65th ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: Spring, 1862 Camp Douglas, Chicago, IL
Mustered In: 5/1/62 Camp Douglas, Chicago, IL
Mustered Out: 7/13/65 Greensboro, NC
Discharged: 7/26/65 Chicago, IL
The 65th Illinois, a three year, western theater unit, also known as the "Scotch Regiment" was formed during the spring of 1862 and mustered into Federal service on 5/1 of that year. It was then ordered to Martinsburg, VA. On 9/15/62 as a prelude to the battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg, Maryland, while at Harper's Ferry, VA the entire 65th was surrendered to Confederate forces. Although all of the soldiers were immediately paroled by their captors, the exchange was not made official until April, 1863
After its return to the field in the spring of '63 the 65th served in the campaigns of east Tennessee taking part in the battles around Chattanooga and in the defense of Knoxville. After a severe winter of campaigning in the early months of 1864 the 65th re-enlisted as a veteran organization and its members were sent home on furlough.
Returning to the field, the regiment joined Union Army Gen. William T. Sherman's forces as they set off to conquer Atlanta, GA. One of the early actions of this movement came on June 20th during a lively skirmish between Kennesaw and Lost mountains. Stalling the Union advance was a deep and almost impassible creek with- the enemy disputing passage on the only bridge with infantry and artillery forces. Volunteers being called for, about 50 members of the 65th stepped forward and charged across the bridge, driving back the Rebels and holding the position until the remainder of the Union forces could cross. Numerous other skirmishes followed during July and August. After participating in the battle of Jonesboro, GA (8/31-9/1/64), the 65th followed the retreating Rebels into Tennessee. There it was severely engaged at Columbia (11/24-29/64) losing 3 officers and 50 men. Next came the battle of Franklin, (11/30/64) TN.
The 65th then participated in the battle of Nashville, (12/15-16/64) TN and followed the retreating Confederates to Clifton. There the regiment remained until 1/15/65.
Being transferred from Tennessee to North Carolina in early February, the 65th was there engaged in heavy skirmishing before fighting the enemy at Smithtown Creek. There it captured 3 pieces of artillery and 350 men.
The first five companies, with the exception of veterans, were then transferred to Chicago, IL for mustering out. Next, from Raleigh, NC, the remaining non-veterans were sent home. After this, four new companies of recruits joined the regiment and, on 6/4, officers and 250 men from the 92nd IL were assigned to the 65th as were 2 officers and 120 men from the 112th and another 25 from the 107th. Shortly thereafter the entire regiment was mustered out and returned to Chicago for discharge.
Regimental losses: Officers killed or mortally wounded = 1; Officers died of disease, accidents, etc. = 1; Enlisted men killed or mortally wounded = 30; Enlisted men died of disease, accidents, etc. = 97.
Residence: Edington, IL Age: 17+ Yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 2/21/62 Edington, IL Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 3/15/62 Camp Douglas Chicago, IL
Mustered Out: 7/13/65 Wilmington or Greensboro, NC
Discharged: 7/26/65 Chicago, IL
Highest Rank: Pvt.
As of October, 2017 when this biographical profile was compiled, no firm birth month, date or year has been found for George S. Cathcart. Based on military documents which indicate he was only 17 years of age when he enlisted in the U.S. Army, he was likely born sometime in late 1844 or early 1845. His place of birth was Allegany Co., Pennsylvania.
George's parents were James Calvin (b. 5/27/00 or ‘05 PA) and Mary (nee Pierce b. 1813 PA) Cathcart. James' first wife, the former Barbara Henry, having died, Mary was his second. The Cathcarts were a farm family. As noted, in 1844 when George was born they were residing in Alleghany County, PA. By the U.S. Census of 1850 they were in Redbank located in adjacent Armstrong County.
There were eight documented Cathcart children. What is not known is whether all were by James' second wife, Mary, or if some were by his first. Those older than George were: Robert (b. 1832 PA), Mary (b. 1835 PA), Elizabeth (b. 1841 PA) and Barbara (b. 1843 PA). Those younger were: Joseph (b. 1847 PA), Martha (b. 1847 PA) and Margaret (b. 1852 PA).
