Unusual Death of Col. John A Jones, 20th Georgia, Benning's Brigade

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
1620137694112.png
The John Slyder Farm Photo by lcm1863. Creative Commons Licensing
John A. Jones was born December 6, 1821 in Georgia. He studied law and engaged in the practice of his profession at Columbus with his father. His sister, Mary Howard Jones, married Henry L. Benning about 1834 and he married Mary Louisa Leonard in 1843. His father was aging and soon John A Jones joined brother-in-law Henry Benning in the practice of law.

When the war commenced, John A Jones was a 40 year old lawyer, living in Columbus with his wife Mary Louisa and their four young children. On May 23, 1861, he enrolled for service and raised a company of infantry, known as the 'Southern Guards.' He was elected Captain of the company which became Company I of the 20th Georgia Infantry. On August 21, 1861, he was promoted to Major. On March 7, 1862, Lt. Col. John B. Cumming was promoted to Colonel, and Jones was elevated to fill the vacant spot, becoming the regiment's Lt. Col.

On May 29, 1863, John A. Jones was promoted to Colonel of the 20th Georgia. He was killed July 2, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg. The details of his death were reported in the Columbus Sun and reprinted in The Savannah Republican of July 24, 1863.

I always thought Colonel Jones was shot and killed during the worst part of the fighting, but evidently, that is not the case. According to the article, after the regiment had retired to a place of relative safety and the firing had generally subsided, he was seated in consultation with his brother-in-law, General Benning, and other officers, when Jones was struck in the head by a fragment of shell that exploded nearby, killing him instantly. I can't think of any reason that the manner of his death, as reported here, should not be considered accurate.

DEATH OF COL. JOHN A. JONES - The melancholy news of the death of this gallant young officer, so well and favorably known in this community, reached us several days since; but hoping for the best, and fearing lest we should give useless pain to his family and friends, we did not make the announcement public. There is, however, no longer any doubt as to the reality of the sad affair. It seems that Colonel Jones, after having led his regiment gallantly in the charge by Gen. Benning's brigade, and shared with his comrades the honor of capturing the enemy's batteries in front, and when the brigade had retired to a place of comparative safety, and after the firing has principally ceased, Col. Jones was seated on the ground in company with Gen. Benning and other officers, when a shell from one of the enemy's batteries fell near him, exploded, and a fragment striking a rock near by, glanced and struck Col. J on the side of the head, penetrating the brain, and which caused instant death. He leaves an aged father and mother, a wife and interesting family, and a large circle of friends, to mourn his loss.
1620100603493.png

Originally published in the Columbus Sun; reprinted in The Savannah Republican. (Savannah, Ga.), July 24, 1863, page 2.

1620103268086.png

The Daily Sun. (Columbus, Ga.), August 08, 1863, page 1.
1620133931178.png

Daily Columbus Enquirer. (Columbus, Ga.), February 10, 1866, page 3.
 
Last edited:

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Buried behind John Slyder's barn, 150 feet from the house, the remains of Colonel John Augustus Jones were exhumed in 1866 by his son, Leonard Jones, and taken aboard a vessel for the journey home, likely in a coffin that was presumably placed topside. Evidently the vessel encountered rough seas and the remains went over the side into the sea on December 10, 1866. A memorial marker was set up in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia. (Gettysburg's Confederate Dead, by Greg Coco)

Jones graduated from Emory College in 1844, where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. (Catalogue of Beta Theta Pi, ed. and publisher James T. Brown, 1917, p. 301; Betas of Achievement, Being Brief Biographical Records of Members of the Beta Theta Pi, 1918 by William Raimond Baird, New York: The Beta Publishing Company, 1914, p. 174)
 
Last edited:

