I admit to being curious about a man named Cupid, especially when he also was a Sergeant in the US Army, Sergeant Cupid Rodgers. My first thought was, this must have been one tough dude to have survived with that name. As far as I can determine while doing my research, there seems to have been only 2 or 3 Cupid’s in the
whole US Army, all of them apparently former slaves.
Rodgers pension files indicate some confusion as to his rank at the time of his discharge. He was apparently made a Corporal at the time
of his enlistment and then was promoted to Sgt. the following month.
According to one document from the Adjutant General’s office in 1886, he was discharged September 15, 1866 as a Sgt. Two other documents though,
including his pension certificate, list him as a Private. In the AGs document there is also a mention of his spending time at the military prison in Little
Rock “awaiting trial since April 15-66” no mention of why. It states he was back on active duty in May until he was mustered out as a Sgt. How or why the rank was changed is unclear to me. I will continue to think of him as a Sergeant.
Some of the things we learn from his pension file are that Rodgers was a slave before the war and that he was also a big man; in 1892 at
the age of “about seventy” he was still five feet, eleven and a half inches tall. He had been wounded in a battle at Fort Smith Arkansas; a shell
wound to his left hip which he suffered from for the rest of his life. He was also wounded in a battle at Big Bayou Meadows, also in Arkansas. At
this battle he claimed to have received a gunshot wound to his head, saber wound on his left thumb, and an unknown injury to his right thumb. To top
it off, he also had his foot stepped on by a horse.
In the fall of 1864, Rodgers relates that he was south of Fort Smith; his shoes worn out, he stepped on a “cane” (?) that “run
into his foot”. All in all he had a rough couple of years in 1863 and 64.
The file for Sgt. Rodgers contains the original of his pension certificate. It is the first time I have seen one; I think that it would
normally have been sent to the soldier. Dated September 20, 1901, it awards him the sum of six dollars a month for his disabilities. Obviously six
dollars went a lot further back then, but it still seems like a very small amount.
Another interesting document in the file is a report from the Western Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. This facility,
located in Leavenworth Kansas, was one of eleven situated around the country that offered housing and health care to the disabled soldiers.
(Eventually these facilities would become part of the Veterans Administration Hospitals.) Rodgers first was admitted to the hospital in November of
1887 for treatment of pain resulting from his hip wound. He was treated again in 1891, for a broken right arm, the result of a gunshot
wound. Again we are left to speculate on what he may have been involved in. He would have been in his late sixties at the time of the shooting;
his occupation is listed as farmer. I imagine him as being a tough old guy that still wasn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone.
The last mystery concerning Sgt. Rodgers is that I have not been able to find any connection between him and Colorado. All the documents
in his file indicate he lived in Kansas, at least until September of 1891. Maybe the gunshot wound had something to do with his coming to
Sergeant Cupid Rodgers was buried January 1, 1900 in section 1
of ward 6 in a GAR lot in block 27 at Riverside Cemetery.
by Ray Thal
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