Editor’s Note: I would like to thank Bill Bradlee, the great grandson of Samuel J. Bradlee, for granting me written permission to publish his ancestor’s letters and other documents. With the exception of one, these letters are owned by Bill Bradlee and may not be reproduced without his written permission. All rights reserved. Mr. Bradlee also passed along materials from Samuel’s pension file which offer fascinating insights into the Siege of Petersburg. These are included here as well.
Pension Claim Materials for Samuel J. Bradlee
[Note: The top of the document is cut off, so the first line of Information is missing.]
…14th Battery Light Artillery of Massachusetts Volunteers, do certify on oath that Samuel J. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] was a 1st Lieutenant in said Battery, and is, as I am informed, an applicant for invalid pension; that in December, 1864 he went to the hospital and never returned to the Battery. Don’t know the date of his discharge or resignation or reason for [rest cut off].
I further certify that the said Samuel J. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] in the service and line of his duty on the 21st day of August, 1864 was wounded under the following circumstances. The guns of the 14th Mass. Battery on the day above named were in position in a small earthwork in front line of the Union works before Petersburg, Va., that was known to us by the name of Little Fort Hell. Lieut. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] was in command of the Battery; I was attached to No. 3 Gun. On this day there had been steady cannonading and picket firing all the forenoon. We had been firing at intervals all the forenoon when just before noon a Rebel shell burst in the midst of the Battery, blowing up a limber chest and killing and wounding a number of the men. Lt. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] was one of those wounded, his injury being in the wrist and caused by a fragment of shell. Shortly after the disaster Bradley [sic, Bradlee] was relieved by Capt Wright and went to hospital.
And that the said Samuel J. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] was sound and healthy as far as appearance went, when he joined the 14th Mass. Battery—he had been in the service before but I did not know him until then.
I further certify that I have no interest in his claim for pension, and am not concerned in its prosecution. My post office address is Selden St., Mattapan, Mass.
Emery W. Frost
Late Private 14th Battery L[ight]. A[rtillery]. Mass. Vols.
This statement is made from personal knowledge acquired by actual presence at the time.
Emery W. Frost
Post-office address: 42 Maxwell St., Mattapan, Mass.
March 9, 1896
In reply to your request I have to state that the following is an extract from a diary I kept in year 1864.—“Sunday, August 21, 1864. Cloudy and rainy. The rebs kept up a constant cannonade all along our line all the forenoon. At noon a reb shell blew up one of our limber chests, killed sergt. Taylor and corp. Howe; wounded Lieut. Bradley [sic, Bradlee], corp. Dodge, Tinkham[?] and Bennie. Dodge and Tinkham cannot live. The battery hauled out soon after.”—On this 21st of Aug. 1864 the 4 guns of the 14th Mass Battery were in “Battery 21” near Fort Sedgwick, the caissons + horses about a mile and a half to the rear. I was at this time lead driver of the 3d detachment caisson and stationed at the rear. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] was in command of the guns in battery 21. About 11 o’clock a. m. I was detailed with another man, E. D. Barton, I think, to carry the noon ration to the men at the front. We struck our line of works to the right of Bat[tery]. 21 and moved to our destination sheltered by our breastworks. There was a sharp cannonading from both lines. Just before reaching 21 a thick puff of smoke came up from that battery which drew an exultant yelling from the rebel lines and their fire increased. Reaching battery 21 I found Lieut. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] at the entrance to the bomb proof, into which he had ordered the men. He was holding his injured arm with the other hand. He had been wounded in the wrist by a fragment of shell and his hand was covered with blood which was dropping on the ground. Directly after Dodge and Tinkham were sent to hospital and I was sent to pilot[?] the stretcher bearers. Before going I saw Bradley [sic, Bradlee] with his hand done up in handkerchief. He also went to hospital and it was some time before he returned to duty
Emery W. Frost
Commissioner of Pensions,
Washington, D. C.
PS The puff of smoke before mentioned was occasioned by the blowing up of our limber chest.
E. W. Frost
Origin of Disability.
(This affidavit must be executed by a Commissioned Officer, or First Sergeant of the soldier’s Company, if possible. If not possible to secure the testimony of such, then two other members of his Company should testify to the facts.)
State of Rhode Island County of Providence:
Personally appeared before me a Notary Public in and for the County and State aforesaid, Robert B. Risk, aged 51 years, whose Residence and Post Office address is State Home and School Providence R. I., well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who being duly sworn, declares as follows:
That I was well acquainted with Samuel J. Bradlee, late 1st Lieut. Which he belonged to 14th Batt[er]y Mass Arty and know that he, while in the line of his duty, at or near Petersburg Va, on or about the 29 day of December 1864 incurred disability as follows, viz:
Was taken sick with Malarial Rheumatic Fever, and by order of Dr. Drake[,] Battery Surgeon was sent to Hospital at City Point Va. where after a sickness of several weeks, he by advice of attending physicians that he could not recover in Hospital tendered his resignation as 1st Lieut. of 14 Batty Mass Vols., which was accepted. Lieut. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] did not return to the Battery in consequence.
That I was then Corporal of 14 Battery Lt Arty Mass Vols. The aforesaid and the facts stated are personally known to me by reason of being under the command of said Lieut. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] in said Battery of Artillery when he was taken sick as before mentioned.
I was in the Hospital at City Point Va and saw Lieut. Bradley [sic, Bradlee] there and had a talk with him in regard to his sickness.
R. B. Risk
No. 609,465. Date May 19, 1900
Furnished to The Commissioner of Pensions.
January 14th, 1865,
5th Corps Hospital, Near City Point, Va.
To the Adjt. General,
Army of the Potomac.
I have the honor to address you, to respectfully tender herewith my resignation of the commission I now hold, as 1st Lieutenant of the 14th Battery Mass. Light Artillery, and to respectfully request that it may be accepted, and that I may receive an honorable discharge from the service. For my resignation, I have the following reasons:
I find that I cannot support my family at home, and properly maintain myself as an Officer in the Field, with the pay of 1st Lieut. Second. Physical Debility. I am now in hospital at City Point, under treatment for malaria fever and Rheumatism of long standing that completely unfits me for active service. Third. I was arrested last May , and charges were preferred against me by my Commanding Officer, and I was subsequently tried by Court Martial, which resulted in my being restored to duty, by the following order:
Copy of Special Orders No. 130:
“Hd. Qrs. 9th Army Corps,
“Before Petersburg, Va., Aug. 2nd, 1862 [sic, 1864].
“6. The Military Board, convened by Par. 9 of S. O. 157, current series, Head Quarters Army of the Potomac, having decided that Lieut. S. J. Bradlee, 14th Mass. Battery, was arrested without sufficient cause, the charges against him being supported neither by the evidence nor the facts, he is hereby released from arrest and restored to duty.
“By command of Major General Burnside:
“(Signed) Louis Richmond,
“Assistant Adjutant General.”
Again, after the lapse of a few months, measures were taken against me, and I was ordered before an Examining Board, to test my conduct, efficiency as an Officer, &c. I appeared before them, was examined, and certain testimony taken. I now hear that the proceedings of the Board are null, in consequence of the proper number of Officers to constitute a Board, not being present.
Believing myself persecuted, and feelings that such a state of things is prejudicial to good order and military discipline, and injurious to the service, I think in connection with the afore named reasons, it is my duty to resign.
I have the honor to be
Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servt.,
Sam. J. Bradlee,
Senior 1st Lieut., 14th Battery
Mass. Lt. Arty.
P. S. I have served two years and five months in artillery, and I gave one year’s time previous, without pay, to recruiting and raising troops.
S. J. B.
Images of the Pension Claim Documents