Today in the United States we celebrate Memorial Day. It is a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of United States. Today is also the one year anniversary of when I started this blog. In honor of Memorial Day I’d like to take this opportunity and talk about my ancestor who fought and died in the service of the United States. I invite you who might be visiting this site today or any day to mention your own ancestor who gave thier life in the service of the United States. If you don’t have an ancestor who died giving service, perhaps mention an ancestor of yours who was in the military.
My ancestor John Douglas Laurie was born in Scotland. He was married to Nicholas Martin on December 28, 1849. John and Nicholas had five children Grace, Elizabeth, John, William and Annie. The oldest Grace was born in 1850 and the youngest Annie was born in 1857. John enlisted in Company E of the Tenth Connecticut Infantry as a private on September 30, 1861. His children at that time ranged in age from not quite four years old to eleven years old. He was off to protect the union as so many others were doing.
The Tenth Connecticut Infantry was one of the most successful units from Connecticut during the Civil War. They first saw action on February 8, 1862 in the Battle of Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Just over a month later on March 14 they were engaged in the Battle of New Berne. Over the course of the next year and a half, the Tenth Connecticut participated in many skirmishes and battles including but not limted to Kingston on December 12, Whitehall on December on 16, Goldsboro December on 17, Secessionville on July 16, 1863, and the siege and capture of Fort Wagner in 1863. The muster rolls from the start of the war up until September 15, 1863 show John as either present or not stated. He was very likely engaged in almost all of the battles the Tenth Connecticut had seen up until this point in the war.
On September 15, 1863 John was furloughed for 30 days and was in a hospital at New Haven, Connecticut. It is likely he was there for an illness as opposed to some battle injury as no mention of injury has been found. John returned to his unit on December 28, 1863, much longer than the original 30 day furlough. At that time, the Tenth Connecticut was in St. Augustine, FL. On January 1, 1864 John re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer and was promoted to a corporal. He was given a furlough for 30 days on February 13 and was in Connecticut.
The unit stayed in Florida until April of 1864. After that they were in action in a number of additional battles including but not limited to Port Waltahll Juction on May 7, Fort Darling from May 12 to May 16, Petersberg on June 9 Deep Bottom on July 27 & 28 and Chaffin’s Farm frm September 28 to September 30. The Tenth Connecticut’s original three year enlistment was up on September 30 for many of the soldiers. The ranks were depleted and the number of men left were about 100 men.
On October 13, 1864, the unit was tasked to do reconnoissance on Darbytown Road. The tenth was tasked with other units to take the rebels which were dug in. In that skirmish, what was left of the Tenth Connecticut was descimated. This was the only battle in which the Tenth Connecticut was forced to retreat. John was wounded and left on the battlefield.
John became a prisoner of war and was confined at Richmond, VA for a very short period of time. He was paroled on October 17, 1864 and in a Union Hospital by October 20. He died of his wounds on November 3, 1864, twenty days after he was shot. The service records indicated he was buried in Ash Grove Cemetery. However, there is cemetery plot for him in Zion Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut. I’m not sure if his body was moved from Ash Grove or if the plot at Zion Hill was just a memorial stone.
At the time of his death his children ranged in age from not quite eight years old to just 14 years old. Nicholas Laurie applied for a widow’s pension. After a long period of time and a number of affidavids a widows pension was granted.
The service records and pension records of John Douglas Laurie was invaluable in knowing about his time in the military was well as providing genealogical information about his marriage and children. The pension record included a copy of what appears to be bible records. The date and place of his marriage and birthdates of his children are included. If you have ancestors who fought during the civil war, I highly reccommend you get both the service records and the pension records.