James Carl, soldier in the 29th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, was a resident of Sharon, Connecticut. He met his wife, Emily, in 1857, married not long after, and had three children: George, Martha, and Julia. He and Emily lived together with their children in Sharon before the war. Before his enlistment in the 29th Connecticut, medical records indicate he complained of pain in his right side and convulsions--his good friend George Cook confirmed this, writing he was “quite sick” when he enlisted--though that didn’t hinder his enrollment in the United States Army. He walked to Bridgeport, and enlisted in the 29th on the 22nd of December, 1863. He was officially “mustered into service as private on the 8th day of March, 1864”.
A Civil War Field Hospital
Not much is known about Carl’s activity in regards to fighting/combat during the war. The first mention of Carl’s name from a wartime document is found in a November 24, 1864, hospital entry: he was taken off the battlefield with complaints of pain in his leg and a rash that covered his face and one side of his neck. The original document ends with a statement that indicates Carl died due to a war injury. However, an amendment to the medical record reads that this statement was inaccurate and that Carl was, in fact, still alive. Inaccuracies in medical and other war data were common due to the great possibility of staining, ripping, or losing documents in the field. He again disappears from the records - this time for the remainder of the Civil War - until he was again mentioned in a medical record from Brownsville, Texas. He, along with many other African American soldiers, had yet to fulfill his three years of service so the American government sent the 29th to the Texas-Mexico border to enforce the Monroe Doctrine against French attempts to conquer the eastern part of Mexico. The mysterious skin rash soon returned, and because no one knew what it was, the medical staff relieved him of duty officially in late 1865.
Carl returned home to Sharon in 1865, and spent the remainder of his life doing odd jobs around the town to support his wife and three children. He passed away of natural causes in 1870 in his mid-40s and was buried in the Hillside Cemetery in Sharon where his grave site can still be found.