Small, Jerome Y. (Private)

Courthouse, New Bloomfield, Centre Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania, c. 1860s (Hain’s History of Perry County, 1922, public domain).

Private Jerome Y. Small was a son of native Pennsylvanians, Elizabeth and Adam Small, a farmer and sawyer in the Keystone State’s Perry County. In 1850, Jerome and his parents (aged 39 and 44, respectively) were documented by the U.S. Census as residents of Centre Township, Perry County. Also residing at the Small home that year were Jerome’s older siblings, Charlotte (aged 17), John (aged 14), and Mary (aged 11), and his younger siblings, Benjamin (aged 6), and Melinda (aged 2).

By 1860, Jerome and his parents were still residing in Centre Township. Siblings also living at home at this time were: John and Benjamin (now 26 and 15 respectively), Hezekiah (aged 11), and Sylvester (aged 7).

* Note: Although the 1860 federal census indicates that Jerome Small and his brother John were born in Maryland, this is incorrect. Both of their parents were native Pennsylvanians, as were their other siblings. Furthermore, other records, including military records for Jerome Small and the 1850 federal census (which shows the family living in Centre Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania), confirm that Jerome was born in Pennsylvania sometime around 1841.

Like many in their community and state, the Small family watched and worried during the opening years of the 1860s as America’s growing discord flared into the fires of secession and Civil War a struggle so epic that it would not only alter their immediate family, but would transform their country so radically that the descendants of their friends and neighbors would still be trying to bind up their nation’s wounds more than 150 years after the final rifle shot was fired.

Civil War Military Service

This Library of Congress photo, believed to be of Fredericksburg, Virginia c. 1861-1869, effectively captured the Civil War’s impact on civilians (public domain image).

On 8 August 1862, Jerome Small left the safety of all he knew to enroll for Civil War military service at Loysville in Perry County, Pennsylvania. He then officially mustered in for duty on 13 August at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County as a Private with Company H of the 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and, six days later, was transported by rail with his regiment to Washington, D.C., where he and his fellow 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteers remained until 2 September when they were ordered to Rockville, Maryland. Stationed at Rockville until they end of October, they were then based in Falmouth, Virginia from 30 October until November 17.

Now under the command of Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside as part of the Union’s massive Army of the Potomac, the 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteers received their first taste of combat during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia from 12-15 December 1862. Despite having superior numbers to those of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, the Union forces were badly defeated, and sustained a significant number of casualties (12,563 to the CSA’s 5,309).

Shocked and angered by what he saw while visiting the battlefield soon after the engagement, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin reportedly described the scene to President Abraham Lincoln, noting: “It was not a battle, it was a butchery.”

According to George C. Rable, the Charles G. Summersell Chair in Southern History at the University of Alabama:

The Battle of Fredericksburg carried consequences large and small, expected and unexpected. The defeat helped spark a political crisis in which Republican senators nearly succeeded in driving Secretary of State William H. Seward from the cabinet. The rising price of gold in New York – which one banking magazine explicitly linked to Fredericksburg – further deepened the gloom in Washington and across the North. Abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, worried that this latest Union defeat might cause Lincoln to delay issuing the final Emancipation Proclamation.

From 20-24 January 1863, Private Jerome Small and his fellow 133rd Pennsylvanians then slogged through Burnside’s “Mud March” (also known as Burnside’s 2nd Campaign) – an attempt to move the Union’s Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock River in order to capture the Confederate States of America’s capital of Richmond, Virginia – a multi-faceted strategic plan which also failed badly, and ultimately resulted in President Lincoln’s replacement of Burnside as commanding officer of the Army of the Potomac with Major-General Joseph Hooker.

Stationed once again at Falmouth, Virginia through 27 April, the 133rd Pennsylvania was then ordered to participate in the Union’s Chancellorsville Campaign from 27 April to 6 May. During the latter days of this expedition, Private Small and his regiment fought in the Battle of Chancellorsville (1-5 May 1863). Once again, despite superior Union Army numbers, Confederate troops scored a decisive victory – but it was a costly one. Among the 13,640 CSA casualties incurred that day was Lieutenant-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson (more commonly known as “Stonewall Jackson.”)

