61st ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: 2/5/62 Carrollton, IL
Mustered In: 2/5/62 Carrolton, IL
Mustered Out: 9/8/65 Nashville, TN
The 61st was a three-year "western-theater" regiment. Its first three full companies were mustered into Federal service on 2/5/62. Just over two weeks later the still incomplete regiment moved from Illinois to Benton Barracks, Missouri where a sufficient number of recruits joined to bring the unit composition up to nine companies.
April 6, 1862. On the first day of battle at Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing, TN 400 men of the 61st were formed into line in time to receive the enemy's first assault. They held their ground for an hour and a quarter before being ordered back. Every other regiment had earlier given way. The unit then supported a battery and came to the aid of other arriving to assist Union troops at a critical moment. When the second Union line failed the 61st retired in good order and took up a position supporting Federal siege guns. Losses that day were 80 killed, wounded or missing, including 3 commissioned officers.
In December, 1862, 240 of the regiment moved by rail to Jackson, TN where, with other troops, they took up a position in the Salem cemetery. On the morning of the 19th this force repulsed Rebel troops under Confed. Gen. John Bedford Forrest.
August, 1863 found the regiment ordered to Arkansas where it was to remain until August of the following year. During this period it participated in the combat action at Clarendon on the White River (6/24/64) which resulted in the Confederate blockade of that waterway being broken.
Also, during the year in Arkansas, enough men of the 61st reenlisted to allow the regiment to obtain a veteran designation. A final company also entered the regimental ranks. During the absence of the reenlisted veterans new recruits, non-veterans and the new company "K" members were left in camp at Devall's Bluff, Arkansas.
Late 1864 saw the 61st move back to near Murfreesboro, Tennessee where it was engaged at Overall's Creek (12/4–12/6). Three days later it was in action at Wilkinson's Pike/The Cedars. During this latter engagement it signalized itself by a gallant charge over the enemy's rail and dirt breastworks, capturing the colors of a Florida regiment and a number of prisoners while losing about 30 of the 200 men engaged. The regiment's last action came on 12/15/64 when, numbering about 175, with a small squad of dismounted Calvary and one company of the 1st Michigan engineers it was attacked outside Murfreesboro, TN by an overwhelming force of Confederates under the command of Nathan B. Forrest. During this action over half the regiment was killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
1865. During the latter part of June, the War being over, recruits from three other Illinois units were assigned to the 61st. In September, with swelled ranks, the 6lst was mustered out and sent home.
Residence: Naples, Scott Co., IL Age: 15.11 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 1/27or28/64 Jacksonville, IL Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 2/22/64 Camp Butler, Springfield, IL (One mil. record says 4/9. Database says 4/11/64)
Mustered Out: 9/8/65 Nashville, TN
Highest Rank: Pvt.
James H. Minor (the family surname sometimes appeared as Miner) was born on February 9th in Naples, Scott County, Illinois. Of interest is the fact that, if the community still exists, it likely has a new name as Naples, IL is not found on modern maps.
Available records are unclear in terms of whether James’ birth year was 1848 or 1849. One source even points to 1850 with his birthplace being Missouri. For our purposes the birth year will be considered 1848 as teenaged James was reportedly sixteen years of age when he enlisted in the U.S. Army and in later years when filling out pension papers James, himself, would claim the year to have been '48.
James' parents were George (no b.d. no b.p.) and Julia A. (Ann Name often appears as one form or another of Julian. No nee b. 1813 KY) Minor. He appears to have been the youngest of five Minor children. His older siblings were: Emily (b. 1841 IL), Martha E. (b. 1842 IL), Mary (b. 1845 MO) and Rosline/"Rosalind"/Roseland (b. 1845 MO).
The U.S. Census for 1850 placed the Minor family in District 48, Lewis County, Missouri. As noted by the above noted birthplaces for the Minor children, apparently they had moved there as of or prior to 1845. Of significance in the census readout is the fact that father, George, is not within the household. His fate is not known.
The census for 1860 found Julia - employed as a washer woman - and children Martha, Rose and James in Winchester, Scott County, Il. It was in the nearby larger community of Jacksonville, Morgan Co., IL that, in January, 1864 James and his mother each made their x on paperwork that allowed the teenager to join the U.S. Army. His mother's agreement to allow her young son to enlist was likely prompted by two factors. Firstly, he received a $300 enlistment bonus or "bounty", $60 of which was paid up front with the remainder to be received in later increments. In a day and age where the monthly army pay for a private soldier was $13, this was "a lot" of money, especially for a poor, single, washer woman's family. Secondly, in the same regiment and company that James joined was one Francis M. Minor, likely an older cousin or uncle, a veteran soldier who had been in the 61st since its inception and could therefore take the teenager "under his wing." Vital statists for James at enlistment were as follows: Age - 16 yrs; Eyes - blue; Hair - light/red; Complexion - fair; Height - 5'5"; Occupation - farmer.
