Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - Royal Messenger

Royal Messenger

Representing: Union

G.A.R Post

  • John Buford Post #89 Everett, Snohomish Co. WA

Unit History

  • 4th Iowa Infantry I

See full unit history

Royal Messenger
Full Unit History

Summer, 1861 Camp Kirkwood Council Bluffs, IA
Mustered In: August 8, 1861 Cam Kirkwood Council Bluffs, IA
Mustered Out: 7/24/65 Louisville, KY

Regimental History


  The 4th, a three year western theater regiment was assembled during the summer of 1861. During the organization period two hundred men were dispatched from camp repel a threatened Confederate invasion into the southern part of the state.  That threat eliminated the two hundred returned to camp and, in August, the entire unit proceeded to St. Louis, MO and from there to Rolla where it remained until January, 1862.

  On 1/23/62 the regiment left Rolla and moved to Springfield to do battle with the enemy, but only a brief skirmish ensued.  Shortly thereafter between March 6th and the 8th the unit participated in the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas during which it won high praise but lost nearly half the number of those engaged in killed, wounding or capture.

  The months following the Union victory at Pea Ridge found the Federal army, including the 4th, struggling to avoid starvation due to a lack of supplies. In mid-year foraging expeditions within Arkansas at least kept the men alive until supply trains arrived.

  In December, 1862 the 4th moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi with Union General W.T. Sherman. There it was engaged in the disastrous attack on Chickasaw Bayou/Bluffs (12/26-29/62) where it lost 112 killed and wounded out of 480 involved.

  January, 1863 saw the 4th engaged in the campaign against Arkansaw Post, Arkansas before spending two months encamped in the swamps around Vicksburg.  It then moved to Greenville before returning to Milliken's Bend and took part in the movement upon Jackson before returning to Vicksburg.  During the battles and siege of that place the unit lost 80 killed and/or wounded.

  In September, 1863 the 4th left Mississippi and moved to Memphis, TN, moved thence to Corinth, MS and marched to Luka, MS from which point it was ordered to Cherokee Station, AL where it was in repeated engagements with the enemy until October. It then proceeded to Chattanooga, TN and took part in the battle that occurred there before marching to Ringgold, GA. A return to Alabama followed.

  The regiment reenlisted in January, 1864 and, after a furlough home, joined Sherman's Atlanta, GA campaign in May. With the fall of Atlanta it then "marched to the sea."

  When, during the early months of 1865 Sherman's armies moved northward from Georgia into the Carolinas the 4th was heavily engaged at Bentonville, NC, marched to Raleigh and from there to Washington, D.C. where, with the War being over, it took part in the Grand Review. Provost (military police) duty in Louisville, KY preceded final muster.

Soldier History

Residence: Wayne County, IA   Age: 17.0 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 10/28/61   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 11/9/61
Discharged: 1/22/62 Rolla, MO
Highest Rank: Pvt. 

Family History


  Royal Messenger was on October 12, 1844 in Knox County, Ohio. His parents were Frederick D. (b. 1810 OH) and Jane (nee Johnson b. 1814 VT) Messenger. He was the sixth of twelve children.  His older siblings were: John (b. 1832 OH), Clark (b. 1833) Mary A. (b. 1836 OH), David (b. 1838 OH), Dennis B. (b. 1840 OH) and Samuel Johnson (b. 1842 OH).  Those younger were: Virgle (b. 1846 OH), Rollin (b. 1849 OH) Orin (b. 1849 OH), Hyrum (b. 1858) and Martha (b. 1861).  Although the Messengers were a farm family, circa 1849 did receive some schooling. 

  In 1850 the Messengers were residing in Chester Township, Morrow County, Ohio.  A decade later, in 1860 the U.S. Census found the family in Union Township, Wayne County, Iowa.

  In October, 1861, just past his seventeenth birthday, young Royal enlisted in the U.S. Army infantry.  At enlistment his vital statistics were recorded by the military as follows: 18 years of age; 5'7 1/8" tall; grey eyes; black hair; occupation = farmer.

