Did he really run away to join the war?

You know the story– great uncle so-and-so ran away from the south, changed his name and joined the Union Army against his father’s wishes. Every family seems to have their version of this. If not, you have some sort of tall tale that got passed down from generation to generation.
Many of these stories seem to be unlikely at best, if not completely unrealistic. But what if your family’s story was true?
In the case of Samuel Scharf, this scenario is exactly what happened. His Civil War pension file at the National Archives tells the story.
In his own words, Samuel, a Maryland resident, tells that he “wished to become a Union soldier in 1861 and my father who, with his relatives on his side, sympathized with the Rebellion and opposed it. I was under legal age and fearing I would be taken back, I ran away from home and enlisted under the alias of John S. Gilmore. This was to prevent my father from finding me, which he did not for a long time.”
Samuel ran far from home to enlist too– he lived in Maryland but enlisted all the way in Missouri.
In an example of how complicated pension investigations make for a great file for us today, the file was almost 300 pages long. His pension was granted to him, but not before a long investigation to see if John Gilmore and Samuel Scharf were the same person. Former soldiers and other people who knew him were questioned. Every soldier that was interviewed confirmed that Samuel told people during the war that he had ran away and assumed another name.
What stories are tucked away at the National Archives about your ancestor? Let me help you find out! www.RhinehartRoots.com We go to DC so you don’t have to!

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