Many Chamorro Whalers, aka Bayineros, sailed on a variety of vessels across the globe, for opportunity, adventure, and other personal reasons. Some returned home, while others continued to journey and settled elsewhere.
Until recently, the question of whether Chamorro men fought in the U.S. Civil War did not dawn on me until I came across the military record of Private Peter Sontos (Santos); sometimes also recorded as Peter Santas or Peter Santee.
Previously, I reported that 23 men that were listed with Guam as their birth place joined the US Navy in the 1800’s. Little did I realize they were all enlistments that occurred during the period of the civil war, between 1861-1865 for in the Union's Navy. (See: http://www.chamorroroots.com/v3/index.php?option=com_content&;view=article&id=255%3A1800s-from-whaling-to-us-navy-enlistments&catid=34%3Ahistory&Itemid=1)
Santos’ journey appears to be a rare one compared to his peers in that he has a record of mustering up for the Union’s Army in 1865. His records indicate that he was a “substitute.” According to the National Archives and Records Administration, men drafted during the civil war could hire a substitute to fight in their place, provided they had the means to do so. A couple of other military substitutes I tracked down and with Guam as their birth place were Benjamin Button and Alonzo Ernandes. But these two enlisted in the U.S. Navy for the Union as well.
On March 23, 1865, Santos appeared for muster and enlisted into the Union’s Army, in Portland, Maine. His enlistment was as a substitute in for Joseph W. Nutter. Based on Census documents Nutter was a Caucasian farmer from Newfield Town, Maine. As part of his enlistment, he was assigned to the 43rd Colored Infantry Regiment based out in Pennsylvania.
Santos had nearly two complete months of service; one month before and one month after the Civil War. He mustered out and was honorably discharged on May 15, 1865 under the authority of General Order 77. That General Order was basically an order for the Army to reduce its resources marking the end of the Civil War.
With the current evidence available, it is highly unlikely that he fought in that war. In some of the military records it indicated that Santos was not paid a bounty for his service. But, I wonder if Santos was paid by Nutter to substitute for him or if he did it as a favor or possibly even a reciprocated/debt payment to Nutter.
But still, I am left wondering...did Chamorro men fight in the U.S. Civil War?
I think this would make a great topic for a young Chamorro scholar to pursue, investigate and write her/his findings!
Ersland, Jake. (undated). Civil War Provost Marshal Records: A Snapshot in Time. National Archives Records Administration.
Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957.
National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm
National Archive Records Administration (NARA).