Named in honor of of America’s beloved first President, George Washington Jury was a Pennsylvania native who survived one of America’s darkest periods to become a keystone of his Kansas community and church.
Born in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 29 December 1839 and baptized at Fetterhoff’s Church in Halifax, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on 12 April 1840, George W. Jury was a son of Dauphin County natives Simon and Juliana (Harman) Jury.
Like most mid-19th century Pennsylvanians, the happiness of Jury family members was tempered by the worries of worsening relations between American’s North and South. As 1860 waned, they received word that South Carolina had seceded from the Union.
Just a few months later, as 21-year-old George W. Jury labored to support himself on a farm in Liverpool, Perry County, he learned that Fort Sumter had fallen to Confederate forces.
America was at war.
Civil War Military Service
On 20 August 1861, George Washington Jury enrolled for military service at Bloomfield, Perry County, Pennsylvania. He then mustered in at the large U.S. Army staging area at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 31 August as a Private with Company D of the newly formed 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The commanding officer of his company was Captain Henry Durant (“H. D.”) Woodruff.
Following a brief training period at Camp Curtin in light infantry tactics, Captain Woodruff and his company were sent by train with the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. where they were stationed about two miles from the White House at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September. The next day, C Company Musician Henry D. Wharton penned the following update for the Sunbury American newspaper:
After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.
After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.
As a unit of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company D became part of the federal service when the regiment officially mustered into the U.S. Army on 24 September. On 27 September, a rainy, drill-free day which permitted many of the men to read or write letters home, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of W. F. Smith’s Army of the Potomac. That afternoon, they marched to the Potomac River’s eastern side and, after arriving at Maryland’s Camp Lyon, marched double-quick over a chain bridge before moving on toward Fall’s Church, Virginia.
Arriving at Camp Advance at dusk, they pitched their tents in a deep ravine about two miles from the bridge they had just crossed, near a new federal military facility under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). Armed with Mississippi rifles supplied by the Keystone State, they would join with their regiment, the 3rd Brigade and Smith’s Army of the Potomac in defending the nation’s capital until January when the 47th Pennsylvania would be ordered to duty in the Deep South.
On Friday morning, 22 October 1861, the 47th engaged in a Divisional Review, described by historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.”
On 21 November, the 47th participated in a morning divisional headquarters review by Colonel Tilghman H. Good, followed by brigade and division drills all afternoon. According to Schmidt, “each man was supplied with ten blank cartridges.” Afterward, “Gen. Smith requested Gen. Brannan to inform Col. Good that the 47th was the best regiment in the whole division.”
As a reward for their performance that day – and in preparation for the even bigger events which were yet to come, Brigadier-General Brannan directed his subordinates to ensure that brand new Springfield rifles were purchased for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862. Marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles in order to reach the railroad station at Falls Church, they were then sent by rail to Alexandria before sailing the Potomac via the steamship City of Richmond. Upon arrival at the Washington Arsenal, they were reequipped, and then were marched off for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat in Washington, D.C.
The next afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians hopped railcars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.
By the afternoon of Monday, 27 January 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers had commenced boarding the Oriental. Ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers, the enlisted men boarded first, followed by their superior officers. Then, per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan, the Oriental steamed away for the Deep South at 4 p.m. They were headed for Florida which, despite its secession from the Union, remained strategically important to the Union due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.
In early February 1862, Private George W. Jury and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West, where they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor. Drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics, they also cut trees, built roads and strengthened the facility’s fortifications. On 14 February, the regiment made itself known to area residents via a parade through the city’s streets.
From mid-June through July, the 47th was ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina where the men made camp before being housed in the Department of the South’s Beaufort District. Picket duties north of the 3rd Brigade’s camp were commonly rotated among the regiments present, putting soldiers at risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.”
Sent on a return expedition to Florida, Company D saw its first truly intense moments when it participated with the 47th Pennsylvania and other Union regiments in the capture of Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October. Led by Brigadier-General Brannan, a 1,500-plus Union force disembarked at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek from troop carriers guarded by Union gunboats. Taking point, the 47th led the 3rd Brigade through 25 miles of dense, pine-forested swamps populated with deadly snakes and alligators. By the time the expedition ended, the brigade had forced the Confederate Army to abandon its artillery battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, and had paved the way for the Union to occupy the town of Jacksonville, Florida.
From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman H. Good and Lieutenant Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th engaged Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina. Landing at Mackey’s Point, the men of the 47th were placed on point once again, but they and the 3rd Brigade were less fortunate this time.
Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from an entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field. Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests.
The Union soldiers grappled with the Confederates where they found them, pursuing the Rebels for four miles as they retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut. But the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, depleted ammunition forced the 47th to withdraw to Mackey’s Point.
