Henry Kettell (23rd USCT)

Henry Kettell (post-war name: Williams) was born around 1841 in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was born into slavery, and conflicting reports list his owner's name as William Cacklin, Kachton, and Kettell. He probably married his first wife Mary (Martha) while they were both slaves. Kettell lived about thirteen miles from downtown Charlottesville, and during the Civil War he and his brothers ran away and made their way to Washington, D.C. He enlisted in the Union army on May 14, 1864, and mustered in to Company K of the 23rd USCT Infantry Regiment in Alexandria, Virginia. His service record describes him as 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a black complexion. He may have enrolled as a substitute for Cyrus Rogers of Shutesbury, Massachusetts. 

The army transferred the regiment to City Point, Virginia, where Kettell contracted camp fever. He received treatment at the local military hospital for several weeks. He returned to his regiment after treatment, and he received a gunshot wound to the right knee on July 30, 1864, probably at the Battle of the Crater. He remained in the vicinity of Petersburg, Virginia, until November 30, when he went to the general hospital in Alexandria. He was discharged for disability on June 15, 1865, in Alexandria.  

Kettell settled in Washington, D.C., after the war. He went by the last name Williams and continued to work as a laborer. He and Mary had three children, the youngest of whom was named Robert. Mary died in Washington's Benning neighborhood on February 6, 1884, and he married Sarah Catherine Elizabeth at the Fourth Baptist Church in Washington on December 11, 1884. He suffered from rheumatism, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and lingering pain from his gunshot wound, and in 1890 he began receiving an $8 monthly pension backdated to 1865. He died of heart disease and dropsy on February 26, 1899, in Washington, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. After his death, his widow Sarah received an $8-per-month pension from 1899 until her death on May 27, 1902.


Partial Affidavit of Henry Kettell

Name:Kettell, Henry
Alternative names:
  • Williams, Henry (alternative name)
  • Kettel, Henry (alternative name)
  • Catton, Henry (alternative name)
  • Kachton, Henry (alternative name)
  • Soldier
  • Substitute
23rd Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored TroopsK
Branch of service:Army
Enlistment1864-05-14Greenfield, MAaccepted21Slave
Muster In1864-05-14Greenfield, MA
Muster Out1865-06-05Washington, DCDischarged for Disability
Residence at enlistment:Washington, DC
Rank In:Private
Rank Out:Private
Highest rank achieved:Private
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Kettell, HenryKettell, Henry295760application-invalid
Kettell, Henrynoneapplication-minor
Kettell, Henrynoneapplication-parent
Kettell, HenryWilliams, Sarah Catherine Elizabeth694080application-widow
Kettell, HenryKettell, Henry261941certificate-invalid
Kettell, HenryWilliams, Sarah Catherine Elizabeth508389certificate-widow
Birth date:1843
Birth date certainty:About
Birth place:Albemarle County, VA
Death date:1899-02-26
Death place:Washington, DC
Causes of death:disease: dropsy, disease: heart disease
Occupations:Farmer, Laborer
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Kettell, Henryparent ofWilliams, Robert
Williams, Sarah Catherine Elizabethwife ofKettell, Henry
Williams, Marywife ofKettell, Henry

Compiled Service Records for Henry Kettell, RG94, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; Pension Records for Henry Kettell, RG15, NARA, Washington, D.C.; Arlington National Cemetery Records for Henry Williams.