Monday, November 6, 2017

Dying Far, Far From Home: Pvt. Robert Jackson, Co. K, 109th USCI

As we approach Veteran's Day, I thought I'd post another story of one of the Kentucky United States Colored Troops soldiers I've found buried at Poplar Grove National Cemetery. This one is Robert Jackson, who served in Company K, of the 109th United States Colored Infantry.

Like so many of Kentucky's black soldiers, Jackson enlisted in the summer of 1864. Jackson signed up in Louisville on June 20. He was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, and was described as having black hair, black eyes, and a black complexion. Jackson stood five feet, ten inches tall and was eighteen years old when he enlisted. He was mustered into U.S. service the same day.

Apparently Jackson was enslaved in Shelby County at the time of his enlistment, as he is credited toward their quota, but his owner is not named in his service records. His occupation was given vaguely as "farmer" on one record, and "farm hand" on another.

Jackson appears "present" for duty until November 16, 1864, when he reported sick to a hospital at Point of Rocks on the Appomattox River in Chesterfield County near Petersburg. It appears that Jackson went back on duty in the Petersburg trenches sometime during the winter, but fell ill again on March 26, 1865.

While the 109th participated in the chase of the Army of Northern Virginia and its eventual surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Jackson was still sick. At some point he was was moved to Fairgrounds Hospital (shown above) on the west side of Petersburg. Fairgrounds Hospital had been a Confederate treatment facility during the war, but was used by the Union occupation forces after the city fell on April 3, 1865.

It was at Fairgrounds Hospital where Jackson expired, on June 3, 1865, from typhoid fever. Jackson was likely buried on the grounds of the hospital, where many Confederates had also been interred, but he was moved when Poplar Grove National Cemetery was established. The Confederates buried on the grounds of the hospital were moved, too, but to Petersburg's Blandford Cemetery by the city's Ladies Memorial Association after the war.

Fairgrounds Hospital image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Pvt. Jackson has since received a new upright standing headstone at Poplar Grove when the cemetery recently completed a thorough restoration project.

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