After two heart-wrenching defeats during slightly less than a year of service, Private Jerome Small then mustered out with his regiment on 23 May 1863, and returned home to his family and friends Perry County, Pennsylvania.

1863 Civil War draft ledger entry which documented Jerome Small’s place of birth as Pennsylvania (public domain).

In June 1863, Captain R. M. Henderson confirmed, via Schedule I. – Consolidated List of All Persons of Class I Subject to Do Military Duty in the Fifteenth Congressional District Consisting of the Counties of York, Cumberland, Perry, State of Pennsylvania, Enumerated During the Month of June 1863, that Jerome Y. Small had completed nine months of service with the 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteers, that he was a native of Pennsylvania, and that he was once again residing at home in Centre Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania, where he was employed either as a “Lawyer” or “Sawyer.”

* Note: Although one 21st century genealogical researcher has stated that Jerome Small was a “sawyer” (because two census records documented that his father had been a “sawyer”), Captain Henderson specifically wrote that Jerome small was a “Lawyer.” (It is clear, when comparing Henderson’s capital letters “L” and “S” on the draft ledger shown at left with the entries penned for other men on this roster, that Henderson wrote “Lawyer” and not “Sawyer.”)

A Fight Not Yet Done

Fort Jefferson, Dry Torguas, Florida (interior, c. 1934, C.E. Peterson, photographer, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Realizing that the fight to preserve America’s Union was not yet won, Jerome Small opted to re-enlist for military service just a few short months later. Re-enrolling at Bloomfield, Perry County, Pennsylvania on 15 November 1863, he then re-mustered as a Private with Company D of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at Camp Curtin on 26 November 1863.

Connecting with his unit from a recruiting depot on 10 December 1863, he was assigned to garrison duty with his company at Fort Jefferson in Florida’s Dry Tortugas (under the command of the 47th Pennsylvania’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Warren Alexander), and was joining another regiment which had been tested in battle – one which would also make history within months of Jerome Small’s enlistment.

1864

Steaming from Florida for New Orleans and America’s Gulf Coast via the Charles Thomas, Private Jerome Small and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians arrived at Algiers, Louisiana on 28 February. They were then shipped by train to Brashear City and, following another steamer ride to Franklin via the Bayou Teche, they then joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps, and became the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Union’s Red River Campaign across Louisiana.

From 14-26 March, they passed through New Iberia, Vermillionville, Opelousas, and Washington while en route to Alexandria and Natchitoches. Often short on food and water during their long treks across challenging terrain, they encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day, marching until mid-afternoon.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

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.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander was nearly killed during the intense exchanges, and the regiment’s two color bearers, both from Company C, were also wounded while preventing 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 a prisoner exchange on 22 July. Sergeant James Crownover was wounded in action before being taken captive. He, Private James Downs, Corporal John Garber Miller and Private William J. Smith were four of the fortunate who survived. Downs, Miller and Smith were released on 22 July, Crownover on 25 November 1864. While held as a POW, Crownover had been commissioned, but not mustered as a 2nd Lieutenant (31 August 1864).

Following what was technically a Union victory, the 47th fell back to Grand Ecore, where the men resupplied and regrouped until 22 April. Retreating further to Alexandria, they then scored another victory against the Confederates, this time at Cane Hill.

Known as "Bailey's Dam" for the Union officer who ordered its construction, Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 was designed to facilitate passage of Union gunboats along to and from the Mississippi River. Photo: Public domain.

Christened “Bailey’s Dam” for Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey, the Union officer overseeing its construction, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 facilitated Union gunboat passage (public domain).

On 23 April, the 47th and their fellow brigade members crossed the Cane River via Monett’s Ferry and, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Bailey, helped to build a dam from 30 April through 10 May, to enable federal gunboats to more easily traverse the Red River’s rapids.

Beginning 16 May, D Company moved with most of the 47th from Simmsport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June.

On the 4th of July 1864, Private Jerome Small learned that his combat days were very, very far from over. His regiment had just received new orders.

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 1864.

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, 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 47th Pennsylvanians were initially stationed at Halltown, Virginia, but moved frequently during this month at Sheridan’s Union troops engaged in a “mimic war” with Confederate forces in and around Winchester and Berryville, Virginia where, from 3-4 September, they engaged in the Battle of Berryville.

