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Dear Ms. Wilkins,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798 - 1914 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1917 (Record Group 94) that includes a listing for Peter Siemens of the 14th U.S. Infantry Regiment. The register listing for him has “Des. Sept. 19, 1900” written in the remarks section. We also located Returns of Military Organizations, ca. 1800 - 12/1916 in Record Group 94 that has several listings for him in the file unit titled Fourteenth Infantry: 1899-1900. The final listing for him (Image 214) states that he deserted September 19, 1900 at Fort Wayne, Michigan. See line 4 under the heading “By Desertion” in the third column. There is no indication that he ever returned to Army custody. This would have been after the date he was listed on the 1900 census record you located for him, as the enumeration date for that census was June 1, 1900.
Additionally, we located Enlistment Papers, 1798 - October 31, 1912, Carded Medical Records of the Regular Army, 1894 - 1912 and Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War in Record Group 94 that should have a records concerning his service with the Regular Army and the Volunteers.
If he had been recovered by the Army, he likely would have been court martialed. We searched Court Martial Case Files, 1894 - 1917 in the Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army) (Record Group 153), but we were unable to locate a case file for him.
For more information about the records listed above, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
If he really did desert and his whereabouts were never discovered by the Army, it is unlikely that the National Archives has records concerning his death. To locate his death certificate, you would need to know which state he was in at the time of his death. Added complications include the fact that not all states issued death certificate in the early years of 20th century, the possibility that he may have died without having his body being found and/or identified, the possibility that he was using an assumed name after he deserted, and the possibility that when he deserted from Fort Wayne he crossed the Detroit River into Canada and remained there until he died.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
Thank you so much. This information is very helpful and I appreciate your kind assistance.