotary, City Hall, Philadelphia, Pa.
DEAR SIR: Referring to your veto message dated April 16, 1902, in which you returned without approval House bill 5761, entitled "An act granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter," let me bring to your attention some facts which will throw considerable light on the case of my comrade, Walter, and which when considered in connection with the favorable report of the Committee on Invalid Pensions of the House will, I believe, lead you to withdraw your veto, that the wrong perpetrated in past years may not be added to and strengthened by your action.
Comrade Walter's military history being given in the report on his bill, I will confine myself to the facts in the case.
I am a Philadelphian by birth and a lifetime resident, and have considerable knowledge of affairs among the different regiments that were organized in this city during the war of the rebellion, the Ninety-first Pennsylvania as much as others. [page 7] There were in the Ninety-first Regiment at its organization two distinct classes of men--one that were members of the Young Men's Christian Association or were otherwise identified with some religious organization. This class was headed by the colonel of the regiment, one Edgar N. [sic] Gregory, and after a time the other came under the direct head of Lieut. Col. Eli G. Sellers; as a consequence, there was considerable friction.
After your veto message was published, I called upon Colonel Sellers, who is the crier of common pleas court No. 4 of this county, and spoke to him about Walter, when he replied: "Oh, yes; he was one of those Christian Association fellows in our regiment that I got even with." I said: "How, Colonel?" He replied: "It was just this, they were Gregory's pets, and when I got the chance I downed them, and when I became lieutenant-colonel I did get it." I replied: "They were good soldiers." "Yes; but they belonged to that crowd." "Well, but Walter was a good soldier, and he ought to have his pension." "Yes," replied Sellers, "and I would be glad to see him have it; he was a good man."
You will see by the above that Lieutenant Walter and others were at a sad disadvantage when Colonel Gregory was promoted and placed in command of the brigade, losing control of the affairs of his regiment. For as soon as Colonel Sellers had the opportunity, he forced everyone to do something, whereby he had to leave the regiment, and for no other reason than that they belonged to the crowd know as the "Christian Association fellows" or "Gregory's pets."
This does not mitigate against the patriotism or manhood of either faction, but it does afford a clue to the reason why Lieutenant Walter acted as he did; that is, to disagree with Colonel Sellers, that the Colonel would use his power to put him in a false position and then force him out of the regiment, and being afflicted by an insidious and far-reaching disease, due to injury to his spine, he was in no condition, mentally or physically, to keep up his part in a warfare that had lasted for over three years.
The fact that General Gregory, who was known to be in every sense a man of the highest honor and purest motives, gave positive testimony in favor of Lieutenant Walter I am sure would induce you to aid in mitigating a great injury.
I offer herewith a statement from Lieutenant Walter, the original of which has been furnished heretofore to the Committee on Invalid Pensions of the House, a copy of the bill, the report of the committee, and your veto message.
I am, very respectfully, yours,J. H. R. STOREY,
J. H. R. Storey, being duly sworn according to law, deposes and says that the facts set forth in the foregoing statement are true and correct.J. H. R. STOREY.
The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4964) for the relief of Thomas F. Walter, report the same back to the House with the recommendation that it do pass.
This measure passed the Senate May 21, 1906, and the report made by Senator Bulkeley, from the Committee on Military Affairs of the Senate, is hereto attached and made a part of this report.[Senate Report No. 3309, Fifthy-ninth Congress, first session.]
The Committee on Invalid Pensions, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 5761) granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter, submit the following report:
This bill proposes to pension this soldier at $50 per month.
A similar bill, granting this officer a pension of $17 per month, was favorably recommended by your committee in the Fifty-Sixth Congress. A copy of the report of that Congress is herewith. [sic]
There has been filed with your committee in this Congress a mass of papers as to the soldier's services and disabilities, substantially as set forth in the report of the previous Congress.
For the reasons set forth in the report of the Fifty-sixth Congress, this bill is reported back, with the recommendation that it pass after the same shall have been amended as follows:
In line 8 strike out the word "fifty" and insert in lieu thereof the word "seventeen."[House Report No. 1612, Fifty-sixth Congress, first session.]
