Tuesday, April 1, 2014

52 Ancestors: #13 Corporal John W. Bailey (1843-1864); 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company C

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin and it will take you to her site.

Photo used by Creative Commons License, obtained through http://photopin.com, photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/6976292529

John W. Bailey is my second great uncle, son of John and Maria (Williams) Bailey. He was born on December 7, 1873, and first appears on the census with his family at 6 yrs old in 1850, in Union PA in Mifflin County. His siblings are: Anna Mary (1845 - ?), Lydia Maria (1847 - ?), Edward Carleton (1849-1926), Eliza Jane (1851-1926), Richard Howard (1853-1935), James A (1855-?), and Rebecca Ella (1858 -1926). His father was a blacksmith.

I’m not entirely sure where John was in 1860. He was not at home with his mother, sisters and little brother when the census taker came through. However, his father had died at the end of 1858 and I believe he may have needed to find work to help support the family, as his mother’s application for a pension based on his later military service indicates he was giving her money for support before he enlisted, including giving her $100 to help her buy a small house and lot (this may have come from a military signing bonus since the average weekly wage, based on 10 hour days, for a blacksmith –guestimating he went into the same field as his father and brother – was $10.68 in 1860; a laborer made $5.88 a week).  I’ve found a few possibilities for him on the census rolls but I’m not positive which is the right John W. Bailey at the moment.

Just before Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven southern states formed the confederacy. Initially, the other eight slave states rejected calls for succession.  On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired upon Ft. Sumter, a key fort held by Union Troops in South Carolina. Lincoln called for each state to provide troops to retake the fort, and four more slave states joined the Confederacy.  Pennsylvania answered the call first, and with the most troops. The state raised over 360,000 soldiers for the Federal armies (more than any other Northern state except New York), and served as a major source of artillery guns, small arms, ammunition, armor for ironclad gunboats, and food supplies.

John W. Bailey enlisted with the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company C, for a term of three years, on August 1861. He was 17, and was made a private.  When he enrolled, he told the Army that he was 19 and a blacksmith. Pennsylvania records show he was 5’7”, with dark hair, hazel eyes and a florid complexion.

During the course of his service he continued to send money home when he could.  According to witness affidavits attached to his mother’s pension application, he sent $75 in June 1862, $10.00 in September 1862, and $5.00 in October 1862. Another witness’ affidavit said that he sent a total of $155 over various times to that witness' knowledge. By this, we can probably extrapolate that he would have sent money when he could throughout his service. He was a good son. A private’s pay was about $13 a month.

The 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was first sent to Washington DC in October 1861 and attached to the Army of the Potomac, and then it was sent to join Sherman’s South Carolina Expeditionary Forces. Company C was among several other companies used to occupy Fort Walker on Hilton Head after it had been retaken by Union troops. They also participated in the Siege of Vicksburg MS in June and July 1863, and then advanced to Jackson, MS and participated on a siege on that city. In the fall of 1863, the 45th Regiment was assigned to General Burnside’s East Tennessee campaign and was involved in the siege of Knoxville TN.

On January 1, 1864, John W. Bailey re-enlisted as did the bulk of the regiment.  Soldiers who re-enlisted became "Veterans" and were authorized a $300 bounty and 30 days furlough. He re-mustered in with his company, as a Corporal, on February 24, 1864 and joined the regiment as it moved to Annapolis MD, before being deployed to be part of General Grant’s Overland Campaign fighting several battles in Virginia in May and June 1864, and ending up as part of the troops participating in the Siege of Petersburg, VA.

Climbing My Family Tree: affidavit by CPL JW Bailey's Commanding Officer regarding his death
Affidavit by CPL JW Bailey's Commanding Officer regarding his death
Click to make bigger

On June 28, 1864, John W. Bailey was badly wounded while on the front lines during the siege of Petersburg. He was shot in the small of the back by a mini-ball (see above affidavit from his commanding officer), causing a “fracture of spinous processes of 1st, 2nd, & 3rd lumbar vertebrae”. He was evacuated and sent by railroad to the Grant General Hospital in New York City. He died of his wounds on July 26, 1864. He is buried at Cypress Hill National Cemetery in Brooklyn NY in Section 1 at site 1461.  (The Pennsylvania Civil War Soldiers Index Card system says he died at Washington, DC, of the wounds, but the “Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, compiled 1861–1865,” records of the Adjutant General's Office, says he died at Grant General Hospital NY, and since he’s buried in Brooklyn NY, I’m going with NY.)   

I’d still like to know where he was and what he was doing in 1860.
I wonder if anyone in the family every visited his grave. Distances were much further back when transportation was much cruder.
I’d also like to know where and why his father died. And frankly, more about his father’s family altogether.


[1850 Federal Census; http://www.pa-roots.com/pacw/infantry/45th/45thcoc.html; History of the 45th regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer by Allen Diehl Albert. Grit Publishing Co., Williamsport PA 1912; Ancestry.com. U.S., Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com; www.findagrave.com Memorial # 2584730; www.Fold3.com, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Veterans of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War With Spain, compiled 1861 – 1934, record group 15, John W. Bailey;  Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866, Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866, Items Between Bailey, John S. and Bailey, Mell,
http://www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us/archive.asp?view=ArchiveItems&ArchiveID=17&FL=B&FID=1062365&LID=1062414;The Civil War Journals Colonel Bolton, by Joan Sauers, William Bolton, and Richard Allen Sauers, Da Capo Press; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_in_the_American_Civil_War; http://pacivilwar150.com/ThroughPeople/Soldiers/HistoricalOverview; http://outrunchange.com/2012/06/14/typical-wages-in-1860-through-1890/ .]


  1. I find our Civil War ancestors so interesting. Why did they answer the call? I'm from Virginia so most of mine fought for the South. The privations they endured simply boggle the mind. I find it interesting the military leadership had evolved so little and se were still fighting "set piece" battles like Britain wanted to do during the Revolutionary War. So many needless deaths as a result, likely including your John W. Bailey

    1. Oh my, I didn't see this. I'm sorry! I have to check my setting to make sure that doesn't happen again. The style of battle quite likely caused his death. Or "friendly fire" given that he was shot in the lower back. Either way, so unnecessary.


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