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Civil War Blog

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John Coffield of Schuylkill County – Died at Richmond

Posted By on April 27, 2014

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On 12 September 1861, a 25 year-old John Coffield enrolled in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry at Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  On 23 September, he was mustered into Company H as a Private.  The record indicates that he died on 11 November 1864, at Richmond, Virginia.  His name was found in a list of Schuylkill County prisoners of war, and there is a possibility that he died at Libby Prison.

Not much else is known about John Coffield.  No one applied for a pension based on his service.

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In researching him, a census return was found for 1860 which shows a family living in New Castle, Schuylkill County, with a Peter Coffield, a coal miner, as head.  The mother’s name was Bridget and three sons are named:  John Coffield, age 22; James Coffield, age 21, and Patrick Coffield, age 18.  The parents of these boys were Irish immigrants, but the children were born in Pennsylvania, and the three sons were working as mine laborers. While there is no definite confirmation that the John Coffield in this census is the same John Coffield who enlisted in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, to date no other John Coffield has been located.

CoffieldJohn-USCWDraftReg-001a

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The same Coffield sons are found in the Civil War Draft of 1863, also in New Castle Township. While the age differs slightly from the age given by John at the time of his enlistment, it was known fact that enlistees often did not give an accurate age to the recruiters.  John, at enlistment gave his age as 25 (born about 1836).  In the census of 1860, he said he was 22 (born about 1838) and in the draft in 1863, he said he was 24 (born about 1839).  The John Coffield who registered for the draft was single and was working as a laborer.

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The General Military Index Card for John Coffield, available from Fold3 via the National Archives, is a locator for the military records.  According to the database on Ancestry.com, the card is from Series M554 (Pennsylvania), Roll 21.

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The final available on-line document that was found is from the Pennsylvania Archives, the Register of Pennsylvania Volunteers.  The only new information found on that document are the names of the enrolling officer and mustering officer.  An interesting note needs to be made here – that on the same day that John Coffield enrolled at Tremont, many others were enrolled at the same place in this company.  However, John Coffield was the only one of that surname who joined that company.

What additional information can readers provide about John Coffield?  Is the John Coffield who died at Richmond the same John Coffield who appeared in the 1860 census as the son of Peter Coffield?  Did John Coffield die at Libby Prison?  When and where was he captured?  Did the two brothers, James and Patrick, also serve in the war?  What happened to this family after the war?  Are there descendants of the brothers of John Coffield (or the two sisters not mentioned in this post)?

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The Civil War Draft Registration and the Census of 1860 are from Ancestry.com.


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