PRIVATE JOHN P. SHARP, CIVIL WAR SOLDIER OF SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

While walking through Hillside Cemetery in Palatine looking for the tombstones of the Johnson brothers covered in an earlier blog posting, I spotted the markers of the Trumbull brothers who were veterans of the Civil War. Two of them served in the 113th Illinois Infantry and one served in the 8th Illinois Cavalry. Was it possible there were some men from Schaumburg Township who served in the same regiments, given the close proximity?

In doing a search of the Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls on the Secretary of State’s website, I came across 40 men who registered with the residence of some variant spelling of Schaumburg. Since almost none of the names looked familiar, I decided to check them against the 1860 census, assuming that anyone who registered in 1861 or 1862 was most likely listed in that government roll as well.

Of the 40, only three gentlemen were also in the 1860 Schaumburg Township census: John P. Sharp, George S. Sager and Christian Kublank. As it turned out, Sharp and Sager, like one of the Trumbulls, also served in the 8th Illinois Cavalry and Christian Kublank served with the other two Trumbulls in the 113th Illinois Infantry. The regiments were recruited locally and, given the proximity of Palatine and Schaumburg Township, it is unsurprising that they all served together.

[What is surprising is that 37 additional men mustered with a residence of Schaumburg but didn’t actually live in Schaumburg. Were they hired substitutes for other Schaumburg Township residents? Did they hold an enlistment day in Schaumburg Township so that Schaumburg was subsequently given as the residence–even for those who came from outside of the township? It is puzzling.]

In the Muster Roll, John P. Sharp is listed as a private who served with Company D. He was 25 years old, 5′ 5 with brown hair and blue eyes. He was born in New York and worked in Schaumburg Township as a farmer. He joined on September 5, 1861 in St. Charles, Illinois.

According to the 1860 census, John was the son of John and Elizabeth Sharp. The census lists him as 21–three years younger than the Muster Rolls. Did he want his future officers to think he was older than he was? Or, was a mistake made in the record keeping?

John’s father was 60 in the census, putting him at 39 when John was born. His mother was 52 in the census and was 31 when John was born. Two other siblings lived on the farm in 1860–Jane who was 18 and Andrew who was 9.

 

In viewing the 1861 plat map of Schaumburg Township, we can see that the Sharps owned a 150 acre farm at the south end of the township. The farm bordered both Roselle and Wise (Wiese) Roads.

It is interesting to note that the library’s copy of History of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment Illinois Volunteers, During the Great Rebellion by Abner Hard, mentions that “the Eighth filled its ranks with the farm boys of the Illinois prairie and the workers from the industrial and commercial enterprises of the new metropolis, Chicago. The counties in which the various companies were raised form a virtual tier across the northern end of the state.” John P. Sharp certainly falls into this description.

The regiment made the trip to Washington, leaving St. Charles on October 14, traveling to Chicago on the same day and leaving that very night on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Rail Road. Their horses, which had been secured through a government contract by Mix & Sanger of Joliet, preceded them on the trip.

They reached Washington on October 18 and set up camp. Eventually they “were brigaded with the First Michigan and Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, forming the first brigade of cavalry in the U.S.A.” The regiment later moved to a camp about three miles west of Alexandria, Virginia. In between the drilling and “sham fights” men began to get sick of typhoid fever, and the first death occurred on December 24.

On the 26th “rain fell in torrents and the tents were wet and uncomfortable. Consequently sickness increased rapidly.” John P. Sharp may very well have been one of the sick because by February, it is noted in the Muster Rolls, he had died of disease in Alexandria.

He can also be found in the Billion Graves Index where his death date is listed as February 1, 1862. Having served less than six months, it is presumed he died in one of the 30 Union hospitals that were located in Alexandria over the course of the war. His burial site, according to Billion Graves.com, is the Alexandria National Cemetery at 1450 Wilkes Street that was begun as a resting place for Union soldiers who died in the Alexandria hospitals. (By 1864 the cemetery was at capacity which necessitated the opening of Arlington National Cemetery.)

Private Sharp obviously never made it back to Schaumburg Township and, by 1870, his family had moved on too. There was no mention of his family in the 1870 census and the 1870 plat map shows that the farm had been broken up and sold.

There is an Elizabeth Sharp in the 1865 state census living in Bloomingdale Township with one male. Was this John Sharp’s mother and brother Andrew? Was the death of John too much for his 61 year old father? If it was, it must have been terribly difficult to watch your eldest son who was hale and hardy, leave on a train headed for Washington D.C. and, five months later, receive the news that he was gone, most likely from something as mundane as unsanitary conditions.

The Civil War was notorious for the large number of men who died of disease. Before the fighting even began, Schaumburg Township Private John Sharp had lost his life. We remember him here.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

Next week look for the story of Private George S. Sager.

Credit to billiongraves.com for use of the photo of the tombstone of Private Sharp.

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