91st PA: Jesse Wharton's shooting

Shooting of Jesse Wharton, in contemporary newspaper accounts

[see The shooting of Jesse Wharton]

Index



'Melancholy affair at the Old Capitol Prison'

[source: 'Melancholy affair at the Old Capitol Prison', The Sun (Baltimore MD), 22 April 1862, page [4].]

[Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun.]
WASHINGTON, April 21.
Melancholy Affair at the Old Capitol Prison--A Political Prisoner from Maryland Shot by a Sentry--...

A melancholy affair which has resulted in the death of Mr. Jesse B. Wharton, of Hagerstown, Md., one of the political prisoners in the old capitol prison, has occasioned considerable remark today. It appears that Mr. Wharton was yesterday looking out of a window on the south side of the building, contrary as it is stated to a general rule forbidding prisoners to obtrude their persons or hands out of the windows, and being observed by the sentry on post No. 3 had a wordy altercation with the latter, who had ordered him to withdraw. The sentry, who was Ambrose Baker, company C, 91st Pa. reg't, it is alleged, called the corporal of the guard, and was told that if the prisoner again failed to obey to [sic] shoot him, and the prisoner still disregarding the order, and as is alleged defying it, Baker aimed his piece and fired--the ball taking effect in Wharton's head. This is according to the developments, as made in an investigation by the Military Governor Brig. Gen. Wadsworth and Provost Marshal Major Doster, to-day.

The wounded man was at once taken to his bed, where he lingered until nearly 3 o'clock this morning, when he died--previously, however, accusing the officer in charge of being the cause of his death, as he had given orders to the guard to shoot any of the prisoners who put their heads out of the windows. Mr. Wharton's wife and sisters, who have been in the city for some time past, were immediately sent for, and were present when he died. The body will probably be taken to Hagerstown for interment. Preliminary to the examination of the case, the corporal of the guard and the sentry who fired were placed under arrest. Mr. W. Wood is superintendent of the prison.

[The rest of the article is about other events.]

[Report from Washington]

[source: North American and United States Gazette (Philadelphia PA), 21 April 1862]
[see also [inspection report], in Official Records series 1 volume 15 pave 225-226 (from the Records of the McDowell Court of Inquiry, 45th day)]

Washington, April 20.--Last night the city was in a state of excitement for some hours, during which the most absurd rumors and reports were freely circulated, and they are still flying around the streets to-day. The cause of all this commotion appears to have originated in an experiment to test the alacrity of our troops on this side of the Potomac, of which we have an immense number, in case of emergency. The night was stormy, our troops were all closely tented, when the alarm was sounded. Col. Gregory's 91st Pennsylvania, encamped back of Capitol Hill, and Col. Lyle's 90th Pennsylvania, quartered east of the depot, started for the Long bridge.

The forming of the regiments and the distance traveled, one mile and a half, occupied just thirty minutes by the watch. The other regiments, including cavalry and artillery, made equally good time. They all returned to their quarters, of course without crossing the Potomac, much pleased with the successful test which had been so practically and unexpectedly applied to them.

'By magnetic telegraph'

[source: North American and United States Gazette (Philadelphia PA), 22 April 1862, page 2; also printed at Public Ledger 22 April 1862 page 2 (as one paragraph)]
BY MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH
FOR THE N. AMERICAN & U. S. GAZETTE.
FROM WASHINGTON.
Washington, April 21.--[...]
[...]

A State prisoner, Jesse B. Wharton, from near Hagerstown, Md., was shot by a sentry yesterday, at the old capitol prison, and died a few hours thereafter.


[...]

The test which was applied to the troops on this side of the Potomac on Saturday evening, had a most exhilerating effect upon the prisoners confined in the old Capitol building. They believed by the commotion which was created, that the rebel army was in full force on the opposite banks of the Potomac, and that the hour of their deliverance was at hand. With this belief they became very insolent to the guards, and could scarcely be kept in subjection.