The Committee on Pensions, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 5761) granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter, have examined the same and report:
The report of the Committee on Invalid Pensions of the House of Representatives, hereto appended, is adopted and the passage of the bill is recommended.
The House report is as follows:[I have neither transcribed this nor compared it to the original report] ['Thomas F. Walter', House Document 567, 57th Congress, 1st Session, in Serial Set, volume 4361 (session volume 94)]
I return herewith, without my approval, House bill No. 5761, entitled "An act granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter."
The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to place on the pension roll the name of Thomas F. Walter, late first lieutenant Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and pay him a pension of $17 per month.
The records of the War Department show that this soldier was cashiered by sentence of a general court-martial April 16, 1865, upon a finding that he was guilty of the charge of disobedience of orders, in that he had deliberately refused to comply with a detail to go on picket duty December 31, 1864.
He has applied for pension under different laws at different times and for different causes, but his applications have been denied by the Pension Bureau.
The disobedience of orders, of which the soldier was found guilty, is admitted by him, and, in view of his position in the service, was with full knowledge of the consequences.
To inscribe his name on the pension roll, as this bill contemplates, would be to condone an inexcusable offense by a commissioned officer, to detract from the high estimate in which the pension roll ought ever to be held, and to do an injustice to soldiers now on that roll, especially those under the act of June 27, 1890, where an honorable discharge from the service is a condition precedent to obtaining pension.
WHITE HOUSE, April 16, 1902.
A BILL (H.R. 5761) granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter.
Be it enacted, etc., That the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to place on the pension roll, subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws, the name of Thomas F. Walter, late first lieutenant Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and pay him a pension at the rate of $17 per month.['Thomas F. Walter', House Report 1612, 56th Congress, 1st session, in Serial Set volume 4026 (session volume 6)]
The Committee on Invalid Pensions, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 7203) granting a pension to Thomas F. Walter, submit the following report:
This bill (H.R. 7203) proposes to pension Thomas F. Walter at $50 per month.
The records of the War Department show that this soldier enlisted as sergeant in Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, August 20, 1861; he reenlisted December 24, 1863; was promoted to first lieutenant, to date December 14, 1864; that he was cashiered by sentence of a general court-martial April 16, 1865, having been found guilty of the charge of disobedience of orders, in that, having been duly detailed to go on picket by the adjutant, December 31, 1864, and having been advised by the colonel of the regiment that he could not be excused unless upon the surgeon's certificate, he did positively refuse to obey orders; and the medical records of the War Department show that he was under treatment from July, 1863, for wound of the foot, and in September, 1863, for diarrhea.
He applied for pension under the general law on December 22, 1873, on account of wound of foot, received at the battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; and on July 5, 1889, he filed another claim on account of wound of shoulder, the bullet striking the back part of shoulder, passing obliquely across the back, and striking the spine, and resulting in disease of the nervous system, received in front of Petersburg, Va., in June, 1864, and filed proof in corroboration of his allegations as to these wounds; but these claims were rejected in March, 1874, and November, 1899, respectively, upon the ground that there had been no ratable disability from the alleged wound of the right foot since the officer's discharge from the service, nor from the alleged gunshot wound of right shoulder and spine and alleged resulting disabilities since the filing of the claim for said disabilities.[page 2]
Proof was filed in the Pension Bureau to the effect that since about 1881 his physical condition as a result of the wound of the shoulder and spine had been such as to disable him to a great extent; and one physician who testified in the case in 1891 described the condition of the beneficiary as follows:
I find him affected with chronic inflammation of the anterior columns of the spinal cord, due, as he believes, to the wound of the spine received by said Walter in battle; the ankle clonus is deficient; the electro-faradic contractability is lessened, as is also the galvanic irritability to a still greater extent, a current from forty Barrett cells being imperceptible to the patient. These symptoms lead the deponent to believe that said Walter suffers with chronic myelitis, especially of the anterior columns, such as would be induced by an injury similar to that received by him at Petersburg.
