Civil War Blog

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New Information About James Metz

Posted By on May 12, 2016

Recently, a family member provided some new information about James Metz who was previously profiled here on 29 Apr 2014. as one of the veterans who is buried at the Soldiers’ Circle, Shamokin Cemetery, Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

James A. Metz is also found in the records as Metze and Mertz.  He was born on 16 August 1841 in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, and died in Shamokin on 12 June 1916.  His primary service was in the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company A, where he served from 12 September 1861 through 29 September 1864.  He enlisted in this regiment at St. Clair, Pennsylvania and was mustered in at Harrisburg.  At the time his residence was given as St. Clair.  There is also evidence that he served in the 39th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, and in the 4th U.S. Cavalry, Company A, but the dates of this service are unclear.  James A. Metz applied for a Civil War pension on 18 May 1891 and after his death, his widow applied on 19 July 1916.

The obituary of James Metz appeared in a local newspaper at the time of his death:



Comrade James Metz, one of the city’s oldest residents and best known survivors of the Civil War, died at 5:20 yesterday afternoon at the home of his daughter, Mrs. William Dorsett of Third Street, from heart failure and a complication of diseases after an illness of several weeks.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, James Metz enlisted in Pennsylvania Volunteers, Seventeenth Cavalry and served with unusual distinction through three years and nine months of the great conflict.  He was in the battles of Lookout Mountain, Chicamagua, Stone Rivers, Battle in the Clouds, Battle of the Potomac, was with Sherman on his march to the sea and served under General Phil Sheridan on his famous ride to Winchester and also under Generals Breen and Ross.  At the Battle of Stone River, Mr. Metz was shot in the knee, from which injury he never fully regained the use of his leg.

James A. Metz was born at St. Clair, Schuylkill County, and would have been 77 years of age on Friday of this week had he survived.  Soon after the close of the Civil War he came to this city and engaged at his trade as carpenter, in which capacity he erected the frame work of the present Cameron Breaker.


The Cameron Breaker at Shamokin – Framed (carpentry) by James A. Metz

Two photographs of James A. Metz were also provided by the family member:



The first photo (above) was taken at Dayton, Ohio, probably while James Metz was living at the Soldiers’ Home there.  A search of the home’s records produced the following result:


Click on document to enlarge.

The home record confirms his service in the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry and notes that his wartime injury was a gunshot wound to the right knee.  However, the information in the obituary that he served in the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry is incorrect.  The home record also states that he was admitted in 1905 and requested discharge in 1916, only a few months before he died in Shamokin on 12 June 1916.  A cross-out on the “nearest relative” (daughter Bessie Metz) and the addition of his wife, Kate Metz with a Philadelphia address, could indicate that James was estranged from his wife.  When he entered the home he had indicated that he was a “widower,” but that clearly was not the case since the pension records show that his wife survived him.


The Pension Index Card (shown above from Fold3), notes his death date of 12 June 1916 which is confirmed by the death certificate (shown below from Ancestry.com).  In addition to his service in the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry, his pension was also based on service in the 4th United States Cavalry.


The parents of James A. Metz are named on the death certificate.  He was the son of David Metz who was born in Pennsylvania and Mary Madison who was born in England.  His occupation was given as carpenter and “old soldier.”


A cut from the 1890 Veterans’ Census of Shamokin is shown above.  James A. Metz noted only his service in the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry and in the wartime injuries section (not shown) located at the bottom of the sheet, he mentioned no disabilities from his service.

In 1880 the family was living in Porter Township, Schuylkill County.  However, he is not mentioned on the Tower City, Porter Township and Rush Township Veterans’ Memorial.

In the family picture above, James A. Metz is seated with Sarah [Hoover] Metz, who according to the family member, was married to an Auman who died young.  Daughter Bessie is standing behind.  Going back to the Soldiers’ Home record, and the Pension Index Card record, the wife of James A. Metz was Catharine “Kate” Metz, not Sarah.  So, who is Sarah?

In both the 1870 and 1880 censuses, the wife of James A. Metz is Catharine or Kate.  When Bessie died in 1931, the informant gave her mother’s name as Catharine Henry.

Thus, it appears that James A. Metz had two families, and Bessie was the child of the second family.  Clearing up the inconsistencies will take more research and will also require obtaining copies of the pension application records from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  Anyone who has obtained those records is urged to share the information found in them.  Please add as a comment to this blog post or send the information via e-mail.






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