One of the lady prisoners, who has ever been most kindly treated, was far worse than her male companions. The affair was finally attended with a fatal result to one of the prisoners, Jesse B. Wharton, who was arrested some months since near Hagerstown. From his window he entered into an abusive altercation with one of the guards, Ambrose Baker, of the 91st Pennsylvania regiment. The guard ordered the prisoner to retire from the window, which he insolently refused to do, when the guard fired, the ball entering Wharton's head. He lingered from ten in the morning until three o'clock in the afternoon, when he expired. Mr. Wharton's wife and sisters, who were in the city, were present when he died. The guard who fired the fatal shot has been placed under arrest, and the matter will be investigated by Gen. Wadsworth.

'Rebel prisoner shot'

[source: The Daily Cleveland Herald (Cleveland OH), 23 April 1862]
REBEL PRISONER SHOT.

On the 20th inst., a political prisoner at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, was shot and killed by one of the guards. The prisoner was from near Hagerstown, Md., and named Jessie B. Wharton. He had been confined for several months, and was shot by Ambrose Baker, of the Pennsylvania 91st. The circumstances are thus stated:

From the testimony taken, it appears that the deceased violated the rule of the prison, that has up to this time been well observed by the prisoners, forbidding them to obtrude their persons or heads out of the windows. He was ordered by the sentry on post No. 3 to withdraw his person within the window, and respect the well known rule. Instead of so doing, he replied with oaths and imprecations upon the sentry, who thereupon called the corporal of the guard, and reported to him the fact.

The corporal ordered the sentry to renew his order to the prisoner to withdraw his person into the window out of which he was leaning, and if he failed to obey, to shoot him. The sentry renewed the order, when the deceased bade him defiance, leaning further out of the window, baring his breast, and cursing the sentry with awful oaths--applying opprobrious epithets to him, and saying he was too cowardly to enforce his order by shooting, &c. The sentry then fired, shooting Wharton in the head, the wound proving fatal this morning. Preliminary to the examination of the case, the corporal of the guard and sentry who fired were placed under arrest.

'Shocking transaction'

[source: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington DC) 23 April 1862]
SHOCKING TRANSACTION.

The annexed account of a shocking affair which it seems took place in this city on Sunday night last appeared in the Evening Star of Monday. It has doubtless received due attention, and we are sure has led to the adoption by the enlightened and humane Secretary of War of every proper precaution against the recurrence of a like barbarity. We hope that our military authorities will give to this case of homicide a thorough investigation, and trace to its true source the party guilty of giving the fatal order. Acts of insubordination like those attributed to the deceased may call for closer confinement, but afford no justification for such summary infliction of military vengeance. We have complained of such criminal brutality when visited on our captives in Richmond. Let us show our abhorrence of the act when the accusation lies at our own door.

From the Star of Monday evening.

THE HOMICIDE AT THE MILITARY PRISON--Military Governor Brigadier General Wadsworth and Provost Marshal Major Doster have been for some hours engaged in an investigation of the circumstances of the shooting of Jesse B. Wharton, in the military prison on Capitol Hill, last night. From the testimony taken, it appears that the deceased violated the rule of the prison, that has, up to this time, been well observed by the prisoners, forbidding them to obtrude their persons or heads out of the windows. He was ordered by the sentry on post No. 3 to withdraw his person within the window and respect the well known rule. Instead of so doing, he replied with oaths and imprecations upon the sentry, who thereupon called the corporal of the guard and reported to him the facts. The corporal ordered the sentry to renew his order to the prisoner to withdraw his person into the window out of which he was leaning, and if he failed to obey to shoot him. The sentry renewed the order, when the deceased bade him defiance, leaning further out of the window, baring his breast, and cursing the sentry with awful oaths, as being too cowardly to enforce his order by shooting, &c. The sentry then fired, shooting Wharton in the head, the wound proving fatal this morning. Preliminary to the examination of the case, the corporal of the guard and the sentry who fired were placed under arrest.

