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    James Fitz

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  • James Patrick Sullivan







    James Patrick Sullivan was born June 21, 1843 in the Catholic Parish of Kill, Ireland. He was one of five children born to Dennis and Catherine {nee Flynn} Sullivan of Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland. In approximately 1845, Dennis, Catherine and their children left Ireland to make their way to the United States via Canada. The Sullivan family settled in Bad Axe County in southwestern Wisconsin in Greenwood Township. James Patrick worked the land with his father and brothers until he left home sometime before the 1860 Federal Census. He became a hired hand on a farm near Wonewoc, in neighboring Juneau County.



    After the fall of Fort Sumter that began the Civil War. Capt. Rufus Dawes began mustering soldiers to form a company in Wisconsin. On May 8th, 1861, James Patrick, along with Rescun W. Davis and Jim Barney went to the adjoining farm where John St. Clair had an enlistment roll. When all the recruits arrived in Mauston to await mustering out, they were given the name "Lemonweir Minute Men." Many of the company men objected to James Patrick's inclusion because of his youth and diminutive statue (he stood a slight 5'5 1/2"} but Lieut John Crane, took his side and he was officially sworn in on June 21st.

    Approximately, a month after being officially sworn in, his company was ordered to Washington D.C. When they arrived in Washington, they went through numerous drills and in November went across the river into Virginia to camp in Arlington Heights on property belonging to General Lee. James Patrick received his first wound in a birthday ceremony in Arlington Heights when a member of the company failed to withdraw the rod after loading for a ceremonial firing of blanks. When fired, the musket ramrod hit James Patrick in the back.

    Approximately six months later, in August, the company saw battle for the first time near Gainesville, Virginia. The regiments mettle served them well over many bloody fields and earned them the reputation of being one of the hardest fighting units of the Union army. They saw battle at Manassas, Chantilly and then South Mountain. At South Mountain, James had been afflicted with the mumps but kept on battling. He was hit by fragments of a bullet or boulder in the jaw but the worse wound came from a volley when he was hit in his right foot. The day after the South Mountain battle, a doctor at the battlefield hospital examined his foot and said he would need to have an operation to remove the musket ball that was wedged between bones. James was taken on the hospital train to Frederick City, but because of the heavy casualties at Antietam, he was sent on to Washington, where the House of Representatives had been temporarily converted to a hospital. In December he went before a review board and sent back to his ward. A few days later an orderly appeared and gave him his discharge papers. James argued that he didn't want a discharge but his argument went pretty much unheard..

    After being back home in Wisconsin for six weeks, James couldn't stand it any longer and went to Madison where he once again enlisted. He journeyed with others and returned to the Iron Brigade. The regiment saw battle at Chancellorsville and again later at Gettysburg where J.P. got a bullet in the shoulder. James was once again off to the hospital. After the Gettysburg conflict, J.P. made his way to Philadelphia and the Germanstown Hospital. White recuperating from his wounds, he met his wife-to-be Angeline Shaeffer, who may have been a nurse or voluteer at the hospital.

    In February of 1864, James Patrick Sullivan and Angeline Shaeffer were married, but J.P. was not yet done with his military career. His second enlistment expired, he once again swore oath and enlisted. His regiment saw battle in the area known as "the Wilderness", Laurel Hill , Spotsylvania Court House, Jericho Ford, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, and Weldon Railroad, where J.P. was wounded but after being knocked out a short time returned to duty but wrote in his notes that his head was bothering him. There were a few other skirmishes that J. P. didn't write about in later years.

    In the late summer of 1865, J.P. returned home to Wisconsin a husband and father to his young son, George. He once again took up the mantel of farmer on his 40 acres in Bad Axe County, despite the postwar depression that took hold. Angeline and J.P. parented three more children: Anna born in 1872, John born in 1875 and James born in 1878.

    In the 1880's, J. P. going through all his journals and notes from his war days, discovered a love of writing. He wrote under the pseudonym, Mickey of Company K and his writing were carried by a number of Wisconsin newspapers.

    Sometime after 1885, two of J.P.'s children, Anna and James, died in an epidemic that swept the upper mid-west. In 1890, J.P. decided not to continue farming his land in Vernon Co. He then moved his family to Ontario near the Kickapoo River and Wild Cat Mountain and he began studying for the bar. On September 1, 1897, J. P. was admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin. He bought an empty lot and raised a building to serve as home and office.

    The 1890's were troubling times for J.P. His oldest son, George, was involved in a shooting and was ultimately convicted of manslaughter. Shortly after this time, J.P. divorced his wife of 30 years, Angeline.

    On Jan. 18, 1899, it was reported in the weekly newspaper of Vernon Co. that James Patrick Sullivan had married a Mrs. Bessie Gorham (nee Burke). With the marriage to Bessie, he became the step-father of her three young children Mary, Archie and Libby.

    On March 24, 1901, J.P. once again became a father with the birth of his only child with Bessie, James Fitz. Though in his 50's, J.P. had been suffering from infirmities for many years. With the onset of age and his old war wounds, he was becoming more infirm. June 21, 1906 marked J.P's 65th birthday. A mere four months later, on October 22, 1906, James Patrick Sullivan passed away. The official cause of death being catarrah resulting in ulceration but contributing to his demise was a rebel shell fragment lodged at the base of his skull in the battle at Weldon Railroad. J.P. was buried in Ontario Cemetary with a few of his old comrades in attendence.

    Within a year of J.P.'s demise, flooding from the Kickapoo River, Brush Creek and Moore's Creek surged over the streets of Ontario. The flood waters took with it most of J.P.s war correspondence and the house was considered a loss. Bessie took up the mantel and moved herself and her young children so that she may find work to provide for them.


    James Patrick, wife Bessie and a young James Fitz