38th WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: March, 1864 Camp Randall Madison, Wisconsin
Mustered In: 4/15/64 Camp Randall Madison, Wisconsin
Mustered Out: 7/26/65 Washington, D.C.
The 38th, a three year eastern theater regiment was organized and mustered into Federal service in Madison, Wisconsin. Company’s "A", "B", "C" and "D" left the state on 5/3/64 for Arlington Heights, VA. From there it moved to White House, VA. In both locations it performed guard duty.
On 6/9 the regiment was assigned to the Army Of The Potomac then in the midst of Union Gen. U.S. Grant's overland campaign in Virginia. It apparently first came under enemy fire during the battle of Cold Harbor on May 31 to June 12 1864. After that the regiment took position at the extreme front before Petersburg. On 6/16 and during the afternoon of the following day the 38th charged the Rebel's outer line of entrenchments. During this action it captured a number of the enemy at bayonet point. That same evening it participated in a general advance upon the Confederate defensive position which resulted in the capture of more enemy entrenchments. It then dropped back and was joined by company "E".
Upon the explosion of "the mine" during the early morning hours of 7/30/64 companies "B" and "E" took part in the advance upon the enemy fortifications capturing one position. They held that portion of the Rebel works until during the afternoon when they returned to their own trenches.
The 38th continued in the Petersburg siege and on picket duty until 8/19 when it moved to aid in the capture of the Weldon Railroad. During this action it repulsed a simultaneous attack from three directions while fortifying their own position. The regiment returned to Petersburg in October and was under fire for twenty two hours at Hatcher's Run. From there the unit took a position opposite "the crater" in the front line. It remained there until spring.
On 4/1/65 the 38th led the right wing of the victorious Union assaulting column at Ft. Mahone. In that attack loss was over half of the entire brigade to which the regiment was assigned.. The unit entered Petersburg on the 3rd of April.
From Petersburg, the War having ended, the unit traveled to Washington City where it took part in the Grand Review. The one year men were mustered out on 6/2/65 at Tenelytown, VA with the remainder being so mustered on 7/26.
Regimental losses: Officers killed or mortally wounded = 1; Officers died of disease, accidents, etc. = 0; Enlisted men killed or mortally wounded = 56; Enlisted men died of disease or accidents, etc. = 56.
Residence: Oconto, Oconto Co., WI Age: 33.1 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 4/14/64 Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 4/14/64
Mustered Out: 5/26/65
Highest Rank: Pvt.
While several birth years can be found pertaining to Asa A. Cass, most likely he was born on February 22, 1831. That is the birth date and year accepted herein. His parents were Gehiel (1805 b.d.) and Abigail/Abagail/Abragael (nee Jackson 1807 b.d.) Cass. Asa's place of birth was (East) Hamburg - now New Hamburg - located in Upper (now Ontario), Canada. There is no documentation on possible siblings.
According to Asa's telling, his parents emigrated to American when he was six weeks old. Their initial location of settlement is not known as the family cannot be found in the 1840 U.S. census. Further, at some unknown date after coming to The States, Asa's mother and father divorced.
In the 1850 U.S. census Asa, his mother - now Mrs. Lucean H. Hill - (b.1818/'19 NY) and stepfather were residing in Lomira, Dodge County, Wisconsin. The Hills were a farm family that a decade later were found in Peshtigo, Oconto County, Wisconsin. Asa remained with his mother and stepfather until he was 22 or 23 years of age. Where he resided immediately after leaving the family farm is not known.
In May, 1860 Asa married to Olive May (b. 1845 NY). It is not clear if May was his bride's middle name or her surname. Asa and Olive set up house in Oconto Co., WI. Likely the community was Peshtigo as this name is a continuing thread during the Cass' Wisconsin years. The town is located slightly inland to the west of Lake Michigan's Green Bay and slightly north of Oconto.
Asa and Olive's first child - son Franklin William or William Franklin - was born on 6 or 8/2/62 in Wisconsin. "Frank" would be joined by five brothers, but not until after war had impacted the Cass family.
While it appears Asa and family were living in Peshtigo at the time, on April 14, 1864 in the village of Oconto, also located in Oconto Co., WI - a small town slightly inland to the west of Lake Michigan's Green Bay - Asa enlisted in the U.S. Army. His unit was the 38th Wisconsin Infantry. His maximum term of service would be three years. Interestingly, the enlistment was credited to the community of Waupaca, Fond Du Lac County, - 4th cong. dist. - Wisconsin. At enlistment Private Cass' vital statistics were noted as follows: Age, 27 (this would make his birth year 1834. Perhaps this was done in order to make him seem slightly younger than he really was as, during the American Civil War the average age of a combatant was 27.5 years); Height, 5'9"; Complexion, light; Eyes, light and his Hair, sandy. His noted occupation was "farmer."
For enlisting the new private received a bonus or "bounty", a portion of which was to be received up front with the balance to be paid in later increments. Documentation is confusing as to whether that bounty/bonus was $100 or $300, but most likely that late in the war it was the latter, larger dollar figure.
