91st PA: Jacob Keesey

Jacob Keesey

Before the war

He was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (6). He was born in 1839/40 (6 (22 in 1862)).


When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 8 inches tall, and had a light complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair (6).

During the war

He also served in company K of the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers (7, 8, 10). He was enlisted on 26 April 1861 (7). He was discharged on 31 July 1861 (7).

He also served in company E and B of the 99th Pennsylvania Infantry, and in company E of the 32nd Pennsylvania Infantry (8, 10, 12 [99th]).

He was enlisted on 14 July 1862, for three years, at Alexandria, Virginia, by Captain Henry (6, 7, 10 [14 July]). He was mustered in as a private in company H, at Washington DC, by Captain George, on 29 July 1862 or possibly on 11 July 1862 (1 [11 Jul], 6 [29 Jul], 12). He was paid $29 in bounty and premium (6).

On 30 May 1863, he was detailed by Colonel O'Rourke as a teamster (3).

He fought at the Battle of Gettysburg (9).

On 30 December 1863, Sinex reported that he was one of 30 men who had more than fifteen months to serve who were willing to reenlist (2). On 2 January 1864, he was transferred to the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry, while those eligible were on veterans' leave (4).

He was still detailed as a teamster in September (?) 1864 (3).

He was discharged near Washington, DC, on 30 May 1865 or 3 June 1865, by general order, War Department (1, 5, 6 [1 Jun], 7 [20 Aug 63], 10 [30 May]). He was a private, in company H (12).

After the war

On 12 September 1874, he applied successfully for a pension (8, 10).

In 1890, he was living in Martic Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (post office Marticville) (7). He had been injured in his right side by accident (7).

On 18 February 1907, he again applied for a pension (10).

In 1925, he was a member of the George H Thomas Post, number 34 [?], of the Grand Army of the Republic (11). He was the only living veteran in Lancaster County Pennsylvania who was present at Lee's surrender at Appomattox (11).

He died on 28 July 1928, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania (10).


Rick P Rhoads is researching Jacob Keesey. Contact him at [email protected].


1 Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster)

2 letter, Sinex to Marvin, 30 December 1863

3 [list of detailed men, probably from Sept 1864] (Jacob Keesey)

4 consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 2 January 1864 (Keesey)

5 company H, register of men discharged, #45 (Jacob Keesey)

6 company H, descriptive list, #101 (Jacob Keesey)

7 1890 US census, veterans' schedule, Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, Martic Township, supervisor's district 2, enumeration district 226 (Jacob Keesey)

8 pension index, by name (Jacob Keesey)

9 Pennsylvania Memorial, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Jacob Keesey)

10 pension index, by regiment, 91st PA Infantry, company H (Jacob Keesey)

11 'Lone witness' (newspaper article published in April 1925) (thanks to Rick Rhoads for giving me a copy!) (Jacob K Keesey)

12 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (Jacob Keesey)

index to compiled service records

[index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania]
[transcribed 9 July 2014, from Fold3]

Keesey Jacob
Co. H, 91 Pennsylvania Inf.
Pvt | Pvt
See also 99 Pa Inf.


'Lone witness'

[1925 newspaper article]
[thanks to Rick P Rhoads for giving me a copy!]

Lone Witness
Jacob K. Keesey Is Sole Local Survivor Of Many Present At End Of War
Member of Post 34, G.A.R. Vividly Recalls Events Leading Up To Victory By Grant
Took Place Just 60 Years Ago Thursday
Aid For Confederates Was Grant's First Move, He Recalls

Of the thousands of men who stood excitedly by as General Robert E. Lee surrendered unconditionally at Appomatox Court House just sixty years ago last Thursday, just one remains in Lancaster to recall the event as an eye witness.

How General Lee surrendered to General Grant is known to every school boy. Few people have heard the story as veterans of the Civil war tell it; veterans who were on the spot when it happened, who participated in the events that led up to it.

