Four-mule army team and wagon going for supplies at City Point, Virginia. Library of Congress photo. LC-DIG-cwpb-01989 DLC.

An infantryman’s usual job was to point his musket at the enemy and shoot. But sometimes an infantryman could be assigned other duty during a battle.

For example, Francis M. Poore’s Compiled Service Record shows him as “present detailed” during the Battle of Garnett’s Farm.

The Battle of Garnett’s Farm took place June 28, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, the fourth action in the Seven Days Battles. While fighting raged north of the Chickahominy River at Gaines’s Mill, Confederate Brig. Gen. John B. Magruder attacked the Union line south of the river at Garnett’s Farm. The 13th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, in which Francis served, was under Magruder’s command.

F.M. Poore’s Compiled Service Record notes his participation in the war.

But the “present detailed” in Francis’ service record indicates that officers had given Francis non-combat duties. The record doesn’t say what Francis was assigned to do. A typical job might be to take over for a short time as a teamster on the wagons supplying the troops. When the regular teamster returned, the infantryman would return to the battle line.

Officers may have taken Francis off the line and given him lighter duties because he was having a bout of illness. A few days later, on July 1, he was absent because of sickness from the Battle of Malvern Hill.

Just because you found that your ancestor served in the military during the Civil War doesn’t mean that he fought in every battle, or any battle. It is important to study his war records carefully to mine them for every bit of detail they can give you. Those details are what help bring your ancestor’s story to life.

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