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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My Family in the Civil War, Part Fourteen: "The Infirmity of Age is Upon Him, Yet a Well Preserved Man"

This is the fourteenth in a series on my Civil War ancestors

As part of the requirements to qualify for a mother's pension, Susannah Moore had to show she had no means of support other than what her deceased son Bartlett would have given her. She had already answered questions about her other children, but it had to be shown that her husband was unable to properly provide for her.

To prove this, no less than 13 people testified about Edward Moore's health. The testimonies paint a vivid picture of Edward in his later years, one I would never have gotten otherwise.

The most medically descriptive is, of course, the official surgeon's examination. This was performed by Dr. John A. Ritter. Dr. Ritter had served in the Indiana 49th in Company G, the same unit as Edward's sons, Edward Jr., Christopher, and Bartlett, and two of his daughters' husbands, Isaac Breeden and Richard Spaulding. He was most likely the one who treated these men for illness and wounds while in service.
Dr. John A. Ritter
Photo contributed to the Slices of Orange County Facebook group
by Gerald W. Ritter

Dr. Ritter's examination took place on May 1, 1883. Dr. Ritter was in his early 60s by then. He writes:
"I find chronic inflammation of each leg extending from the feet two thirds to the knee, dark, livid, indurated ulceration with scabs. He says legs become often denuded so he is confined to his room five or six weeks at a time. Occupation farmer. Says he has not been able to plow for 20 years, this inflammation has been on him 35 or 40 years. He is 79 years old. The infirmity of age is upon him, yet a well preserved man of his age. Have known him 30 or 35 years but was not aware of his condition as regards his disability in the legs. He also has palpitations of the heart. A man of good habbits [sic]."
Punctuation added for clarity.

Twelve other people described Edward's physical condition as they saw it.

  • Susannah Moore: "varicose veins"
  • Leonidas R. Grigsby: "sore legs", "swollen, purple"
  • Harrison Morgan: "trouble walking, pain in his neck", "couldn't stoop or plow"
  • Elizabeth Wilson: "something like colic", "trouble with legs"
  • Bennet Grigsby: "frequent attacks of bilious colic", "complained of legs"
  • Mary Grigsby: "legs have troubled him"
  • Peter Newton: "he could knock about and do some light work but couldn't do a hard days work at all"
  • Hance Wilson: "complained of his legs"
  • William D. Moore: "his general health was tolerable good, but he had a bad leg (right one I think), it presented a very dark swollen appearance and he walked lame"
  • Columbus Brown: "sore legs", "heart trouble", "leg swells up, very dark colored and some sores on it"
  • Jeruel Leonard: "some disease in one of his legs"
  • Richard Lingle, M.D. (Edward's physician):  "stomach trouble, heart and kidney disease, and bronchial trouble. Varicose ulcers on one leg, I think the right"
Dr. Richard Lingle stated he had been Edward Moore's doctor since July 1878, and had visited him 75 times (by March of 1885). That works out to almost once a month. He noted that Edward only owed him for one visit and two prescriptions, that he had been treating him this month.

When Bartlett Moore died, his father was 62 and his mother 60. Edward already had the ulcers on his legs and difficulty plowing his farm. They fully expected Bartlett to run the farm and care for them, and by all testimony Bartlett planned on this as well. The Civil War truly broke this family down.


Thanks to modern technology, you can see just what Edward's legs looked like. Do NOT watch this if you are squeamish about medical pictures.

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