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Mar 15, 2013

Writing of his "experiences in the late unpleasantness," Lieutenant Robert H Jennings of Company G, 3rd Battalion South Carolina Infantry included this amazing story of Corporal James A Jones (B/3dBattn SC) who was shot in the head and left for dead on the battle field at South Mountain. Jones not only survived, he lived to be 70 years old!

Unfortunately, history does not record the name of the Union surgeon who treated Jones or the names of nurses who cared for him, but we know he was one of over 5000 patients treated in the US Hospitals at Frederick, Md after the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. Jones was very lucky to be sent to General Hospital No. 1 (pictured above.) Dr. Robert F. Weir, U.S.A, was in charge there. Dr. Weir had a large staff of assistant surgeons and the nuns from St. Joseph’s served as nurses there. Despite having the very best medical care available, the very nature of the case, as well as Jennings' description, seem to indicate that Jones' survival is utterly remarkable:

A strange incident of the war I had forgotten to relate: At the battle of South Mountain, on September 14, 1862, a man by the name of Jones (he was called big Jim Jones), from Laurens [SC], was shot through the temple and fell against my leg, and his blood and some of his brains spattered my pants leg, and when we retreated he was left lying on the field hollering. I was sure he would die in a short time. Strange to say, he lived for about 20 years after the war, but was almost blind and lost his sense of taste and smell in a great measure, so Capt. Burnside of the Battalion told me.​
Turns out "Big Jim Jones" was James A. Jones, born 9 November 1826 and enlisted December 5, 1861 at Columbia, SC as a private into Laurens' Battalion SC Infantry which became the 3rd Battalion SC. Company Muster Roll for April/August 1862, not dated, shows him "missing in battle at South Mountain, Md. on the 14 Sept. 1862." Carded records show he was captured at South Mountain, Sept. 14, 1862; transferred October 22, 1862 to USA General Hospital No. 1 at Frederick, MD where he was treated for "Vul Sclop." He was transported to Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Md. and paroled December 14, 1862. On December 18, 1862, he was admitted to General Hospital Petersburg, Va. with complaint "Vul Sclopet face"

He was discharged from the service January 22, 1863.

Surgeon's Certificate of Disability for Discharge shows Corporal J. A. Jones was born in Laurens District, SC, 36 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high, dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair, and by occupation when enlisted a farmer. Reason for discharge "Loss of sight by gun shot wound at the battle of South Mountain. He is not fit for duty in any Department of the Government."

Big Jim Jones died 12 December 1896 at the age of 70 years. He was buried at Head Springs Cemetery, Cross Hills, Laurens County, SC under this marker.

His tombstone is nearly unreadable now, but his story of survival is preserved, thanks to Lt. Robert H. Jennings, an obituary, and the creator of his Find-A-grave memorial https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28974609/james-a_-jones

Excerpt from R H Jennings' Newspaper Article:

The Herald and News.(Newberry, SC.), May 12, 1911, pp. 6-7.
Image from National Museum of Civil War Medicine http://www.civilwarmed.org/explore/bibs/onevasthospital/occupied/
To learn more about the hospitals operating at Frederick after Antietam, http://www.civilwarmed.org/frederick-after-antietam/ and http://www.civilwarmed.org/explore/bibs/onevasthospital/occupied/
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Member of the Month
May 18, 2011
Carlisle, PA
Brigadier General Gabriel R. Paul suffered a similar wound at Gettysburg. He was shot in the right temple and the bullet severed the optic nerve of his right eye and exited through his left eye socket, destroying his left eye. He was left blind with no sense of taste or smell and partially deaf from the injury.

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