Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Searching for Lt. J.W.J. House, CSA

As a Civil War historian, I feel fortunate to have relatives who served on both sides of the conflict. Through my maternal grandmother's family, I have several great-great-great granduncles and cousins who served in the Union Army (mostly from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia). I also have a distant cousin who was a brigadier general in the Confederate Army (more on all of them later).

Further, through marriage, I am related to an individual who has fascinated me for quite some time: James Washington John (J.W.J.) House (1833-1924) of North Carolina. J.W.J. is my wife Katey's great-great-great grandfather. Fortunately, my wife's grandparents have had copies of his military records for quite some time, which help to tell a quite remarkable story about his service to the Confederacy.

It appears that J.W.J. was from Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and enlisted in the Confederate Army (30th North Carolina Infantry, Co. F) on August 31, 1861. From there, he saw action with the Army of Northern Virginia in all of its campaigns from the Seven Days Battles (1862) to Cold Harbor (1864). Sometime in either late 1862 or early 1863, J.W.J. was promoted to sergeant and was later wounded during the March 17, 1863 Battle of Kelly's Ford (near Culpeper, VA). After recovering from his injuries, he returned to active service and was later awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Chancellorsville (General Order 131/3, October 3rd, 1863). However, due to a scarcity of metal, no medals were actually awarded. Instead, the honorees names were placed on a Roll of Honor in the Confederate Adjutant & Inspector General's Office.

J.W.J. was later elected a 2nd lieutenant (though some sources claim he ultimately became a 1st lieutenant) on May 24, 1864. After serving with the 30th North Carolina in the Shenandoah Valley, J.W.J. surrendered with the remnants of his regiment and other Confederate forces at Appomattox in April 1865. Somewhere along the way, he had also sustained an injury in his right foot. J.W.J. later concluded his military career as a POW at Ft. McHenry, MD, but was later released in June 1865 upon taking the Union oath of allegiance. Luckily, he went on to live a long and productive life in North Carolina after the war, finally passing away in 1924.

Since he was an individual who witnessed and survived some of the most famous battles of the Civil War, I have long been intrigued by J.W.J. By all accounts, he was an excellent soldier who was highly regarded by his brothers in arms. Anyway, one of my desires over the past few years has been to track down a picture of J.W.J. - preferably one in uniform (if such an image exists). My wife's family has no such images in its possession, and I am currently trying to track down more distant relatives (who are also House descendants) to see if they have any. I like to imagine J.W.J. as looking like the Confederate officer depicted in the attached image - but it would be nice to track down a real photograph.

Anyways, I know that many of the readers of this blog are quite knowledgeable about where to find images of Confederate soldiers, etc. If any of you have ideas or suggestions as to which institutions, websites, or books I should consult to find such a picture, please let me know by posting a comment below. Thanks!


  1. Keep looking. I'm always amazed at how much CW info is out there in private hands. I found relatives on both coasts who had photos of my CW ancestor and none of us knew each other until 2 years ago. aws

  2. You are exactly right. I stand a good chance that the picture is in someone's attic somewhere - I just haven't come across it yet. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Very interesting article! I myself have ancestors who fought for the Union as well as the Confederacy and fortunately my mother and grandmother have obtained photos of them in uniform. So keep looking and best of luck to you!

  4. Tess,

    Thanks for your nice message. I am happy to hear that your family members were able to track down images of your Civil War ancestors. Thanks again!


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