Pension Records and Runny Babbit

by Sarah Webb. 0 Comments

I have hiked the Monocacy trails on multiple occasions now.

Since only a detachment of Cole’s Cavalry participated in the Battle of Monocacy, the regiment is not specifically listed in records of the battle. I think I had hoped by hiking the trails that something would seep into my research, a sign post of some kind, which would direct me to a more specific understanding of John Trout’s service during the Battle of Monocacy. Perhaps I would find a tree carving in one of the many gnarled witnesses with the message “John Trout fought here.”

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Tree Growth along the Worthington Farm Lane

OK, so that didn’t happen, but the hikes have been enjoyable. Hiking the Worthington Farm trail, in between the edge of a pasture and the river, the knock, knock, knock of the woodpecker in the forested canopy almost sounded like distant rounds of gunfire. The barely perceptible movement in the tall grasses and undergrowth made me turn my head – my wildly active imagination searched for crouched soldiers moving through the forest. I only caught a glimpse of white tails bobbing away. Still, I liked to pretend.

Around 10:30 a.m. on July 9, 1864, Confederates forded the river trying to outflank the Union line at the Worthington Farm. I keep searching for THE spot, despite the National Park Service noting that the river course and undergrowth have changed significantly since 1864. Still, rounding the curve, heading up the old farm lane, I could see how Brooks Hill rises to the right and the gentle slope of the pasture leads up to the farm where Glenn Worthington - who was 6 at the time - waited with his family in their cellar for the impending battle. The slope allowed the Confederates to cross the river undetected.

Along the trail loop I wondered how soldiers dealt with pesky mosquitos which are quite abundant in Maryland in July.

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View of Worthington Farm from the Monocacy River

My 4-footed hiking companions, Daisy and Sophie, are most captivated by the largest dogs known to humankind, otherwise known as cows. We have to stop every time we come to the cow pasture and loooooooook. Despite my explanations, they don’t comprehend the real import behind our historical hikes. They’re under the misimpression it’s for their leisure and exercise.

Nevertheless, I’m glad that the land around the Worthington, Thomas and Best farms is still farm-leased – it gives it an air of realism.

I understand that farmers – including the Thomas and Worthington families – would hide farm animals whenever possible so they couldn’t be confiscated by either army. Without good plow horses, farmers were left without a means of making a living. In this area, farmers often took their animals to Sugarloaf Mountain. In his book Fighting for Time Glenn Worthington relates a story that prior to July 9 all their horses were ensconced in this manner except their carriage horse, Davy. Unfortunately, at a later time, Confederate forces eventually found the equine stash and procured them, nearly 200 horses from area farms. Davy, as it turns out, had a brief but heroic role in the Battle, but more about him later.

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The Worthington House

I have to mention that I have waited since September on my request for John Trout’s pension records from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. I did receive a letter acknowledging receipt of my request. I was directed to the Baltimore regional office, but despite a few follow up letters and several phone calls I have yet to hear about the status of my request.

I finally tried a generic 800 number to see if I could talk to a live person. And while, yes, I did get through, and the gentleman was very helpful, he relayed information to me from his call center in Phoenix that sent me back to the National Archives Records Administration in DC. According to his electronic database that’s where John Trout’s claim files remain. However, if you recall, I’ve already visited the Archives and they’re telling me the records are still with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

I’m beginning to feel like I’m in the middle of a Shel Silverstein poem where the first letters of every word are reversed, like Runny Babbit. Only mine is the genealogical version along the lines of The Apartment of Deteran’s Vaffairs or the Ational Narchives and Acords Radministration.

But, I digress…back to Monocacy…

Without these records, I can only conjecture about John Trout’s exact whereabouts in July 1864 based on battle records and troop movements.

It has been confusing to dissect Maryland regiments since some going by the same name are Confederate and some are Union. So once again, I returned to Brett Spaulding’s book for clarification.

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