Sometime after Margaret's birth in 1852 and before 1856 the Cathcarts quitted Pennsylvania and moved westward to the state of Illinois. What had prompted the westwardly movement and exactly when it occurred is not documented. We know the family was there as of 1855, residing in or near Reynolds, Rock Island County because that was when and where both James and Mary died of cholera. There is some documentation, very unclear in nature, that at the time of the deaths James was not farming, but operating an inn/saloon establishment.
With whom the Cathcart children resided after the death of their parents is not known. Likely, though, they were "farmed out" to the homes of relatives and/or friends.
The first hard documental information available for George comes from 2/21/62 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. As young as he was at the time, a guardian would have had to sign enlistment papers for him. Interestingly, although such papers are often available along with military service files, obtained from the National Archives, such was not the case for George, so we don't know who okayed his teenaged enlistment.
Private Cathcart's military "career" got off to a rather rocky start. First off, on 3/29 he was medically treated for rubeola (pink eye) which kept him off duty until 4/5. Then, on 9/15 while stationed at Harper's Ferry, VA Private Cathcart and the entire 65th IL had the misfortune to be captured by the Rebel forces of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson as they rushed towards Sharpsburg, Maryland to aid Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia along the banks of Antietam Creek.
Captured and paroled on 9/15 apparently our young private decided to take this opportunity to distance himself from the army via an unauthorized "vacation." Unfortunately for him, the military considered this being away without leave (awol) or desertion. Where he went or how he was returned to the army is not documented, but by Nov/Dec., '62 there is a notation that Private Cathcart was once again present for duty and being charged a month's salary ($13) to cover the expense of returning him to the ranks. Except for sickness, Private Cathcart was never again not present for duty.
Relating to sickness, Private Cathcart was absented from duty sometime in July/August, 1863. While no details of his illness or the length of his absence are available in military records, it was apparently of a serious enough nature that he was hospitalized for a time at Camp Nelson located in Jessamine Co., KY. Additional medical issues revisited him in late September of the same year with this being the only muster roll notation: "Medical Treatment. No Diagnosis. Returned To Duty." We will revisit this July/August/September period in George's later, post war, pension seeking years.
1864. Despite his earlier mentioned somewhat rocky start in the military, in late March while stationed in or near Knoxville, TN Private Cathcart was briefly mustered out of the service so he could re-enlistment as a veteran volunteer. For this he received a tidy $400 enlistment bonus or "bounty", $60 of which was paid up front with the remaining balance to come in later increments. He also received a $2 payment known as a "premium." Remember, this was in a day and age then a private soldier's monthly income was $13. While records do not reflect it, he likely also received a 30 day furlough to home.
With his re-enlistment in late March, 1864 we receive our first glimpse of George Cathcart the man. His vital statistics at the time were noted as follows: Height = 5' 3.5"; Complexion = dark; Eyes = gray; Hair = auburn: Occupation = farmer.
With the exception of one, early March, 1865, bout of illness suffered in Wilmington, NC, a temporary reassignment from Company "B" to Company "H" and a pre-muster out/discharge transfer from Company "B" 65th Illinois Volunteers to Company "B" 65th Illinois Veteran Volunteers, George's final months in U.S. service appear to have been very benign. Thus, on 7/13 in either Wilmington or Greensboro, NC accounts were settled with the U.S. Government - $17.50 owed for clothing, a few dollars for lost equipment and $6 for retained equipment (likely his rifled musket) as well as $240 still owed him on his enlistment bounty/bonus.
With army life behind him it appears George returned to Rockford County, Illinois and settled in the community of Andalusia. There, he returned to farming, likely as a hired hand working for someone else. One such person may have been Charles S. Squires.
From Squire’s later, pension-oriented testimony on George’s behalf, it appears that at least by the spring of 1866 and into summer of that year George was working on his farm. This arrangement seems to have continued for approximately two years and perhaps into 1870 when that decade's census was conducted. During at least a portion of that time George is said to have resided with the Squires. Regarding this period, Mr. Squires would later testify by affidavit that during the summer Cathcart could not stand the heat and would complain about dizziness, head pain and weakness which he attributed to having suffered from sunstroke while in the service. When afflicted he would be so sick as to have to lay down. This Squires/Cathcart arrangement may have lasted into at least 1870 and, perhaps, longer.
