November 2009 Jerrems Family Newsletter
Scanning the Past for Family Lore
Dear Donald,
Ray and Sandra Walcyk, from a branch of the Jerrems tree, have colaborated on this month's story line. Joseph Jerrems b1814 was Sandra's great great grandfather.

We usually wait to publish the last week of the month, except for November. Enjoy Thanksgiving!

Next month we will include your Christmas greetings from the past...and the present. If you have an old family Christmas card, send it to me. We have three so far.

The Jerrems Family Goes to War in the United States
Ray Jerrems, Our Genealogist, Historian   14th NY Reg.

We have not had an edition of the Jerrems Journal devoted to a United States topic since April of this year so I thought that it is about time we went back to the United States in this edition. And what better topic to choose in terms of drama and impact than the American Civil War?

Although this War took place over 140 years ago it had a profound effect on the psyche of the people of the United States which is difficult for me (as an Australian) to describe adequately. Perhaps its impact on those people could best be compared with the impact of Gallipoli (in the First World War) on Australians.

Ken Burns's documentary "The Civil War" (now a DVD) is essential viewing for an understanding of that War.

This article describes the involvement of the Jerrems' extended family in the Civil War, following on from brief references to this involvement in earlier editions of the Jerrems Journal.

One of the legacies of the Civil War was the haunting songs it produced. In the November 2006 Journal we published an Email From Heaven from Big Bill about previous Thanksgiving Dinners in Heaven where he said "After the Civil War ended Samuel and Jesse Jerrems celebrated by bringing some of their friends (including several Johnny Rebs) along. They sang some of the Civil War songs to us, but the songs (for instance "The Vacant Chair" and "Lorena") were so melancholy that everyone ended up in tears. I could understand why the Army Generals had banned the singing of "Lorena" by their soldiers. On the plus side it was good to see that all the soldiers on both sides had become good friends."

In that item I attempted to capture a lasting (and very poignant) part of the heritage of the Civil War. Now I would like to follow this up with more observations.

Five men from one Jerrems' extended family (I will explain the reason for this term later) served in the Civil War. One was discharged early for undisclosed reasons, one was wounded and one died a few years later, but the family also dispersed to quite a degree, possibly as a result of the War.

Structure of this article

This article (a) defines the "Jerrems extended family" (b) talks about the Civil War in general, and (c) outlines the early history of the Regiment that the men joined. A second article then concludes with the service record of each of the men (who signed up at different times) and a summary of their later lives. The bulk of the material has been compiled from Sandra Walcyk's research.

The Jerrems extended family

In the July 2008 edition of the Jerrems Journal I wrote about James Jerrems and his family. James had been born in Wappenham in England in 1812 and later migrated to the Utica area in the United States with his wife Ann. James had 3 sons and 5 daughters by his first marriage, the sons being James H (born 1837 or 1838), Thomas William (born 1839) and Jesse (born 1840). Later James married Esther Colbrook, a widow who already had a son (Robert Colbrook born 1841) and 2 daughters by her first marriage. Some time after Esther died James married Caroline Mayborn (also a widow) who already had a son (Thomas Mayborn born 1845) by her first marriage. Robert Colbrook and Thomas Mayborn were therefore stepsons of James Jerrems Snr. All five men signed up at varying times.

Incidentally, the name "Samuel Jerrems" referred to earlier was incorrect; it was probably a transcription error from the Civil War records.

Genesis of the Civil War, high casualty rates

My World Book Encyclopaedia says that historians have never reached any general agreement about the causes of the Civil War. Some believe that the slavery issue was the basic cause. Others think that the war resulted from economic rivalry between the industrial North and the agricultural South. Most agree that many factors contributed to the situation, with slavery basic to the issue.

Whatever the cause, the immediate result was that the Confederate States sought to secede from the Union, and the "Union" States retaliated.

The human cost was enormous, with about 500,000 deaths, the majority (280,000) from disease. The 220, 000 battle deaths were over 3 times the Australian casualties in the First World War and twice the American casualties in that war.

Early air of unreality

The first battle of the Civil War took place fairly close to the city of Washington. Confederate troops came north by train and Union troops came south by train. Reputedly some of the good citizens of the city packed their picnic baskets and flocked out to watch the fun.

