Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - James McDonald

James Renick McDonald

Representing: Union

G.A.R Post

  • John Buford Post #89 Everett, Snohomish Co. WA

Unit History

  • 13th Iowa Infantry H

See full unit history

James McDonald
Full Unit History

Summer/Fall, 1861 Camp McClellan Davenport, IA
Mustered In: 10/18-11/12/61 Camp McClellan, Davenport, IA
Mustered Out: 7/21/65 Louisville, KY

Regimental History


  A three-year "western theatre" regiment, the 13th left Iowa for Benton Barracks, St. Louis, MO about 1/1/61. The unit remained there until 12/20 when it moved to Jefferson City where it went into winter quarters.

  On 3/8/62 the 13th left MO for Pittsburg Landing, TN. During the April 6th-7th battle of Shiloh it was under fire for 10 hours the first day losing 24 killed, 139 wounded and 9 missing. The siege/garrisoning of Corinth, MS followed. A July movement toward Bolivar preceded a return to and participation in the battle of Corinth.

  Early 1863 found the 13th in Memphis, TN, but it returned to Mississippi when Union General U.S. Grant began moving his forces towards Vicksburg. During the initial operations of this campaign the regiment assisted in digging the abortive Lake Providence canal which was supposed to allow capture of the city from the waters of the Mississippi River.  As focus on the city turned landward, the 13th helped repair roads east of Vicksburg before joining in the investment siege. Following Vicksburg's mid year surrender the regiment assisted in clear the nearby Yazoo River of torpedoes (mines) and wrecked gunboats. An expedition into Alabama proceeded winter quarters.

  In May, 1864, the 13th joined the forces of Union Gen. William T. Sherman as they moved towards Atlanta, GA.  During this movement it was engaged at Kennesaw Mtn. and was in a 7/2-5 skirmish at Nickajack Creek.  Before Atlanta, itself, the brigade to whom the 13th belonged made a charge to within 50 paces of an enemy fort before being forced to retire in good order. During this action the brigade lost 113 killed and wounded in less than thirty minutes. July, 1863. Most of co. "A", part of "G" and all of cos. "D" and "K" were captured while reinforcing the 11th and 16th IA. Regimental loss in this action was 149. The 13th was next engaged at Jonesboro and Lovejoy's Station before, in October, joining the pursuit of Confed. Gen. Hood's forces. Total regiment losses during the Atlanta campaign were 330 killed and captured.

  From Atlanta the 13th marched to Savannah and then to the sea with Sherman before, in early, 1865 his armies turned northward through the Carolinas. At Columbus, NC a portion of the regiment entered the city ahead of the rest of the army and, without orders, hoisted the Stars and Strips on the capital building. The 13th closed its fighting career at Bentonville. With the cessation of hostilities it then moved to Washington, D.C. for the Grand Review before moving to Louisville, KY where it received final muster.

Soldier History

Residence: Albia, IA Age: 18.10 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 10/1/61 Marshalltown, IA Rank: Pvt
Mustered In: 11/2/61 Davenport, IA.
Discharged: 1/15/63 Memphis, TN
Highest Rank: Cpl.

Family History


  James R. McDonald was born on January 12th in Guernsey County, Ohio. While one source indicates his birth year as 1844, the preponderance of evidence points toward 1843. As such, all written herein is oriented from 1843.

  James's father was Alexander McDonald (b. 1823/'24 OH). His occupation at the time of James's birth is not known, but in 1860 he was noted as being a carpenter.

  The answer to the question, "Who was James' mother and where was she born?" is not as clear cut. The U.S. Census for 1850 notes Alex McDonald married to Ann (no nee b. 1830 Ireland) with children Nancy (b. 1831 OH) and Janet (b. 1833 OH), but no mention of James. In 1860, however, Alex McDonald's wife is listed as Nancy (b. 1820 OH). James is listed in this census as a "laborer."  To confuse matters further, the 1880 census notes that both of James’ parents were born in Pennsylvania.       On 10/15/61 the 6' 3 3/4", fair-complexioned, blue/gray-eyed, and brown-haired James patriotically answered his country's call to arms and enlisted in the U.S. Army. His occupation at the time has been noted as brick maker/brick mason/brick molder and harness maker. 

  Although James would prove to be a success as a soldier, moving quickly from the rank of private to that of corporal, his term of service would not encompass his three year term of enlistment. Hospitalized in Holly Springs, MS on 12/29/62, Corporal McDonald was granted a medical discharge on 1/15/63. Basis for the discharge was being unfit for duty for sixty days due to chronic bronchitis stemming from having suffered exposure to the ice and cold in October, 1862 while his unit was advancing to and returning from Ripley, MS while – and after - pursuing enemy troops.

  On 5/2/64 James married Eliza Anna "Annie" Love (b. 1845/'46) in the Albia, Iowa home of her father, James Love. The union would produce six (Annie later said bore 5) children: Alexander E. (b. 4/12/65 IA), Johnny (b. 1867 IA), Fannie M. (b. 1868), Jessie M. (b. 3/31/71 NB), Maggie C. (b. 6/2/73 NB) and Nancy "Nanie" S. (b. 9/24/75 NB). Interestingly, in later years Annie would indicate she had only birthed five children………..

  While it is known that the McDonald's, following their marriage initially, resided in Iowa, James' occupation during this period is not documented. By 1870, however, when the family was residing in Louisville, Cass County, Nebraska, he was employed as a railroad section boss. Railroad work would be a continuing theme in James' life at least until 1900.

  Railroading, however, was not the total focus of James' occupational career as the U.S. Census for 1880 from Grant, Franklin Co., NB noted he was engaged in farming. Farming, specifically fruit farming, was listed as his occupation in the 1910 census taken in the Snohomish County, WA voting precinct of Welangdon.

  At some point in the 1880s or 1890s the McDonalds quitted the State of Nebraska for Colorado. Exactly when is not known. During this same period tragedy began to stalk James' and Annie's children. Firstly, on 4/28/94 Fannie died. A year later, on 5/7/95 Maggie passed away and, finally, on 11/24/98 Nancy died.

  In January, 1913 then residing in Snohomish, Snohomish County, Washington,  James requested a U.S. Government pension based on ailments/illnesses which he traced back to his period of Civil War soldiering. That the petition was granted is evidenced by the fact that at the time of his death in 1925 he was receiving a princely stipend of $72 per month.

  1920 found James and Annie still in Snohomish County, but now residing in the City of Everett. At age 76, he was without a stated income. By December of the following year, however, he was "totally disabled” and a resident of a soldier's home located in Los Angeles, CA. He had reportedly suffered from paralytic strokes for a number of years which caused him to become light headed and "liable to fall to the ground at any time," requiring constant aid and attention. Additional physical failings included a double hernia for which he was forced to wear a truss and stomach/bowel problems.

  When and why James returned to western Washington State is not known. What is known is that it was there 12/18/25 in the as-yet-unidentified community of Centerville somewhere near present day Bothell in Snohomish County, the former Civil War soldier died. Cause of death for the retired farmer and former railroad man was listed as paresis (paralytic stroke) with arteriosclerosis contributing. At death James was 82.11 years of age. Burial was at Evergreen Cemetery in Everett, WA. Following her husband's passing, Annie petitioned for and was undoubtedly granted a portion of her late husband's Civil War pension. 

  In 1930 Annie was residing in Everett, WA with her widowed daughter, Jessie. It was in Everett that Annie died on 7/13/35. She was buried beside James. 


Buried at Evergreen Cemetery Everett
Row: 20
Site: 53

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