The next really momentous occasion in George's life occurred on July 7, 1874 when, in Rock Island County and likely at Andalusia, he wed to Elizabeth "Lizzy" M. Faulkner (b. 1861 England). [Note: A second wedding date of 7/4/75 also exists.]
The union of George and Lizzy would produce six children: Alfred "Frederick" Arthur (b. 10/14/79 Salina, KS), James Clark (b.3/ 31/81 KS), Elizabeth Bell (b. 2/23/85 NE), "Bella" H. (b. 5/6/86), Benjamin "Bennie" Harris (b.11/6/87 Benedict, York Co., NE) and Forrest Eugene (b. 6/25/'91 NE).
As noted by the states in which the children were birthed, the Cathcarts did not spend their entire lives together in Illinois. By the fall of 1879, when Arthur was born they were in Salina Saline Co., Kansas. What had drawn them there is not documented, but likely it was the availability farmland of their own. By the following year, however, they were no longer in Salina, but Colfax, Cloud County, Kansas.
The late 1870s into the mid and later '80s appears to have been a time of moving for the Cathcarts. As of the end of November, 1883 they were in Carmel, Cloud County, Kansas and two years later, in 1885, they had removed to Holt located in Holt Co., Nebraska where their second, James, and third, Elizabeth, were birthed. Finally, by June of 1886 when son Benjamin came into this world they were residing in or near Benedict in York County, Nebraska. [Note: A second b.d. of 11/6/87 also exists for Ben.] Why and when they had made these moves is not known.
Before looking ahead further let's drop back a bit to late November, 1883 when the Cathcarts were still in Kansas. That was where and when - on the 28th of November - George first signed papers to obtain a U.S. Government disability pension based on ailments and medical issues which he traced back to his days of Civil War soldiering. According to those papers, as of August, 1863 when he was on duty at Big Sandy, KY during the heat of the day he received a severe case of sunstroke. For this he was treated by a surgeon named Brown in a Kentucky hospital. He claimed the effects of this exposure continued to plague him to that 1880s date.
As late as 12/7/87 George’s efforts to base a pension stipend on the sunstroke incident appear to not have proven successful, the application being rejected on the grounds that there was no documental evidence to support such a claim. Undaunted, as of 12/10/90 while residing in Benedict, Nebraska George underwent a pension-related physical exam which reported no lingering effects of sunstroke, but his being disabled by catarrh (infection) of the nose and throat along with a bronchial cough. Despite these findings, available files provide no documental evidence that a pension stipend was ever granted to or collected by George and/or his family.
1890. A new decade. There was also new census, most of which was later destroyed by fire, so we don't have any definitive data on the whereabouts of the Cathcarts at this time. Still, based on collateral information such as son Forest being born and the aforementioned medical evaluation, we know they were still in York County, Nebraska. Further, based on available documentation they remained there through the end of the decade.
During the 1890s while in Nebraska tragedy beset the Cathcarts. Lizzy died. According to family accounts, her passing occurred on 1/28/96 in Benedict, York co., NE. No details are available pertaining to the cause of her death or her place of burial.
With the dawning of the 20th century the census for that era’s first decade found George, a widower farmer, residing in Pleasant hill, Saline County, Kansas. Again, what prompted the move is not known. Under his roof were all five of his children.
Here there is a gap in the biographic profile of George Cathcart. In 1900 he and his children were in Kansas. In August, 1903 he was in Kirkland, King County, Washington. Why, within a few short years had he made the jump from Nebraska to the Puget Sound region of Washington State? Did his eldest child, Alfred, living in the area and enticed him to move to the Pacific Northwest? We may never know.
Former Civil War soldier George S. Cathcart died in Kirkland, King County, Washington on 8/19/03. Cause of death for the 57 year old was tuberculosis. Burial was in the Kirkland Cemetery.
Buried at Kirkland Cemetery
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