Entering the military as late as he did, Private Cass almost immediately found himself in the midst of Union actions in the trenches and fortifications surrounding Petersburg, VA. There, on July 30, 1864 during the infamous "Battle of The Crater" he was wounded. A comrade later recounted the wounding as follows: "About 11 o'clock in the forenoon while (the) regiment was on the retreat from the fort that blew up at the same time, (I) saw Asa Cass coming past (me) with a wound in the left shoulder. (I) saw blood running down Asa's back."
Following the wounding Private Cass was admitted to the 3rd Division depot hospital, 9th corps, Army Of The Potomac, located at City Point, VA. The admitting diagnosis was "Injury: Shoulder. Severe.” Private Cass had been struck by a Rebel conical rifle bullet. He was subsequently transferred to Washington, D.C. where, on 8/27 he was admitted to the Harwood, U.S. Army General Hospital. There, it appears those attending to his care noted that he had also received a gunshot flesh wound to his left side. His wounds were such that Private Cass was not returned to duty until 9/24/64. In the meantime, while his father was hospitalized, back home - on September 8th - son Anson came into the world.
April 2, 1865 was an important date in the annals of America's War of The Rebellion. It was during the early morning hours of that day that Union forces broke through the Confederate lines at Petersburg. The war would soon be over, but Private Cass' suffering would not........A comrade later noted: "Again, (the regiment) was ordered to advance on the enemy's works. Private Cass was in the ranks and (went forward). After we had taken the enemy fort and were in the trenches I saw Cass had again been wounded (this time) through the calf of the left leg. I didn't see him again until after the war."
Following his wounding Asa was admitted anew to the 9th Corps depot field hospital at city Point, VA. From there, on 4/3 he was placed aboard the U.S.A. hospital Steamer State of Maine and transported northward. On 4/6 he was admitted to a hospital set up at the Virginia Theological Seminary located in Alexandria, VA. It was from this facility on May the 26th, after having healed enough to be released, with financial accounts having been settled with the U.S. military, it appears Asa was discharged from both the hospital and the U.S. Army on the same date.
Army life behind him, Asa returned to his wife and family in Peshtigo. Most likely this was his first glimpse of new son, Anson “Asey” William / William “Asey” Anson Cass.
While available documentation is somewhat unclear on the matter, because of his wounding’s, Asa almost immediately began receiving a U.S. Government disability pension of either $4 or $10 per month. While he appears to have applied for the pension on 12/17/65, when authorized, it may have commenced retro-actively to 5/27/65, the day after he left the military.
The next glimpse we get into the life of Asa Cass comes from 1870 in Peshtigo Marinette County, Wisconsin. (Note: During the preceding five years due to the redrawing of county lines Peshtigo found itself in Marinette County rather than Oconto County.) The big family event of the year was the birth of a second son, Albert "Bertie" Cass. According to pension records the birth was on 1/14 of that year while the U.S. Census placed it on April 12th. (The census of 1880 tallied the birth in the month of October.) The Cass family was now composed of Asa, Olive and sons "Asey" and “Bertie.” In 1870 Asa's census occupation was listed as "laborer".
1871. On October 8th of that year Chicago, IL was engulfed in "The Great Fire". Although it gets little historical attention, on the same date, a firestorm twice the size of the state of Rhode Island engulfed areas of Wisconsin, including the community of Peshtigo. Untolled thousands died. Asa and his family survived the conflagration but a building - perhaps their home - housing items including his military discharge paper was destroyed. During the fire Asa's eyes were burned by "hot sand".
According of the U.S. census of 1880, in August of 1872, in Wisconsin, the third Cass son was born. The child's name was Edward. Strangely, available pension documents make no mention of this birth. Also, there is no additional census mention of him. While in Wisconsin Asa and Olive would produce two more sons: George A. (b. 6/74) and Charles S. (b. 1/80).
Dropping back a bit, during a medical exam conducted in late March of '72 it was noted that Asa was permanently disabled by his leg and shoulder Civil War wounds. In terms of the shoulder the examiner wrote that the bullet had entered the upper one third of the left arm and exited out the rear (on a slant). As a result Asa was unable to raise that arm above shoulder level.
Marinette County, Wisconsin. 8/29/83. At that place and on that date Olive Cass died. No documental details are available pertaining to her passing or burial location.
On 5/16/86, just a few months shy of the third anniversary of his wife's death, Asa was residing in or near the community of Sultan, Snohomish County Washington in the Puget Sound area of western Washington Territory. What had drawn him from the nations' midlands to the far Pacific Northwest is not known. Perhaps one or more of his older children resided there. Maybe it was the availability of homestead land he could access via his Civil War military service. Looking to the latter, on 5/15/86 he laid claim to 160 acres of land located in Sultan area of Snohomish County.
