Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nicholas Berry

Nicholas Berry was born in 1823 in France.

Nicholas may have been the same Nicholas Berry who by 1860 was working as a mill hand in White River, Muskegon County and married to Sophia (born c. 1837 in Mecklinburg, Germany); they had one child, a daughter Mary E.

He stood 5’10” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 41 years old and working as a sawyer and living in White River when he enlisted (apparently) in Company F on January 19, 1864, at Pittsfield, Washtenaw County for 3 years, crediting Pittsfield, and was mustered the same day. (According to a statement he made to a notary public in Muskegon on August 16, 1864, and forwarded to the provost marshal in Grand Rapids, Berry was enrolled in White River sometime in 1863, sworn into U.S. service on January 16, 1864, in Muskegon, then sent to Detroit and credited to Owosso Township, Shiawassee County.)

In any case, Nicholas reportedly joined the Regiment on February 10 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and was shot in his right knee and in the head and face at the battle of Spotsylvania, Virginia, on May 12. On May 22 he was admitted as "a single man" to Emory general hospital in Washington, DC, with a “gunshot wound of the right leg, lower third external aspect” caused by a minie ball. (On his hospital admission card he listed his residence as White River and his nearest relative as one “L. Collman” living in Forest City, Muskegon County.) The ball entered his right leg at the “outer aspect of femur three inches above outer condyle, passed outwards and backwards and escaped on posterior aspect of thigh same distance above condyle, leaving a cicatrix 2 in x 3 in.” (Regarding his head wounds it was noted in 1887 that Berry had a “scar above right orbit 1 1/2 in long -- linear -- not adherent or tender. Scar on right frontal eminence 1 1/2 in long, linear, not adherent or tender.”)

Nicholas was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was reported absent wounded since May 22. He had in fact been sent home on furlough to White River, Muskegon County to recover from his wounds, and in mid-July he sought an extension of his furlough. On July 14, Dr. J. Wheeler, of White River, examined Berry and certified that “he is laboring under a wound of one of the lower limbs, received as he affirms sometime in May. He has been under my care I think between two and three weeks. The wound was in a very bad condition when I first saw it, and in consequence thereof he is in my opinion not only unfit for duty, but unable to travel to rejoin his station, or to report to the U.S. Military Commander at Detroit.”

At the same time that he was seeking to extend his furlough, Nicholas was also trying to get all the bounty money due him. In mid-August of 1864 an assistant provost marshal in Detroit had written to Captain Norman Bailey, the provost marshal in Grand Rapids, asking if he knew that Berry claimed he had been promised $100.00 bounty money, but had never received payment from Owosso. On August 25, Bailey replied to Lieutenant Colonel Hill, acting Assistant Provost Marshal General in Detroit, that he had “no knowledge with regard to the matter” as described by Berry. “If Owosso refuses to pay him,” Bailey wrote, “the bounty agreed upon they ought not to have his credit. If the man’s credit be changed to this cong. district there are an abundance of towns that will be glad to take him and pay the $300 bounty promised by Owosso, but which he failed to get.” Colonel Hill replied on September 8, that Berry “appears to have enlisted and mustered into the U.S. service on” January 19, 1864, “credited on the muster in rolls to Pittsfield, Washtenaw County and reported and the credit cannot be changed except by order of the Adjutant Genls Dept. at Washington.”

According to Berry’s hospital records, by January 7, 1865, his wound had healed, and he was discharged from the hospital on March 8. In fact, Berry remained at home in Michigan until he was discharged from Emory hospital in Washington, DC on March 9, 1865, for “partial anchylosis of right knee caused by a gunshot wound.”

Sometime after the war Nicholas moved to Lilley Junction, Newaygo County, and was probably living in Whitehall or White River, Muskegon County when he married Elizabeth Gilbert in White River on October 12, 1866; they eventually divorced.

He lived in Whitehall until 1868 when he moved to Stony Creek (probably Missaukee County), then to Ludington, Mason County in 1869 where he lived until 1870. From Mason County he moved across Lake Michigan to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and sometime in the fall of 1871 settled in Menominee, Wisconsin where he remained until the Spring of 1873 when he moved to Arkansas. From 1873 to 1874 he resided in Little Rock, Arkansas, then in Missouri, on to Leavenworth, Kansas by late 1876, and to Colorado, working most of his life as a laborer. In October of 1883 he was living in Sante Fe (or perhaps Wallace), New Mexico, and in June of 1886 in Denver, Colorado drawing $6.00 in 1886, increased to $8.00 a month in 1887 (pension, no. 143,528).

By January of 1887 Nicholas was living in Castle Rock, Fremont (probably Douglas) County, Colorado when he was again examined for an increase to his pension and the physician noted that the “soldier presents an unhealthy appearance,” and it was the opinion of the examining board that he was entitled to total disability rating.

He soon returned to Michigan and was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 1062) as a widower on July 24, 1889, discharged on June 17, 1890. He apparently returned to Wisconsin and was residing in the National Military Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in December of 1891.
Nicholas was readmitted to the Michigan Home on October 13, 1892, and soon after transferred to the Kalamazoo Insane Asylum where he died on January 13, 1895. Nicholas was reportedly buried in Kalamazoo at the asylum.

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