I have done quite a bit of research concerning my Great-grandfather, Erastus Lynch Black, but one thing really has me going - his final rank. His CMSRs contain a fair amount of information through his capture at Port Hudson, imprisonment at Johnson's Island and subsequent exchange in March of 1864. At that time he was admitted to Hospital No. 4, Richmond and then, after a month, he was released and furloughed for a month. After that there is nothing more until he surrendered and was paroled at Wittsburg, AR 25 May 1865. One, and only one, of his CMSR cards has the rank of "Lt. Col." but no details are given. I checked the reference work "Confederate Surrender and Parole Jacksonport and Wittsburg, Arkansas May and June, 1865" by Jerry and Victor Ponder and found a listing for "E H" and "E L" Black, both give the rank as Major, on "Staff", 23rd AR Inf. Regt. However, when I checked another source: "Compendium of the Confederate Armies, Florida and Arkansas" by Sifakis, he gives E. L. Black's rank as "Major, Lieutenant Colonel" and "Field Officer." Unfortunately, I can't seem to put my hands on a contemporary record verifying a promotion to Lt. Co. Any suggestions where I might look? Am I correct in understanding that upon surrender, Union clerks recorded each soldier's name, along with rank, unit, etc. and that is where the Ponders obtained their information? If so, why would he be listed as a Major if he was, in fact, a Lt. Col.? What would be his incentive, if any, to intentinally give a lower rank? Or was he never really promoted officially to Lt. Col.? Or was the recording of information just plain sloppy? I am stumped.
I understand that the 23rd Ark. Inf. participated in Price's Missouri expedition and that some (many? most?) of the 23rd's rolls, etc. were destroyed when Gen. Price ordered the wagon trains burned. Does this account for the lack of documentation on the 23rd Regt. after Port Hudson? When a unit surrendered, was it customary to turn over their rolls, etc. to the enemy? Or would they have reason to destroy them rather than have them captured? Or was there no hard-and-fast rule?
I know this is a rather long post but there seems to be some pretty knowledgeable folks on this board (I'm not) so I would really appreciate some input, opinions, suggestions, etc.
PS: his headstone is inscribed "Maj. E. L. Black"