Posted By Norman Gasbarro on April 5, 2017
Sometimes men who are reported as deserters in the Civil War records were not actually deserters but died in the war, their deaths being unexplained or unreported. Was this the case with Charles Meckenstorm?
The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card from the Pennsylvania Archives (shown above) indicates that a Charles Meckenstorm enrolled on 14 August 1861 at Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County, in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, and was mustered into service at Harrisburg on 9 September 1861 as a Private. At the time, he was 20 years old (born about 1841), was employed as a shoemaker, and gave his residence at Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. An unknown person added some written comments on the card, including that he was born in Germany. At the bottom of the card are the words, “Deserted from Dick Robinson, Kentucky, 9 April 1863.”
In his History of Company C, 50th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment, J. Stuart Richards repeats that same information on pages 194-195, and adds that “Dick Robinson” was a camp. No other information is given about Charles Meckenstorm. However, Richards does give some information given on Camp Dick Robinson, from the memoirs of John Doudle of Company C:
On 22 March 1863, we were sent with the Ninth Corps to the Department of the Ohio via Baltimore…. The trip from Newport News to Baltimore was by boat, thence to Parkersburg by rail, then down the Ohio River by boat to Cincinnati.
Along the route the troops were treated kindly. Hot coffee and fresh bread were issued to the regiment at Cumberland, Md., and Grafton, Va. After taking our dinner at Cincinnati, on the 27th, we proceeded to Nicholasville, Ky., where we arrived the next morning. We marched to Camp Dick Robinson where we encamped until April 12th when we moved to Stanford…. [pages 77-78].
An article on Wikipedia provides very little information about this camp, the first Union base south of the Ohio River, that would indicate a reason for a desertion. The print, shown below, is from Wikipedia, and shows the farm house at Camp Dick Robinson, as it appeared in a photograph in 1887.
Charles Meckenstorm completely disappears from the records after his supposed desertion.
What happened to him? Did he die in camp and his death was not properly recorded? Or did he actually desert? This may be one of those Civil War mysteries that may never be resolved. But, for the residents of Tremont, he becomes another veteran from that town who served in the war albeit there is an incomplete explanation as to what happened to him as a result.