In December 1863 at Hudson Patrick O'Neil joined the Union Army as a private in the 4th Wisconsin Calvary, Company G, an outfit composed of local volunteers. The Civil War (1861-65) had been raging for two and a half years and the need for soldiers was constant. Patrick enlisted for a three-year term and was paid a bounty of $240.00, $60.00 of which was to be paid on the spot. A bounty soldier served in place of an able-bodied man, who thereby escaped military duty. In the enlistment records Patrick gave his age as 36 years, 4 months. His height was recorded as five feet, six inches and he was further described as having a dark complexion with blue eyes and black hair. He signed the enlistment papers with a "X".
His Civil War service record, obtained from the National Archives in Washington, shows he served two and a half years and was hospitalized twice, once in the summer of 1864 at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and then in 1865 at Vicksburg, Mississippi. His stay in hospital at Baton Rouge was after a skirmish with Confederate soldiers near Clinton, Louisiana, where he had been knocked from his horse by a rebel soldier. In a petition for a disability pension filed eight years after the incident with the Circuit Court for Saint Croix County at Hudson in 1872, it was declared:
"…that he was treated in US Hospital at Vicksburgh [sic] Mississippi that on or about the 25th day of August AD 1864 he with his Regt accompanied an expedition to Clinton back of Baton Rouge in the State of Louisiana. On reaching the Comite River at Olive Branch they found the bridge destroyed and the rebels posted on the opposite side of the River. He with a number of other soldiers having been ordered to swim the river with their horses and pursue the Enemy. In the pursuit he became separated from the others and in attempting to rejoin them was obliged to cut his way through the Enemy. While so doing a Rebel Soldier struck him on the back of his neck with a muskit [sic] knocking him off his horse. His foot caught in the Styrup (stirrup) and the horse ran with him dragging him and striking him in the abdomen with his hind feet causing a rupture" and the blow on the back of his neck as aforsaid [sic] produced a deafness of his right Ear and his present physical condition a hernia and deafness of the Right Ear."
Patrick was mustered out of the Union Army on July 8, 1865, three months after the war ended. He had been discharged early by order of the Surgeon General due to chronic diarrhea. The records are unclear but it appears he received nine dollars a month from March, 1875 to September, 1877 and then four dollars a month from September 4, 1877. Four months after his death in January 1878, his widow Anne petitioned the federal government for arrears from July 9, 1865 to March 19, 1875, at the rate of six dollars a month. It appears she was subsequently paid about $700.00, a substantial sum for the day.
Patrick transferred (quitclaimed) title to the farm he had bought in Troy Township ten years before to a man named North in 1877 for $600.00. On January 11, 1878 he died at the farm, age 50, of pneumonia. An item in the Hudson Star-Times reported his passing in these words: "Patrick O'Neal [sic] of the town of Hudson died on Friday last. His funeral Monday was one of the largest we have ever seen in this city."
Source and copyright: Walter James Murray, Patrick O'Neil's great grandson.