1st Alabama Cavalry - Est. 1862
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It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Glenda McWhirter Todd. She passed away on September 3, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was a historian, genealogist, and author who prided herself on being a descendant of Andrew Ferrier McWhirter of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV. Her work over the past two decades and her dedication to the 1st Alabama Cavalry has created a legacy that will last for years to come.

Her life's work has touched thousands of people through the years, and I am glad that I had the pleasure to work with her as long as I did. My hope is that her work will live on for years to come to educate and inspire a new generation.

Stories about Troopers from the 1st Alabama

Tombstone Combined Service Record

Josiah Sterling

Josiah Sterling, Jr. was born to Josiah and Elizabeth Jacobs Sterling 15 December 1844. He was the fourth of ten children in the Sterling family. Josiah was born in Blount County, Alabama but moved along with some of his siblings to the Pin Hook area of Lawrence County, Alabama sometime before 1860 and lived with a relative. His father remained in Blount County.

By 1860, Josiah's (Sr.) three eldest sons were married and starting families of their own. When the Civil War broke out, the three eldest sons enlisted in the Confederacy.

Josiah enlisted as a Private in Captain Ephriam B. West's Company B of the 1st Alabama Cavalry at Mooresville in Morgan County 23 March 1864 along with his brothers John and Silas. He was described at enlistment as being 24 years old, with grey eyes, light colored hair, fair complexion, and 5' 8" tall.

Almost immediately, he contracted measles while in camp and was left behind in the hospital at Decatur when his company moved out on 17 April. He died a few days later on the 25th. After the war, his body was exhumed and carried to the National Cemetery at Corinth, Mississippi.

In the early 1880s, his father, Josiah Sr., attempted to receive a pension based on the death of his son in the service of of the Union Army.

Josiah Sterling's Pension Application is an extract of the text of a page of Josiah Sterling's 1883 supporting documentation for his pension application. This page mentions many of his children. Conspicuously missing are Josiah¹s three oldest children: George, William M., and David Houston. By the time of the War these three sons had already married and moved out of Josiah¹s household and were not relevant to his testimony:

The State of Alabama
Blount County

In the matter of the Pension claim No. 281665 of Josiah Sterling as father of Josiah Sterling late private of Co. B, 1st Ala. Cav. Vols. Personally appeared before one E.P. Alldredge, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County and State, Josiah Sterling who, after being duly sworn, deposes and says that he was married to Elizabeth Jacobs at Summitt in Blount County, Alabama on the 11 day of December 1831. That said wife died on the 28 day of September 1855, that the said Josiah was born on the 15 day of Dec[ember] 1844, and was never married, nor left any children. Affiant further swears that the following are the names, ages, and relationship of all the members of his family in 1863, to wit: Josiah, born in 1844 and was 19 years old in 1863; John Thomas, born in 1840 and was 23 years old in 1863 served in the same company and regiment as Josiah and died about twelve months after his return home from the Army. Silas (son) was born in 1846 and was 17 years old in '63 was also in the war but after his return did not live with me, nor render me any assistance, has been married some time; Elija (son) born in 1850 was thirteen years old in 1863, died in 1874 and rendered me no assistance during his lifetime; Clements (son) born in 1852 was but eleven years old in '63, rendered me but a little assistance and left home in 1872; Warren (son) born in 1854 was nine years old in 1863 rendered me but little assistance and left home eleven years ago; Caroline (daughter) born in 1848 was 15 years old in 1863, all the assistance she could render was housework, lived about twenty-nine years and died in 1877. Affiant further testifies that his son never wrote to him while in the Army and that he cannot file any letters written by him.

Josiah Sterling [signature]

On one page of the application dated 31 March 1883, it reads, "...it is impossible for [Josiah Sterling] to furnish medical testimony of his physical condition in the year 1863, as required, owing to the fact that he had no medical attention, and further that the only physician who resided in his neighborhood was then in the Confederate Army." Another page reads, "...during the year 1863 his Post Office address was Summitt, Blount County, Alabama, and that the same has been his Post Office address ever since."

There are a few discrepancies in Josiah's testimony. Some of the birthyears mentioned do not correspond to what appears in Federal Census records. Using the census records to compare the ages, Josiah, Jr. was reported as 10-years-old in 1850, and reported as 21-years-old in 1860. That means his actual birth year was closer to 1840, rather than 1844 as reported by Josiah, Sr. John Thomas was reported as six-years-old in 1850, and reported as 15-years-old in 1860. That means his actual birth year was closer to 1844, rather than 1840 as reported by Josiah, Sr. Did Josiah get these two sons mixed up when trying to account for their birth years over 40 years after they were born? Josiah said that Caroline was born in 1848. The 1850 census reported that she was eight-years-old; the 1860 census reports that she was 17-years-old; the 1870 census reports that she was 26-years-old. That means she was actually born closer to 1842 rather than 1848. The census records track each of the children¹s ages in approximate 10 year increments as would be expected. The ages vary by a year here and there only because of whether or not they had had their birthday by the time the census taker came around.

However, despite these apparent errors in Josiah¹s testimony, the rest of the information seems to match. That is, all except for the month he got married. He reports it was December when it was actually September. He got it right on another sheet of the original 1881 application. All in all, his memory proved to be pretty good for a man in his middle 70s.

The elder Josiah died before the application ground through the bureaucracy; and, according to the examiner assigned to the case, would have been disallowed in any event. A letter addressed to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington reads:

Original Josiah Sterling, Sr. No. 281665, father of Josiah Sterling, Jr., a Private, Co. B, 1st Alabama Cavalry, dead. Died November 18th, 1884 of old age--Decatur, Alabama November 28th, 1885. Sir, I have the honor to return the papers in the above entitled claim and submit this report. The claim was referred to determine the question of dependency of the father upon soldier at time of his death, April 25th, 1864. I found upon investigation that the client was dead and further ascertained that there was no other living heir or dependant that had title to pensions by reason of soldier¹s service and that the allegation of dependency would not have been sustained I fully believe had the claim reached a final examination during life of claimant from the facts learned while in vicinity and at client earthly home. I respectfully recommend that this claim be rejected.

About the Author
Robin Sterling is a descendant of William and Emily Echols.

Database created and maintained by Ryan Dupree.

Service records compiled by Glenda Todd and used with her permission. This and other information about the history of the First and the men who fought with the unit can be found in her book, First Alabama Cavalry, USA: Homage to Patriotism.

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