The first examination of the beneficiary, had on February 18, 1874, revealed no disability from the gunshot wound of the foot. The next one, had August 25, 1891, also stated that there was no scar on any portion of the right foot, no atrophy or contractions, no lameness; and this board of surgeons also failed to find any scar or other external evidence of any injury to the right shoulder, no tenderness over the spine, no nausea, convulsions, or epilepsy, no paralysis, and no muscular tremors, except of the tongue. The next medical examination, made on February 1, 1893, states that the only disability the board could find was excessive nervousness, the cause of which could not be determined; and this board of surgeons further stated that they could not find any evidence of any injury to any portion of the spine nor of the back; that the reflexes are all normal; that there is no paresis, loss of memory, or indication of mental derangement, no anaesthesia, no mark of injury to the foot, and rated him $6 for neurasthenia.
The last medical examination, made October 30, 1899, describes the beneficiary as a healthy-looking, well-nourished, muscular man; and this board also failed to find any evidence of any wound of the foot, or any scars either on the shoulder or over the spine, or other evidences of results of a gunshot wound, no evidence of any cerebrospinal disease, the reflexes being normal, no incoordination, and special senses normal.
The claim under the act of June 27, 1890, filed by the beneficiary July 10, 1894, was rejected May 12, 1896, upon the ground that, not having been honorably discharged from his service during the war of the rebellion, title to pension under that act could not obtain.
There has been filed with your committee the sworn statement of the beneficiary, reciting his military services and the wounds received by him while so serving; that he was suffering from wounds and lung trouble; and was under treatment at Harewood Hospital; that early in December, 1864, he returned to his regiment, having been in no way benefited; that the day after his arrival at the regiment he informed the lieutenant-colonel, then commanding the regiment, of the condition of his health, and that he was unfit to properly perform his duties; that on December 31, 1864, he was detailed for picket duty, and feeling unable to do even camp duty, addressed a letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Sellers, stating that the condition of his health made it his duty to refuse to go on picket; that the lieutenant-colonel returned the note stating that unless the surgeon excused him the deponent would have to go or be placed in arrest; that he was accordingly put under arrest, tried by court-martial for disobedience of orders; that he pleaded guilty to the charge and specifications, and not comprehending the [page 3] importance of making a statement to the court in reference to the case, declined to do so; that General Gregory, however, proposed to tell the court what he knew of deponent's character, and that his testimony was as follows:
Lieutenant Walter has been in my command for three years, and I know him to be a man of sterling integrity, as a man and a soldier.
(This statement is borne out by the record of the proceedings of the court-martial.)
That a few years after the war his wound began to distress him to an extent so as to seriously interfere with his business and pleasure; that he continued much the same for about fifteen years, and then the old trouble that followed the wound of his spine revived and, in seeming combination with the wound of foot, brought him into his present serious condition; that he has been compelled to give up business; that his body shows no scars from the wounds; that such an examination as the pension examining surgeons have given him is far from adequate to prove what his disabilities are, or to determine their origin.
He also filed a number of affidavits of neighbors and acquaintances to the effect that during the last ten years he had been a great sufferer and wholly unfitted and incapacitated for performing any manual labor or undergoing any fatigue, as a result of the wounds received in the service; and also medical testimony of Dr. William H. Blake, whose affidavit is herewith:
In the matter of Thomas F. Walter, late first lieutenant Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; H. R. No. 7203.STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Philadelphia County, ss:
Before me, a notary public of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, residing at Philadelphia, personally appeared Dr. William H. Blake, whose post-office address is No. 2116 N. Mervine street, and who being by me duly sworn according to law deposes and says:
That during the last few years I have been several times consulted professionally by Thomas F. Walter, and the following is a summary of the symptoms and ailments which he has from time to time made known to me, viz: That he can not lie for any length of time on his right side because the right hip becomes so painful; can not lie upon the left side because the injured lung then becomes painful; can not lie upon his back because of a severe pain then caused, which begins at the point where the spine was wounded and extends upward; this pain comes on gradually, grows more severe, and soon compels him to change position, the result being that he restlessly changes position all night (being only quiet when lying on his stomach), which, together with the extremely uncomfortable and irritating sensations, due to imperfect circulation in the lower limbs, prevents his securing that amount of restful sleep at night necessary for his well-being during the day.
