Sunday, March 23, 2014

Edward Day Cohota, 1897 and 1899

The National Tribune
February 11, 1897
The Grand Army.
What is Being Done by the Veterans for the Good of the Order.
The Button in the Army.
Gen. Algier Insisted Upon the Right of Soldiers to Wear It.
Editor National Tribune: I highly approve the choice of Gen. Algier for Secretary of War. It will please the veterans very much, though at this time they have no demands to make upon the Secretary of War. Gen. Algier is the right man for that position. His ripe experience as a military officer is a qualification in which many of his predecessors were deficient.

I had at one time occasion to test Gen. Algier during his term as Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. At Fort Randall we had a Post of the G.A.R., named Gen. McDowell. I had the honor of being Commander at the time. The 15th U.S. Inf. was stationed here, and had many soldiers in the ranks who belonged to McDowell Post, one of whom, was a Chinaman, named Cohotco [sic], an honorable soldier, who has since completed the 30 years’ service necessary for retirement. The company to which this soldier belonged to had the misfortune to be commanded by a Second Lieutenant named W.N. Blow, and, in the absence of the Captain of the company, he made it most disagreeable for poor Cohotco. He selected him for special attack, but could find no other cause than that Comrade Cohotco wore the G.A.R. button. Blow ordered him to take the button from the lapel of his coat or blouse and throw it away, saying that the sight of it made him sick. Blow informed Cohotco that if he should have cause to speak again to him he would prefer charges for direct disobedience of orders.

I being the only citizen in the garrison belonging to the Grand Army at the time, and the Post Commander, I approached Blow regarding the insult he offered to our Post and to the G.A.R. I told him that the simple button Cohotco and all other comrades of the G.A.R. wore was far moor honorable than the straps he wore, or ever would wear, if he lived for 100 years, and that none could wear the badge or button but an honorably-discharged soldier, let him be ever so humble, and it was more honorable than the star or garter, and I informed him that I would seek redress through my Department Commander, E.T. Langley.

He said to me that his father was a Major in the Confederate army, and had no love for a Yankee soldier.

My report to the Department Commander was at once acted upon by submitting it to the Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Algier, for his action. The following are his remarks with indorsement:

[click link at the top to read the letters]

The National Tribune
(Washington, DC)
March 25, 1897
That Chinese Comrade.
Editor National Tribune: In The National Tribune recently was an article under “The Grand Army” about the 15th U.S. and a Chinaman who has completed 30 years’ service and wore a G.A.R. button. It may be of interest to you to know that this Chinaman, Edward Day Cohota, served in the 23d Mass. He enlisted Feb. 12, 1864, at the age of 18, and was discharged at the end of the war with the regiment. His names come from Capt. Edward [sic] Day, of the ship Cohota. Capt. Day brought him home from China when he was a little boy, and he was brought up in Gloucester, Mass. Named Edward Day from the Captain and Cohota from the ship. I would like his present address.—Will L. Welch, Quartermaster and Treasurer, 23d Regiment Association, Boston, Mass.

Omaha Daily Bee
June 4, 1899
Mortality Statistics.
The following births and deaths have been reported to the health commissioner during the last twenty-four hours:

Deaths—Miles Cohota, 2625 Franklin street, 8 months…[Edward Day Cohota’s son]

The Sun
(New York, New York)
August 3, 1899
Chinese Pensioners.
To the Editor of The Sun.—Sir: In to-day’s Sun Charles Felix, of the regular army, while admitting that Ah Yu may be the first Chinaman pensioned by Uncle Sam, calls attention to Edward D. Cahota [sic], who was retired from service in the army in 1893, and has since been drawing retired soldier’s pay, and that, Mr. Felix thinks, is practically the same thing as a pension. Admitting that this is so, Cahota is still far from being the first Chinaman to receive a pension or its equivalent from the United States. Thomas Sylvanus, born in China, enlisted in California [sic] for service in the civil war, at the close of which he went to the town of Indiana, Pa., where he married an American woman and settled down. Almost twenty years ago a pension was granted to him for disability incurred in the service, and he continued to receive it up to the time of his death, some five years since. He conducted a laundry in the town of his adoption and was a much respected citizen. Sylvanus was the first Chinaman to receive a pension—at least, so he was told by the Washington authorities.
Elmer C. Conrath.
Johnstown, Pa., July 31.

Boston Sunday Journal
December 31, 1899
Fifth Section: Photographic News and Music Portfolio
A Chinese Soldier.

Cohota is profiled in the National Park Service book, Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War.

(Next post: Edward Day Cohota: Valentine, Nebraska, 1898–1917)

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