Samuel Garst was born October 15, 1839 at Jonesborough, Washington Co. Tennessee. It is unknown when he came to Illinois.
He was mustered into service at Camp Butler, Springfield, Illinois on January 4, 1862. He gave his residence at enlistment as Girard, Illinois. He spent the first months of his service driving mules, then was absent for a few months, sick. His regular task in the battery appears to have been that of driver, according to later testimony of a comrade. He, along with many other men in the battery, suffered from malaria while at Vicksburg. His illness was treated with two quinine tablets, sometimes taken with whiskey. He reenlisted in January 1864, and was described at the time as 5 feet, 11 inches tall, with grey eyes, light hair, and a light complexion. He was promoted to corporal in March. While on duty near Holly Springs, on August 28, 1864, he was captured by Rebel forces. He described his capture: “I was at Selma Cahaba and Mount Gamry [sic – Montgomery] al and at Macon & Andesonvil [sic] Ga was down at Macon Ga about a month Doctor Gardner gave me medicine but I got away from Andersonville in March 65 and got to Wilson Cavalry near Macon Ga. Some time in May I was sent home and stayed there” until the rest of the battery returned home to Springfield and was mustered out. Despite his absence from the battery, Garst was still promoted to sergeant on November 1, 1864.
After the war, Samuel suffered almost constantly from rheumatism, in later years becoming so incapacitated that he could hardly feed himself. Despite his suffering, the army was reluctant to grant him a pension in later years, because there were no official medical records documenting his case from the war. Finally, Garst’s pension came through as a direct act of Congress in 1906.
After the war, Garst lived in Girard, Illinois from 1865 until 1903. He married Nancy Elizabeth Thacker on March 1, 1866 at Nilwood, Macoupin Co., Illinois. They had at least 7 children who survived to adulthood: Mary, Ida V., Samuel L., Nancy A., Charles M., Ethel M., Jesse T., and probably had another unknown son who may have died in infancy. In 1903, Garst moved to Leeds, North Dakota, where he lived until 1907, moving to Monrovia, California where he resided until at least 1920. He died on July 5, 1926.
SOURCES: Samuel S. Garst military service and pension record files, National Archives.