Appomattox

Civil War drummer boy John B. Jaques, Jr.: Mustered out 148 years ago today

Wounded Drummer Boy, oil on board, 1865-1869, by Eastman Johnson (In collections of San Diego Museum of Art*)

Wounded Drummer Boy, oil on board, 1865-1869, by Eastman Johnson (In collections of San Diego Museum of Art*)

In the midst of all that was going on in tailor John B. Jaques’ family, his namesake had the chutzpah to volunteer for service as a drummer boy in the closing months of the Civil War. The boys were supposed to be 18 to enlist, but as you can see from some of these images, boys much younger than that went into service.

John B. Jaques Jr. (b. 15 October 1848, Elizabeth, NJ) was 16 when he enlisted on 24 Feb 1865. You may recall from the last post that his dad was arrested twice (that we know of) that year, once in March for forgery and once in November for larceny. We don’t know John Jr.’s motivations–was he doing this for love of country and belief in the cause? Trying to escape a troubled home life? Looking for adventure? How proud (and worried) the family must have been. Sadly this brave decision did not seem to impact father John’s behavior.

Gen. Richard Busteed and drummer boy, US National Archives**

Gen. Richard Busteed and drummer boy, US National Archives**

Until discovering this detail about John Jr., and doing a bit of research on the role of drummer boys in the Civil War, I had no idea what an integral role these boys played. They actually required a great deal of training to learn all the various drum rolls and beats that could substitute for orders given vocally which were often much too difficult for troops to hear over the din of battle. And at battle’s end, they helped carry the wounded off the field to wherever care was being rendered.  Drummer boys accompanied commanding officers at all hours of the day and night and had to be ready at a moment’s notice to sound whatever drum roll was appropriate for the operation being initiated. These children were truly heroes, and apparently many of them went on to serve in the capacity of soldiers once their stints as drummer boys came to an end.

John B. Jaques, Jr. was mustered in on 2 March 1865, and mustered out on 13 July 1865 at Newark, NJ. He served in Company I, 40th Regiment New Jersey, which left New Jersey on 4 March 1865. According to the National Park Service website’s Civil War information about the 40th Regiment, John Jr. would have been part of the following: Siege operations against Petersburg December, 1864, to April, 1865. …Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and capture of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Danville April 23-27, and duty there till May 18. March to Richmond, Va., thence to Washington, DC, May 18-June 3. Corps Review June 8. I found evidence that John spent some time in the hospital before being mustered out. The Newark Daily Advertiser listed him in the ‘Affairs at the Hospital’ section of the issue dated 19 June 1865: Patients have lately been admitted as follows: … Jno. B. Jaques, drummer, Co. I, 40th N.J…. It could not have been anything too serious as the 1890 Census of Union Veterans did not list him as having any disability.

Surrender at the Appomattox

Surrender at the Appomattox, 9 April 1865

I’m very impressed by John Jr. even though his stint in the Union Army was so brief at just 5 months and 7 days. It still took a lot of courage for a lad of 16. And to have been present at Appomattox must have been quite special as well as a huge relief for all concerned.

After the war, John Jr. went on to have a career in the jewelry industry. He first worked in a jewelry shop (1870) and then a jewelry factory (1880). On 19 January 1893, he applied in New Jersey for a Civil War pension (Application no. 1,144,113; Certificate no. 1025165). In 1910, the census record listed his profession as ‘jeweler.’ John Jr. appeared again on the Civil War Pension Index on 5 Dec 1910.

John Jr. married Katherine (Katie) Griffith on 14 Jun 1871, in Newark, Essex, NJ. They had four children born between roughly 1872 and 1877 — two girls and two boys: Mary F., Isaac, William S., and Ida. Imagine the stories he was able to tell his children and grandchildren! Hopefully his home life with Katherine was far less stressful than the one he endured in his childhood.

John died at age 62 on 13 June 1911 (exactly 102 years and 1 month ago). I found his date of death in US Army Veterans Administration pension payment records (Certificate No. 1025165). He was categorized as an “Army Invalid,” and he appears to have originally filed for that status on 29 November 1898.

That’s all I know for the moment about John Jr., so I will finish here. Be sure to click on some of the resource links below. There are some great images there.

Here’s to John B. Jaques Jr. for his bravery, dedication to country, and contributions to preserving our nation and putting an end to slavery. May he be resting in peace.

drummers

Resources:

*Wounded Drummer Boy, oil on board painting by Eastman Johnson, 1865-69, San Diego Museum of Art. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

**This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the National Archives and Records Administration as part of a cooperation project. The National Archives and Records Administration provides images depicting American and global history which are public domain or licensed under a free license.