By mid-September, D Company’s Captain Henry Woodruff, 1st Lieutenant Samuel Auchmuty, Sergeants Henry Heikel and Alex Wilson, and Corporals Cornelius Stewart and Samuel A. M. Reed, were gone. All mustered out 18 September 1864 upon expiration of their respective service terms. Those members of the 47th who remained on duty, like Private Jerome Small, were about to engage in their regiment’s greatest moments of valor.

Battles of Opequan and Fisher’s Hill (19-22 September 1864)

Battle of Opequan (aka Third Winchester), Virginia, 19 September 1864 (public domain).

Together with other regiments under the command of Union General Philip H. (“Little Phil”) Sheridan and Brigadier-General William H. Emory, commander of the 19th Corps, the members of Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers helped to inflict heavy casualties on Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederate forces at Opequan Creek (also spelled as “Opequon” and referred to as “Third Winchester”). The battle is still considered by many historians to be one of the most important during Sheridan’s 1864 campaign; the Union’s victory here helped to ensure the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.

The 47th Pennsylvania’s march toward destiny at Opequan began at 2 a.m. on 19 September 1864 as the regiment left camp and joined up with others in the Union’s 19th Corps. After advancing slowly from Berryville toward Winchester, the 19th Corps became bogged down for several hours by the massive movement of Union troops and supply wagons, enabling Early’s men to dig in. The fighting, which began in earnest at noon, was long and brutal. The Union’s left flank (6th Corps) took a beating from Confederate artillery stationed on high ground.

Meanwhile, the 47th Pennsylvania and the 19th Corps were directed by General William Emory to attack and pursue Major-General John B. Gordon’s Confederate forces. Some success was achieved, but casualties mounted as another Confederate artillery group opened fire on Union troops trying to cross a clearing. When a nearly fatal gap began to open between the 6th and 19th Corps, Sheridan sent in units led by Brigadier-Generals Emory Upton and David A. Russell. Russell, hit twice – once in the chest, was mortally wounded. The 47th Pennsylvania opened its lines long enough to enable the Union cavalry under William Woods Averell and the foot soldiers of General George Crook to charge the Confederates’ left flank.

The 19th Corps, with the 47th in the thick of the fighting, then began pushing the Confederates back. Early’s “grays” retreated in the face of the valor displayed by Sheridan’s “blue jackets.” Leaving 2,500 wounded behind, the Rebels retreated to Fisher’s Hill (21-22 September), eight miles south of Winchester, and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack by Sheridan’s Union men which outnumbered Early’s three to one.

Afterward, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent out on skirmishing parties before making camp at Cedar Creek. Moving forward, they and other members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would continue to distinguish themselves in battle, but they would do so without two more of their respected commanders: Colonel Tilghman Good, founder of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers; and Good’s second in command, Lieutenant Colonel George Alexander. Both mustered out from 23-24 September upon the expiration of their respective terms of service. They were replaced by others equally admired both for temperament and their front line experience: 2nd Lieutenant George Stroop, who was promoted to lead Company D, and at the regimental level, John Peter Shindel Gobin, Charles W. Abbott and Levi Stuber.

Battle of Cedar Creek, October 1864

Battlefields of Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek, VA (U.S. Engineers’ Map, Lt. Col. G. L. Gillespie, 1873, public domain).

Also during that fateful Fall of 1864, Major-General Philip Sheridan initiated the first of the Union’s “scorched earth” campaigns, starving the enemy into submission by destroying Virginia’s crops and farming infrastructure. Viewed through today’s lens of history as inhumane, the strategy claimed many innocents – civilians whose lives were cut short by their inability to find food. This same strategy, however, contributed to the further turning of the war’s tide in the Union’s favor during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Successful throughout most of their engagement with Union forces at Cedar Creek, Early’s Confederate troops began peeling off in ever growing numbers to forage for food, thus enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and others under Sheridan’s command to rally.

