Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - William Berry

William H. S. Berry

Representing: Union

Unit History

  • 14th Indiana Infantry K

See full unit history

William Berry
Full Unit History

Organized: May, 1861 Camp Vigo, Terra Haute, IN
Mustered In: 6/7/71 Camp Vigo, Terra Haute, IN
Mustered Out: 6/14/64 Indianapolis, IN

Regimental History


The 14th, an eastern theatre regiment, initially began its life as a one year unit, but volunteered to become a three year regiment when the call for three year volunteers came from President Abraham Lincoln. It was the initial Indiana regiment to be mustered for that period of service.

Ushered into Federal service on 6/7/61, the 14th left the state on 7/5 and proceeded to Clarksburg in present day West Virginia. From there, the regiment moved to Rich Mountain where it was held in reserve during the battle for that place. Then, from July to October 8th it was stationed at Cheat Mountain. During that period it was in action against the enemy on both September 12th and October 3rd. It then encamped at Huttonsville, Philippi and Romney until 1/10/62 when it moved to Paw Paw Tunner where it remained the rest of the winter.

On 3/4/62 the 14th proceeded to Winchester, VA where it participated in the battle that was to become known as 1st Winchester. There it lost 4 killed and 50 wounded. The unit next moved, via Fredericksburg, to Front Royal which it reached on 6/1. In the engagement which followed Union forces succeeded in driving the Rebels from that location.

It was then in various movements until 7/2/62, reaching Turkey Bend just as the Army of The Potomac was in retreat. During this maneuver the 14th engaged in severe fighting with the pursuing Confederate forces, but succeeded in checking their advance. Outpost duty followed before the unit moved to Centerville, VA where it assisted in covering the forces of Union Gen. John Pope's retreat from the Battle of 2nd Bull Run/Manassas. In September it was in reserve at South Mountain, MD. In the bloody Battle of Antietam that followed its division was the only one that never gave way thus earning the division/brigade the nickname "Gibralter." In four hours of fighting within 60 yards of the enemy the 14th suffered 31 killed and 150 wounded.

The 14th next moved to Harper's Ferry and Warrenton, then to Falmouth. It remained at the latter place until 12/11/62 when it participated in the Union defeat at Fredericksburg. Returning to Falmouth, the regiment went into winter quarters.

1863. The 14th did not see action until the May 1- 2 battle of Chancellorsville. Although in reserve during that action, the regiment with its brigade charged and drove the enemy from ground lost by the 11th corps the previous day. Still, it was forced to fall back by an overwhelming force thereby losing 7 killed, 50 wounded and 2 missing.

July 2nd & 3rd. During the second day of battle at Gettysburg, PA the 14th charged the enemy's advance, driving him down Little Round Top and capturing all of the field officers, the colors and most of the men of the 21st North Carolina Infantry. The following day the division to which the 14th belonged bore the brunt of the desperate Rebel attack on the left of Cemetery Ridge. During what has become known as "Pickett's Charge" the 14th lost 123 in killed and wounded.

Following Gettysburg, on August 16th, the 14th was transported to New York City to aid in quelling draft riots. However, it was back with its corps once again in October when Rebel forces were whipped at Bristoe Station. The year was capped off with participation in the Mine Run Campaign. During the ensuring winter, which was spent in Stevensburg, VA where a great number of the regiment re-enlisted as veteran volunteers.

In February, 1864 the regiment was in action at Morton's Ford. From there it moved with the army into the Wilderness Campaign. During Gen. U.S. Grant's Overland Campaign which followed the 14th was in action at Spotsylvania and at Cold Harbor. Final muster came shortly thereafter in June with re-enlisted men and recruits being transferred to the 20th Indianapolis.

Regimental losses: By death = 185; By desertion = 63; Unaccounted for = 12.

Soldier History

Residence: Monroe Co., IN   Age: 20.0 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 6/7/61   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 6/7/61
Mustered Out: 6/6/64 Indianapolis, IN
Discharged: 6/16/64 Indianapolis, IN
Highest Rank: Pvt.

