Quest for the Graves of Two Brave Boys in Blue

May 4, 2009 - 5 Comments

by Mark Tennant

On Sunday, April 19, 2009 Jim Barnes and I visited the graves of two brave soldiers that fought for the Union during the Civil War, Jesse Taylor and John Shanes.  When I took the Civil War bus trip last fall (see related story  CW Bus Trip in past posts) I had heard the story of Pvt. Jesse Taylor of Co. F, 7th West Virginia Infantry, who was the only Union soldier killed at the Oct. 1861 battle of Romney, (West) Virginia.  His fellow soldiers thought very highly of Pvt. Taylor and had his remains escorted back to his home town, Jollytown, Pa. ( Co. F of the 7th W. Va. Inf. had been recruited from Greene co. Pa., just across the Mason-Dixon line from western Monongalia co. W. Va.  Jolly town is less than 1 mile north of Mason- Dixon Line and about 6-7 miles west of Blacksville, W. Va.  Thankfully, Jim had gotten directions  on Google maps and by using them were able to navigate the Pa. back country roads from Brave, Pa. to Jollytown.Jollytown is a very small community consisting of maybe 10 houses and a church.  Just past the community alongside a country road is the rather impressive monument to Pvt. Taylor.  This monument consists of a “generic” Union soldier ( a Union soldier with a great coat holding rifle at parade rest, the 7th W. Va. Inf. monument at Gettysburg and the statue on the Kingwood, W. Va  Court House lawn are identical) atop a 10 foot high oblesik.  The insciption on the obelisk reads:

JESSE  TAYLOR
PVT. CO. F,  7TH W. VA. INF.
AGED 21 YEARS, 1  MONTH
FIRST  SOLDIER  KILLED  FROM
GREENE  CO.  PA.  IN THE
WAR OF THE REBELLION
AT  ROMNEY, W.VA.
OCT. 26, 1861
ERECTED BY HIS COMRADES

ERECTED  1892

On the left side of the monument is an 1861 10lb. Parrott artillery field piece.  It has cast iron spoked wheels, but trail and axle appear to be made of wood.  On the right side of the monument are two 8 – inch bore diameter mortars sitting on two cement frames.  All this sits two feet above the ground on a rectangular stone pulpit.  It appeared to Jim and I that the cannon and mortars need repainting.  Does anyone out there know who owns or takes care of the monument?

Jim & I thought it would be a good community service project for an Eagle scout or reenactment unit or a Sons of Union Veterans group to repaint the artillery pieces.

The other soldiers grave we visited was Pvt. John Shanes.  I had read about John Shanes in the book “Shenandoah Summer” by Scott Patchan.  Intrigued that a soldier who had earned the Medal of Honor might be buried in northern W. Va., I googled his name and at www.homeofheroes.com & found his gravesite near Brave, Pa, just across the Mason-Dixon line near Blacksville, W.Va.  John Shanes was born July, 23, 1844 in Monongalia Co. W. Va.  He joined Co. K of the 14th W. Va. Inf.  on Sept. 16, 1862 at the age of 18, ( in the W. Va. Adj. Gen. Report for 1864 it lists his age  as 20 when mustered in).  and at the battle of Rutherford’s Farm  in the lower (northern) Shenandoah Valley on July 20, 1864 was awarded the Medal of Honor for personally charging the enemy’s gun in advance of his comrades where upon reaching the posistion he personally silenced the artillery piece.

The Battle of Rutherford’s Farm ( also called Carter’s Farm and Stephenson’s depot) pitted Union General Wm. Averell with one brigade of Infantry under the command of Col. Isaac Duval, ( the 34th & 91st Ohio Inf. and the 9th & 14th West Virginia Inf. regiments and one brigade of Cavalry under the command of Col. Wm. Powell, (the 1st, 2nd,  and 3rd W. Va. Cav. regiments and 2 six gun batteries the 1st W. Va, Lt. Art., Batt. F and the Ohio Battery totalling about 2400 men, against Confederate Maj. Gen. Stephen Ramseur with one division or three brigades of Infantry from the Army of Northern Va.-Hoke’s & Johnsons North Carolina brigades and Pegram’s   Virginia brigade.  He also had two Cavalry brigades Vaughn’s Tenneesse and “Mudwall” Jackson’s Virginia brigades.  He also had two 4- gun artillery batteries- Milledge’s Georgia and Kirkpatrick’s Amherst Va. batteries totalling over 3500 men.
Although outnumbered the Union forces attacked with a fury and rolled up the Confederates left flank causing confusion and panic among th rebels who started running for winchester, Va.  The 91st Ohio had just captured a section ( 2 artillery pieces) of Kirkpatrick;s Va. Battery on the east side of the Valley Pike and were celebrating when the Virginian’s  of Kirkpatrick’s other section on the west side of the Pike aimed one of their cannon’s loaded with canister at the celebrating Buckeyes.  The cannoneer was preparing to pull the lanyard when Pvt. John Shanes sprinted towards the cannoneer and “brained”  him with the butt of his musket, saving the lives of the Ohioans.  Another Rebel cannoneer swung his rammer at Shanes but the West Virginian dodged him then bayonetted him.Pvt. shanes then clubbed another Confederate carrying powder & canister to the gun.  For this heroic action, Pvt. Shanes received the Medal of Honor in 1896.

The Battle of Rutherford’s Farm was aUnion victory with over 200 Confederates killed or wounded and 17 officers and 250 men captured along with the loss of Kirkpatrick’s 4 gun Battery.   The Union lost 27 killled and 190 wounded.

John Shanes is buried in Lantz Cemetery only about 200 yards north of the Mason-Dixon line and about 1 mile south of Brave, Pa.  This is mostly an old cemetery, most burials appeared to be before 1940.  Pvt. Shanes has two tombstones over his grave… one with his dates of birth & death ( he died  Jan. 26. 1904) the other with his CW regiment & co.  However there is no mention of him receiving the Medal of Honor.  Jim wrote down some phone numbers on a sign at the entrance to the cemetery and maybe we can get some kind of sign telling anyone visiting  his grave that this brave soldier was a Medal of Honor receipient.   ( on the website it showed a Veterans bronze maker saying he was a Medal Of Honoe winner, but we could find no trace of this marker on his grave??)

Comments (5)

Wise Gary A.

May 5th, 2009 at 7:54 pm    


I take care of the cemetery were Jesse is buried just a mile from the monument in Jollytown on Hero Road. Next time your aroung give me a call or e-mail me and I will take you to it. Got pictures of John Shanes, Jesse Taylor and picture of the men on the Momument Committee.
Gary A. Wise
297 Hero Road
New Freeport Pa.15352
(724-451-8246)

Jim Barnes

May 6th, 2009 at 6:13 pm    


Gary,

Good to hear from you. I will pass this along to Mark and we will schedule a visit with you. Thanks.

Jim

Chuck Critchfield

July 18th, 2009 at 2:24 pm    


After listening to the whole story while sitting around the campfire, this was an amazing sight to run across in an unexpected place.

Jim Barnes

July 22nd, 2009 at 9:46 pm    


An unexpected sight to say the least. You don’t see memorials that impressive in much more public places.

Mark Tennant

January 30th, 2010 at 12:35 pm    


Little did I know when I wrote this story nearly a year ago that I was related to John Shanes. Recently I found that my Great-great-great Aunt Catherine Tennant Shanes Morris was John Shanes grandmother.
She is also buried in the Lantz Cemetery.
How ironic!!

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