Wilson, James H.
Age: 20, credited to Warren, VT
Unit(s): 13th VT INF
Service: enl 8/25/62, m/i 10/10/62, Pvt, Co. B, 13th VT INF, kia, Gettysburg, 7/3/63
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 1842, Warren, VT
Burial: East Warren Cemetery, Warren, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Stephen R. Payne
Findagrave Memorial #: 92878023
Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, mother Rosalin, 9/12/1863
Portrait?: 13th History
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
Remarks: 13th Vt. History off-site
WPA Graves Registration Card indicates that this is a cenotaph.
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Cenotaph at East Warren Cemetery, Warren, VT
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JAMES H. WILSON was born in Warren and enlisted from that town. He was 20 years old and 5 ft. 8 1/2 in. in height, a fine well proportioned young man with light hair and blue eyes. He was prompt and active, and a boy who was universally liked by his companions. He was the only member of the company killed at Gettysburg. Dexter Parker received a very painful wound from a piece of shell which cut through one of his hands and he was in such agony that Corporal O. G. Miles and James H. Wilson started to help him to the rear, one on each side. They had only gone a short distance when a shell struck in a pile of stones and burst. AH three fell to the ground and it was found that a small piece of shell had pierced Wilson's heart, killing him instantly. Parker was not further injured but Corporal Miles had splinters of stone driven into his back which were a great annoyance but not dangerous. Wilson's body was buried on the field with a carefully marked board placed at the head of his grave. Late in the fall of 1863, S. J. Dana of our company was sent to Gettysburg to bring his body home which task he successfully accomplished and he lies buried in the little cemetery at East Warren. Some of his comrades tell the story that while on the march towards Gettysburg they said to Wilson "Our time will soon be out and we shall go home." To which he replied "I shall never go home alive. We shall have a fight and I shall be killed." This story comes too direct to be doubted but if it had not proved so true we, probably, should never have heard of it. Again, the missile that pierced his heart, like cases without number in the war, slew also another in the home town, who was to become his wife on his return. She lived only a few months after tie terrible news reached her.
Source: Sturtevant, p. 469
Civil War Letters of James H. Wilson
The Vermont Historical Society recently acquired the Civil War letters of James Wilson of East Warren. The letters offer insight into the Civil War experience of a private who left a small Vermont hamlet and who would never see his home state or true love again.
Wilson enlisted in Company B of the 13th Vermont regiment in 1862 and wrote 53 letters home to his mother, sister Lucy, and friend Melville Eaton. Wilson died during the Battle of Gettysburg on Cemetery Ridge, July 3, 1863, just before Pickett charged toward the Union troops.
Wilson's first letter is sent from the camp at Brattleboro where the 13th Vermont assembled. "We are to be sworn in today and tomorrow. We are to bid adieu to the Green Hills of Vermont for nine months. Then we shall see home again. All I hope." Apparently losing weight, in November Wilson tells his family to "look on the sash by the showcase in Jim's store and see how much I weighed the night I enlisted." By February he writes to friend Melville at home urging him to avoid the draft and saying that he will not reenlist unless given a horse to ride.
On March 11, Wilson writes of the capture of the Second Vermont Brigade's commander: "The Rebs went in there last Sunday night and took General Stoughton prisoner - the Second Vermont Brigade don't care too much. I guess this regiment don't at any rate." The collection contains three letters to Wilson from home. His mother Rosalin writes him on June 28, 1863, "Hiram Jones has buried his other girl. She had diphtheria. Dr. Judkins is very sick -How anxious I am about you. If you can only come home safe and well."
In what is apparently his last letter home, Wilson writes that "we have to keep awake on guard as one neglect endangers the whole Brigade. I will write soon as I can to say goodbye." Soon the Second Vermont Brigade was on its way to Gettysburg. On the long march Wilson told a friend that he would never go home alive. The morning of July 3, 1863, the 13th Vermont Regiment, with the Brigade, was in battle line on Cemetery Ridge. Soon it would assault Pickett's Charge. But before the attack, Wilson was helping a painfully wounded comrade to the rear when an artillery shell exploded, sending a piece of shrapnel through his heart. Back home, his fiancÚ Delia Porter took the news of his death hard. She died within a few months. Wilson's body came home to East Warren, and is buried in the cemetery there, all that remains of the village.
According to Vermont Civil War historian Howard Coffin, "The Wilson collection is very important not only for its wealth of information on the nine months of service of the Second Brigade, but because of the light it sheds on East Warren. It is one of the finest Second Brigade collections that I have seen and is a very valuable addition to the VHS archive."
You can view the collection on the VHS website. It is linked to two other pages, one that contains the finding aid and the other which has transcriptions of the letters. The collection includes tintypes of both James and Delia. The letters make reference to many individuals living in Warren during that period.
Information provided by Paul Carnahan, Vermont Historical Society.