Affidavit of Abraham Lincoln, 5 August 18511
|State of Illinois||}|
Personally appeared before the undersigned, Clerk of the County Court, in and for the County aforesaid, Abraham Lincoln, who, being first duly sworn, deposes and says that David H. Rutledge, now deceased, did in the year 1832, serve in the war against the indians, commonly called the “Black-Hawk war” for a period of about forty days; that said Rutledge entered the service on or about the 21st day of April 1832, on Richland creek in the County aforesaid; and was honorably discharged therefrom, about the last of May of the same year, at or near Ottawa in said State– that said Rutledge so served as a private, or non-commissioned officer, deponent thinks the in a company commanded by deponent, in the 4th Regiment commanded by Col[Colonel] Samuel M– Thompson–2A. Lincoln
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 5th day of August 1851
Given under my hand and seal of office at springfield this day & date aboveN. W. Matheny Clk[Clerk]3
2In April 1832, Lincoln volunteered for service in the Black Hawk War. The volunteers in his company elected him company captain. The Fourth Illinois Regiment of Mounted Volunteers was part of the brigade commanded by Brigadier General Samuel Whiteside. David H. Rutledge served under Lincoln as a private in this unit from April 21, 1832 to May 27, 1832.
Lincoln provided this affidavit testifying to Rutledge’s service to aid Rutledge’s widow, Elizabeth Rutledge, in her effort to secure possession of the land warrants due to Rutledge for his service in the war. On September 28, 1850, the U.S. Congress had passed an act granting certain groups who had served in the United States military during the Revolutionary War, any of “the Indian wars” since 1790, and the Mexican War parcels of public land. Per this act, the amount of land that they were entitled to depended upon the length of engagement and actual time served. Lincoln’s affidavit attesting to Rutledge’s dates of service was, therefore, critical to Elizabeth Rutledge’s claim, which she made to the U.S. Bureau of Pensions in September 1851. The Bureau may also have had access to Rutledge’s certificate of service from the war, which Lincoln had personally signed in 1832.
The outcome of Elizabeth Rutledge’s claim is unknown; however, per the aforementioned act, as the widow of a private who served at least one full month in one of the Indian wars, she most likely received a certificate or land warrant from the U.S. Department of the Interior for forty acres of public land.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:67; Isaac H. Elliott, Record of the Services of Illinois Soldiers in the Black Hawk War, 1831-32, and in the Mexican War, 1846-8 (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1882), 100; “An Act granting Bounty Land to Certain Officers and Soldiers Who Have Been Engaged in the Military Service of the United States,” 28 September 1850, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):520-21; U.S., Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index, 1815-1858 (Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2017); Letter, Document ID: 132347; Widow’s Declaration, Document ID 132348, Lincoln wrote and signed affidavit, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=141453.
Autograph Document Signed, 2 page(s), TR 3140, Vault, RG 15: Veterans’ Records, 1773-1985, NAB.