Readers will see later that a similar air of unreality existed initially in Utica, NY, far to the north, where the Jerrems boys lived.

Previous history of the Utica Regiment

Thomas, Jesse and James Jerrems and Thomas Mayborn joined "A" Company of the 14th New York Volunteer Infantry (popularly known as "The Utica Regiment"), and Robert Colbrook joined Company "B" of that Regiment. Thomas enlisted at the outset of the War and the other men enlisted later.

Company "A" was originally constituted in 1808 and had served in the 1812 Indian Wars. After the Civil War it would serve in the Spanish War (1898-9) and the First World War.

The following extracts in italics are from a book published by the Utica Citizens Corps Veterans Association in 1938. Sandra has a copy of the book. What better way to describe the Regiment's involvement in the War than a first-hand account! I have retained the language used in the book wherever possible and I have added headings to make the account flow. I have also added my comments in the form of "Notes". I am sure that readers will find the account to be illuminating.

Editor's Note: Thanks to Sandra for scanning the images.
Header Image: Battle of Mechanicsville June 62 from Harpers Weekly
Content Image: 14th NY Regiment

Let the War begin

On Saturday morning, April 13th 1861 the City of Utica awoke to the realization that Civil War had come. On April 15th came President Lincoln's proclamation which called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion. Locally, a meeting of all independent company commanders was held to plan united local action. At this meeting it was declared that "It is the duty of every citizen to respond promptly to the call of his country" and it was resolved "That the [Utica] United Citizens Corps hereby tender their services to the Governor of this State as volunteers to join any force that may be raised to meet the demand of the General Government for forces against the traitors in the South".

My notes: Use of the words "suppress the rebellion, "call of his country" and "traitors" shed an interesting light on how the Confederates were viewed by Union supporters.

The Regiment gathers for the War and sets off

By April 16th the armory of the Corps was a scene of tremendous activity and colour. Flags, muskets and fatigue caps decorated the entrance and the windows. On April 23rd the Corps [including Thomas Jerrems] made its farewell parade and an enthusiastic yet grave and thoughtful crowd followed them and lined the streets. Following the parade the boys left their uniforms for the home company. They then marched to the New York Central Freight Station in Utica and, amid scenes of wild enthusiasm and of tears and cheers, they entrained for Albany [100 miles to the east] just after midnight.

Food was hard to obtain in Albany and the company's commanding officer "went good" personally at one of the local restaurants for the company. Two bushels of delicacies were received from a Utica Ladies Committee.

On May 8th the companies were accepted by the State as volunteers for 2 years.

The uniforms and rifles finally arrive, and the boys see the President

On May 21st the badly needed uniforms were issued. The first dress parade was held, and a delegation of ladies from Utica presented the Regiment with silk national colours. On June 15th rifles stamped 1845 were issued, and 2 days later the 740 men marched to the steamboat landing and travelled in the "Henry Andrews" down the Hudson River to New York City, where they received a half day of rest and 40 rounds of ammunition.

The regiment was then shipped to Washington in cattle cars, receiving a lunch at Philadelphia from the Ladies Committee. They arrived in Baltimore 2 days after a Massachusettes regiment had been assaulted by spectators and mobbed, but our boys marched through the city with fixed bayonets, unmolested.

In Washington the regiment was marched to the White House lawn and given a quart of coffee and 2 ham sandwiches each, on President Lincoln's invitation. While the men were eating the President sat in full view on the verandah.

My notes: (1) Perhaps our police should also carry fixed bayonets to control crowds. (2) I am a great admirer of President Lincoln, inviting the men to eat lunch on the White House lawn where they could see him was a masterly touch. (3) I will comment in my second article on the antiquated 1845 rifles issued to the Regiment.

The Regiment marches out of Washington and later sets up winter camp

In July the Regiment witnessed part of the Union retreat after the Battle of Bull Run, and, after several skirmishes, set up camp at Minor's Hills (named after a George Minor who lived there during the Revolution). This camp was destined to be a long one as the regiment spent the entire winter here. The men, during the winter, rebuilt their tents into semi-dugouts or shacks which were more comfortable. Also, many people from Utica visited.

There was some sickness during the winter and 2 men died. A picket line was maintained as the Confederates were about 3 miles to the south.

