Monday, 1864 October 17, [Cedar Creek], Virginia: “To cast for me and in my name and stead . . . my vote or ballot, the same as if I was personally present at the General election”

[A New York state absentee voter authorization form for a Union soldier stationed in Virginia]

Soldier’s Power of Attorney.

In pursuance of an Act of the Legislature of the State of New-York, entitled “An Act to enable the qualified electors of this State, absent therefrom in the Military Service of the United States, in the Army or Navy thereof to vote,” Passed April 21st, 1864.

I, Charles P. Tremain, a member of Company H of the 160th Regiment New York State Vols. now at or near [Cedar] Creek in the State of Virginia (or Territory) of ___________ (or attached to the United State vessel ___________), and being a resident of the town of Amity (or of the city of ___________) in the county of ___________, do hereby authorize and empower William C. Dake [?] of the town of Amity (or of the city of ___________) in the county of Allegany to cast for me and in my name and stead, in pursuance of Section 2, of said Act, my vote or ballot, the same as if I was personally present at the General election to be held on the 8th day of November 1864.
Charles P. Tremain [signature]
Joshua J. Clark [signature]

On this 17th day of October 1864, before me personally came Charles P. Tremain to me known to be the same person described in the foregoing instrument, who being by me duly sworn deposes and says, that he executed the foregoing instrument for the uses and purposes therein mentioned. And at the same time appeared before me Joshua J. Clark, who being by me duly sworn deposes and says that he saw the said Charles P. Tremain sign and execute said instrument in his presence, whereupon the said Joshua J. Clark became the subscribing witness thereto.
D. L. [Daniel L.] Vaughan [signature]
Capt., Co. H, 160th Regt. Vols. [New York Infantry Regiment]

[Editor: On the day this document  was completed the 160th New York Regiment, Army of the Shenandoah (2d Brigade, 1st Division, XIX Corps), was serving as the army’s train guard. Two days later it fought in the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864), part of the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864, suffering 66 casualties in wounded, killed or missing officers and enlisted men. Civil War historians have noted this smashing Union victory helped Lincoln’s re-election.
Private Charles P. Tremain survived the war and applied for a pension in May 1880; according to online sources, a Charles Tremain represented the third district of Onondaga County, New York, as a Republican during the 98th New York State Legislature (1875). The 1860 U. S. Census includes a family of four headed by a “W. C. Dake,” a 40-year-old Allegany County, New York, resident. Joshua J. Clark enlisted in Company H at the rank of private and was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Daniel L. Vaughan, of Auburn, New York, age 43, was enrolled as Company H’s captain in October 1862 for three years’ service and in May 1865 appointed to the rank of Major.
The election of November 8, 1864 was one of most crucial in American history. As part of his re-election campaign strategy, President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton encouraged generous leaves of absences for soldiers who needed to go home to vote, if their doing so were not detrimental to maintaining sufficient forces in the field. Lincoln and other elected politicians knew they needed the votes of soldiers. Many Northern states enacted laws allowing soldiers to cast absentee ballots by mail or proxy in the form of a duly authorized surrogate, as in the case of William Dake on Private Tremain’s behalf. In their letters home, the majority of Union soldiers supported Lincoln, the federal government and predicted victory over the Confederate South. Decisively defeating Democratic candidate Major General George P. McClellan, former commander of the Army of the Potomac, Lincoln also won the majority of the soldiers’ votes by a three to one margin (about 70 percent). Allegany County (3,650 votes) and the state of New York also went for Lincoln.]

MSS 9564

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