Daniel F. Phelan
Regiment Name: 3 Colorado Cavalry
Side: Union Company: B
Soldier’s Rank In: Pvt. – Soldier’s Rank Out: Pvt.
The story of Daniel’s military record use to haunt me … until a cousin once stated – “Daniel was only a private, if he hadn’t followed orders he was subject to being shot … then where would we be?”
Daniel Francis Phelan
They had the following children:
Edward Francis Phelan
Daniel died on May 4th, in 1921and is buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery Los Angeles, California.
My GG-Grandfather Daniel Francis Phelan left his family farm in Iowa seeking his chance for riches in the gold fields of Colorado, going bust rather than finding dust, he grew lonely and wanted to send for his childhood sweetheart back home … the only trouble was he had no money. The Union Army was seeking young men to enlist in the Colorado 3rd Cavalry volunteering for just 100 days – that’s it. Well he figured that’d be a means to an end of his money problem and quickly joined up the summer of 1864, then asking Annie Elizabeth Donahue to come join him. They were married on October 16th – about the halfway mark of his enlistment.
I was so excited to find his Civil War service record … until I read their only claim to fame during that 100 days, was to march all one night through hip high snow to get to an Indian encampment by dawn. They, being young farmers and miners, were just barely schooled in military dogma before the march and didn’t know their actual orders until they got to the hills overlooking Sand Creek. As the old chief came out arms stretched wide to greet them, pointing up at the US flag flying proudly over his tee-pee, the order was given to open fire. Almost every man woman and child were slaughtered. This battle left me horrified and genealogically ‘broken’ for a very long time.
But just recently I found an passage in a CW book written just after the war, recounting battle incidences and found Daniel’s name mentioned as “a teamster who hauled their wagons” … and set out to find just what his duties would have been. I wrote to 2 well known CW history buffs who both said the teamsters were in charge of keeping their loads and mules safe along with the horses of the regiment while not in use. So my Daniel would have been behind the firing line and “most likely” did NOT take up arms. Whew – him haunting my dreams has now gone away.