Indian Fighters and Pensions

Governmental bureaucracy is nothing new. Almost a hundred years ago, Nebraska veterans

discovered missing records and “red tape” when they applied for military pensions. The

Nebraska State Journal reported: “Are Nebraska militiamen who were ordered by the

territorial governor to repeal an attack of Indians during the year of 1865 entitled to pensions?

This question has been raised by Icullius Johnson who has applied to Adjutant General Barry

for a record of service on which to base his claim for a pension.”

“The case seems to hinge on the question of whether or not Johnson was ever in the service

of the United States. He was a member of Company B, First Regiment, Second Brigade,

Nebraska National Guard when the guard was ordered out to repel attacks of Indians. After

serving about six months he was mustered out February 13, 1865. It is admitted that the

militia did good service in that campaign, as two engagements occurred and several were

killed, but there were doubts as to whether persons who were members of the guard are

entitled to pensions by reason of service under the government.

“Because the guard was ordered out by a territorial governor, who may be considered a

representative of the general government, it is claimed that such soldiers were actually in the

service of the government. Adjutant Barry does not recall that any of the guard who took part

in the suppressing of the Indian outbreak have ever applied for pensions. He thinks Johnson’s

case is the first of the kind and on its settlement by pension officers a may hinge a great many

other cases.

“Soldiers who enlisted in Nebraska regiments during the war are beginning to look up their

records for one purpose or another. Many desire to apply for pensions and they write for

certificates of service. The military records were in no one’s particular charge in the 60’s and

it is often difficult to find the desired information. Recently a lady living in Pennsylvania

wrote for her husband’s record and she forwarded his commission as an officer, yet General

Barry was unable to find any record of the man’s name or issuance of his commission.”

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