Friday, March 20, 2009

A Colonel’s Commitment

The government maintains a file for every veteran who applied for a pension, and each is usually filled with a wealth of personal detail. Some of the best reading is included in affidavits from the soldiers who served with the applicant. Each of these documents end with a declaration that the individual has no interest in the applicant’s case — a simple but necessary legal statement.

This morning, making my way through the pension file of Pvt. Jesse B. Ditty (see his photo on Flickr) of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, who suffered an injury in action at Lovejoy's Station, Ga., in November 1864, I transcribed an 1881 affidavit by Col. Thomas Jefferson Jordan, Ditty’s commanding officer. The colonel’s testimony supported Ditty’s claim, and ended with a unique version of the “no interest in the applicant’s case” statement.

Col. Jordan ended his affidavit with this sentence: “I have no interest in this matter beyond the proper desire that every officer should have, to see that his men who fought through the war & shared the danger with him, should if entitled to it receive the pension provided by his country for disabled soldiers.”

I am impressed that the colonel revealed his feelings for his men fifteen years after the war ended, and his commitment to their welfare. Another example of the strong bonds that the bonds formed by these men during the war lasted a lifetime.

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