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Ashley Judd gets grim account of her Civil War ancestor’s service

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd discovered some gruesome details about her ancestor Elijah Hensley’s service in the Civil War when she was featured on last week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Elijah served in the 39th Kentucky Infantry. His service record, available at Footnote, outlines his years of dedicated service to the Union Army when he was a prisoner of war, promoted to corporal, and ultimately wounded and discharged.

Although he stated he was 18 years old when he enlisted in 1862, he also said he was 18 when discharged in 1865, contributing to the assumption that he was ready to fight for the North when he was as young as 15. Each card in Elijah’s service record contributes to a chronology of events from 1862 to 1865, where he:

  • Enlists with William Kirk, November 18, 1862, at Lawrence, KY.
  • Is captured by the rebels, December 4, 1862, in Floyd County, KY.
  • Musters back in on January 15, 1863, at Peach Orchard, KY, probably as a result of a prisoner exchange.
  • Gets promoted from private to corporal on March 24, 1864, after which he was sent briefly for detached service to Lexington, KY.
  • Is listed as wounded in October 1864 and “in the hands of the enemy,” after which he is “sick” at Ashland Hospital, then at Columbus, Ohio, before he is ultimately discharged by “reason of disability” on June 20, 1865.

Certificate of Disability for Discharge Other papers within the service record provide further details. His right leg was amputated after he was wounded in battle at Saltville, Virginia, on October 2, 1864. His Certificate of Disability for Discharge, dated June 20, 1865, states he was born in Logan County, Virginia; that he is 18 years old, 5′ 7″ tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and light hair; and that he is a farmer.

Other records of interest include:

Memorandum from Prisoner of War Records.

The 1860 US Federal Census, in Logan County, Virginia. He is age 13, giving credence to his being underage when he enlisted two years later.

His pension index card with his death date, April 14, 1909, and the certificate numbers for his Civil War pension files.

Track the history of your Civil War soldier’s service, whether Union or Confederate, in the service records available only at

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