'Shooting of a political prisoner at Washington'

['Shooting of a political prisoner at Washington', Boston Traveler (Boston, MA), 23 April 1862, page 2]
[this also appears in the American Traveler (Boston MA), Saturday 26 April 1862, page 3]
[transcribed 17 February 2013, from GenealogyBank]

SHOOTING OF A POLITICAL PRISONER AT WASHINGTON.--Mr. Jesse B. Wharton, of Hagerstown, Maryland, one of the political prisoners in the old capitol prison, was shot by a sentry on Sunday last, and died from the effects of the wound in a few hours.

It appears that Mr. Wharton was yesterday looking out of a window on the south side of the building, contrary as it is stated, to a general rule forbidding prisoners to obtrude their persons or hands out of the windows, and being observed by the sentry on post No. 3, had a wordy altercation with the latter, who had ordered him to withdraw.

The sentry, who was Ambrose Baker, company C, 91st Pa. regiment, called the corporal of the guard, and was told that if the prisoner again failed to obey to shoot him, and the prisoner still disregarding the order, Baker aimed his piece and fired--the ball taking effect in Wharton's head.

The wounded man lingered until near 3 o'clock in the morning, when he died--previously, however, accusing the officer in charge of being the cause of his death, as he had given orders to the guard to shoot any of the prisoners who put their heads out of the windows. Mr. Wharton's wife and sisters, who have been in the city for some time past, were immediately sent for, and were present when he died. Preliminary to the examination of the case, the corporal of the guard and the sentry who fired were placed under arrest." [sic]

'The homicide at the Capitol Prison'

[source: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington DC), 29 April 1862]
THE HOMICIDE AT THE CAPITOL PRISON.

MESSRS. EDITORS: I am surprised to read a report, copied into your paper from the Star, giving an account of the shooting of J. B. Wharton, a political prisoner at the Old Capitol prison, on the 20th instant, very erroneous in many particulars. Mr. Wharton did not curse the sentry as stated; he had just before been reading his Bible, and was not likely, under the circumstances, to use the profane language attributed to him. He leaned out of the window--not the front window, looking into the street, but the back window, looking into the yard--and was ordered by the sentry not to do it, with the threat that he, the sentry, would shoot the head off him if he did not withdraw. Mr. Wharton replied, opening his coat and baring his breast, "Shoot, you coward, shoot! I'm nothing but a prisoner." But did withdraw, and took a seat by the stove. Some time afterward he again went to the window, and, folding his arms on the outer edge of the window sill, leaned on them, but not out of the window, the hand of his right arm being under his left elbow, and the left hand under his right elbow, when the sentry fired at him without any further words having passed between them. Mr. Wharton's position at the time is fully determined by the course of the ball, which did not strike him in the head, but passed first through his left hand and right elbow, shattering both, and, entering the right side of the chest, just below the shoulder, came out near the spine, on the left side of the back, by the left shoulder. Those who knew Mr. Wharton, and were present at the time of the occurrence, know that the charge of his having used the oaths imputed to him in the report is untrue. He had just before been reading his Bible, and his first words to his sister, when she entered, were to request her to pray and subsquently he himself made an audible prayer. Whatever else may have been his errors, his friends believe that he died in the faith, hope, and trust of a Christian. The statement published is calculated to lacerate the feelings of his widow and sisters and other relatives in this city, already grieved by his violent and sudden death.

Another mistatement [sic] in the paper is that his sisters were residents of this city. They, as also his father and brother, reside at the Maryland Agricultural College, near Bledensburg, in Prince George's county, Maryland, (of which institution his father, Dr. John O. Wharton, is Register,) and were sent for and arrived in Washington some time before Jesse B. Wharton's death. On their account, and on account of his many other friends, I request the publication of this statement.

W. B. W.
APRIL 21, 1862.

[Village record article]

[Village Record [Waynesboro PA] 25 April 1862, p.2]

A distressing occurence took place on Sunday morning, at the old Capitol prison in Washington City. It seems that Jesse B. Wharton, a young lawyer [sic] of Hagerstown, has been confined for some months in the prison for political reasons. On the above named morning, about 11 o'clock, he approached one of the windows looking towards the Capitol and engaged in an angry conversation with one of the guard. The dispute then ended in the guard (named Ambrose Baker, Company C, 91st Pennsylvania regiment,) firing his musket at Wharton, the ball taking effect in his head. He was at once taken to his room, where he lingered until 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when death released him from his sufferings.

