52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #11 – Sidney B. Wood aka Henry Menard

Relationship: 1/2 3rd Great uncle
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I have a much larger story that I will be publishing later on in the year that relates to my 2nd great-grandfather William Henry Hunt and three of his other brothers who fought in the Late War of the Rebellion.

Sidney B. Wood is the 1/2 brother of William Henry Hunt. Sidney and William’s mother was Eliza Menard and Sidney was a child by her first husband (given name as yet undiscovered); William was a child by her second husband, Enoch Hunt.

This post specifically addresses the manner in which Sidney B. Wood alias Henry Menard died. I found it to be a fascinating little tidbit that illustrates the benefits of doing a thoroughly exhaustive records search.

I had assumed that Sidney had died in battle during the Civil War for a couple of reasons. Sidney’s mother Eliza had said in a pension file affidavit[1] that Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed. William, speaking about his brother, said, “Brave boy, he reenlisted, fought all through the war, rose to the orderly sergeant in a regular Batt[alion]” and that his bones were bleaching in Richmond.[2] Since the Civil War was raging at this time, it would have been reasonable to assume that Sidney had died in battle. This highlighted the risk of assuming without verification.

Found within Henry/Sidney’s pension file[3] was a handwritten sheet with no form number. On this sheet was the following report dated 30 July 1869 by the captain of the battalion who Henry/Sidney had served under:

Respectfully returned with the information that on the 29th of April 1866 1st Sargent Henry Menard [Sidney B. Wood] of this battery had permission to take his horse and to leave the camp of the battery near Richmond Va. for the purpose of going to town for his own pleasure. While absent he became grossly intoxicated, rode his horse at a very rapid rate and being unable to guide or control him, ran into a tree on the edge of the sidewalk and fractured his skull. This injury was the cause of his death.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 3.51.19 PMIt turned out that Sidney died in a drunk driving accident not on the battlefield. Obviously automobiles were still quite a few years in the future so it wasn’t as if his friends could take away the keys to the horse! Since Henry/Sidney did not die of anything related to his war service, the pension bureau rejected both his widow Kate’s and his mother Eliza’s applications for pension.


[1] Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Exhibit J, Affidavit of Eliza Hunt, 05 September 1882.
[2] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Letter from William Henry Hunt to Pension Commissioner, 03 September 1883.
[3] Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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