Family History


  While family and documental evidence pertaining to the birth details of William H.S. Berry (even the H. and S. are not documented regarding what names they may signify) is, at best, sketchy, available information points to him being born in June, 1842 in or near Sarahsville, a rural community located in southeast Ohio. He was most likely the second child born to John William (no b.d.) and Mancy/Mary (nee Gilkerson b. 1811 OH) Berry. Known older siblings were Mary (b. 1836 OH) and Samuel (b. 1839 OH). Younger siblings were Allen (b. 1842 OH) and John (b. 1846 OH). John William, whose occupation is not known, reportedly died the same year as his son John was born.

  Interestingly, William is not listed in his mother's Morgan County, OH home in the 1850 U.S. Census. His whereabouts are unknown for both that tally and the one a decade later in 1860.

  First documental evidence for William comes from 6/7/61 when, in Terra Haute, IN only days following his twentieth birthday he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Enlisting with him on that same date and location was younger brother Allen. Both were then mustered into company "C" of the 14th Indiana Infantry at the rank of private to serve their country for a period of three years. Both would survive the war. William's military tenure would prove to be neither exemplary nor benign.

  Here it should be added that at enlistment and while in the service William would sign his name as William H.S. Berry and company muster rolls reflect the inclusion of the H.S. as there was another William Berry in the 14th. However, following his military tenure his signature signing was always as William Berry. As such, from here on this biographical profile will refer to H.S. as Private Berry while in the military and as William afterwards.

  At enlistment William H.S. Berry's vital statists were as follows: Ht. = 5'3"; Eyes = grey; Hair = dark; Complexion = fair. His occupation was noted as "farmer."

  Throughout 1861 company muster rolls do not reflect Private Berry's present or absence with his regiment. The same would hold true for the first two months of 1862. In March '62, however, all that changed. We know he was with his company because on an undocumented date of that month, while his regiment was stationed near Edinburg in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley the Private met with an in-camp accident. According to various accounts, while in his tent cleaning his rifle, other soldiers, as a prank, decided to jab at an unexploded artillery shell with a bayonet thereby causing it to explode. A piece of the shell passed through Private Berry's tent canvas and struck him on the side of his head over the left eye. Private Berry exited his tent with blood streaming down over his face and exclaimed "Who the Hell shot one?" Flashily bloodied, but not seriously injured, Berry's wound did not require stitches. Instead, it was pulled together, covered with plasters and bandaged. Although he then remained with his regiment he did not do duty for some time and his head was reportedly sore for two to three weeks. Still, he was back on the job before that time expired.

  Following the above incident the  14th remained stationed within the Shenandoah Valley - near Harrisonburg; near Strausburg and, near Luray - and Private Berry's woes continued. It was at this latter place on 6/7/62 when he and another soldier, outside camp without permission, were captured by the enemy. As of 6/13 he was being held in in a Richmond prison. Whether or not that was the only place he was imprisoned prior to his 8/5 parole at Aiken Landing is not known. It would be a number of months before Private Berry was returned to his company and regiment.

  The basis for the last statement is that Private Berry deserted. Following parole, he, as all paroled soldiers was transferred to Camp Parole located at Annapolis, Maryland for evaluation prior to either being returned to their respective units or sent home. It is unclear if it was prior to reaching or after being in the camp, but on 9/19 at Boonesborough Private Berry went absent without leave.

  The exact nature of Private Berry's departure from the army and his activities during that absence are not documented, but in relation to the latter he may have returned home. Even so, his absence from duty was fairly lengthy. Private Berry apparently came back under Federal authority by being arrested, likely by provost (military police) authorities. As of March 3, 1863 a muster and descriptive roll of a detachment of deserters and other soldiers being forwarded to their regiments by the military commander stationed at Indianapolis contained the name of Private Berry. From Indianapolis he was transported to Washington City where, on 3/12, he was considered returned to duty. For his arrest and transportation Berry was assessed a financial penalty of $25.97. He officially rejoined his regiment, then stationed at Falmouth, VA, on 3/13.

