91st PA: Jesse Wharton's shooting

The shooting of Jesse Wharton [by Thomas Walter]

[from Thomas Walter, 'Personal recollections and experiences of an obscure soldier', Grand Army Scout and Soldiers' Mail v.3 #35 p.2. The context is available, along with more information]

A member of Co. C [probably Ambrose Baker] was on guard in the yard one day, when one of the citizen prisoners in the second story [Jesse Wharton] came to the window and cursed and dared the guard to fire on him. A young corporal of our company had charge of the guard just then, and when he came around the sentinal told what had happened. He told the guard that if the offence was repeated he was to shoot. The man soon returned and began a fresh tirade against the government and the guard, when the guard shot him through the arm and chest, so that he died in a few minutes.

The rebel was a man of means and influence, and his shooting seemed to have stirred up some indignation outside as well as inside the prison, for a few days afterward both the corporal and sentinal were arrested and confined in uncomfortable quarters in the Central Guard House.

.....

.... We had been several weeks in Alexandria and still our corporal and the sentinel, who were concerned in the shooting of the rebel at the old capital-prison, were kept in close and filthy confinement at Washington. One morning our captain [sc. Frank Gilbert] called me into his room and told me that though there were no written charges against them, the several efforts that had been made to have them released had been without effect. He asked me to write a petition in their favor, and the major, [sc. George Todd] who was going up to Washington, would present it to President Lincoln.

The corporal was a fellow of such excellent character, that I was glad of a chance to serve him, so I wrote it and made it strong, and it went to the president, and before the day was past the men were free and had rejoined their companies.


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revised 10 Jun 12
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