Monday, February 13, 2012

Fathers and sons

Charles Dooley's Grave at Shiloh National Cemetery

Shuffling papers this morning, I did a quick preliminary count of Lucas County men who died in combat during the April 6-7, 1862, battle of Shiloh. The totals are based on preliminary notes for a roster of Lucas County's Civil War dead that I've been working on and are by no means definitive. I expect to find others.

But it's safe to say that at least 11 were killed in combat on those two days, buried hurriedly near where they fell and reinterred later at what now is Shiloh National Cemetery --- most in graves marked "unknown."

An additional 12 died in military hospitals during the month to six weeks following, roughtly half specifically of wounds sustained at Shiloh, the other half of disease that may or may not have been related to their service there.

It's difficult to put that into any sort of context that would be understood 150 years later --- in all, more than 200 Iowans died at Shiloh during those two days.


Many of us have family memories of brothers lost during that and later wars. But the Civil War was perhaps the last time in our history when it was not uncommon for fathers and sons to serve together and in some cases die.

Jonathan Wesley Dooley, born during 1821 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, brought his family --- wife Mary and children Charles L., William M. and Rebecca --- west to Warren Township, Lucas County, during 1855. They became the parents of two additional chidlren, Sally and Hester, while living there. About 1859, the Dooleys relocated briefly to Iowa Point Township in Doniphan County, Kansas Territory, just across the river from St. Joseph, Missouri.

During the winter of 1860-1861, however, the Dooleys moved back to Lucas County and on Sept. 28, 1861, both Jonathan, then 40, and his eldest Son, Charles, then 19, enlisted together at Chariton as privates in Company C, 13th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

Their unit was mustered on Oct. 28, 1861, at Burlington and shipped downriver for service in Missouri soon thereafter, arriving at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, during early April, 1862.

Charles was killed in combat on April 6, the first day of bloody Shiloh. Jonathan survived, but was hospitalized at Keokuk soon thereafter and died of dysentery there on the 28th or 29th of May.

Both have marked graves, also unusual, Charles at Shiloh and Jonathan, in what now is the Keokuk National Cemetery.

Jonathan Dooley's grave at Keokuk National Cemetery.

After the war, the family continued to move around --- Mary and her youngest daughter, Hester, were living near William M. and his family in Poweshiek County during 1870 but they all returned to Lucas County for a time not long after. According to family records, Mary died at Chariton on on Aug. 11, 1873, but there is no record of her burial here (reports that she was buried at Keokuk with Jonathan are in error).

After that, the family scattered westward and so far as I know no descendants remain in Lucas County.


The practice of fathers and sons enlisting together continued throughout the Civil War.

Thomas S. Dawson brought his family west from Grant County, Indiana, to Iowa during 1853 and located in Whitebreast Township, just west of Chariton, during 1855. His wife was Elizabeth and there were seven children --- Zadock, William, Solomon, John, Henry, Austin and Rosanne.

Thomas, age 44, enlisted at Chariton as a private in Company K, 34th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, on July 30, 1862, and his son, Zadock, 19, a few days later --- on Aug. 9. They were mustered together on Oct. 15 and, again, shipped downriver.

Zadock soon became ill and was hospitalized at St. Louis, where he died of disease on Feb. 9, 1863, and was buried hurriedly. After the war, when Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery was established, his remains were gathered with those of many others who could not be specifically identified and moved there, records state, into a grave marked "unknown."

Thomas Dawson survived the war and ultimately was discharged on Aug. 17, 1865, at Houston, Texas. He had not been wounded, but had been injured so severely in a fall from a wagon at Helena, Arkansas, that he was partially disabled.

The Dawson marriage did not prosper and by 1880, Elizabeth had left him and moved into Chariton although it appears that they eventually reconciled. He worked at various jobs --- even serving for a time as sexton of the Chariton Cemetery.

Elizabeth died Sept. 19, 1890, and was buried in a now unmarked grave in the Chariton Cemetery. Thomas survived until Feb. 17, 1907, when he died at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.

Family researchers more than a century later acquired a copy of his application for admission to the Veterans Home. Then in his 80s with no place else to go, Thomas stated that he had no money, had no property and was unable to support himself. Nor could he read or write. Nor was there money for a tombstone and apparently no thought given to acquiring a government stone, so he too was buried in an unmarked grave in the Chariton Cemetery.

1 comment:

Ed said...

I'm in the process of researching my direct ancestors who served in the Civil War. I haven't found any father/son combos but I'm sure there are if I were to look through the uncles part of my tree. Of my 16 3G grandfathers, 8 served in the Civil War and at least one at Shiloh. I'm requesting records from the national archives to see if he was actually in the battle or there in some other capacity.