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Buried behind John Slyder's barn, 150 feet from the house,
Under a cherry tree. His remains were located and exhumed by Weaver and noted as follows: 'I found the remains of a soldier to answer the description Mrs. Jones sent me, wounded in the left side of his head and the left lower jaw broken.'
Leonard Jones, and taken aboard a vessel for the journey home, likely in a coffin that was presumably placed topside. Evidently the vessel encountered rough seas and the remains went over the side into the sea on December 10, 1866.
Son Leonard, age 21, was sent to retrieve his father's remains and on the return journey, the boat he was on sank off Cape Hatteras. Twenty men and one woman survived, including Leonard Jones -- but not the casket containing the remains. After some time in the lifeboats on rough seas, the survivors were finally rescued by steamer USS Susquehannah. And who was onboard the ship? Then Lt Gen Wm T Sherman along with minister to Mexico Lewis D. Campbell.

1620133183493.png

Daily Columbus Enquirer. (Columbus, Ga.), February 10, 1866, page 3.
1620133818648.png
 
Last edited:

ErnieMac

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
Excerpt from BG Henry Bennings Official Report (Series I, Volume XXVII, Part 2, page 44).
HEADQUARTERS BENNING'S BRIGADE,
August 3, 1863.

Maj. W. H. SELLERS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

MAJOR: In obedience to an order from the headquarters of this division, I have the honor to submit to you the following report of the operations of this brigade since it left Culpeper Court-House for the other side of the Potomac:​
...........​
Our loss was heavy, not less than 400 in killed, wounded, and missing. Of this number, an unusually large proportion were killed and badly wounded. Among the killed were Col. John A. Jones, of the Twentieth Georgia, and Lieut. Col. William T. Harris, commanding the Second Georgia. Colonel Jones was killed late in the action, not far from the captured guns, after the enemy's forces were driven from the position and they had themselves opened upon it with shell from their other batteries, a fragment of one of which, glancing from a rock, passed through his brain. He had behaved with great coolness and gallantly. He fell just as success came in sight. Colonel Harris was farther to the right, where he and his regiment were exposed to the terrible fire of the two pieces which swept the gorge, as well as to the infantry fire of the enemy's left. A ball passed through his heart, killing him instantly. His gallantry had been most conspicuous.​
...........​
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,​
HENRY L. BENNING,
Brigadier-General.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Going down with the ship is a lot more interesting than going over the side! I imagine the remains (bones) were collected in a smaller box by Weaver and stored safely in the captain's cabin. The vessel must have been taking on water at a much faster rate than noted if it had already reached the captain's cabin, which would normally be the farthest aft compartment and above the water line. In any case the safety of the passengers and crew would be uppermost on the mind of any captain, not retrieving the remains of the already departed.
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
There was a story online recently about the ship which brought back the remains of the unknown WW1 soldier chosen for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That coffin was lashed to the top of the ship, which then sailed into a storm. The coffin was not lost but, according to the story, it was very close to going overboard.
 

Gettysburg Guide #154

Sergeant
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 30, 2019
Further confirmation of the injury inflicted on Col. Jones is provided by Pvt. John W. Lokey. Company B, 20th GA. Lokey and some comrades had retreated from an area just beyond Smith's guns and moved to the right before ascending again. On the way back up the hill, he recalled seeing his regimental commander lying on his back with half his head having been carried away by a shell fragment.

The terrible nature of the wound that killed Col. Jones proved the key to identifying his remains. Samuel Weaver used the case of Col. Jones as an example of the need for as much information as possible in locating graves and returning remains to families. In a letter of December 27, 1865, he wrote that Mrs. Jones provide information that "Col. Jones fell while making a charge on little Round Top -- on Snyder farm & was buryied (sic) about 150 yds from the house under a Cherry tree & was wounded in or through the left side of his head, I went out to examine the graves on Mr. Snyders farm but I couldent (sic) find such a location as she described on Mr. Snyders place. I then went on to the next farm a Mr Slyders. There I found a cherry tree about 150 yards from the house with two graves under it. I opened them both and in the one I found the remains of a soldier to answer the description Mrs. Jones sent me, wounded on the left side of his head and the left lower jaw broken."
 
Top