Categories: Appomattox, Civil War, Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Jaques, Lee General Robert E, Petersburg, VA, US Federal 1870, US Federal 1880, US Federal 1910 | 2 Comments

Appomattox: Our Links to a Major Historic Event

Surrender at the Appomattox, Palm Sunday, Apr 9, 1865 (Image in public domain)

Well, it’s almost a year ago that I was posting Civil War letters written by the Trowbridge brothers, Uzal (Company A, 1st New Jersey Volunteer Regiment) and his older brother Henry. Uzal did not make it; he was killed early on during the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in June of 1862, a brutal event that shook those present that day to the core of their beings. The loss of Uzal must have been a major blow to the Trowbridge family. Brother Henry entered service shortly after Uzal was killed, in August 1862, serving in the 14th NJ Volunteer Infantry. Somehow he made it through to the end, and went on to marry and have children. I’ll never forget that one letter of his in particular, from February 1864, in which he spoke of wanting to get home for what may be his last chance to see his loved ones. He equated going into battle with being part of a flock of birds under fire. Who lived and who died was all so random:

I am sorrow you cannot give me some excuse to get home. for this winter may be my last chance. if I do not get home this winter, I may never get home.  It is all chance. it is the same as if you shoot into a flock of birds and those you hapen to hit must fall and the rest go on untill the next time and leave you behind. they may bury you and they may not just as it happens and how much time they have to do it. but there is no use in talking we may as well laugh as to cry and base it as we have done so far.

Imagine being my great grandfather William Woodruff, to whom the letter was written. He was only 15 at the time. I know when I was that age, a letter like that would have made a huge impression on me. Without a doubt, such frank talk would have lingered in William’s mind for a long time. Thankfully Henry had a happy ending, though who knows what terrifying scenes must have stayed with him until his passing in 1898 at 63.

Well, why am I bringing this up again? Well, I discovered something very interesting recently. I subscribe to Genealogy Bank and was doing some digging in a Jersey City newspaper called The Jersey Journal. My great grandfather William Trewin lived in Jersey City as did his sister Emma. William met his wife Elizabeth Sargent in Jersey City, and that may well be where Emma met her future husband Francis C. (FC) Ludey. Emma and Francis made their home in nearby Bayonne. William and Elizabeth settled in Elizabeth, a bit further away. Genealogy Bank does not have many New Jersey newspapers, unfortunately. I had been hoping I could access the old Elizabeth Daily Journal, but that’s not on there. But, there is a ton of stuff from the The Jersey Journal, so I was trolling for articles on the Trewins, Sargents, and Ludeys. In the process, I stumbled on an obituary notice for FC Ludey (published 19 Jan 1918) and it mentions that he was present at the Appomattox Courthouse for Lee’s surrender to Grant.  And, as Francis served in the 14th NJ Volunteer Regiment with Henry Trowbridge, something I discovered a while ago and mentioned in this blog at that time, that means (of course!) that Henry was present for the surrender, too. And I thought that was pretty amazing. Talk about having a front row seat to history. Uzal could not be there to witness the end; but at least Henry got to do that for him. So this great historic connection has been there all along, and I am only putting two and two together now. Shame on me, but better late than never I suppose. Still, I cannot help hearing the words of my old high school physics teacher who used to say in response to such a statement: “Better never late.” But that is neither here nor there.

The text of Francis’ obituary reads as follows:
Funeral services for Francis C. Ludey, 73 years old were held at his late home, 75 West 42nd Street last night. Rev. M.Y. Bovard, pastor of the First M.E. Church, officiated. There were present delegations from Bayonne Council, Royal Arcanum, Odd Fellows, and a number of C.A.R. men. Mr. Ludey, being a veteran of the Civil War and present when Gen. Lee surrendered to Gen. Grant at Appomattox. James S. Coward, who was closely associated with Mr. Ludey in affairs of the First M.E. Church Sunday School, was among the mourners.

Francis C. Ludey; this may well have been taken for the Memorial Day event of 1917 at which he was a speaker (Personal Collection of Ruth Kirby Dean)

Included here is a photo of F.C. Ludey, courtesy of his 2nd great granddaughter Ruth Dean. I found an article describing Memorial Day celebrations in Bayonne in May 1917, and Francis was a featured speaker at that event. It may well be that this photo was taken on that very day.

For details of service for the 14th NJ Volunteer Regiment, click here.
For a list of NJ Civil War units, click here.
For the monument to the 14th NJ Regiment at Monocacy, click here.

Categories: Appomattox, Bayonne, Civil War, Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., Jersey City, Hudson Co., Lee General Robert E, Ludey, Memorial Day, Obituaries, Sargent, Trewin, Trowbridge, Woodruff | Leave a comment

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