  For Private Berry, return to military service would not prove to be without further peril. Not long thereafter, at some point between 5/3/63 and 5/6/63, he was again slightly wounded. In this instance, however, the wound was from enemy, rather than comrades. The wound came during the battle of Chancellorsville, VA where encamped Union forces were surprised and overrun by Rebels lead by Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. During this action a portion of Private Berry's left index finger was shot away. In later years he would tell pension officials that because there were no permanent hospitals available during the battle he dressed the wound himself and reported to a field facility located in the woods. He added that after the fighting had ended, he was excused from duty, but had to report to a field hospital each morning for an undocumented period of time. He did not return to active duty again until the July 1, 2, 3 battle of Gettysburg, PA. From that point until the close of the year Private Berry was reported as "present for duty."

  1864. From January through most of May company muster rolls reported Private Berry as present. Then, as he moved toward the end of his term of enlistment something else untoward occurred. What that "something" was is not chronicled in available documentation, but after 5/26 he was "under arrest at brigade headquarters from that date."

  Private Berry left the U.S. Army in June, 1864. At separation it was noted that he had last been paid on 4/30/64 and owed the U.S. Government $1.19.

  His military service ended, William remained in Indiana. Exactly where, however, is unknown. He is next heard from the following year when, in February, near Smithville, IN he was injured by a runaway team of horses while drawing wood. According to William "(When) I tried to catch them the hub of the (wagon) wheel hit my (right) leg on the outside and broke it." He would later note that resulted in the knee no longer staying in place.

  At some undocumented point between February, 1865 and September 1, 1869 William removed from Indiana to Michigan. What prompted the move is not documented. The latter date is significant because that was the date in Serana Iona County, Michigan William, then plying the carpentry trade, wed to Francis Viola Perkins (b. ca. 1853/'54). The union would last thirty nine years until William's death and produce six named children: William Tecumseh (b. 5/2471 MI), Frank "Finney" Milton (b. 1/10/73 or 74 MI), Charles Frederick (b. 5/18/76 MI), Lura/Laura(b. 9/2/79), Leland Leota (b. 7/10/82 MI) and Elvina/Alvina "Vina"Frances Mae (b. 9/29/92 or 93).

  While all the Berry Children were born in the state of Michigan, not all were born in the same community or county. After their marriage, William and Viola settled in Saranac where she had been living. By 1880, however, they had removed to the community of Campbell located in Iona County. As of March, 1886 they were in Mecosta, Mecosta County and by mid-1897 were farming in or near Rolland, Isabelle County with their post office at nearby Millbrook. It was then and there that William suffered a dislocated shoulder when the horse drawn cultivator he was operating struck a stone. Relating to the injury he later noted "All that summer I could not feed myself without that hand." Finally, as of 1900 the family address was Detroit, Wayne County Michigan.

  Dropping back a few years, on March 20, 1891 William began the paper chase to obtain a U.S. Government pension based on disabilities which he claimed traced back to his period Civil War soldiering. The bases for his claim was primarily the shell wound he received to the head which continued to cause him headaches, but also the gunshot wound to the left hand which resulted in the loss of his index finger. On February 2, 1892, additional injuries were added including a scarred left thigh due to undetailed knife wound and the injured right knee. An ensuing medical evaluation noted he was pension ratable for both the head and hand injuries, but not the thigh or knee problems. However, as late as 4/3/02 no stipend had been awarded as on that date on stationary of the Pierre Marquette Railroad the following was written to the pension office from Detroit: "I have sent (you) three or four sworn statements that I could not furnish affidavits or persons known to the cause or the time (of my injuries) because there was not anyone within a mile of me so that it is an utter impossibility and to swear to a lye I would not for all he pension(s) that was ever granted. I haven't done any manual labor for 8 years and I have tried to get a pension and get it honestly, but I have failed. I have used all my power and now I can't do any more so we will drop it and say no more. I can't do any more my memory is all gone. At present I am tending gates on a rr which pays enough to keep sole and body together and I hope my days are few on earth as there is no.........part for me. I am so racked with pain all of the (time) and if I didn't have this job I haft to go (to) the soldiers home or the poorhouse. I will return your papers and thank you for past favors." Although the exact date is not documented a pension of $8 per month was subsequently granted.

