Monday, May 4, 2015

Dying Far Far From Home: Henry Maddox, 116th USCI

Much like I did when I was in Frankfort with the "Hometown Heroes" series, I thought I'd continue to look at several of the Kentucky USCT soldiers in the Poplar Grove National Cemetery here in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. However, unlike the Hometown Heroes, these stories will necessarily be much shorter. These men died in while they were in the service, not years afterward as was the case of those men in Greenhill Cemetery in Frankfort.

The subject of this particular post is Henry Maddox of Company G, 116th United States Colored Infantry. While Maddox's name is spelled Mattox on his gravestone, his service records show it was spelled Maddox. It seems that a good number of these men's names had different spellings on their markers from that in their records. One reason for this may be that they were buried in Poplar Grove as their second interment. Perhaps their comrades, many of which had only the rudiments of an education (if any at all), may have attempted to spell their deceased friends' names on a temporary marker, and when their bodies were moved to Poplar Grove, the spelling was continued on their permanent gravestone.

Henry Maddox was born in Henry County, Kentucky. He, like many African American Kentucky soldiers, enlisted at an early opportunity, which for Maddox was June 29, 1864. And, too, like many other black Kentuckians signed up at Camp Nelson. However, Maddox must have lived in Scott County when he enlisted, as that county is credited for his service. His owner is listed as David Sackett, but Maddox's enlistment paper was not included in his records to see if Sackett gave permission to enlist or not. Maddox's service records describe him as thirty-eight years old, and five feet, three inches tall. His complexion was described as "black."

As often happened to Civil War soldiers when the weather turned cold, Maddox became sick. He was entered into the "Base Hospital" on December 9, 1864. Maddox suffered from small pox. It was not a disease that only plagued USCT soldiers, but it did kill many of them. Maddox was ultimately one that perished to the disease. He died at the Post Hospital at Bermuda Hundred on January 3, 1865. Maddox, like fellow 116th soldier Daniel Anderson (the previous soldier profiled), initially was buried "between Bermuda Hundred and Jones Landing, Va, N[orth] of road;" a location sometimes called Watkin's Farm.

Today, Henry Maddox rests in grave number 5128 at Poplar Grove National Cemetery. It is not known if his family (if he had one) was notified of his death. If there was no one to mourn his death other than his comrades, and if there was no one who could claim pride in his service back in Kentucky, hopefully this small gesture will provide him with some measure of respect for his service to his country.

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