Charles B. Hester Biography and Pension Records
by Carroll L. Hughes
Chesley B. Hester Short Biography
Chesley B. (Burch or Birch) Hester was born on June 24, 1822 near Frankfort in Franklin County, Alabama the eldest sone of one of the earliest settlers of Alabama, William "Buck" Hester. Chesley was the ninth child of William "Buck" Hester.
Chesley was a strong union man and must have become very estranged from his own Hester family who owed allegiance to the Confederacy. There were some unfortunate incidents in Franklin County in the Fall of 1862 consisting of the Secessionists chasing down Unionist with dogs and jailing them for not registering for the draft as well as burning their houses and driving off their livestock. Under these trying circumstances, Chesley and his son, James S. Hester, escaped to Iuka, Mississippi and joined Union forces.
Chesley joined the 64th Illinois, Company D, on September 13, 1862 and is listed as "Charles" B. Hester on the records. His son, James S. Hester, also joined at this time. Apparently, the idea of revenge against his secessionist antagonists was stronger than his perception of what it took to become a soldier.
The Battle of Corinth took place on October 3-4, 1862, just after Chesley joined the army and in this battle he received a wound in the ankle and was sent to the hospital for treatment and observation. In addition to this wound, Chesley was 40 years old and his health was not good, especially for the rigors of army life. This resulted in a honorable medical discharge on June 13, 1863. In his pension records (see below), it is interesting what the Surgeon J.T. Stewart said about his medical condition:
Chesley B. Hester moved to Vienna, Johnson County Illinois, after his discharge and began to farm. His son later joined him in Vienna as well as several of my own "Hughs" family 64th veterans.
Chesley B. Hester applied for a pension when he was 53 as shown below. It is not clear that he ever received one, though. His records also include two "affidavit letters" from two of the 64th’s Surgeons (see below). Surgeon J.T. Stewart was badly wounded in the Battles for Atlanta and lost all medical records. This impacted all members of the 64th who in later life applied for pensions and tried to prove that they had received wounds or injuries during the war. An Assistant Surgeon, Noble Holton, however, believed he remembered treating Chesley’s wound.
Chesley B. Hester died on May 27, 1885 at the age of 63, and is buried in Bridges Cemetery west of Vienna, Illinois.
ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES.
CERTIFICATE OF DISABILITY FOR DISCHARGE.
(To be used, in duplicate, in all cases of discharge on account of disability.)
Private Chesley B. Hester of Captain Geo. W. Reid's Company, (D) of the Yates S.S. 64th Regiment of United States Volunteers was enlisted by Capt. John W. Stewart of the Sixty-Fourth Regiment of Illinois Vols. Inf. at Iuka, Miss. on the eleventh day of September 1862, to serve three years; he was born in Franklin Co. in the State of Alabama, is Forty years of age, six feet one inches high, fair complexion, grey eyes, sandy hair, and by occupation when enlisted a Farmer. During the last two months said soldier has bee unfit for duty 56 days. (Here consult directions on Form 12, p. 269, Medical Dept. Gen. Reg.)
Said Pvt. Chesley B. Hester has been unfit for duty the three fourth of the time since he entered the service and in my opinion is unfit for a soldier.
I CERTIFY that I have carefully examined the said Chesley B. Hester of Captain Geo. W. Reid's Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of (Here consult par. 1134, p. 245, and directions on From 12, p. 269, Med. Dept. Gen. Reg.) chronic rheumatism [illegible word] very large scar on the thigh the result of old disease--broken constitution generally. By false representations and urgent entreaty on his part I committed the error of enlisting him in the service--his physical defects having been laid before the officers of the regiment. He has done some duty, but has failed and will never do the duties of a soldier.
(Signed) J.T. Stewart
DISCHARGED, this Sixteenth day of June 1863, at Corinth, Miss. by orders of Brig. Genl G.M. Dodge Commanding the Post.
NOTE 1.--When a probable case for pension, special care must be taken to state the degree of disability.
GOV. PRINT. OFF., Mar. 28, 1862.
See the image of the original document.
Declaration for Original Pension of an Invalid.
State of _______________, County of _______________, SS:
On this __________ day of __________, A.D., on thousand eight hundred and seventy __________ personally appeared before me __________ the same being a court of record within and for the County and State aforesaid, Chesley B. Hester, aged 53 years, a resident of Vienna, County of Johnson, State of Illinois, who being duly sworn according to law, declares that he is the identical Chesley B. Hester who enlisted in the service of the United States at Iuka, County of __________, State of Mississippi, on the 11th day of September, in the year of 1862, as a private in Company D, commanded by Captain James [actually John W.] Stewart of the 64th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, in the war of 1861, to serve three years and was honorably discharged at Glendale, State of Mississippi on the [16th] day of May [actually June], in the year 1863; that while in the service aforesaid, and in the lines of his duty, received the following disability, to wit:
I claim pension on disability of left leg contracted the 1st of January 1863 near Glendale, Miss. I was [illegible word] in the service from September 11th, 1862 nor after I was discharged in May 1863. I was treated in the 1st Reg. hospital Glendale, Miss.
That since leaving the said service, this applicant has resided in the County of Johnson in the State of Illinois, and his occupation has been farming; that prior to his entry into the service above named, he was a man of good, sound, physical health, being, when enrolled, a farmer now he is greatly disabled from obtaining his subsistence from manual labor in consequence of his above-named injuries received in the service of the United States; that he makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the invalid pension roll of the United States by reason of the disabilities above stated; that he herby appoints B. F. PRITCHARD, of Indianapolis, Indiana, his attorney to prosecute his claims, with full power of substitution; that his post-office is at Vienna, County of Johnson, State of Illinois, that his domicile or place of abode in Johnson County, Illinois.
(Signed) Chesley B. Hester
Also personally appeared N. J. Sluck, residing at Vienna, and David Ragaius, residing at Vienna, persons whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to credit, and who, being duly sworn, by me, say they were present and saw Chesley B. Hester, the claimant, sign his name (or make his mark) to the foregoing declaration; that they have every reason to believe, from the appearance of said claimant and their acquaintance with him, that he is the identical person he represents himself to be; and that they have no interest in the prosecution of this claim.
(Signed) David Ragaius
SWORN TO and subscribed before me this 31st day of December, A.D., 1875 and I hereby certify that the contents of the above declaration &c., were fully made known and explained to the applicant and witnesses before swearing, including the words __________, erased, and the words __________, added; and that I have no interest, direct or indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.
(Signed) W. W. Bogh, Clerk of the County Court
THIS DECLARATION MUST BE MADE BEFORE SOME CLERK OF A COURT OF
See the image of the original document.
I have no recollection whatever of this case and have no means of obtaining any information except such as Dr. Holton may give the law. In 1864 I was wounded and all my records were afterwards destroyed.
J.T. Stewart--late Surgeon, 64th Regt. Ill Vol. Inf.
I hereby certify that I am quite sure but not absolutely certain of the name that the said Chesley B. Hester was brought into gen. Hospital No. 2 at Corinth, Miss. and that I saw him & examined the wound in the ankle and the question of amputation was considered & I decided against it. This was in the evening of the 4 Oct. 1862 and I was superintending the operating in the hospital at the time.
Noble Holton, Asst. Surg., 64th Ill. Vol. Infantry
See the image of the original document.
Home | Welcome Letter from the Unit President | Unit History | Research by Members of the 64th | Events Calendar | Photo Gallery of today's 64th | The Recruiter's Tent