Here it should be pointed out that accepting February of 1848 as James birth month and year, he was not sixteen years old at his time of enlistment. Technically, he was still fifteen. In either case, as we shall see, in later years his age at enlistment would become an issue in his dealings with the Federal government.
As was often the case during the American Civil War, when young men departed the relative seclusion of farm life and joined together with many others in often cramped quarters, an early army experience was illness. In the case of Private Minor, as early as February 8, 1864 -even before receiving Federal muster - he was ill. In this instance the ailment was pneumonia. Likely hospitalized, James did not return to duty until the 23rd of February. (Note: His likely having been physically absent, sick, at the time of his February - paperwork - muster date may well explain why some documents show him mustered in during April.)
In mid-1864 veteran soldiers of the 61st who reenlisted were sent northward - likely on the steamer Kate Hart - for furlough. During this absence, James, other non-veterans and new recruits were transferred to company "I" and left behind in camp at Devall's Bluff, Arkansas. As best as can be determined, this period extended from 6/30 to 10/31. While in this transitional unit it appears Private Minor experienced some unidentified medical ailment which kept him off duty for a brief - undocumented - time. Returned to duty on 8/6 he was thereafter always present until final muster in September, 1865.
Separated from Uncle Sam's service, it appears James settled in Malibone, IL. Once again, however, no such community name can be found contemporarily. What he did while there for approximately one year, is not documented.
1866. Sometime during this calendar year James reportedly removed from Illinois and settled in Ottawa, KS. Exactly when and why the move was made is not known. While James would later note that he remained in Ottawa until 1871 when he moved back to Illinois to settle in Pittsfield, the only 1870 census entry is for a J. Miner (b. 1849 MO) a soldier located at Camp Halleck, Elko, Nevada. Did James serve a hitch in the regular army following the War? Future research may tell.
On 10/15/76 in Pittsfield, Pike County, Illinois James H. Minor married Delia A. Perry. (b. 4/3/62 IL) according to family. Alternate spellings of her first name appear as Della, Dealia and Dilia). In 1900 Delia would note that she had given birth to twelve children, the names of ten whom are noted in available documentation: Rosa "Rosey" M. or B. (b. 10/2/77 IL or MO), B.B. (b. 1878), George Wesley (b. 5/21/79 IL), Willie (b. 1881), James Ernest (b. 1/3 or 1/13/84, Virgil/Vergile/Vergille Grimes or A. (b. 4/28/87 MO), Mina "Minnie" May (b. 9/26/89 MO), Ada Mary/Mary Ada (b. 6/93 MO), Mary Julia (b. 5/2/97 WA) and Mabel/Mable (b. 7/15/01 WA or ID).
As evidenced by the locations where the Minor children were born, James and Delia moved around following their Illinois marriage. According to James' telling, their first move allegedly came in 1877 when they left Pittsfield, IL and resettled in Missouri. However, this is belied by the fact that laborer James and family - wife Delia, children B.B and G.W. as well as well as Delia's sister M. Cunningham and a boarder identified as Ryan John - were still in Pittsfield, IL at the time of the 1880 census. While the move to Missouri may have come as early as post-census 1880, it was at least a fact by the time son James was born in January, 1884.
While in Missouri the Minors resided in two locations. Records are somewhat unclear as to which came first, but likely it was the city of Joplin in Jasper County, followed circa 1885/'86 to Huntsville in Randolph County. Firstly, this is bolstered by an 1890 residential listing that places the Minors in Salt Springs Township, Randolph County with their post office at the time being in Huntsville. Secondly it was later said that it was from Huntsville that the Minors came to Spokane, Spokane Co., Washington circa 1897.
Once in Washington State the Minor family movements are once more unclear. In one document James said that in 1898 the family moved eastward from Spokane to Kootenai Co., Idaho. The 1900 census, however, found James - a laborer - wife Delia and children Rosa, George, James, Virgil/virgile/Virgille, Mina and Mary Ada in Spokane.
At some point in 1901, either before or after the birth of daughter Mabel/Mable the Minors are reported to have quitted Spokane and Washington State to move to St. Joseph Benewah County, Idaho. The family remained in the latter location for around four years before moving to Coer d'lane, Kootenai County, Idaho and then, in 1907, from that location back to St. Joseph.
