55th ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: Fall, 1861 Camp Douglas Chicago Cook County, IL
Mustered In: 10/31/61 Camp Douglas Chicago Cook County, IL
Mustered Out: 8/14/65 Little Rock, AR
The 55th Illinois was a three year western theater infantry regiment. It was composed of recruits from Fulton, McDonough, LaSalle, Grundy, DeKalb, Kane and Winnebago counties. Most of the young men had been reared on farms.
Baptism of fire for the 55th was Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing, TN (4/6 - 7/62). During the first day of fighting it held an important position for over two hours. The two days of fighting cost the regiment one officer and fifty one enlisted men killed, nine officers and one hundred ninety enlisted men wounded and twenty six men captured. These losses were the heaviest of any Federal unit, except one, in that engagement. The regiment concluded the year by taking part in the battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, MS.
January, 1863 found the 55th in the battle of Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman, AR (1/9 - 11). From there it moved to the assault upon and siege of Vicksburg, MS. That city fell to the Federals on 7/4/63.
Prior to the initial 5/22/63 Federal assault upon the defensive works of Vicksburg, volunteers were called from Union regiments to spearhead an attack upon one of the Confederate forts. The fort chosen for the assault was protected by a ditch twelve feet wide and five or six feet deep. Earthworks before the fort rose about ten feet above ground level and gently sloped toward the enemy's cannon. The walls of the fort itself were perpendicular, the earth having been tamped. Federal troops stationed in front of this position were regiments of the 2nd Division 15th Army Corps.
On the afternoon of 5/21/63 each regimental commander was briefed on the proposed attack. At that time there was a call for volunteers to participate in a "forlorn hope" mission to precede the general Federal assault. The forelorners were to bridge the afore described ditch and plant scaling ladders against the fort's embankment. 150 men were required. There being little probability of any of the volunteers returning alive only unmarried men were to be accepted.
The "forlorn" mission proved to be a failure. A large majority of the volunteers were killed. The 53 that survived - - including 4 MEN FROM THE 55TH - were, in later years, granted our country's highest military award, the Medal Of Honor.
With the fall of Vicksburg on 1/4/63 the 55th moved to Jackson with Union Gen. W.T. Sherman. In December it fought at Missionary Ridge during the battle for Nashville, TN (11/25/63).
1864. The veteranized 55th next joined the campaign to capture Atlanta, GA. In the battle of Jonesboro (8/31 - 9/1) it lost thirty six killed and eighty six wounded. This was about one half of the regiment as it then numerically existed. Another heavy loss battle was Kennesaw Mountain (6/27). There, fourteen were killed and thirty six wounded. After the fall of Atlanta the regiment marched to the sea in "the picnic excursion."
Early 1865 found the 55th marching northward through the Carolinas. At the battle of Bentonville, NC (3/19 - 21) it lost one man killed, one wounded and six taken prisoner.
With the surrender of Confederate forces under Gen. Johnston the 55th travelled to Washington, D.C. There, it participated in the Grand Review before moving to Louisville, KY. It then moved on to Little Rock, AR where it was mustered out of Federal service and into history.
Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 9; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 2; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 148*; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 127.
* The 55th was one of but a few Federal regiments that lost more men to the rigors of combat rather than disease or accidents. Further, during its entire existence the regiment received only fifty recruits. Thus, all of its casualty losses were its original enlistees.
Residence: Mt. Vernon, IL Age: 25.4 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 10/17/61 Bridgers County, IL Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 10/31/61 Camp Douglas Chicago Cook County, IL
Discharged: 8/14/65 Little Rock, AR
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Rank At Discharge: Pvt.
NOTE: The birth - to - death biographical profile of Jerome Morford was created in October, 2020 during the Covid-19 medical pandemic. It contains less depth of detail than many other biographies within this website because military service, pension and other veteran-related files housed in Washington, D.C.'s National Archives were not available. At a later time those documents will be obtained and the data contained therein added to the narrative which follows.
Jerome Jefferson Morford, the youngest of nine children, was born on 6/13/41. His place of birth was Sharon, Mercer County, PA.
Parents of Jerome were James (b. 7/19/93 Cranbury Middlesex County, NJ - d. 7/12/70 Viola Mercer County, PA) and Martha (nee Titus b. 1797 - d. 1882) Morford. The couple married in Pennsylvania sometime during the year 1815. The Morfords were farmers.