From a military standpoint, it was another impressive, but heartrending day. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during previous battles – all while pushing seven Union divisions back. According to Bates:

When the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, was surprised and driven from its works, the Second Brigade, with the Forty-seventh on the right, was thrown into the breach to arrest the retreat…. Scarcely was it in position before the enemy came suddenly upon it, under the cover of fog. The right of the regiment was thrown back until it was almost a semi-circle. The brigade, only fifteen hundred strong, was contending against Gordon’s entire division, and was forced to retire, but, in comparative good order, exposed, as it was, to raking fire. Repeatedly forming, as it was pushed back, and making a stand at every available point, it finally succeeded in checking the enemy’s onset, when General Sheridan suddenly appeared upon the field, who ‘met his crest-fallen, shattered battalions, without a word of reproach, but joyously swinging his cap, shouted to the stragglers, as he rode rapidly past them – “Face the other way, boys! We are going back to our camp! We are going to lick them out of their boots!’”

The Union’s counterattack punched Early’s forces into submission, and the men of the 47th were commended for their heroism by General Stephen Thomas who, in 1892, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his own “distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked” that day. Bates described the 47th’s actions:

When the final grand charge was made, the regiment moved at nearly right angles with the rebel front. The brigade charged gallantly, and the entire line, making a left wheel, came down on his flank, while engaging the Sixth Corps, when he went “whirling up the valley” in confusion. In the pursuit to Fisher’s Hill, the regiment led, and upon its arrival was placed on the skirmish line, where it remained until twelve o’clock noon of the following day. The army was attacked at early dawn…no respite was given to take food until the pursuit was ended.

Military headstone of Pvt. Jerome Y. Small, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Winchester National Cemetery (public domain).

Casualties for the 47th were high. Sergeant William Pyers, the C Company man who had so gallantly rescued the flag at Pleasant Hill was cut down and later buried on the battlefield. Corporal Edward Harper of Company D was wounded, but survived, as did Corporal Isaac Baldwin, who had been wounded earlier at Pleasant Hill. Perry County resident and Regimental Chaplain William Rodrock suffered a near miss as a bullet pierced his cap.

Sadly, Private Jerome Y. Small was among the many who answered their final bugle call that day. Killed in action, he was initially buried at Newtown, Virginia, according to records of the U.S. War Department.

His remains were then exhumed and re-interred at the Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia sometime during the federal government’s massive program of identification, exhumation and respectful reburial of Union soldiers at national cemeteries which began in April 1866.

His mother, Elizabeth Small, was awarded a Civil War mother’s pension in 1879 in recognition of her son’s service. By 1880, she and her husband, Adam, were still living at the Small family home in Centre Township. Residing nearby was their youngest son, Sylvester, and his wife, Mary. A sawyer like his father before him, Sylvester was 25 years old at the time of the census taker’s visit a milestone his older brother – Private Jerome Y. Small – was never able to reach.

 

Sources:

1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

2. Ellis, Franklin. History of That Part of he Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys Embraced in the Counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Everts, Peck & Richards, 1886.

3. Hain, Harry Harrison. History of Perry County Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Hain-Moore Company, 1922.

4. O’Reilly, Francis Augustín. The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2003.

5. Rable, George C. Confederate Victory, Union Story, in Fredericksburg. Washington, D.C.: Civil War Trust, retrieved online 1 October 2017.

6. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Self-published, 1986.

7. Small, Jerome and Small, Jerome Y., in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866 (133rd Pennsylvania Infantry and 47th Pennsylvania Infantry). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

8. Small, Jerome P. (burial ledger entry and national cemetery interment control form), in Records of the U.S. Departments of Defense, Army: Quartermaster General’s Office, and Veterans Affairs; and U.S. National Cemetery Administration (ARC ID: 5928352, Record Groups 15 and 92). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1864.

9. Small, Jerome, in Schedule I. – Consolidated List of All Persons of Class I Subject to Do Military Duty in the Fifteenth Congressional District Consisting of the Counties of York, Cumberland, Perry, State of Pennsylvania, Enumerated During the Month of June 1863. Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

10. Small, Jerome, in Soldiers and Sailors Online Database. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Park Service.

11. Small, Jerome, in U.S. Civil War Pension Index (Application No.: 283050, filed by the veteran’s father, Adam Small, on 21 May 1881; Application No.: 247383, filed by the veteran’s mother, Elizabeth Small, on 23 June 1879). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

12. Small, Jerome, in U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, in Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92). College Park, Maryland: U.S. National Archives.

13. U.S. Census. Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: 1850, 1860, 1880.

 

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