  On some date between 1902 and 1906 the Berry’s quitted Michigan for the State Of Washington. Based on available documentation, the driving force behind this westerly move was the availability of and William's access to homestead land based on his Civil War service. Exactly where the Berry's initially set up household upon their arrival in Washington is not known. However, on 11/7/06 he underwent a pension board examination in the western Washington city of Tacoma, Pierce County, WA which noted that he now rated a pension of $10 per month.

  On 3/16/07 William filed homestead application papers with the North Yakima district land office located in North Yakima, Yakima County, in eastern Washington. At that time the Berry address was noted as Julia (a name not found on contemporary maps), in nearby Douglas County. Later that same month he paid a $22 homestead fee and he and Viola began living on land located in the Wahluke area of adjoining Grant County, WA. William and Viola reportedly continuously resided on the homestead site from March 18th or 19th, 1907 until 6/18/08. As a side note, during this same period his pension was increased to $12 per month.

  While living on the homestead the Berry’s had improved the property by constructing an initial, 10' x 18’ dwelling with one door and windows and, later, a more substantial 14' x 22' house sided with shiplap, a good floor, a shingle roof, four windows all of which was sealed and papered inside. Other improvements included a cistern as well as fifty acres cleared with ten of those enclosed with post and two wire fencing. Eight fruit trees were planted. Two to three acres were initially planted and cropped with the plantings expanding to 12 acres in 1908

  All this growth came to a screeching halt when, on June 18, 1908 William became so ill he was forced to travel 265 miles westward to be cared for in one of the two Washington State Soldiers homes, this one located in Orting, Pierce County, Washington. Viola travelled with him and remained in Orting until 8/15. When it was apparent that her husband was not facing a quick recovery she then left him and returned to the homestead. This, apparently, was the last she would see William - at least while he was alive.

  While in the soldiers home and not hospitalized therein, William was a rather prolithic letter writer, his missives being directed to his wife and, apparently, two of his daughters, one identified only as "Ginny" or "Jinny", the other as "Vina" (Elvina). Topics covered ranged from descriptions of life and the good care he was receiving in the "home" he shared with some 400 plus other former Civil War soldiers and sailors, to exhorting wife to take care of herself and his daughters to remain good children and help their mother with chores around the farm. His outlook about getting well and returning to his homestead remained positive, but such was not to be. On 9/24/08 the wife of one of the hospital's doctors wrote Viola that William's condition was worsening and she might want to come to the home (as soon as possible).

  William H.S. Berry died in the Orting soldier’s home on 4:15 pm October 25, 1908. A "comrade" who was with him less than two hours prior to his passing later wrote Viola that her husband felt at perfect rest and (believed his condition) was improving. Cause of death was noted as disease of heart and kidneys with infection of the stomach contributing. According to available documentation, burial was the following day in the nearby Soldiers Home cemetery. At his death former Civil War soldier William H.S. Berry was aged 67 years, 3 months and 23 days.


  As best as can be determined almost immediately following her husband's passing Viola began the paperwork process to obtain at least a portion of his government pension. That the process was successful is the fact that at the time of her death she was receiving a $36 per month stipend.

  Continuing with Viola, it appears she remained on the homestead for a time, but then moved to the home of one of her married children. Who that child was, where he or she lived and when the move occurred, is not known. However, in 1911 The Walla Walla, Washington City Directory listed Viola in that Whitman County city. In 1920, the U.S. Census placed the 66 year old widow in western Washington. Her place of residence was Jim Creek- an unincorporated, voting district area located near the community of Arlington in Snohomish County -residing in a "private family" with the role of "domestic."

  1932 found Viola further west in western Washington in Kitsap County residing in an area of the City Of Bremerton known as Pottery Hill. The 6/6/34 date of her passing at the age of 81 years placed her in Chico, an unincorporated community region located on Dyes Inlet near Silverdale also in Kitsap County. With whom she was residing at the time is not known. She was buried in the Sheltered Rest plot of Bremerton's Forest Lawn Cemetery.


Buried at Washington Old Soldiers Home Cemetery Orting

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