My notes: 1) The Battle of Bull Run was in military terms an inconclusive battle, marked by a disorderly retreat by Union troops. It demonstrated to the North the seriousness of the war ahead. Both sides began to consolidate their forces and train their men further. (2) There are several different spellings of the location of the camp, which Sandra says is northeast of Falls Church, Virginia and northwest of Arlington, Virginia. This concludes my extracts from the book.

Photograph of the parade ground of the Minor Hills Camp

The photograph of the Regiment in their Camp shows a large parade ground with curious arches in the background, probably made by bending trees over and tying them at the top. It is possible that each Company of the Regiment was camped beyond one of the arches and marched out under it when going to the parade ground. It is of course impossible to identify Thomas in the photo, but it is an intriguing thought that he was in it somewhere.

Spending Christmas in Camp

The citizens of Utica kept in contact with the troops and it is therefore safe to assume that the troops were supplied with appropriate food for the festive season. However the troops would have felt homesick, and the fact that the Confederates were camped only 3 miles away would have put a dampener on proceedings. The men would have been rostered to guard the picket lines during day and night as a precaution, to guard against attack from the "Johnny Rebs".

When you are tucking in to your Christmas dinner in a few weeks time spare a thought for Thomas, who spent his Christmas in an army camp 148 years ago.

Thomas Jerrems is discharged

Thomas was discharged for undisclosed reasons in January while at the Camp. Perhaps he had been sick, or had been wounded in one of the earlier skirmishes. The earlier reference to sickness in the camp would indicate that sickness was the most likely cause.

Later contributions of the Regiment to the Civil War

The Regiment took part in (1) the siege and capture of Yorktown (not to be confused with the famous American Revolutionary War's Battle of Yorktown in 1781) and (2) the Battles of Hanover Court, Mechanicsville (see illustration) and Malvern. It was held in reserve at the Second Battle of Bull Run, took part in the Battle of Chancellorsville and was mustered out (disbanded) at the end of its tour of duty in May 1863. Some of the men (including 2 Jerrems men) then joined the 44th New York Infantry and another joined the 157th.

I will not attempt to list in this article the history of these later regiments during the remainder of the War.

Parallels between the American Civil War and the First World War

The parallels between the American Civil War and Australia's role in the First World War include (a) a completely unrealistic view of the conditions that volunteers would in fact encounter later in combat, (b) initially, strong support for those volunteers from the public (c) a catastrophic death toll and (d) a mixture of motives for the men joining up, probably dominated by a sense of adventure.

To be continued

Now that you have got the general picture of the Civil War and the Utica Regiment I will tell you about the experiences of the Jerrems men in a later edition of the Journal.

Donald Jerrems, Editor   Spanning the Globe for Jerrems Folks

Anita, Ray's sharp eyed daughter, has detected a possible connection between her husband's family and Big Bill's family. In the previous edition of the Journal Ray referred to Big Bill's mother-in-law as being Anne Clarke of Newball. Anita's mother in law's maiden name is also Anne Clarke.

Perhaps they are distantly related? Ray has declined to take up the challenge to find out if there is a connection. He was heard to mutter something like "What a wild goose chase that would be".


In recent months we have signed up several new subscribers to the Journal. The most recent is Helen, who comes from a branch of the Jerrems family where our previous information has been sketchy.

One of her ancestors is Edwin Jerrems, who was the first of the six children of Robert Cain/Cane Jerrems and Alice Jerrems (nee Rigg). Readers may recall that Robert was one of the Jerrems family that migrated to Melbourne in the 1850s. Some of our readers are descendants of Robert's fifth child, Henry Herbert "Harry" Jerrems, but we still do not know much about Robert's other children (Edith Alice, William George, Gertrude Amelia and Alfred Robert Cain).

Remember Us
Donald Jerrems, All-purpose Editor and More.   Back to our Roots on Anna Maria Island on West Coast of Florida 
Summer 1956: Donnie, Scottie, Alec holding Warren, Susan and Friend in front of Anglers Lodge on Anna Maria Island.

Summer 2009: Donnie barely holding Warren, Susan, Alec on the Rod and Reel Pier a few blocks away from the 1956 setting.


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