That for some time after his right foot was wounded he had much less control over the right leg than over the left, it often requiring a positive effort of the will to move it in walking, and that he does not think there has been a day during the last twenty-six years in which he has not suffered, and at times severely (and more so of late), from a sore, bruised-feeling pain in the wounded foot, which often causes him to limp in walking.
That for six or eight years he has at times been greatly inconvenienced in his work, because of temporary lapses of contractive power in the muscles of his fingers, so that he would drop his tools, and found it difficult to handle small articles.
That at times, for short periods, he finds it difficult to articulate distinctly for lack of power over the tongue.
That ever since the war he has been afflicted with feeble digestion, a torpid liver, and inert bowels, so that constipation was habitual and hemorrhoids one of the results, which latter often became so distressing as to prevent his working at his trade, and that such has been his condition for the last ten years I have personal knowledge, having been intimately acquainted with him during that time.
I have also personal knowledge that during the entire of those ten years he has [page 4] been so peculiar in his mental characteristics as to excite attention and comment among his comrades of the G.A.R. post of which he is a past commander; that he is mentally irritable and erratic, and that his forgetfulness has often caused him much inconvenience and pecuniary loss while working at his trade; that being so unreliable as to his ability to accomplish any stated amount of work in any stated time, he can no longer hold any position as an employee; that for the same reasons he is unable to carry on a business employing others, and is compelled to depend upon the little he can occasionally do for his friends and acquaintances as an upholsterer.
That to the best of my knowledge and belief he is a strictly abstemious, moral, and honorable man, who has always been of good habits, and who has the respect of all his acquaintaces.
And in the absence of any other known and capable cause, it seems probable that this general tendency to the paretic condition may be due to some obscure spinal injury sustained when he was wounded.
That I served for one year (until discharged for disability) as hospital steward in the Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Inifantry; that I afterwards acted for two and a half years as assistant superintendent of the Pennsylvania training school for feeble-minded children, and during the last thirty years have been in active practice as a physician in the city of Philadelphia.WILLIAM H. BLAKE, M.D.
Subscribed and sworn to before me, a notary public, February 10, A.D. 1900,. and I hereby certify that the affiant is a practicing physician in good professional standing, and that I have no interest direct or indirect in the prosecution of this claim.[SEAL.]
There has also been filed with your committee the following resolutions:HEADQUARTERS GEN. E. D. BAKER POST, No. 8,
Whereas Thomas F. Walter, a member of Gen. E. D. Baker Post, No. 8, Department of Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic, Philadelphia, Pa., applied to Congress for a special act in his pension claim No. 7203, now in the hands of the Committee on Pensions of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., be it
Resolved, That we, his fellow-comrades of said post (numering nearly 500), do hereby desire to record ourselves on behalf of Comrade Walter's claim. He is a past post commander in good standing, a comrade of high character and integrity, and an honorable gentleman, who we know from personal acquaintance is disabled and entitled to the relief he asks for in the bill, and it should receive prommpt action, as he is growing old.
Unanimously adopted by the post at its regular meeting March 8, 1900, and respectfully forwarded.THOS. CUMMINGS,
From the above it is clearly shown that the beneficiary rendered efficient service for nearly four years; that he was wounded in the service, and that his present disabilities, according to the testimony of Dr. Blake, quoted above, are no doubt traceable to his army service; and in the opinion of your committee a pension at the rate of $17 per month seems to be warranted under the circumstances, and the bill is reported back with the recommendation that it pass after the same shall have been amended as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu thereof the following:
That the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to place on the pension roll, subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws, the name of Thomas F. Walter, late first lieutenant Company A, Ninety-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and pay him a pension at the rate of seventeen dollars per month.[Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, being the second session of the Fifty-ninth Congress, begun and held at the City of Washington, December 3, 1906, in the one hundred and thirty-first year of the independence of the United States. Serial Set volume 5058, 59th Congress, 2nd session]
A message from the House of Representatives, by Mr. Browning, its chief clerk:
Mr. President: The House of Representatives has passed, without amendment, the following bills and joint resolution of the Senate:
S. 4964. An act for the relief of Thomas F. Walter;
Mr. Dryden reported from the committee that they had examined and found duly enrolled the following bills and joint resolutions:
S. 4964. An act for the relief of Thomas F. Walter;[...]
The Vice-President signed the same, and they were delivered to the committee to be presented to the President of the United States.
