The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has approved a claim from a veteran of the United States Civil War in one of its longest running cases to date.
Pvt. Horace Bottomsley, who served in the Chickamauga Campaign, first filed a claim in 1864 for a case of scurvy he caught the previous year, which he claims was brought on by the Union Army’s insufficient rations. According to Bottomsley, the standard diet of hardtack and grain liquor should have been supplemented by molasses and salt pork to provide essential nutrients.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald says a backlog of claims from the Mexican-American War, among other factors, may have led to “slight delays” in processing Bottomsley’s claim.
“He submitted the original claim via telegraph to a local veterans home, which was almost approved in 1892,” said McDonald. “But they switched from telegraph to telephone around that time, and unfortunately they fired everyone that knew how to translate Morse code, rather than retrain them to answer telephones.”
Bottomsley's claim will be paid out to his next-of-kin, his great-great-grandson and World War II veteran Jim Bottomsley, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and has been waiting on his own claim to be approved since 1947.
“The VA can choke on my bulge,” said the younger Bottomsley, which was his only comment on the matter.
McDonald says Bottomsley is entitled to receive his ancestor's backdated disability payments, which when adjusted for the 1863 pay scale amount to $14.07. He can also pick up a free six-month supply of vitamin-C supplements, which would have been able to treat his great-great-grandfather's scurvy had he not died during the Taft administration.