  Royal was not the first of his family to answer his country's call to arms.  Brother Samuel joined the service on 8/2/61.  Brother Dennis followed on 9/1/61.  All three served in Company "I" 4th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. All three would survive the War, but only Dennis would serve until the conflict's conclusion.  Samuel and, as we shall see, Royal, were discharged for medical reasons prior to completion of their three year enlistments.

  Royal's military experience was short-lived and almost cost him his life.  Muster rolls show him present in November and December, but on January 17, 1862 he was discharged for medical disability. What apparently occurred was that almost immediately after joining his company and regiment Royal contracted the measles which morphed into a medical condition which army doctors could not identify. Affecting his lungs, it was thought he would die.  Although he did not succumb, the condition incapacitated him and prevented him from performing the duties of a soldier 40 days out of the two months prior to his discharge. .His short military tenure behind him, Royal returned to Wayne County, likely to his parents' farm.

  It was in Wayne County on 3/25/69 that Royal wed one Abrigail G. or Isabell "Bell" Kirkpatrick (b.1851 OH).  The union would produce twelve children: Francis Virgil (b. 11/25/69 IA), Lilian (b. 1872 IA), E.C. (b. 1874 IA), Frederick Clye (b. 9/20/75 IA), A. D. (b. l878 IA), Lola Jane (b. 4/14/81), Royal Burton (b. 10/6/83), Alonzo Newton (b. 3/22/87 WA Terr.), Viola May (b. 6/22/89 WA Terr.) Clara Irma (b. 12/25/91 WA), Marietta Bell (b. 4/18/94 WA) and Una Bell (b. 1897 WA).

  The 1870 U.S. census placed farmer Royal and family in Union Township, Wayne County, Iowa.  The population tally of a decade later, however found them found them in Columbia County located in the southeast corner of Washington Territory.  Although exactly when and why the jump westward had been made is not known likely it was the lure of expanses of new farmland favorable to the raising of wheat crops.  Seven years later the family was still residing in the eastern part of Washington Territory, but in Alpowa, Garfield County instead of Columbia County. 

  As early as 1883 former Civil War soldier Royal Messenger began receiving a U.S. Government disability pension based on lung problems which traced back to his brief period of soldiering and his bout of the measles. Initiated in the amount of $6 per month, five years later the stipend was increased to $12. Although likely continuing until his death, the later amounts of the payments are not recorded within available documents.  

  1890. The census for that year found Royal and family in Pataha City, Garfield County, Washington Territory. They were still in Garfield County in 1892, but by mid-1899 had moved westward in the now Washington State to Rosania in Skagit County. Again, why the westward move was made is not known. The census for 1900 still placed the farming Messengers in Skagit County, but in or near the community of Fidalgo. 

  Another decade, another census and a new address. 1900 census data pointed to the Messengers residing south of Skagit County in the western Washington community of Tulalip in Snohomish County.

  In 1919 Abrigail/Isabell died.  Cause of death was apparently Bright's (kidney) disease.  Her place of burial was in the community cemetery of nearby Marysville, WA.

  As of 1920 Royal was still listed as a farmer in the Tulalip area of Snohomish County.  Assisting the now 76 year old was son Alonzo. That same year a medical examination found him totally unable to perform manual labor due to advanced age and a moderate degree of Prostatic hypertrophy.

  The decade of the 1930’s opened with Royal unemployed and residing in Seattle, King County, Washington some thirty miles south of his 1920 address.  At that time he was living with his married daughter Una and family. That same year, however, he was admitted to the United States Veterans' Hospital at American Lake, Pierce County (south of King County), Washington. Prompting the hospital admission was the fact that for the previous three years he had proved "flighty" and "irritable."  Additionally, he would wander away from (his daughter's) home without a coat or hat...and (no one) would know where he was.  In all, he needed to be cared for as a child and his daughter and family were unable to take care of him.

  Old Civil War soldier Royal Messenger died in the U.S.V.H. American Lake on 7/21/30.  Cause of death was listed as senility, psychosis and bronchial pneumonia.  His age at death was listed as 85 years and nine months.  Interment was in the Marysville Cemetery beside Abrigail/Isabell.  


Buried at Marysville Cemetery

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