Previous to his death he accused Lieut. Milligan, the officer in charge at the time, with being the cause of his death, as he had ordered the guard to shoot any of the prisoners who put their heads out of the window. Baker says that the Corporal of the guard ordered him to shoot Wharton a few minutes before he did the deed. Baker was immediately placed under arrest and Gen. Wadsworth informed of the occurrence.--The remains of Wharton were removed to Hagerstown for burial.

The shooting of Mr Wharton

['The shooting of Mr Wharton', [Baltimore] Sun, 23 April 1862, page 4]
(Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun.)
WASHINGTON, April 22.
The Shooting of Mr. Wharton--Particulars of the Affair--...

The corporal of the guard, as well as the sentry, private Baker, of the Ninety-first Pennsylvania regiment, implicated in the shooting of Mr. Jesse B. Wharton night before last at the old capitol prison, continues to be held under arrest. It is intimated that he will be punished for the act, as the alleged offense of Mr. Wharton in disobeying the order prohibiting prisoners from having their heads out of the windows and using taunting language to the sentry, is not regarded by the military governor here, Gen. Wadsworth, as sufficient to justify the shooting. Mr. Wharton was the son of Dr. John O. Wharton, of the Maryland Agricultural College, near Bladensburg, and for a long while a resident of Baltimore. The father, as well as the young man's wife, were called to his bedside before he expired. The wife is the daughter of Col. Whiting, of the Federal army, and the deceased was himself formerly a Lieutenant in the United States navy [sic]. Hon. John Thompson was his uncle. The friends of the deceased deny the representations made in regard to violent language used by him in the wordy altercation with the sentinel, further than that he denounced Baker for a coward, in threatening to shoot an unarmed man and a prisoner, and finally dared him to the deed.

'The homicide at the military prison'

['The homicide at the military prison', New York Herald-Tribune 23 April 1862, page 3]
THE HOMICIDE AT THE MILITARY PRISON.

Military Governor Brig.-Gen. Wadsworth and Provost Marshal Major Doster have been engaged in an investigation of the circumstances of the shooting of Jesse B. Wharton in the Military Prison on Capitol Hill, on Sunday night. From the testimony taken, it appears that the deceased violated the rule of the prison, that has up to this time been well observed by the prisoners, forbidding them to obtrude their persons or heads out of the windows. He was ordered by the sentry on post No. 3 to withdraw his person within the window and respect the well-known rule. Instead of so doing, he replied with oaths and imprecations upon the sentry, who thereupon called the corporal of the guard and reported to him the facts. The corporal ordered the sentry to renew his order to the prisoner to withdraw his person into the window out of which he was leaning, and if he failed to obey, to shoot him. The sentry renewed the order, when the deceased bade him defiance, leaning further out of the window, baring his breast, and cursing the sentry with awful oaths, calling him a d--d Yankee son of a b--h; a Northern son of a b--h; a d--d hired scoundrel, too cowardly to enforce his order by shooting &c. The sentry then fired, shooting Wharton in the head, the wound proving fatal on Monday morning. Preliminary to the examination of the case, the corporal of the guard and the sentry who fired were placed under arrest.


['A state prisoner shot', New York Herald Tribune 22 April 1862 page 6]
A STATE PRISONER SHOT.

A State prisoner, Jesse D. [sic] Wharton, from near Hagerstown, Maryland, was shot by a sentry yesterday, at the Old Capital Prison, and died in a few hours thereafter.


['From the Star of last evening'. The National Republican 22 April 1862, page 2; transcribed 26 March 2011, from Library of Congress Chronicling America, at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014760/1862-04-22/ed-1/seq-2/;words=Wharton+Jesse]
From the Star of last evening
The Homicide at the Military Prison.

Military Governor Brigadier General Wadsworth and Provost Marshal Major Doster have been for some hours engaged in an investigation of the circumstances of the shooting of Jesse B. Wharton, in the military prison on Capitol Hill, last night.