Losses for the 47th were significant. Two officers and 18 enlisted men died; two officers and another 114 enlisted were wounded. Several resting places for men from the 47th still remain unidentified, the information lost to the sloppy records of Army Quartermaster and hospital personnel, or to the trauma-impaired memories of soldiers who hastily buried or were forced to leave behind the bodies of comrades upon receiving orders to retreat.
On 23 October, the 47th Pennsylvania returned to Hilton Head, where it served as the funeral Honor Guard for General Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps and Department of the South who had succumbed to yellow fever on 30 October. The Mountains of Mitchel, a part of Mars’ South Pole discovered by Mitchel in 1846 while working as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first Freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.
By 1863, Captain Woodruff and the men of D Company were once again based with the 47th Pennsylvania in Florida. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November of 1862, much of 1863 was spent guarding federal installations in Florida as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South. Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I garrisoned Fort Taylor in Key West while Companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson in Florida’s Dry Tortugas. Men from the 47th were also sent on skirmishes and to Fort Myers, which had been abandoned in 1858 after the third U.S. war with the Seminole Indians. As before, disease was a constant companion and foe.
The time spent here by the men of Company D and their fellow Union soldiers was notable also for the men’s commitment to preserving the Union. Many who could have returned home chose instead to re-enlist in order to finish the fight.
On 25 February 1864, Private George W. Jury and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers set off for a phase of service in which their regiment would truly make history. Steaming for New Orleans via the Charles Thomas, the 47th Pennsylvanians arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February, and were then shipped by train to Brashear City. Following another steamer ride – to Franklin via the Bayou Teche – the 47th joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps. In short order, the 47th would become the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union General Nathaniel Banks.
From 14-26 March, the 47th schlepped to and through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water, the regiment encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day, marching until mid-afternoon.
Rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division, 60 members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the volley of fire unleashed by both sides during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads. The fighting waned only when darkness fell. Exhausted, those who were uninjured collapsed beside the gravely wounded. After midnight, the surviving Union troops withdrew to Pleasant Hill.
The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending.
Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.
Casualties were again severe. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander was nearly killed, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also wounded while keeping the regimental flag from falling into enemy hands. Private Ephraim Clouser of Company D was shot in his right knee, and Corporal Isaac Baldwin was also wounded.
Still others from the 47th were captured and held as prisoners of war until released during prisoner exchanges in July and November. At least three of the 47th POWs never made it out alive.
Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th fell back to Grand Ecore, where they resupplied and regrouped until 22 April. Retreating further to Alexandria, they and their fellow Union soldiers scored a clear victory against the Confederates at Monett’s Ferry (also known as the Battle of Cane River Crossing) on 23 April.
Private George W. Jury and the other members of the 47th Pennsylvania were assigned to support the artillery of an advance party led by Brigadier-General William Emory as they countered the attempted maneuvers of Confederate Brigadier-General Hamilton P. Bee’s Cavalry, thereby freeing up two of Emory’s other brigades to find a safe spot where Union troops could ford the Cane River, attack Bee’s flank, and force a Rebel retreat.
Encamping overnight before resuming their march toward Rapides Parish, the 47th Pennsylvanians finally arrived in Alexandria, Louisiana on 26 April 1864. While encamped there through 13 May 1864, they engaged in the hard labor of fortification work, and also helped to build “Bailey’s Dam,” a timber structure that enabled Union gunboats to more easily traverse the fluctuating water levels of the Red River.
Beginning 16 May, Private George W. Jury and D Company moved with most of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June. During this phase of duty, more members of the regiment were claimed by disease, poor drinking water and exposure to the harsh climate. Some were laid to rest in graves far from home; others were eventually discharged on Surgeons’ Certificates of Disability after being hospitalized in New Orleans.
On the 4th of July, Private George Jury and the surviving members of his regiment learned that their fight was far from over.
Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
Still able and willing to fight after their Bayou battles, the soldiers of Company D and their fellow members of the 47th Pennsylvania’s Companies A, C, E, F, H, and I boarded the McClellan and steamed away for the East Coast on 7 July.
Following their arrival in Virginia and a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, they then joined Major-General David Hunter’s forces in the fighting at Snicker’s Gap and, once again, helped to defend Washington, D.C. while also driving Confederate troops from Maryland.
Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, the early weeks of September saw the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, including Company D’s Captain Henry Woodruff, 1st Lieutenant Samuel Auchmuty, Sergeants Henry Heikel and Alex Wilson, Corporal Cornelius Baskins Stewart, and Private George W. Jury.
All were discharged honorably at Berryville, Virginia on 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their respective terms of service.
