Monday, March 21, 2011

Military Monday: Solomon J. Ishmael in the Civil War

Document showing
he mustered out
May 31, 1865
It seems that most of my Civil War ancestors fought on the Confederate side. That makes sense since a good portion of my Dad's family came from the Southern states. I do have a some ancestors who fought in the Union Army. Solomon J. Ishmael, one of my paternal 4th great grandfathers, was one of them.

Solomon Ishmael was born November 14, 1817, in Kentucky to Robert and Mary Adams Ishmael. He was married first to America Manning, and they had six children (including my 3rd great grandmother, Serena Jane Ishmael) before she died in 1860. He married Elizabeth Martin in 1861 and they had six children together.

Muster roll showing
illness event
Solomon was a Private in the Missouri 23rd Regiment Infantry Volunteers, Company B, under Captain Nash. He enlisted on July 25, 1862, in Trenton, Missouri, and mustered in at Hudson, Missouri, on August 31, 1862. He was 44 1/2 years old (not a spring chicken in those days). He was mustered out on May 18, 1865, near Washington, D.C.

According to the various muster rolls, Solomon contracted small pox in around February 1864, and was in the hospital in McMinnville, Tennessee, until at least after the muster roll dated January 14, 1865. His regiment was guarding the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad at McMinnville from December 1863 to July 1864, so that fits in the right timeframe. While he was ill, his company saw much action, including the Battle of Peach Tree Creek and the Battle of Atlanta in Georgia. It appears that he was eventually well enough to rejoin his regiment at some point, as he was mustered out near Washington, D.C, at the end of the war.
Muster roll with
personal details

His Civil War documents also give us some personal details about Solomon:
  • He was a farmer.
  • He was born in Nicholas County, Kentucky (which is corroborated by census documents).
  • He had grey eyes and brown hair.
  • He was 5'10" tall (or 6' 1/2", depending on which document you look at) and had a medium complexion.
  • He was not able to write his own name, and made his "mark" on documents where a signature was required. 
  • He was generally healthy when he enlisted: he'd been vaccinated, his organs were all "sound and perfectly formed," he was not a drinker and he'd never had "the horrors."
  • He enlisted for a period of three years. 
  • Oddly, several of the documents noted his age as 35, 42, 44 or 45 years old. In truth, he was between 44 and 47 years old during his time of service.
  • Prior to joining the Union Army, he had been enlisted in the Kings Regiment of the Missouri State Militia.
Another fascinating little tidbit I discovered while researching Solomon's stint in the Union Army: his recruiting officer was his daughter's, Serena Jane Ishmael Rooks, father-in-law: another of my 4th great grandfathers, Samuel E. Rooks. Yes, I'll be researching Samuel's military history next!
Form for Examining a Recruit
Declaration of Recruit
Volunteer Enlistment Form. Also includes signature of
his recruiting officer, Samuel Rooks
(another of my 4th great grandfathers)
Solomon died on December 19, 1894, and was buried in Black Oak Cemetery in Marion Township, Grundy County, Missouri. His tombstone is inscribed:
77y 1m 5d. "Rest soldier, rest. Thy warfare o'er. Sleep the sleep that knows no breaking. Dream of battlefields no more, days of danger, nights of waking." Co B 23 Mo Inf.
Pension record
Here's how I'm descended from Solomon J. Ishmael:
Solomon J. Ishmael/America Manning >
Serena Jane Ishmael/Thomas J. Rooks >
Mary Jane Rooks/Frederick Harmon Brittain >
Andrew Lee Brittain/Jessie Luetta Halstead >
Woodie Leroy Brittain/Edith Vivian Hunt >
William Lee Brittain/Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram >


  1. Wendy-
    How did you come across his enlistment paperwork? Very interesting!

  2. I'm always interested in military paperwork (even though I am not a huge fan of the military)...I don't even know if anyone in my family aside from my grandfathers were involved in any war. No idea at all...

  3. Heather: I found the papers on It's a subscription site, but been worth its weight in gold regarding my military ancestors.

    Renee Anne: I'm not a huge fan of how our military is often run, but I appreciate the service of our men and women. Each generation of my family seems to have someone in the service, and many served in wars, so it's always fascinating to me. I'm a sucker for a good Civil War documentary, too.

  4. Solomon J Ishmael is my great-great-great grandfather. He was the father of Solomon, Jr, who was the father of Osa Orange Ishmael Hessenflow, who was the mother of my grandmother, Helen Frances Garrett Chrisman.

    Also, my paternal great-great grandfather, William B Sherrow, fought in the 14th Indiana and the 6th US Cavalry and was also buried in Grundy, Co. Missouri.

    1. Troy,
      We are certainly 'cousins' as Ishmael and Sherrow are both names in my 'line'. I found a photo of Osa Orange Ishmael Hessenflow on line. Is that your image? Appreciate all who share!

  5. Hi Troy! It's great to meet an Ishmael cousin. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Thanks again "Cousin" Wendy!
    Solomon J Ishmael is my 2nd great grand uncle. Thanks again so much for sharing all this. If you need a photo of his gravestone, I can share!

    1. Thanks for all your comments, Kathy! I have a photo of his gravestone on my page. They are a fascinating family. I've been wanting to read the book you mentioned elsewhere (Inventing America's "Worst" Family). I see that a used bookstore near me has a copy, so I might pick it up this weekend. Cheers!