Sunday, July 30, 2006

Justus Wellington: A soldier's story

As mentioned in my first post below, Wellington was killed at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. He was a private in the 15th Massachusetts, one of the most active Union regiments during the Civil War. Before Antietam, the 15th fought in the Peninsula Campaign and in a little battle near Leesburg, Va., in October 1861. The Battle of Ball's Bluff was a black mark for the North during the war. There weren't many casualties on either side, but the Southern victory shocked the North. One of President Lincoln's closest friends, Col. Edward Baker (right), was killed at Ball's Bluff, and many Union soldiers drowned, their bodies floating down the river to Washington. The battle was fought on bluffs on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Justus and many members of the 15th were forced to swim the river to the Maryland side under fire from Confederate forces.

Justus' parents filed for his pension after the war. I found the pension files in the National Archives. According to his sister Nancy's affidavit, Justus "had some money ready to send before the battle but lost everything (as he) swam the Potomac to save his life" during the Battle of Ball's Bluff. Here's where Justus swam across the river.

Justus, a shoemaker from Brookfield, Mass., was 24 years, 8 months and 4 days old when he was killed.


  1. Hello John;
    I was very pleased to find your blog.

    I am Roger Wellington Hart. My family is from Mass for hundreds of years; I still live close by.

    Justus is a very direct ancestor of mine.

  2. This made my day. I would like to find out more about Justus if you have information. i have his records from the National ARchives and have visited his hometown of West BRookfield, Mass. To do research. I also live in the area.I own the ambrotype of Justus. I know a lot about his regiment, the 15th MAssachusetts. Would you mind if I contacted you?

  3. Roger, here is more info on JUstus

    I supplied this to the historical society in west Brookfield mass.

  4. Hi John;
    I've had to create another account. No matter what I did, it wouldn't take my password.

    I'd be happy to speak with you. I don't know how much individual info I can provide on Justus though. However, I have lots of family detail going back to the 1600's.

    We came in via Tiverton in 1630. Since you live in Mass, you might be interested in knowing that the Wellington Funeral Home in Pittsfield is our family.

  5. Thanks for info
    Let me know how best to contact you. Have a great thanksgiving