Exactly how long the family remained in St. Joseph during this second go-round is not known. A letter writing by James to the U.S. Government in 1910 is dated Ferrell, Kootenai County, Idaho, but the census of that year found the family in Elk Prairie, Shoshone Co., Idaho. Within the household at the time besides James (employed as a mill carpenter) and Delia who strangely noted that she had given birth to 7 children, all 7 of whom were living……. . Still residing with their parents were George - single a steamboat sailor; Ernest - single and somehow connected with locomotives; Virgil - a fireman; Ada (Mary) and Mabel/Mable.
While existing records are unclear on the matter, by 1910 - as noted above -James was having correspondence with the U.S. Government. This correspondence pertained to his eligibility for a disability pension based on ailments which he traced back to his days of Civil War soldiering. What is not clear is whether he had earlier applied for - and perhaps been granted such a pension and was seeking an increase in his monthly allotment - or was then initiating the paperwork process to request such a stipend. Of question in 1910 was his year of birth. On 5/10/10 in Ferrell, ID James filled out paperwork claiming that he was born 2/9/48, but no public or family record of his birth existed because (at least the latter) was destroyed in 1849 or '50 when his parents' home in Winchester, Scott Co., and IL burned. He claimed he had lived in his mother's home until enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1864. For the Government's part, they claimed there was no way - whatever he or anyone else might say - he had entered the armed service at the age of sixteen. Then only 5'5" in height, and now over six feet tall, there is no way Federal officials would have accepted a "mere boy" into the military. Claim denied.
1912. That year James and family departed Idaho and moved to Tekoa, located in the eastern Washington State county of Whitman along the Washington/Idaho border. On 2/9/15, while still in Tekoa, his government pension stipend- whenever that pension had been granted - was increased from $14.40 per month to $16.50 per month. Two months later James would document ally note that all of his children were living except "Willie and Julia."
By March of 1917 James was no longer in eastern Washington. He was then residing in the western portion of the state's Puget Sound area as an "inmate" in the soldiers' home located in Retsil, Kitsap County. At that time it was noted that he was married, but had no wife. That was because Delia was residing in the nearby community of Charleston with daughter Ada and her husband. Also noted was James having no income, but awaiting a pension increase. That raise came in 1919 when his monthly stipend was upped to $21.50 per month. Another increase to $27 was awarded in February of 1921.
Although the move not documented date wise, sometime in the decade of the '20s James left the Soldiers' Home with he and wife Delia settling in the Snohomish County community of Marysville. It was there Delia died on 6/15/31. She was buried in the Marysville Community Cemetery.
On 11/13/33 James returned to the Retsil soldiers' home. From that date until December, 1934 he was to move in and out of that facility on four separate occasions. Where "home" was when he was not in Retsil is not documented, but it was most likely Marysville. These moves affected his government subsidy monies which ranged from $100 (per month) while he was in the soldiers' facility and $65 - $70 when he was in his own home.
In November, 1933 not long after his first return to Retsil, James remarried to a woman identified only as Marlette with a middle initial "B." Marlette and James appear to have met and married at the home. As evidenced by the following letter sent by the new Mrs. Minor to Washington, D.C .on 6/7/34, the relationship was not a good one: "I am enclosing a short statement of my married life with J.H. Minor (spelled Miner). I have been informated that I am entitled to one half of his pension....(and) would like to kow if such is the case....Please inform me at (your) earliest convenience......I married my husband on 11/23/33. We soon found we had noting in common and did not get along well together. He is a Civil War veteran and drawing a $90 ($100) per month pension. When I married him I was receiving a small compensation as (a) librarian which I was obliged to give up and cannot get it back again. He has left me ad has never provided anything for my support with the exception of $5. Of course I am in the veterans home and have my board and c (care?).....but nothing else for clothing and other necessitiess. He declared he will give me nothing. He is 85 years of age and I am 84. If I were able to work I would not ask for anything. This is the truth and nothing but the truch so help me god." Any subsequent response to the letter is not contained in available files. Also unknown is the fate of the second Mrs. Minor.
It appears James Minor lived out his final years in Marysville, Washington either in his own home or that of his daughter then Mrs. Mabel/Mable Thomas. On 5/6/38 the widower came under a doctor's care and died 5/19 in the Everett General Hospital. (Note: Everett is a Snohomish County City located a few miles south of Marysville.) Cause of death for the old Civil War Soldier was listed as "chronic myocarditis with arteriosclerosis contributing." Burial was in the Marysville Community Cemetery beside Delia.
Buried at Marysville Cemetery
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