From the testimony taken, we hear, it appears that the deceased violated the rule of the prison, that has, up to this time, been well observed by the prisoners, forbidding them to obtrude their persons or heads out of the windows. He was ordered by the sentry on post No. 3 to withdraw his person within the window and respect the well known rule. Instead of so doing, he replied with oaths and imprecations upon the sentry, who thereupon called the corporal of the guard and reported to him the facts. The corporal ordered the sentry to renew his order to the prisoner to withdraw his person into the window out of which he was leaning, and if he failed to obey, to shoot him. The sentry renewed the order, when the deceased bade him defiance, leaning further out of the window, baring his breast, and cursing the sentry with awful oaths; calling him a d-d Yankee son of a b-h; a northern son of a b-h; a d-d hired scoundrel, too cowardly to enforce his order by shooting, & c. The sentry then fired, shooting Wharton in the head, the wound proving fatal this morning.

Preliminary to the examination of the case, the corporal of the guard and the sentry who fired were placed under arrest.

'Explanation of the Confederate shot at Washington City'

['Explanation of the Confederate Shot at Washington City', Crisis (Columbus, Ohio) Wednesday 11 June 1862, page 159]
[transcribed 11 July 2014, from GenealogyBank]
[I owe my knowledge of this article to the David Rankin Barbee papers]


Explanation of the Confederate Shot at Washington City.

CARD FROM M. T. WALWORTH.--We copy the subjoined card, by M. T. Walworth, from the Albany, N. Y., Atlas & Argus:

Editors of the Atlas & Argus, Albany:

My attention has been called to an article in your paper relating to Lieut. Wharton, who was shot by a sentinel in the Old Capitol Prison, Washington. I have no question in my mind that the same spirit of fairness which characterized your paper before I became a citizen of Kentucky, still prevails, and will induce you to give this article a place in your columns. I speak from knowledge of the occurrence. I was arrested by order of Gen. McClellan, imprisoned for nearly three months in the Confederate prison, and am still a prisoner with the parole of Saratoga county, and am obliged to report to this Government daily my whereabouts. I was beside Lieut. Wharton in the room when he was shot, heard the altercation with the sentinel, and the charges made by the dying man. I was his friend, and when the fellow prisoners left him with his wife he requested me to remain with him and her until he died.

He did not provoke the altercation. He was resting with his arms upon the window sill, and when ordered to take in his head, withdrew his arms and stood perfectly erect, and a few inches back from the window. The words of the sentinel, which provoked Wharton's sarcastic retort, were not the order to take in his head, but the sentinel's use of opprobrious epithets and cursing him.

He was in no mood for quarreling, having that very moment closed a Bible, from which he was reading aloud his mother's favorite chapter, and remarking upon his respect for the Episcopalian religion, occasioned by her life. When the altercation had gone on for a few moments, and while Wharton was standing a few inches back from the window, with his left hand resting upon his right elbow, the sentinel, under the order of an unseen person below in the prison yard, raised his musket to the second story window and fired. The ball passed through his left hand, his right arm, and thence through his right breast, going entirely through him, and striking the wall beyond.

He was my friend, and I shall vindicate his memory.

It would be proper for those who have friends prisoners in Richmond, to make some effort to have a fair examination of this case, for retaliation upon prisoners by the hasty and uncontrolled soldiers of either side, should, for the sake of humanity, be postponed by the good sense of the belligerants.

Lieut. Wharton had resigned from the U.S. Army in Utah, and is a nephew of a member of the Cabinet at Richmond. His relatives in Virginia and Maryland are of the most prominent families.

MANSFIELD T. WALWORTH.

'Nouvelle Générales'

['Nouvelle Générales', Courier des Etats-Unis (New York, New York), 24 April 1862, page 1]
[trancribed 12 April 2014, from GenealogyBank]

Nouvelle Générales
[...]

