Sons Lost in the Civil War – The Edward Carter Freeman Family

29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment

1863 was a historic year for black Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued, freeing slaves in the states that had succeeded from the Union. States began to organize black militia to fight in the Civil War. Massachusetts organized its famed 54th Infantry Regiment early in 1863. Late in 1863, Connecticut passed legislation to form the 29th Regiment of Colored Volunteers, which was full of recruits by January 1864. They then formed the 30th Regiment of Colored Volunteers. Seventy-eight percent of the eligible black men of Connecticut enlisted in the Army. [1]

Henry Freeman, son of Edward Carter and Mary Ann (Russell) Freeman, and older brother of Jeanette (see earlier blog on George Andrews and Jeanette Freeman) was 22 years old when he enlisted in this new Connecticut regiment on December 17, 1863. His 18 year old brother, Julius, followed him, enlisting on December 29, 1863, and was mustered into the 30th Regiment the same day. For a family that was financially struggling, the prospect of a $300 bounty and a regular income was attractive.

Unfortunately, tragedy was soon to strike these two men and the Freeman family. Henry was admitted from the field to Hampton General Hospital at Fort Monroe, Virginia on November 18, 1864 for treatment of diarrhea. Although he was sometimes able to be out and about the camp, it appears he never totally recovered and was taken suddenly with bleeding at the nose and mouth. He died on December 27, 1864 from hemorrhage of the lungs. He was buried in the Hampton Hospital burying ground.

Julius was reported absent for sickness on June 18, 1864 when he was sent to the hospital. He died on July 17, 1864 at the hospital for Colored Troops, City Point, Virginia of pneumonia, only seven months after he enlisted. On the muster out roll in Brownsville, Texas on November 7, 1865, Julius was due pay from enlistment, including a $300 bounty. His family was not notified of his death until November 16, 1866.[2]

Letters included in the pension application submitted by his mother for support of the family provide some insight into Henry’s life. A letter dated September 27, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia and addressed to his father stated that he had been in the hospital for four or five weeks, but was better and had rejoined his regiment. He heard that George (possibly his brother) was in the 30th Regiment. He was on a picket close to the Rebels, so close they could talk with them across the lines. Seven men were killed and a number wounded in the fight. He inquired of his father if he had received the ten dollar check that he sent to him. He stated that Julius had been in two battles about six miles from where his regiment was, but he had not seen him since they left camp in New Haven. (Henry did not know that Julius had already died by this date.) He also mentioned that Cornelius Russell was in the Regiment with him. He told his father he was coming home again. He sent a message to his brother Nelson that the lice were large enough to draw a buggy for the whole regiment, and a good many rebels are coming over to their side every day.

Included in the pension application was a copy of a letter sent by Julius to his father. The U.S. Christian Commission helped to send the soldier’s message home, as they had his brother Henry. The letter was written near Petersburg, Virginia and was dated July 19, 1864. This must have been written shortly before he died, and sent after his death since he died July 17, 1864. Julius tells his father that he is not very well and is lying sick in the hospital. He hopes to get better soon, and would get well quick if he could go home to see his father. He stated that he had written another letter a little time ago and had not received an answer, requesting that his father write to him so that he can hear from him. He also requests that his father ask Mr. Talcott to send him a few dollars in money. The letters indicate that both boys must have had a very close relationship with their father.

In 1874, Mary Ann Freeman applied for a military pension based on the service of her two sons, Julius and Henry. The pension application provided a wealth of information on the family, including letters from her sons, and affidavits from herself and others in the community who knew her and her family. The family was very poor, and dependent on the town of Vernon to pay their medical expenses. Edward was disabled, and had injured his leg in his early 30s. By 1874, he could not walk without a staff, his wrist was affected by arthritis and twisted, which made it difficult for him to hold tools, and he suffered from heart palpitations and dizziness. He worked as a laborer, and by 1874 could do little to help support his family. Mary Ann worked as a house cleaner and washerwomen, supplementing the family’s meager income. Her sons Henry and Julius, also laborers, had their wages paid directly to their mother before they went into the service. Her son Edgar continued to support his mom and dad through his wages once his older brothers left.

Mary Ann’s affidavit for a pension stated that they had high medical bills, and had difficulty paying for the necessities of life. Her doctor stated that the town of Vernon paid most of his bills for treating the family. They rented their home and had little in furnishings. Life must have been very hard for the family. In 1879 Mary Ann was awarded a pension for $8 a month, with back payment due from the time of Henry’s death in December 1864.

