Fort Howard, October 1833 (part 2)

If you’re just joining us, I recommend reading the two previous posts in this thread, Pvt. Clark, reporting for duty and Fort Howard, October 1833 (part 1). In this post we’ll take a look at the reverse side of Fort Howard’s “Return of the Fifth Regiment of Infantry” for the month of October, 1833:

CLARK, Jonathan M., Pvt at Ft. Howard Oct. 1833 verso

NARA, Washington, D.C.; Returns from Regular Army Infantry Regiments, June 1821 – December 1916; Microfilm Serial: M665; Roll: 54 Military Year : 1832-1842. Return for Fort Howard, October, 1833, verso. Accessed online at Click to open larger image in a new window.

There are many interesting details on this side of the monthly return, although it takes some close reading and, sometimes, a knowledge of army abbreviations to get the most information from it. (Oh, yes—acronyms and abbreviations have been a staple of Army record-keeping since the earliest years.) If you need some assistance, several of the sites on this list at NARA can be very helpful, though some common nineteenth-century acronyms are not found on modern lists.

Most of this page is devoted to the monthly list of the senior and junior officers of the regiment and their current assignments. The left side of the page is organized into five columns: Company, Rank, Name, Post or Station, Remarks.

At the top of the list are the regiment’s field and staff officers: Col. G. M. Brooke, commanding the regiment and the post, at Ft. Howard. His second-in-command, Lt. Col. E. Cullen is commanding Ft. Winnebago, and Major G. Bender is in charge of Ft. Dearborn. W. E. Cruger (possibly a lieutenant) has been reassigned from Co. D to serve as Adjutant, essentially the chief correspondent and record-keeper of the regiment. He is stationed with his boss, Col. Brooke, at Ft. Howard.

The regiment has two army surgeons and two assistant surgeons. Surgeons C. A. Finley and R. S. Satterlee hold army rank equivalent to Major and are both stationed at Ft. Howard, although Dr. Finley is away from the post on furlough, which has been extended to December 31. Forts Dearborn and Winnebago each have the service of one Assistant Surgeon. The regiment’s two Assistant Surgeons hold rank equivalent to either a Captain or a First Lieutenant, depending on the individual’s length of service in the army.

Continuing down the left side of the page, there are pre-printed places to list the officers commanding each of the regiment’s ten companies. Each company should be led by a Captain, assisted by a First Lieutenant and a Second Lieutenant. At the end of the list of company officers, there are spaces to list Brevet Second Lieutenants; the regiment has five altogether. (A “brevet” officer is a soldier that has been promoted to a higher rank, usually for bravery or other especially meritorious service. Unlike a standard promotion—which was a permanent increase in rank and pay, usually based on strict seniority rules—a brevet officer did not receive a corresponding increase in pay.)

A quick look at the “Post or Station” and “Remarks” columns on the document shows that many of the regiment’s officers were not anywhere near the the rest of the unit. For example, the leader of Co. D, Capt. G. Low, is assigned to lead his company at Ft. Winnebago, but is away on a six-month furlough that started on Sept. 1. He will be away until the beginning of March, 1834. Co. D also currently lacks a first lieutenant, so it is being led by its most junior officer, 2nd Lt. A. S. [Alexander S.] Hooe.

Many of the other captains and lieutenants of the regiment are away on assignment. The captain of Co. E has been assigned to Newport Barracks, Kentucky, on recruiting service. The captain of Co. F. is in Washington, D.C., assisting in the commanding general’s office. The first lieutenant of Co. G is also in Washington, on temporary duty (T. D.) pursuant to special order no. 29 of 14th June 1828. Of the regiment’s total of thirty-four captains and lieutenants, six were stationed far from it, and another three were on furlough. For October, 1833, almost one-quarter of General Brooke’s company-level officers are away from the regiment; it is a situation he will complain about regularly in his correspondence with the Adjutant General in Washington.

The absence of so many company-level leaders provides an opportunity for junior officers to get more advanced experience by taking “acting” leadership positions. These positions are indicated by boldface letters in the Remarks column, such as A.A.Q.M. (acting assistant quartermaster), A.Q.M. (acting quartermaster) and A.C.S. (assistant chief of staff).

The remainder of this side of the monthly return lists various types of additions and subtractions from the regiment’s roster. The last item at the bottom of the left side of the page informs us that the captain of Co. G has resigned, effective October 1.  Moving to the first of two vertical columns of Name-Rank-Letter of Company-Date at the top right of the page, we find the list of thirteen “Recruits Joined from the General Depot,” which includes the first appearance of Jonathan M. Clark at Ft. Howard.

Below that is a list of three new men Enlisted in the Regiment, one assigned to Co. A, two to Co. B. The next item is the single Re-Enlistment for the month; private Jacob Zimmerman of Co. I took the oath again on October 7. The regiment has three new soldiers, Joined By Transfer, two privates and a corporal, along with two new privates Joined By Order of the Adjutant General.

Two privates, from Companies D and F, have Joined From Desertion. They either saw the error of their ways and returned voluntarily, or were captured by military police and are joining the unit after some time spent in reflection while “in confinement” at one army post or another. And three privates, from Companies D, E, and I, have been Discharged, for reasons not stated on the return.

The final group of columns on the far top right of the page records that two privates and a corporal have been Transferred. And on October 21, 1833, one soldier, Pvt. Simeon Towns of Co. F,  has Died. Two privates have Deserted, and ordnance sergeant Joseph Adams of Co. B has been Dropped from the rolls of the regiment, though the monthly return does not indicate why.

And that concludes the October, 1833, monthly Return of the Fifth Regiment of Infantry. During Jonathan M. Clark’s three years of service, from September 19, 1833, to September 19, 1836, the regimental staff will complete about thirty-six monthly returns, most or all of which survive and have been microfilmed. In future posts I hope to mine those returns and other sources for information about JMC’s unit, Co. K. and in the process learn more about what Jonathan did while a soldier.