G.A.R. Post: Oliver Morton Post #10 Snohomish, WA
1st WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER CAVALRY
Organized: Summer/Fall, 1861 Ripon and Kenosha, WI
Mustered In: 3/8/62 Kenosha, WI
Mustered Out: 7/19/65 Nashville, TN
After muster, the 1st Wisconsin, a three-year regiment, left the state for equipping. Units were subsequently detached for scout and railroad guard duty throughout Missouri and Arkansas. The next three years found the 1st involved in numerous firefights and pitched battles all across the war’s western theater.
On 5/6/65 a detachment of the regiment set out to search for fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The advanced guard, coming upon armed men who ordered them to halt, opened fire. Firing became general until a captured prisoner stated that the supposed “enemy” were Michigan troops sent to surround the Confederate camp holding Davis. Although Davis was not captured until after the Union units ceased firing upon one another, many of the 1st always believed they were entitled “to at least equal credit for the capture.”
Numbers for the 1st were as follows: Original strength, 1124. Gain by recruits, 1056; substitutes, 83; draft, 278; veteran reenlistments, 61; total, 2602. Loss by death, 366; desertion, 91; transfer, 67; discharge 634; mustered out 1444.
Residence: Summit, (or Oconomowoc) WI Age: 38 yrs.
Enlisted: 9/18/61 Ripon, WI Rank: Pvt.
Mustered Out: 10/31/64 Calhoun, GA
Highest Rank: Pvt.
James Russell was born 5/6/43 in Vergennes, Vermont. Available documents provide no information about his parents, childhood, or early adult years. We do know, however, that at the time the 5’8 ½ “ Wisconsin farmer entered the military he was far beyond the average age of a typical Civil War soldier.
We also have little insight into his wartime service history. The only available documental notations are as follows: 10/13/62 Det. At Cape Girardeau, Mo; 4/6/63 bronchitis acute, 4/10/63 sick in hospital at Cape Girardeau since April 5; (4/21/63 returned to duty, 12/31/63 det. at Knoxville, TN.
After wartime service James returned to Wisconsin where, on 5/6/66 he married Marion Elizabeth McKeand. The couple would produce fifteen children. Eleven would survive to adulthood: Marion Etta (3/7/68), James Andrew (10/30/69), Helen Catharine (4/5/71-3/16/82), George Edward (7/13/73-8/23/73), Evelyn E. (7/7/74), Frank Archer (4/11/76), Caroline (4/2/78), David Wegg (2/21/80-10-14-87), Albert Roy (3/26/83-2/11/88), Chas Hendry (11/18/81), Duncan Harry (5/28/84), Libby Mary (7/13/85), Roy Wegg (3/26/87) and Willie Arnold (5/4/90). The Russell’s resided in two Wisconsin towns. By 1890 they had moved to Ayreshire, Ia. and, by 1907, to Snohomish, WA.
Marion Russell died 11/13/25. 83.8 year old James died 1/27/27 of “old age and complications.” He had been “sick” most of the three years prior to his death. He had no “personal property.” As his last $65 monthly pension check arrived seven days after his passing and was returned, two of his daughters later petitioned the U.S. government for reimbursement of $61.50 expended on grave and burial costs. It is not know if payment was granted.
Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Snohomish
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