The Morford children older than Jerome were: Nancy Morford (b. 1817 - 1842), John Titus Morford (b. 1818 - d. 1908), Hiram J. Morford (b. 1819 - d. 1836), Lucy Morford (b. 1822 - d. 1843), Abner Tunis Morford (b. 1825 - d. 1898), Susannah C. Morford (b. 1827 - d. unk.), James Cyrus Morford (b. 1831 - d. 1895), and Martha Mary Morford. Although it cannot be documented, likely all of the children were birthed in Pennsylvania.
In 1850 the Morford household was located in or near the community of Hickory Mercer County, PA. A decade later, in 1860, the family was still in Mercer County, but then residing in Township 13 N 1 West.
By the fall of 1861 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army, Jerome was residing in Mt. Vernon Co. Il. What had drawn him there and when he had arrived in that state are unknowns.
Without the availability of his military service records we know little about Private Morford's period of service. One thing we do know, however, is that on 5/22/63 he voluntarily participated in the "forlorn hope" Union pre-attack movement before Vicksburg, MS. Having survived the ordeal, he was awarded the “MEDAL OF HONOR”.
Another fact we know is that Private Morford re-enlisted in 1864. Before moving ahead it should be noted that on May 15, 1864, perhaps while home on re-enlistment furlough, Jerome married in Knox Co., IL. His bride was Amanda Janette Abbott (b. 1/23/47 Warren County, IL).
Having survived The War, in August, 1865 Jerome returned to his wife and life as a civilian. Where that civilian life was initially begun is not documented, but by the time of the U.S. Census of 1870 he and Amanda were farming in North Henderson Mercer County, IL. They also had children.
As best as can be determined, the Union of Jerome and Amanda produced ten children before Amanda's untimely death on 6/12/91 at the age of 44. More on this, later.
As of this writing not all of the Morford offspring have been identified. Those documented are Leona F. (b. June, 1866 IL), William T. (b. 1869 IL), Archibald "Archie" A. (b. 1871 IA), Walter (b. ca. 1874 KS), Walter Cyrus (b. 3/21/74 KS), Laura (b. 11/25/76 Cloud County, KS), J. Ottwell (b. 2/21/79 Cloud County, KS) and Jessie (b. 1882 Cloud County, KS). Named by family, but not further identified are Edgar, Ella and Elvira.
As noted by the birth states of the Morford children, during their child-producing/rearing years the family frequently moved. Perhaps they were seeking that perfect piece of farm land. As earlier noted, in 1870 they were in North Henderson Mercer County, IL. As of 1871 the family was in Iowa.
By 3/1/75 the Morfords had again changed states. They had removed from Iowa to Lawrence Cloud County, KS. Five years later they were still in Cloud County, but by then showing their postal address as the community of Oakland. Another five years, 3/1/85, found the family in Grant Ottawa County, KS.
1890. A new decade. Most of the U.S. Census for that year was destroyed by fire. However, a Civil War Veteran Tally conducted that year found the Morfords in Cheyenne Laramie County, WY.
By 12/6/91 the Morfords had found their way to the Puget Sound Region of Washington State. Again, what had drawn them here is not known. Sadly, that is the date on which, in Seattle King County, Washington Amanda died. Details of her passing at the age of 44 are not available. She was/is buried in the Riverton Crest Cemetery located in Tukwila King County, WA.
Although census data pertaining to Jerome has not been located for 1900, apparently he remained in the Seattle area following Amanda's death. This assumption is based on the fact that on 10/29/04 in King County remarried to the previously wed Frances J. Weaverling (b. ca. 1830 VT). In 1910, residing in King County, WA she would note having borne nine children, six of whom were then living. Whether or not any of the nine were sired by Jerome is unknown.
Jerome Jefferson Morford died on 6/11/10 in Seattle King County, WA. At passing he was two days shy of his sixty ninth birthday. Cause of the old soldier's death was a perforated gastric ulcer. Burial was/is in the Riverton Crest Cemetery beside Amanda.
On 4/18/84 while in Kansas the former Private Morford had applied for and been granted a U.S. Government disability pension based on his days of Civil War soldiering. Until his pension files can be accessed the basis for the pension' granting and details of the subsequent monthly stipend will remain unknowns.
And Frances? Following the death of Jerome no information has been found pertaining to either her life or final resting place.
Buried at Riverton Crest Cemetery
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