JAMES DUNLAP IN THE CIVIL WAR
Drawn Chiefly from His Military and Pension Records
According to his Certificate of Enlistment, James Dunlap enlisted in the “Badger Battery No. 3, Wisconsin Artillery,” at Camp Utley in Racine, Wis., on Sept. 1, 1861 (by Capt. Lucius H. Drury). According to regimental records, however, his enlistment took place on Sept. 2, 1861, at Berlin, Wis. His term of enlistment was for three years. He was mustered in at Camp Utley on Oct. 10, 1861, as a Private, 3rd Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery.
A mishap occurred while Dunlap and his battery were still at Camp Utley. In 1879 Dunlap stated
that while his company was encamped at Camp Utley near Racine, Wisconsin, in the fall of 1861, viz. On the 21st day of October, he was standing on the camp ground watching some of his comrades as they were pitching iron balls for practice (said balls being dumb bells which had become broken apart), one of said balls slipped from the hands of one of the men as he was in the act of pitching it, and struck [him] on the head, just behind and a little above the left ear, knocking him to the ground and rendering him senseless; that he was taken up for dead and carried to the camp hospital, where he lay in an unconscious state for nearly or quite twelve hours; that he remained in said hospital about three weeks, when he was returned to the barracks; that in a very few days he as taken again to the hospital, where he remained nearly the same time as at first, but just how long he is unable positively to state; that he was at that time offered a discharge, which he refused to accept; that at times during his entire term of service he suffered great pain in his head; that since his discharge and return home his head continues to trouble him...
In 1891 Dunlap added a little more detail to his description of this incident. He said then that the injury to his head “was caused by a blow from an iron ball weighing, I am told, seven pounds. A comrad threw the ball, not at me, but it slipped and hit me on the head.” In 1890 this incident was described by Joseph H. Lewis, who at the time of its occurrence was an artificer in Dunlap’s battery. Lewis stated:
While myself and others were playing with a cannon (6 lb.) ball at Racine Wis., James Dunlap walked out of his tent, and the cannon ball struck him on the head near the left ear, and at the time I thought that he was dead. We – that is, myself and other members of the battery – picked him up for dead.
Also in 1890, Morris Crimmings – a Private in Dunlap’s battery during the war – reported in regard to this mishap “that one of the artillery boys threw a six lb. cannon ball and it accidently struck...James Dunlap on his head and knocked him down, and he remained senseless some time; [that] he was taken [for] a short time to [the] hospital at [Camp Utley]; that [he] suffered at times a great deal of pain during his time in service.” Lucius H. Drury, who had served as the Captain of the 3rd Independent Battery, described this incident in 1879. He stated that “he well knew one James Dunlap, who enlisted and served in” the battery that Drury commanded. Drury went on to say “that while his battery was encamped at Racine, Wisconsin, in the fall of 1861, on or about the 21st day of October, the said James Dunlap, while standing on the camp ground, watching some of his comrades who were pitching iron balls in short, was struck on the head by a ball which slipped from the hands of one of the men and knocked to the ground; that he was picked up for dead and taken to the camp hospital where he lay insensible for some hours; that he was confined in the hospital for some weeks...” Drury stated further that “James Dunlap was a horseman in his battery,” and that “as such he was on constant service during the heavy marches in which that portion of the army to which his battery was attached was engaged under Generals [Don Carlos] Buell and [William S.] Rosecrans previous to the battle of Stone River.” Drury was not able to speak to Dunlap’s subsequent service and experiences, however, since “after said battle” Drury was no longer in command of this battery. In 1884 Drury once again described the incident at Racine, in these words:
The injury to Dunlap’s head was the result of an accident which occurred in October 1861, I think, in Camp at Racine, Wisconsin. Some of his comrades were exercising with dumb bells and six pound cannon shot. One of these, thrown by another soldier, struck Dunlap on the head, knocking him senseless. I saw him within 15 minutes after the occurrence. He laid in a stupor for nearly two days. He had not fully recovered from the effects of the concussion at the end of his term of service.