We are now going to explore the Freeman branch of the family tree. Return to one of my earlier posts on George Andrews and Jeanette Freeman if you need to refresh the relationships of the family with the Andrews family. Jeanette was the great grandmother of Ruth Andrews DeBoise. She was the daughter of Edward Carter Freeman and his wife, Mary Ann (Russell), and was the youngest of ten children.

Edward Carter Freeman was born January 18, 1815 in Colchester, Connecticut. He was the son of Eli Freeman and Sarah Carter. Edward married Mary Ann Fortune Russell around 1844. Mary Ann said she had been married for about 30 years in an 1874 affidavit for a military pension, but I have not found a record of the marriage. She said her marriage was published in the church and the church’s minister had performed the ceremony. Mary Ann, the daughter of Fortune Russell and Jane Peters, and was born August 20, 1817 in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

In 1840, Edward and Mary Ann were living in Glastonbury next door to Daniel Russell, Mary Ann’s brother. There were seven in the household, and one person was employed in agriculture. By 1847 they were living in Vernon, where they remained. In the 1850 Federal Census there were eight in the household, which included Edward, Mary Ann and six children. Edward was a laborer. In the 1860 federal census, there were 12 in the household, which included one grandson. Their personal estate was valued at $100.  In 1870, there were five living in the household, which included one grandson. In 1880, their son Edgar and his family lived with them for a household of seven. During this census, Edward was listed as maimed and Mary Ann had a broken arm.

Edward and Mary Ann had at least ten children:

1. Unknown baby was born about 1835 in Glastonbury and died in April 1836. The child was buried April 18, 1836 per Rocky Hill Church records.
2. George B. was born September 30, 1836 and was 47 years old when he died April 3, 1873 in Vernon. He married Alice Whaley November 27, 1862 in Vernon. They had at least two children. George probably served in the 30th Regiment, Connecticut Infantry (Colored) in the Civil War.
3. Jerusha was born August 10, 1840 in Eastbury (Glastonbury). She married Jacob Thompson June 10, 1866 in Vernon. Jacob served in Company H 29th Regiment, Connecticut Infantry (Colored) during the Civil War. Jerusha and Jacob had at least ten children. Jerusha died December 6, 1902 in Manchester. Descendants of this family still meet on a regular basis for family reunions.
4. Henry was born about 1842. On December 17, 1863 he joined G Company, 29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers (Colored) and was mustered in as a private. One year later, on December 27, 1864 he died from hemorrhage of the lungs at the General Hospital, Fort Monroe, Virginia.
5. William was born about 1843, and was seventeen when he died July 1, 1860 in Vernon.
6. Julius was born about 1846 in Vernon. He was 18 years old when he enlisted in B Company 31st Infantry Regiment United States Colored Troops on December 19, 1863 as a private. Seven months later, on July 17, 1864, he died from pneumonia at City Point, Virginia.
7. Ellen was born December 23, 1847 in Vernon. She married Emmanuel Graham. In 1920 she was a widow and living with her sister, Jeanette, and her family in Manchester. She worked as a domestic. Ellen died January 18, 1921.
8. Nelson was born August 6, 1849 in Vernon. He was seventeen when he died on June 14, 1867.
9. Edgar was born in February 1852 in Vernon. He married Martha E. Andrews, the sister of Charles Henry Andrews, on October 29, 1879. Martha died in 1885, leaving him with two young children to support, as well as his parents. Edgar died May 15, 1921 in Vernon. He worked as a laborer.
10. Jeannette, the youngest, was discussed in an earlier post.

Edward Carter Freeman died April 20, 1890 from pneumonia. He was 75 years old. Mary Ann (Russell) Freeman died two years later on January 7, 1892 from a tumor in her bowels. She was 74 years old. Only four of their ten children outlived their parents.
[1] Connecticut’s Black Civil War Regiment.
[2] Military Service Record for Julius Freeman, (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration [NARA]).

We will continue climbing this tree in the next post as we look for the stories of the earliest identified members of the Russell, Freeman and Carter families.
Until next time…..

2 thoughts on “Sons Lost in the Civil War – The Edward Carter Freeman Family

  1. Thank you for this great information. By any chance do you know who were Eli Freeman’s parents?
    Marian Thompson Gilbert
    Great Granddaughter of Jerusha Freeman Thompson.


    1. I don’t. The Prince Freeman family lived in Colchester, and it’s possible there could be a relationship. However, there were other Freeman’s in the area too. As people gained their freedom they often selected their names, and sometimes changed them. Prince Freeman also served in the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars. A start to see if he is related as father or grandfather would be to see if he got a pension for his service. There is a lot of family information in the application. Then follow each of his children to see if Eli shows up. I haven’t done that, but have used that strategy on others with success.


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