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Jackson, Henry

Place of Birth: Canterbury

Date of enlistment: 28 July 1866 (commission)

Age given at enlistment: 31

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: F

Location on 25 June 1876: On detachment - Washington, D.C.

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Comments:

Name, date and place of birth not yet verified. For details of his military service consult: (i) ‘Military Register of Custer’s Last Command,’ Roger L. Williams, The Arthur H. Clark Company, Norman, Oklahoma, 2009, p. 166.  (ii) ‘Men With Custer – Biographies of the 7th Cavalry,’ Edited by Ronald H. Nichols with Daniel I. Bird, CBHMA Inc., 2010, p. 195. (iii) www.armyatwoundedknee.com – Colonel Samuel Russell.

A Benteen 'Coffee Cooler' with a mysterious past

Henry Jackson, if, indeed, that was his true name, had the distinction of being the only Englishman holding a commission in the 7th U.S. Cavalry in June 1876, though he did not take take part in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

All too often an obituary can contain some very dubious information about the deceased and I believe that Henry Jackson’s is no exception. It reads: “

General Jackson was born in Canterbury, England, May 31, 1837. He enlisted in the British army at the age of seventeen and attained to a lieutenant’s commission. In this capacity he served through the Crimean campaign from 1853 to 1856. With a number of other British officers who saw no future for them in the English (sic) army he sold his commission and came to America. He enlisted in the Union Army upon his arrival here in 1863.

Taken from his obituary in 'The Leavenworth Times,' Thursday morning December 10, 1908

It is apparent that this information has been widely accepted, and regularly perpetuated, by Custer scholars even though it differs in many ways from the words he wrote at the time he applied for a commission in the regular U.S. Army.

According to his application for a commission and the supporting record of military service he was born “in England in the year 1835,” he had “resided in the State  Illinois from the year 1860,” and had “served two years in the English service as Ensign and Lieutenant.,” and said, “I am 31 years of age.”

There is no hard evidence to corroborate that someone who matches either one of Henry Jackson’s own descriptions appears in the [British] Army List for the years in question., nor sold their commission. Additionally, it would be highly unlikely that a commissioned officer in the ‘British Army’ would ever refer to it as the ‘English service’ – Captain Henry Nowlan, born in a British Army garrison on the island of Corfu of Irish parentage, didn’t!

Clearly Jackson was an educated man and a competent officer but something is not quite right here. Why is there no verifiable record of his date and place of birth?  Why is he missing from the 1841, 1851 & 1861 censuses of England and Wales? And what was it in his past that he was so determined to hide? The true identity of Henry Jackson therefore must remain in doubt.

Application for a commission in the U.S. Army, Helena, Ark., 15 January 1866

I have the honor to apply for a Lieutenancy in the permanent Army of the United States. I entered service in December 1863 in the 14th Illinois Vol Cavalry and served with them till January 1865 when I was transferred to the 5th  U.S. Col Cav and appointed Sergt Major. In May 1865 I was commissioned as 2nd Lt. and was appointed Regimental Adjutant and in December 1865 I was commissioned 1st Lieutenant. I have served two years in the English service as Ensign and Lieutenant I am 31 years of age and enlisted at Peoria, Ills.

                                            Henry Jackson (signed) Lt & Adj 5 US C C.

Details of Civil War Service which accompanied the above application for a commission in the U.S. Army

My name is Henry Jackson – I was born in England in the year 1835. I have resided in the State of Illinois from the year 1860. I entered the Military Service of the U. S. in December 1863 in the 14th Illinois Vol. Cav. I served with the 14th Ill. Cav. At Mossy Creek Island, French Broad River N.C. 1864 – Elisay, Big Shanty, Kennard Mountain, the Fights on the Charahonchie from 26th June to 6th July 1864 – then on General Stoneman’s Raid to Macon including the fights at New Hope and Lawrenceville. We then returned to Kentucky was I was transferred to the 5th U.S.A. Cavalry as Sergt Major in May 1865. I was commissioned as 2nd Lt. and was appointed Regimental Adjutant in December 1865.  I was appointed 1st Lt. and served as such until March 1866 when I was mustered out of the U.S. Service. I was mustered into the U.S. Service at Camp Baker Ills about the 25th Jan 1864.

                                            Henry Jackson (signed)

 

An well-researched account of Henry Jackson in America, written by Colonel Samuel Russell, U.S. Army, can be found at www.armyatwoundedknee.com

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