Allison-Antrim Museum

Robert B. Henderson

38th USCT

 

The 38th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment was organized January 23, 1864 in Virginia. It was attached to the Department of Virginia and North Carolina until June 1864. From June 1864 to April 1865, the regiment was attached to the Army of the James. From April 3, 1865 to the end of May 1865, the 38th was again attached to the Department of Virginia. During the last one and a half years of its service, from May 1865 to January 1867, the regiment was attached to the Department of Texas.

 

 The 38th Regiment was stationed at Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA until June 1864. It participated in Union operations during the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign from June 1864 and April 1865 including the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights September 29-30; Deep Bottom on October 1, 1864; Battle of Fair Oaks on October 27-18. The troops spent time in the trenches north of the James River and the men took part in the occupation of Richmond from April 3 to the end of May and beginning of June, 1865. In Texas, the regiment served duty in Brownsville, Galveston, at various locations along the Rio Grande, Brazos Santiago, and Indianola, Texas. The regiment was mustered out on January 25, 1867.

 

 The battle losses of the regiment included one officer and 42 enlistees. Disease killed two officers and 192 enlisted men, for a total of 237.

 

 Robert B. Henderson, a.k.a. Robert B. Scott, appears on the 1890 Veterans Schedule enumeration for Greencastle and Antrim. All of his military records, including the Veteran’s Burial Card, list him as Robert B. Henderson. From the Descriptive Roll records, it is learned that Robert, a farmer, enlisted and enrolled, at the age of 20, on March 2, 1865 in Baltimore, at which time, the 38th USCT Regiment was still in the trenches north of the James River. His tour of duty was for one year. Robert was 5’6” in height and had a black complexion, hair, and eyes. Although his burial card indicates he was in Co. F of the 38th USCT, all of Robert’s military records say he was in Co. H. From Baltimore, Henderson was sent to Varina, VA, known as Aiken’s Landing during the Civil War, which was frequently used for exchanging Union and Confederate prisoners of war. Henderson participated in the occupation of Richmond until the end of May 1865 when he and the rest of the regiment was shipped to Texas, for the remainder of their service. Although the 38th was finally mustered out in January 1867, Robert B. Henderson was mustered out on March 2, 1866, at the end of his term of enlistment. He was due $100 in government bounty. On the muster-out roll, it states: retains his knapsack, haversack, canteen and Gt. Co. Strap per S.O. (Special Order) 114 A.G.O. (Adjutant General’s Office). Along with previously stated items, Robert was given, “Transportation and Subsistence furnished to New Orleans La.” Even today, New Orleans is a very long way from Frederick County, MD, so just how did the US Army expect soldiers to get back home from New Orleans?

 

 Robert was born in Frederick County, MD in 1843. On page 11 in the book Glory Land, written by William P. Conrad, Conrad says that Robert and his wife Rebecca Henderson were slaves and came to Greencastle, during the Civil War and that after they came to Pennsylvania, they changed their family name to Scott. The earliest US Census record on which I’ve been able to find Robert and Rebecca is the 1880 census, in Antrim Township. I haven’t yet been able to find Robert on the 1860 US Census of free persons or enslaved people. Nor have I found him on an 1870 census record. Had Robert lived in Pennsylvania during the Civil War, I believe that he would have served in one of the US Colored Regiments that were raised in Pennsylvania.

 

 The 1880 US Census record lists Robert (a laborer) and Rebecca Scott and all their children – Mary V. (11), Thomas A. E. (9), William F. (7), Martha A. (4), and Emma C. (3), as having been born in Maryland. The 1900 US Census records were the first ones to ask how long couples had been married. In 1900, Robert (a farm laborer) and Rebecca (a cook) had been married 31 years, so they married about 1869. By 1900, they had 11 children and the first child born in Pennsylvania was Lizzie, who was born in 1885. The next oldest child, Emma was born between 1877 and June 14, 1880, the date of the 1880 census. Therefore, the family came to Greencastle and Antrim after Emma was born and before June 14, 1880. Their other children in 1900 were Benjamin R. (13), Berta R. (5), and Edwin a. (5). The Scots were renting a home on West Franklin Street.

 

 In 1910, the Scotts still lived on West Franklin Street. Robert was 76 and was still working at odd jobs. Rebecca took in other peoples wash to help with the income. Only eight of their 11 children were still living in 1910. Two granddaughters, Marie (11) and Edna (9) were living with them.

 

 Robert B. Henderson/Scott died on November 18, 1912, of pulmonary tuberculosis. He served as a private in Co. H, 38th US Colored Infantry. Henderson was buried in the African American section of Cedar Hill Cemetery, section I, grave number 34. Although Robert and Rebecca changed their surname to Scott and they are found in the U.S. Censuses (from 1880 forward) under the surname Scott, their death certificates use the surname Henderson and their cemetery headstone says Henderson.

 

 In 1920, Rebecca Scott, then 67, was working as a cook for a “private family” to support herself. She was still living at 36 West Franklin Street. Her son, William (44) and his son Melvin (16) were living with Rebecca.

 

 Rebecca was 80 years old in 1930 and her son Thomas (55) was living with her. She owned her home, valued at $1,000. She no longer worked outside the home. By 1940, the home she and Robert lived in their whole lives while living in Greencastle had tripled in value – it was worth $3,000. Thomas was still living with her, as was Mattie Davis, one of Rebecca’s daughters.

 

 Rebecca Jane Henderson (aka Scott) died at 12:05 a.m., March 4, 1947, 35 years after her husband Robert. When she passed away, Rebecca was one of the eldest members of the Greencastle-Antrim community, having died at the age of 98 years, nine months, and seven days. According to her death certificate, Rebecca was born into slavery in New Market, Maryland on March 4, 1848, before the Civil War. She lived in Maryland during the Civil War, and later in life lived through the Spanish-American War, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Old Home Week began in 1902 and Rebecca experienced the first 16 Old Home Weeks through 1946. What stories Rebecca Jane Henderson/Scott had to tell to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. A sage, in her own lifetime, Rebecca was laid to rest alongside her husband Robert B. Henderson in Cedar Hill Cemetery.

 

 Bonnie A. Shockey,

 Allison-Antrim Museum, Inc.

 

 

 

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