Civil War Saturday – Have you considered searching the Confederate Amnesty Papers?
Having done your research on your Confederate Civil War veteran have you considered searching the Confederate Amnesty Papers? After the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson made a sweeping amnesty proclamation that would encompass the average Confederate soldier but some exclusions to amnesty were made.
Those excluded from the general amnesty included military officers in the war, governors of Confederate states, senators and congressmen of Confederate states, wealthy landowners and just about anyone who held a “position” in the Confederacy. This group of people were to apply for a pardon and amnesty from the U.S. government. Each individual’s paperwork can include a letter asking for amnesty, an oath of allegiance, and letters of recommendation from friends or relatives.
Those excluded from amnesty were:
1. Diplomatic agents or officials of the Confederacy
2. Persons who left judicial posts under the United States to aid the rebellion
3. Confederate military officers above the rank of Army colonel or Navy lieutenant
4. Members of the U.S. Congress who left to aid in the rebellion
5. Persons who resigned commissions in the U.S. Army or Navy and afterwards aided in the rebellion
6. Persons who treated unlawfully black prisoners of war or their white officers
7. Persons in military or civilian confinement or custody
8. Individuals who had absented themselves from the United States in order to aid the rebellion
9. Graduates of West Point or Annapolis who served as Confederate officers
10. Ex-Confederate governors
11. Persons who left homes in territory under U.S. jurisdiction for purposes of aiding the rebellion
12. Persons who engaged in destruction of commerce on the high seas or in raids from Canada
13. Voluntary participants in the rebellion who had property valued at more than $20,000
14. Persons who had broken the oath taken under the provisions of December 8, 1863
Does your Confederate Civil War ancestor fit any of these categories?
I’m doing some research on two Confederate Civil War veterans I think are distant cousins. During my research I came across the amnesty papers of David Vanmeter, of Hardy County, WV. There is a strong possibility he is the grandfather of one of my soldiers. His packet of papers included a letter of request to President Johnson for amnesty. The letter included his age, 80 years old(!), where he lived, Hardy County WV, that he had never traveled further than 10 miles from his home and that was to visit his aged, infirmed sister. The letter also stated that he suffered great loss of personal property during the war and was no longer covered under “Exception 13”. This letter of application is signed by David Vanmeter.
There is also a letter of recommendation by two local citizens, David Vanmeter’s signed oath of allegiance to the U.S. and a letter from the Provost Marshal verifying the information. Wow! Such valuable info!
So where do you find the Confederate Amnesty Papers? They are online but currently only on Ancestry or Fold3, which are paid sites. There is good news though! The Amnesty Papers are available at any local library that has free Ancestry.com or Fold3 access. You’ll find me in the West Virginia section with the Vanmeters!