In 1879, after discussing the dumbbell/cannonball episode, Dunlap himself went on to recount
that he was horseman in his company; that constant and hard riding while in the field made him lame in his right hip joint; that becoming unable to care for his team or do duty, he was, on May 21st, 1863 (his company being at Murfreesboro, Tennessee), taken to the convalescent camp; that from there he was, on [the] 23d of [the] same month, removed to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee; that on the 14th day of June, 1863, he was removed from there to Hospital No. 3 at Louisville, Kentucky; that on June 29th, 1863, he was sent to the hospital at New Albany, Indiana; that on the 24th of July, 1863, he was removed to the hospital at Madison, Indiana, where he remained until the 27th day of November, 1863, when he left to join his company at Chattanooga; that he remained with his company until it was mustered out of the service and he was discharged...; but that during all of that time the company was doing garrison duty; that it did not have to take the field at all, and if it had, he would have been wholly unable to ride; that he has never since recovered from his lameness...; that before being sent to the hospital as aforesaid on account of his lameness, he repeatedly applied to the officers in command of his division of the battery to give up his team and take some other position on the ground, [in] that it was injuring him to ride, but that such officers each time refused to let him give up his team...
Dunlap believed that the rheumatism in his right hip from which he suffered after the war, was a consequence of his wartime horseback riding-related injury. In 1884 he described this injury, and its time-frame, in more detail. Dunlap reported then
that the injury to his right hip was received during the campaign of 1862 under General Buell; that it, said injury, was not received at any particular date, but was the effect of constant riding in the saddle; that he left Louisville, Ky., in the spring of 1862 with his...command, proceeding with Gen. Buell almost directly to Pittsburg Landing, and participated in all the marches of the army under General Buell during the said campaign of 1862 and until said Buell was relieved; and that he continued in constant and active service under Gen. Rosecrans until the army went into camp at Murfreesboro after the battle of Stone River; that he first began to suffer from pain in his hip, and to realize that it was hurting him to ride, soon after leaving Louisville, Ky., late in the season of 1862, and that the pain and suffering induced by riding gradually and constantly increased, until soon after the battle of Stone River he was obliged to give up his team and was sent to the hospital...
William H. Williams, who had served with Dunlap “in the 3d Battery of Wisconsin Light Artillery Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion,” confirmed Dunlap’s accounts of both his head injury and his hip injury. Regarding the head injury, Williams said in 1880
that he was a sergeant in said 3d Battery and was in command of the 4th detachment of the same, that he was well acquainted with...James Dunlap who was a private in said Battery, and that said Dunlap was a rider in the detachment under [his] command; that while the 3d Battery was encamped at Racine in the State of Wisconsin in the fall of 1861, the said Dunlap received a severe blow on the head from an iron ball which felled him to the ground, that he was picked up for dead and taken to the camp hospital where he remained insensible for some hours, that from the time of organization of said Battery (3d) in the fall of 1861 until their discharge in July 1865, [he] had daily intercourse with the said Dunlap (except at times when the latter was absent from the Battery, sick), and knows of his own knowledge that while they remained together aforesaid, the said Dunlap never recovered from said injury to his head, that he frequently complained to [him] that his head hurt him and troubled him...
And regarding the hip injury, he also said
that during the Kentucky Campaign under Gen. Buell in the summer of 1862 and lasting until the battle of Stone River, the said Dunlap was in constant service with his Battery as rider, and that he often complained to [him] as his immediate commanding officer that it was hurting him to ride on horse back, and that he several times asked to be relieved from his position as horseman, and assigned to some other position in the battery, that on one such occasion [he] went to the Lieutenant commanding his section of said Battery in behalf of the said Dunlap and presented his case to him; that said Lieutenant expressed an unwillingness to allow any such change, and thus put men in untried positions, but stated that when the said Dunlap was unable to ride his team, some other man might take his place; that some months after the battle of Stone River and while the Battery still lay encamped near Murfresburo, Tennessee, the said James Dunlap was taken sick and sent to the hospital, that he remained absent from the Battery until near the time that a large part of the members thereof reenlisted as veterans; that said Dunlap was of the number who reenlisted; that during the time they remained in the service after their re-enlistment, said veteran members of the Battery were employed entirely in doing garrison duty; that for these reasons just set forth, the said Dunlap was compelled to ride his team but very little after the battle of Stone River; and [he] therefore did not hear the said Dunlap complain that it was hurting him to ride...