Mr. Dryden reported from the committee that they this day presented to the President of the United States the following enrolled bills and joint resolutions:
S. 4964. An act for the relief of Thomas F. Walter;
|Number, title, and action.||Page.|
|4964.||A bill for the relief of Thomas F. Walter--|
|passed the House||389|
|examined and signed||423|
Thomas F. Walter, of 909 Carlisle street, to whom Congress recently voted a pension, was surprised to learn that President Roosevelt had vetoed the bill. He said last night that he could think of no reason for the President's action.
Walter was first lieutenant of Company A, Ninety-first Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and served from the first battle of Bull Run to Lee's surrender, at Appomattox. He was wounded twice, once at Gettysburg, by a shell crushing his right foot and again at Petersburg, where a musket ball struck his shoulder and injured his spine. It was while suffering from the latter wound that he refused to go on duty, for which offense he was court-martialed and cashiered in 1865. Walter asserts that he has two honorable discharges, covering the periods during which he was wounded, so that there are no grounds whatever for refusing him a pension. Furtherfore, even after the court-martial the colonel of Walter's regiment, S. E. [sic] Gregory, of this city, personally presented a statement of the case to President Johnson, as a result of which the latter wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania, giving him authority to again commission Walter if he so desired.
Mr. Walter was for some time commander of Post 8, G.A.R., and is the only man to whom that organization ever voted the rank of major general.['Baker Post's affairs', Philadelphia Inquirer 1 January 1893 page 7]
The reports of the falling off in membership of Baker Post, No. 8, published in yesterday's INQUIRER caused considerable gossip at departmental headquarters. None of the officers seemed to have any fear but what [sic] the organization was solid, however. This same sentiment was voiced by Post Commander Thomas F. Walter, who wrote as follows over his signature:
"Various erroneous and somewhat malicious reports having been put in circulation during the present year in reference to the affairs of Post 8, I earnestly ask a chance to make some truths known through the columns of your paper.
"There was some apathy and discouragement at the beginning of the year on account of the Frazier episode and the court martial charges preferred against certain prominent comrades, but when Memorial day came we had the greatest turn out of comrades the post ever had on like occasion.
"The part the post took in the great ceremonies in Washington in September was brilliantly creditable to the post, and the many who took part in them will long cherish recollections of that time. The fair held in November was a positive success, and proved that we still have lots of earnest and effective working material with us, and I am fully convinced that the interests of the post have been so cared for and its successes have been such that this year should be rated as one of good progress, and next year should fulfill its promise of a year of harvest.
"Post 8 may have had something like a light rash or a weak attach of mumps, but in fraternity, charity, loyalty and vitality we propose to hold our place in the front rank. Peace is with us; unrest is with the few who, having placed themselves in wrong relations to the post, have not had the manliness to try to be right. Some comrades have been dropped, and a very few have left us, and I think it is fair to liken the post now to a good citizen who has just had a nice shave and his hair trimmed."
On New Year's day Meade Post, No. 1, will hold its annual reception. Great preparations have been made for the event and a big crowd is expected. Music, speeches and refreshments will be features of the day.[death notice, Philadelphia Inquirer 5 May 1911 page 14, Elbert V Walter]
WALTER.--On May 2, 1911, ELBERT V WALTER. Relatives and friends are invited to attend funeral services, on Friday at 2 PM., from residence of his mother, Mrs A E Walter, 3824 Brown st. Interment private at Arlington Cemetery.[Pennsylvania burial record, available on Ancestry (transcribed 29 November 2010)]