It then appears that Asa and sons George and Charles (and perhaps another) settled on and began working the homestead land. During this period a 12' x 14' house with one door and one window was constructed. The three then began slash-clearing the surrounding property. According to Asa’s telling: “(I) lived on the land until about 1/15/88 when, because I needed money to support myself and my family, I went to work on a neighbor's farm. I worked there until about 10/15/88 when I returned to my claim and began (more) slashing. I did that until about 10/25/88 when I went to work for another neighbor slashing until about 4/6/89 when I continued my own slashing and planted about 1/2 acre with potatoes. I then lived on and worked the claim until about 9/1/89 when I went back to work for the first neighbor (Mr. Stevens). During the summer the boys and I would go to the claim a few days at a time to work and tend crops. During the winter of 1889 - 1890 I again worked for Stevens. This lasted until about 8/90. Then the boys and I lived on the land and occasionally worked it.”
In August, 1890 Asa built a second house measuring 14' x 16'. From that point on him and at least two of his sons continuously lived on and worked the homestead property. In an affidavit from January, 1891 Asa again explained his connection with the homesteaded property: “Three acres had been cleared for cultivation during the coming season. I originally claimed that I's had cleared only 1/4 area because I thought the question to mean the cultivation acreage available during the 1890 growing season. The boys were going to school (so) most of the time (when I was absent working) they could not live on the claim. (I) had to work out/off claim to obtaining money for support of the children and their schooling. The people I worked for were neighbors who lived nearby. I also have a sister living in the neighborhood who is dependent on me for her support.” (Ed. Note: Perhaps the Cass boys stayed with this “aunt” during their father’s absences from the homestead claim.)
January, 1891. A neighbor's proof affidavit pertaining to the Sultan homestead claim noted that he had known Asa for three years. He (Asa) had three sons. Their homestead was farming land with some timber. He (Asa) had been settled on the property for two and one half years. Land was cleared for a house, five acres was slashed and 1/4 acre (prepared) for crops. A dwelling with one door and one window had been constructed. There was also a 1/4 mile private trail/road accessing the property which, with improvements, was valued at $500. The homestead application process continued throughout 1891 with Asa obtaining patent (ownership) on the property at the end of January, 1892
Jumping ahead to 1896. On 4/11 of that year Asa submitted a request to the U.S. Pension Office for an increase in his monthly pension stipend. Basis for requested increase was a lame back and frozen feet. Some two years later, in 1898, Asa again requested a pension increase based on his having injured his left hand by the accidental explosion of a gun shell cartridge he had been handling. On 5/10/99 the above mentioned claims were rejected. The following year, however, on 3/6/00 a medical evaluation noted this regarding the foot injury: "Left foot extremely crippled. Distal phalanx of 2nd toe completely gone. Stump of great toe is drawn down and extremely tender. Stump of second toe drawn up. These toes have been frozen. Has (also) lost entire index finger of left hand. Stump very tender. 3/4 disabled." The financial benefit - if any - from these findings is not documented.
1902. Asa was no longer in western Washington State. On 6/21 of that year, just over the Cascade Mountains in eastern Washington, he applied to the Waterville, Douglas County, Washington U.S. land office for a 163.95 acre homestead tract of land in the community of Chiwaukum, Chelan County, Washington. Chiwaukum, a community that no longer exists, was located along a siding of the Great Northern Railroad just outside of Tumwater Canyon some miles west of Leavenworth, WA. The application was filed in Leavenworth as the Waterville land office was noted as being more than 50 miles away from the requested homestead. Interestingly, within the filing papers Asa indicated he was not only the head of a family, but a native born U.S. citizen.
Settling on the Chiwaukum homestead tract on 6/30/02, Asa proceeded to improve the property in the following manner. Firstly he constructed a 14' x 16' log house which was later superseded by a frame structure of the same dimensions. Also constructed was a 12' x 12' hay shed. Approximately eight acres were initially cleared for planting. That acreage was later expanded to ninety with an additional twenty one for grazing. About a mile and one half of fencing was also constructed around the property. Value of the improvements was estimated as being worth between $550 and $700.
In the late summer/fall of 1906 Asa submitted evidence of his having continuously lived on the above property from the 6/30 date of settlement except for a stretch between January 1 and March 2 of 1904 as well as a one month period at the beginning of 1905. The nature of and reason for these winter absences is not documented. In asking for final claim to the land Asa also requested his ten months of military service be credited as homestead residential time. In 1907 Asa was granted ownership of the land.
1910. Another decade; another census. Interestingly, in that population tally 79 year old Asa was not residing in Chiwaukum, but back in Sultan with son George and his family. Was George's residence the initial Cass homestead? Further, what had happened to the Chiwaukum homestead? Neither question is documentally answered.
Another unanswered question is why, in 1911, Asa removed from Sultan to Grandview, Cook County, Oregon. On 2/21/15, while in Oregon his monthly pension stipend was upped to $20. At the time of his passing the stipend would have peaked out in the amount of $24 per month.
87.10 year old Asa Cass died on 10/21/17. His death came, not in Oregon, but in Sultan, Washington. While no death certificate is available, the cause was likely age - related. Burial was in the Sultan community cemetery.
Buried at Sultan Community Cemetery
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