Saturday, May 10, 2014

Exempted from Civil War as a Contractor?

Example of Office of Commissary of Exemptions, Mo
Missouri Digital
5 Places to Research in Missouri
Right age, good health, no substitute or logical reason! Why was your ancestor exempted from the Civil War? As genealogy researchers we find, in some cases, our ancestors’ disappearance from Civil War records to be baffling. But maybe we haven’t unearthed all the records.  Have you reviewed the Office of Commissary of Exemptions records?

Office of Commissary of Exemptions
In Missouri Commissaries of Exemptions were appointed for each county for Enrolled Missouri Militia
(E. M. M.). A large number of men were exempted from serving in the E.M. M. and the Enrolled Military (E.M.) due to contractor service. 
Correspondence: Provost Marshall, RG 110, NARA-KC
In 1864, the Secretary of the Navy sent a request to the Secretary of War that contractors building the “Monitors ‘Etlah & Shiloh’ be exempted from being mustered into service” until the “sister” gunboats were completed. Union Provost Marshal General, James B. Fry, responded to the Secretary of Navy. “The Secretary of War did not deem it expedient to grant this request.”  Yet, the workers were exempted, from 1864 to the end of the Civil War.

Exempted for U. S. S. Shiloh and U. S. S. Etlah  Construction
The U. S. S. Etlah: Navsource Online
Etlah and Shiloh construction workers, like John Carroll of St. Louis, was exempted from Mo. Militia Service by the Office of Commissary of Exemptions. Alex G. Hequembdurg of St Louis was also exempted as were many others. Many records are held in the Missouri Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861-1866, but researchers must be patient in uncovering their ancestor’s documents, as not all have been indexed/cataloged.

Background Information
The U.S.S. Shiloh and U.S.S. Etlah were “sister ships. Construction of these “iron-clads” began in 1863, but were not completed until the end of the War. Neither saw action. For more information visit the St. Louis’ Ships of Iron, Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis.

Know that the Etlah was renamed Hecate in 1869 for a short period, before returning to its original Native American name of Etlah (“white lily”). And Shiloh was renamed Iris in 1869.

5 Places to Research Your Mo. Exempted Ancestor?
  1. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865, NARA, RG 45,
  2. List of Officers of the Navy of the U. S. and the Marine Corps from 1775 – 1900
  3. NARA – KC, Missouri Record of the Provost Marshall General’s Bureau (Civil War), Letters, 1863-1865, RG110
  4. Missouri Historical Society Archives, St. Louis, Mo. Visit the Guide to Civil War Manuscripts.
  5. Midwest Genealogy Center, Missouri Military, Civil War, Commissaries of Exemptions, E. M. (microform)

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

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