Dunlap is listed as “present” on battery muster rolls for Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 1861, and for Mar. and Apr. 1862. His name appears, but without an indication of whether he was present or absent, on muster rolls for May and June 1862, and for Apr. 30 to Aug. 31, 1862. He is once again listed as “present” on battery muster rolls for Sept. and Oct. 1862; for Nov. and Dec. 1862; for Mar. and Apr. 1863; and for Apr. 10, 1863. He is listed as “absent,” with the notation “Left in Gen. Field Hos[pital]. May 21, 1863,” on the battery muster roll for May and June 1863. He is listed as “absent,” with the notation “Sent to Hosp’l. sick May 21, 1863,” on the roll for Sept. and Oct. 1863. The muster roll for Nov. and Dec. 1863, which lists him as “present,” also states: “Ret’d. to Batty. from Hos[pital]. Dec. 5.” The records of the Surgeon General’s Office indicate that Dunlap
was admitted to Genl. Field Hospl., near Murfreesboro, Tenn., May 21, ‘63, no diagnosis given, & transf’d. May 23, ‘63, with Rheumatism, & transf’d. June 14, ‘63, with debility, & transf’d. June 29, ‘63. Was admitted to No. 10 G[eneral]. H[ospital]., New Albany, Ind., June 29, ‘63, with Chr[onic]. Diarrhaea, & transf’d. July 24, ‘63. Was admitted to G[eneral]. H[ospital]., Madison, Ind., July 24, ‘63, as Convalescent, & returned to duty Nov. 27, ‘63.
The battery muster roll for Jan. and Feb. 1864 states: “Disch’d. Jan. 9 /64 by virtue of re-enlisting as a vet[eran]. vol[unteer].”
Dunlap was discharged at Chattanooga, Tenn., on Jan. 9, 1864, and reenlisted there as a Veteran Volunteer, for three years, the following day (by Lieut. Hiram F. Hubbard). At his reenlistment he was described as follows – Age: 22 years; Height: 5 feet, 8 inches; Complexion: light; Eyes: hazel; Hair: brown; Where born: Hartford, O.; Occupation: farmer. He was again mustered into service on Jan. 20. Dunlap is listed as “present” on battery muster rolls for Apr. 30, 1864; for May and June 1864; for July and Aug. 1864; for Sept. and Oct. 1864; and for Nov. and Dec. 1864.
At this point, Dunlap was transferred to the 8th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery. On the muster roll for his new unit – for Jan. and Feb. 1865 – he is listed as “present,” with the notation: “Transd. to 8th Wis. Batty. from 3d Wis. Batty. by S. F. O. 319 Hd.qrs. D. of C.” His new battery’s muster roll for Mar. and Apr. 1865 – which also lists him as “present” – includes a notation that says: “On daily duty, company cook.”
Records of the 3rd Independent Battery indicate that James Dunlap was mustered out with that battery on July 3, 1865, in Madison, Wis. Several documents in Dunlap’s pension file confirm this. This is difficult to understand, since Dunlap had been transferred to the 8th Independent Battery several months previous to that date. Perhaps he was transferred back to his original unit before being mustered out. But if this did occur, it is not indicated in the extent records.
Lucius H. Drury gave a general description of James Dunlap’s character as a soldier during the war, in a letter he addressed to James’s brother Augustus E. Dunlap in 1879. Drury wrote in this letter: “Your brother was a good, resolute and obedient soldier, and an honest man...”
James Dunlap was born in Hartford, O., on May 27, 1842, the son of William and Polly (Shumway) Dunlap. In Auroraville, Wis., on Sept. 30, 1877, he married Margaret Ellen (“Maggie”) McGowan, born in Dunmurry, County Antrim, (Northern) Ireland, on Oct. 15, 1846, the daughter of Alexander Orr and Margaret Marete (McKittrick) McGowan. She had immigrated to America with her family in 1849, at the age of 3. James and Margaret Dunlap had five children: James Alexander (born Sept. 9, 1878), William Pitt (born Apr. 9, 1880), Robert Holland (born Jan. 4, 1882), Eugene Augustus (born Jan. 1, 1884), and Louis Emory (born Apr. 5, 1886). James died in Auroraville on Dec. 22, 1892, and Margaret died in Denver, Colo., on Mar. 12, 1911. They are buried together in Pine Grove Cemetery in Auroraville.
Civil War Correspondence from and to James Dunlap
Return to the Civil War Web Site Home Page