September 2, 1862
Lemuel Jenkins was determined to serve his country, "if I had a country to save."
Born in Bowdoin in 1795, Jenkins claimed to be 44 years old when he enlisted as a Private in the 28th Maine Infantry Regiment on September 2, 1862.
The 28th Maine served in Louisiana, and took part in the battles of Port Hudson and Donaldsonville in the summer of 1863.
Duty with the 28th Maine was Jenkins’ second attempt to participate in the civil War. Earlier, he had tried to enlist in the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment, but he was rejected.
Jenkins served his 9-month enlistment with the 28th Maine, but became sick, as so many of the soldiers did, just prior to his discharge.
The regiment left Jenkins to recover in Pensacola, Florida. When he was considered healthy enough to head north, he "was detailed to take care of the sick at east new york and keep with them till i got to Augusty and was able to assist them som every day."
At home in Temple, Jenkins, a farmer by trade, was unable to work.
In 1866, he decided to petition Governor Samuel Cony and the Maine Executive Council for assistance.
In his petition, Jenkins allows that he was older than the 44 years he had written on his enlistment paper. In fact, Jenkins was really 67 at the time of his enlistment.
As part of the proof of his contention, Jenkins attested that he had served in the War of 1812.
In 1811, Jenkins had enlisted as a Private in the 33rd US Infantry Regiment, and he was a part of the United States’ Flotilla on Lake Champlain, where he "was a first loader of a long twenty four pounder."
Jenkins admits to Gov. Cony that he almost didn’t get past the authorities in his attempt 50 years later to enlist in the 28th Maine.
According to his deposition, Jenkins took his case all the way to then Governor Israel Washburn. Jenkins says that Gov. Washburn informed him that "he could do nothing for me maj gardner was above him he was nothing but a State officer maj gardner united State officer."
When Jenkins returned to camp, however, the Colonel heard his story, "rose to his feet clapt his hands together and said i say you shall go."
Despite his appeal to Gov. Cony, Jenkins received no state pension. He died sometime between 1870 and 1880.
- Should Jenkins have received his pension?
- Why did he lie about his age, since he was over 18?
- Should there be an upper age limit on the men who enlist?
- Why did the officer let him enlist?
- Would you have let him?