La capitale a été grandement émue par l'incident suivant. Un prisonnier politique, M. Jesse B. Wharton, ayant mis la tête à la fenêtre de la prison du vieux capitole, a été sommé par un soldat pennsylvanien de se retirer. Sur son refus d'obéir, la sentinelle l'a tué sur le coup d'une balle dans la tête. Après mûr examen, on a trouvé que le soldat n'avait fait qu'exécuter strictement sa consigne, et on l'a relâché des arrêts auxquels on l'avait mis provisoirement. Cet événement a causé une pénible impression.

'State prisoner shot'

['State prisoner shot', Boston Traveler Tuesday, 22 April 1862, page 3]
[this is also printed, with 'Old Capital Prison' for 'old capitol prison', in the New York Tribune, Tuesday, 22 April 1862, page 7; and (with the same alteration) in the New York Daily Reformer (Watertown NY), 23 April 1862, page 2]
[this is also printed in the Springfield Republican (Springfield MA), 22 April 1862, page 4]
[this is also printed in the Evening Post (New York, NY), 22 April 1862, page 4, with his middle initial as 'D.', with 'Old Capitol Prison', and with 'died in a few hours thereafter']
[this is also printed, with 'The state prisoner', and with 'old Capitol prison', in Providence Evening Press (Providence RI), 21 April 1862, p.4]
[transcribed 12 April 2014, from GenealogyBank]

State Prisoner Shot.

WASHINGTON, April 21.--A State prisoner, named Jesse B. Wharton, from near Hagerstown, Md., was shot by a sentry yesterday at the old capitol prison and died a few hours thereafter.

'Prisoner shot'

['Prisoner shot', Columbian Register (New Haven, CT), 26 April 1862, page 3]
[transcribed 12 April 2014, from GenealogyBank]

Prisoner Shot.

WASHINGTON, April 21.--State prisoner Jesse B. Wharton, from near Hagerstown, Md., was shot by a sentry yesterday, at the old Capitol prison, and died in a few hours.

'The homicide'

['The homicide', Evening Star (Washington DC), Tuesday 22 April 1862, page 3]
[transcribed 12 April 2014, from GenealogyBank]

THE HOMICIDE.

We have received a note from "W. B. W.," a friend of Jesse B. Wharton, who was shot on the night before last in the military prison, denying the correctness of our statement of the facts of the case as presented in yesterday's Star, alleging that he did not previously curse the sentinel, nor did he refuse to obey the latter's order not to lean out of the window, but admitting that he denounced Baker for a coward, and dared him to shoot.

Our statement was made on information obtained through the investigation instituted by the Military Governor; far more likely to be correct than information from any other source, we apprehend.

While we sympathize with the family of Mr Wharton, and sincerely hope that the party responsible for killing him may be duly punished, we have no doubt that the disloyalty of his sentiments and his evidently ungovernable passion, were strained to the utmost to incense the man who killed him, and the officers over him.

'The homicide at the Capitol Hill prison'

['The homicide at the Capitol Hill prison', Providence Evening Press Thursday 24 April 1862, page 2]
[transcribed 12 April 2014, from GenealogyBank]

THE HOMICIDE AT THE CAPITOL HILL PRISON.--The Washington Star of Monday says:

Military-Governor-Brigadier-General Wadsworth and Provost Marshal Major Doster have been engaged in an investigation of the circumstances of the shooting of Jesse B. Wharton, in the military prison on Capitol Hill, last night.

From the testimony taken, it appears that the deceased violated the rule of the prison, that has up to this time been well observed by the prisoners, forbidding them to obtrude their persons or heads out of the windows. He was ordered by the sentry to withdraw his person within the window and respect the rule. Instead of so doing, he replied with oaths and imprecations upon the sentry, who thereupon called the corporal of the guard and reported to him the facts. The corporal ordered the sentry to renew his order to the prisoner to withdraw his person into the window, out of which he was leaning, and if he failed to obey, shoot him. The sentry renewed the order, when the deceased bade him defiance, leaning further out of the window, baring his breast, and cursing the sentry with awful oaths--calling him too cowardly to enforce his order by shooting. The sentry then fired, shooting Wharton in the head, the wound proving fatal.


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revised 12 Jul 14
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