Return to Civilian Life
Following his release from military service, George W. Jury returned home to Pennsylvania, and resumed life as a farmer. Nearly a year to the day after his muster out from the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, he wed Anna Gish on 12 September 1865 in Liverpool, Perry County. A daughter of Jacob Gish (1807-1883) and Sarah Salome (Keefer) Gish (1811-1882), she had been born in Dauphin County on 9 June 1841.
* Note: Although one source states that Anna Gish was born in Newport. Perry County, Pennsylvania in 1841, other sources indicate that she had been born in Dauphin County; these latter sources also provide firm dates of birth for Anna Gish and marriage for the couple.
On 3 June 1866, they welcomed son Jacob to the world. Sons John and Benjamin followed in 1867 and on 20 April 1869, respectively. Daughters Salome and Elizabeth then arrived, respectively, on 8 April 1871 and 18 March 1873. Another daughter, Mary Ellen, joined the Jury home in Pennsylvania on 18 March 1876, followed by son Henry P., who opened his eyes for the first time in 1878.
Tragically, both John and Henry lived only a short time, passing away, respectively, in 1869 in Pennsylvania and in 1880 in Kansas, where the Jury family had relocated in 1878. One of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers to seek a better life in Kansas, George W. Jury had selected Dickinson County as worthy place to continue to grow his family. His sons Henry P. (born in 1878) and George Gilbert Jury (born on 26 1886) were both native Kansans.
A farmer in his adopted state, George Jury was also a community leader who, according to his local newspaper in Abilene, often opened the doors of his home to Bible studies for his fellow congregants at the River Brethren in Christ Church.
Finally, after a long full life, George Washington Jury passed away in Holland, Dickinson County, Kansas on 28 August 1914, and was interred at the Newbern Cemetery in Holland. His obituary in the 29 August edition of the Abilene Daily Reflector, made no mention of his Civil War adventures, and only hinted at the spirit of the man:
George Washington Jury, a prominent farmer of Holland, died at his home there Friday evening about 5:30 o’clock. He was 74 years old and had been ill for a month. Mr. Jury had lived in the Holland neighborhood for about 36 years and was well known there.
His aged widow and six children survive. The funeral service will be held Sunday morning at 9:30 o’clock at the home and at 11 o’clock from the Newbern church, where burial will be made.
An updated obituary in the 10 September edition of that same newspaper provided the following additional details:
George Washington Jury was born 29 December 1839 in Perry County, Pennsylvania; died at his home in Holland, Kansas, 28 August 1914. Mr. Jury served three years in the Civil War in Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Regiment. On 12 September 1865, he was married to Anna Gish; eight children were born to them:
Jacob U. Jury; Johnnie Jury, deceased; Benjamin F. Jury; Salome A. Jury; Lizzie R. Jury; Mary E. Jury; Henry P. Jury, deceased; and George G. Jury. Five of them were with him at the time of his death. Mr. Jury united with the Brethren in Christ Church in 1868 and has been a consistent member since. Mr. and Mrs. Jury came to Kansas in 1878 and have resided here since. He was a great sufferer for the last few months of his life, but was always kind and patient. The deceased was highly respected by all who knew him. The family has the sympathy of a host of friends, as we know Mrs. Jury has lost a devoted husband and the children a loving father. The remains were laid to rest in the Newbern Cemetery; the services were conducted by Bishop Engle and Elder Cakerice. A large crowd of friends were present to pay their last respects to a friend whom they will greatly miss.
George’s wife, Anna (Gish) Jury, followed him in death six years later, passing away in Holland, Dickinson County on 15 December 1918. She was also interred at the Newbern Cemetery, as was their son, George Gilbert Jury and his wife, Alice (Frymire) Gilbert.
As for the other children of George and Anna Jury:
- Jacob Jury went on to wed Susan Magnum, and ultimately passed away in Greencastle, Pennsylvania;
- Benjamin Jury married Martha Mellinger, and passed away in Abilene, Kansas;
- Elizabeth Jury, who was known affectionately as “Lizzie,” wed Henry Lenhard, and also passed away in Abilene, as did her husband and her brother, George Gilbert Jury;
- Salome Jury remained unmarried throughout her life, drew her last breath in 1921 in Bennington, Kansas and, like her sister Lizzie, was laid to rest in the Newbern Cemetery; and
- Mary Ellen Jury was united in marriage to Luther Nolf in a Solomon, Kansas wedding ceremony in December 1898. After relocating to California, she lived a long full life there, passing away in the community of Van Nuys on 1 June 1963.
1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: 1869.
2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.
3. Holland Farmer Passed Away Friday, in Abilene Daily Reflector. Abilene: 29 August 1914.
4. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown: Self-published, 1986.
5. U.S. Census (1870, 1880, 1900, 1910). Washington, D.C., Kansas and Pennsylvania.