[Five hundred days after his enlistment and a month after the surrender of Lee’s army, an African-American soldier receives a certificate of disability and discharge from the Union Army.]
I certify, on honor, that Moses White, a Private of Captain Cunningham’s Company (A) of the 38th Regiment of U. S. Colored Troops Volunteers of the State of, born in Hertford County, State of North Carolina, aged 20 years; 5 feet 3 inches high; Dark complexion, Dark eyes, Dark hair, and by occupation a Farmer, who joined for service and was enrolled (see Note 9) on the 6th day of January, 1864, at Norfolk, Va., by D. E. Clapp [Lieutenant Colonel Dexter E. Clapp], for the period of Three years, and mustered into the service of the United States on the 23rd day of January, 1864, at Norfolk, Va., by Captain Gould; and having served HONESTLY and FAITHFULLY with his Company to the present date, is now entitled to a DISCHARGE by reason of Disability.
The said Moses White was last paid by Paymaster Howell, to include the 31st day of December, 1864, and has pay due him from that time to the present date; he is entitled to pay and subsistence for Traveling to place of enrollment, and whatever other allowances are authorized to volunteer soldiers, drafted men, or militia, so discharged. He was received from the United States Clothing amounting to Fifty nine [dollars and 43 cents], since the 6th day of January 1864, when his clothing account was never last settled. He has received from the United States__________ dollars advanced BOUNTY.
There is to be stopped from him, on account of the State of _________, or other authorities, for CLOTHING, &c., received on entering services, __________ dollars; and for other stoppages, viz; __________ dollars.
He has been furnished with TRANSPORTATION in kind from the place of his discharge to _________: and he has been SUBSISTED for TRAVELING to his place of enrollment, up to the __________, 186__.
He is indebted to ________, sutler, Five dollars.
He is indebted to ________, laundress, ___ dollars.
Given in Duplicate, at City Point, Va., this 13th day of May, 1865.
G. N. W. Cunningham [signature]
[Editor: North Carolina farmer Moses White (ca. 1845-?) married, raised a family and worked as a fisherman and farmer in Princess Anne County [the city of Virginia Beach since 1963], Virginia, until the 1930s, becoming an octogenarian. The nature of his disability was not recorded. A separate document indicates White’s regular monthly pay as $16.00; for his final pay period of 1 January-13 March 1865 (four months and twelve days) he earned $70.40; to this was initially added $56.81 “for clothing not drawn” for a total of $127.21; from this amount $5.00 was deducted for money owned a sutler [civilian vendors who traveled by wagon with and sold eatables and luxuries to soldiers the field or in camp as supplements to their military rations] and $59.43 for “clothing withdrawn” resulting in a balance of $62.78. He signed his final pay voucher for this amount with his ‘X’ mark on May 16, 1865, three days after receiving his disability discharge certificate.
The 38th United States Colored Infantry (United States Colored Troops) was organized in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and Tidewater, Virginia, during January 1864; four percent of its 1,307 men enlisted in Union-occupied Norfolk. Initially assigned to Norfolk and Portsmouth, the regiment participated in the 1864-65 Petersburg Siege and the April 1865 occupation of Richmond; at the time of White’s discharge it had been assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, XXV Corps since December; a week after White’s discharge the regiment was transferred Texas where in January 1867, after three years of existence, it was among the last African-American regiments mustered out of federal service. Three members of the 38th regiment, Private William Henry Barnes (c. 1840 or 1845-1866), Sergeant James H. Harris (1828–1898) and First Sergeant Edward Ratcliff (1835 –1915), became Medal of Honor recipients in April 1865 and February 1874 (Harris) for gallantry at Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia (September 1864).
Captain G. N. W. Cunningham was a member of the 13th Massachusetts Infantry, the 37th United States Colored Infantry (first lieutenant), and mustered out of the 38th USCI on October 17, 1866.
“Note 9” (included on reverse of this certificate in section “Final Statement of Regiment of Volunteers”): “If the soldier is a drafted man or substitute, the space for time, &c., of enrolled, should contain only the word drafted or substitute, as the case may be. If the Soldier is a “VETERAN,” (or RECRUIT), the words as a veteran, (or recruit,) as the case may be, should be interlined after the words mustered into the service of the U. S. A. A statement of all the instruments of Veteran or Recruit Bounty RECEIVED by the Soldier must be made up on the back of each final statement.”
Lieutenant Colonel Dexter Elisha Clapp (1830-1882), a native of North Bergen, Genesee County, New York, and a captain of Company C, 148th New York Infantry from September 1862 until promoted to a lieutenant colonelcy in the 38th USCI in March 1864; he resigned March 13, 1865 and later received the rank of brevet brigadier general, United States Volunteers, January 15, 1866 “for gallant and meritorious service.” Black newspaper reporter Thomas Morris Chester (1834-1892) of the Philadelphia Press characterized Clapp’s personal bravery during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm as inspirational to the 38th USCI during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm (New Market Heights). But according to historian Joseph T. Glatthaar’s Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (1990), Clapp’s abuse of his black troops, fellow officers and command authority caused a buildup of discontent and discipline problems in the 38th USCI resulting in courts-martial for himself and at least two lieutenants. Other postwar records suggest Clapp was apparently acquitted because on April 5, 1865, by appointment of Richmond, Virginia’s Union military governor he became a member of a commission constituted for the relief of destitute city families. He further redeemed himself in an October 1865 report on the release of wrongly incarcerated African-Americans in North Carolina. Clapp served as U. S. Consul in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1871-1873; he died in 1882 and is buried at the Yates Center Cemetery, Woodson County, Kansas.
“Captain Gould” is unidentified; several white officers of that surname were assigned to various regiments of United States Colored Troops during the war. “Paymaster Howell” has not been identified.]