On Thursday April 9, (though few realized it) veterans of the war celebrated the 60th anniversary of Lee's surrender, or Grant's victory, whichever you may wish to call it.

The only Lancaster Civil war veteran living today who witnessed this memorable event is Comrade Jacob K. Keesey, 23 East Frederick street, a member of George H. Thomas Post, No. 34, Grand Army of the Republic.

It is natural that as he sat [?] in [?] a pinochle game with his comrades at the post house his mind should go back 60 years to the old battle line, and that he should relate the tale as he saw it.

"The fighting which lasted until the night of April 8," Comrade Keesey began, "started on the first [?]."

General Warren who was in command of Company H, 91st Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, received orders from General Grant to round up the Confederates, he related.

"For several days," he continued, "the firing raged terrifically. And that was not the worst of it. We were without food for two days--and the Confederates possibly for a longer time.

"On the evening of April 7, General Grant sent a message to Lee saying that he wanted to shift from his shoulders the responsibility of more loss of lives."

While delivering this message, Comrade Keesey told, General Seth Williams' orderly was shot. However, Grant received Lee's reply the same night and the next morning he dispatched a second note to the Southern leader.

As Grant had been ill all day April 8, he was awake when Lee's reply came during the night. It said that Lee would be willing to meet Grant the next day, April 9, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon between the picket lines of the two armies.

As Lee's letter was rather vague, Comrade Keesey said, Grant was suspicious and remarked: "It looks as if Lee still means to fight."

Grant sent his final reply to Lee just before noon on April 9 [?], and mounting his steed, "Cincinnati," trotted away towards Appomatox Court House.

After being told by General Sheridan that Lee was waiting to surrender in the McLean house Grant entered, and the event for which the house was destined forever after to be famous took place.

Aided Confederates

"Grant's real spirit was shown by his first act after the surrender," said Comrade Keesey, "when he sent 25,000 [??] rations to the Confederate army."

Twenty-eight thousand Confederates surrendered, said Comrade Keesey, and a short time after the Yanks were swapping coffee and hard tack for tobacco with the men they were fighting a few hours before.

"The Confederates were [illegible word] to get hold of all the food they could," said Comrade Keesey. "But while the soldiers were paroled during the exchange of notes in [?] April, I walked along the picket line and saw the Johnnie Rebs lying [sic] out many of their men who had died because of lack of food."

Incidentally, Comrade Keesey added, during this period of [illegible word] the Boys in Blue had lots of fun [?] breaking the guns of the Rebs.

Comrade Keesey is [?] [illegible word] on the results of this encounter [?]. On July 2 of this year he will be 84 [?] years old. As he has aged, he has watched the gulf that once existed [?] between the north and the south gradually close.

"Were it not for Grant's victory," he said, "the Union would not exist today. Where the great nation now stands, two would exist--possibly two enemies," and he is justly proud that he participated in the battle which was to bring about the return of the Stars and Stripes to the country as a whole.

1890 census, veterans schedule

[1890 US census, veterans' schedule, Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, Martic Township, supervisor's district 2, enumeration district 226]
[line] 46
[house] 206
[family] 217
[name] Jacob Keesey
[rank] Private
[company] K
[unit] 10 Pa Vol
[enlistment date] 26 Apl 1861
[discharge date] 31 July 1861
[length of service] [blank] years, 3 months, 5 days
[post office address] Marticville Pa.
[disability incurred] Injured in right side
[remarks] Accident

[line] 47
[house] 206
[family] 217
[name] Jacob Keesey
[rank] Private
[company] H
[unit] 91 Pa Vol
[enlistment date] 14 July 1862
[discharge date] 20 Aug 1863
[length of service] [blank] years, 10 [?] months, 16 [?] days
[post office address] Marticville Pa
[disability incurred] Injured in right side
[remarks] Accident

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revised 9 Jul 14
contact Harry Ide at [email protected] with comments or questions