Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Jones, Harlem B.

Jones, Thankful O. (Thankful Olivia), 1814-1894.

The papers of Thankful O. Jones of New York state and Clinton County, Mich., include letters from several soldiers. Upon the death of Thankful Jones's husband in 1861, her sons Harlem, Morgan, Eli (full name James Eli), and Amos enlisted in the Union Army.

Both Harlem and Eli served as privates in Company K of the 11th New York Volunteer Cavalry. Stationed first on Staten Island, they were transferred to Washington, D.C. in 1862, where they saw action at the second battle of Bull Run and skirmishes in northern Virginia. The following year the two brothers marched with their company to Louisiana, where they participated in the Union assault on Baton Rouge. Harlem, who corresponded frequently with his mother and sisters, died of an illness in a military hospital at New Orleans on Dec. 25, 1864. His brother Eli returned home in 1865.

The careers of Morgan and Amos are less fully documented in this collection. Morgan was killed in action in March of 1864, but his company is not recorded. Amos served in Battery E of the 9th New York Artillery and was stationed at the headquarters of General George Meade at Petersburg, Va.

The bulk of the letters (June 19, 1861-Dec. 21, 1864) were written by Harlem B. Jones during his military service. Writing to his mother and sister Emily on a weekly or semi-weekly basis, Harlem describes in detail his unfavorable impressions of camp life; his observations on the military strategies of Stonewall Jackson, Joe Hooker, and Ambrose Burnside; and his participation in the second battle of Bull Run and the assault on Baton Rouge. Harlem also relates briefly his impression of Washington, D.C., Abraham Lincoln, and the presidential election of 1864. Letters from M. Bindell, chaplain (Dec. 26, 1864) and from J. K. Jenness, commander of Company K (Feb. 21, 1865) relate to Harlem's death.

Also included are letters from Thankful Jones's' step-son Amos S. Jones, and from her nephew Nelson C. Burch. Burch was a government clerk in Washington. His Sept. 5, 1862 letter describes his volunteer work tending the wounded at the second battle of Bull Run.

The collection also contains numerous military documents reflecting the service of Harlem and Eli Jones.

Finding aid available online