Monday, March 26, 2007

Soliders of the 48th: Lt. Henry Clay Jackson, Company G

Lieutenant Henry Clay Jackson
Company G
Civil War soldiers came from all walks of life and from all social backgrounds. In any given regiment, day laborers and farm workers stood shoulder to shoulder and shared camp with clerks, printers, and, in a few cases, lawyers. The majority of the soldiers who served in the 48th Pennsylvania were coal miners and mine laborers, canal workers and boatmen, but there was an assortment of white-collar professionals in the ranks. One such soldier was 1st Lt. Henry Clay Jackson, of Company G.
Jackson was a school teacher, learning the art at the Millersville Normal School. When civil war broke out, Jackson was teaching in St. Clair, just north of Pottsville, in Schuylkill County. Jackson was quick to enlist his services in response the President Lincoln's first call-to-arms in April 1861, and served for three-months in the Lafayette Rifles. When his term of service expired in late July, Jackson enlisted to serve in Company G, 48th PA. He served with distinction in the regiment and by the battle of 2nd Bull Run had been advanced to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. During this battle, however, Jackson was one of the many soldiers of the regiment to fall into Confederate hands. He was sent to the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, but was not long imprisoned before being exchanged.
Aside from his capture, Jackson, the hard-fighting and courageous former teacher, had the dubious distinction of being wounded in almost every battle in which his regiment was engaged. He was struck at Fredericksburg in December 1862, and again in the fall of 1863 during the East Tennessee Campaign. Sadly, Jackson's luck in surviving battles, although wounded, expired on May 12, 1864, at the battle of Spotsylvania. While lying prone in the line of battle, Jackson, described as "an able and fearless officer," was struck with a ball through the neck, with the bullet finally coming to a stop in his chest. He died within twenty minutes. Henry Clay Jackson was buried where he fell on the field of battle, but was later reinterred and laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Francis Wallace bestowed great praise upon on Jackson in his work, Memorial to the Patriotism of Schuylkill County:
"Thus fell Lieutenant Jackson, faithful to every duty, and though sensible to danger and peril, yet braving them with heroic disregard of self. He had determined if his life was spared to remain in the army till the last organized force of rebellion was overthrown. Gifted with a vigorous physical organization, considerable energy, a clear and active mind, ready utterance, strict integrity, and withal modest and affectionate, his friends had high hopes of his success in a civil profession, but he was reserved by Providence to be one of the numerous martyrs in behalf of the Union, and the honor and free institutions of our country."

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