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Federal (USV)


James Beatty Turner

(1833 - 1864)

Home State: New Jersey

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 88th New York Infantry

Before Antietam

He came to Jersey City, NJ from Ireland with his family in 1849 and became an American citizen in 1859. He was a lawyer there when he enlisted for 90 days service in the 2nd New Jersey militia regiment in April 1861. On 2 January 1862 he enrolled in New York City in the 88th New York Infantry and mustered in as First Lieutenant of Company F on the 3rd.

On the Campaign

He was probably acting Adjutant in Maryland and was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the arm in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862. He described the Brigade's assault on the sunken road that morning:

The fire as we mount the slope is terrific, but the advance never falters or wavers. Time and again are the color bearers of the 63rd and 88th shot down, and the colors on the point of touching the ground are caught up and borne bravely by the fellows near them ... Lieutenant-Colonel James Kelly is in command today; pressing ahead he receives two wounds to the face, one immediately under the eye, the other in the jaw. He remains at his post until it is impossible to do so any longer. Major Cavanaugh, who seems to bear a charmed life, takes command. Captain Felix Duffy, acting major, is shot dead ...

On the left, the 88th are marching along with their characteristic gallantry -- the only difficulty the officers have is to restrain the men from going individually ahead to fight the battle on their own responsibilities ... Several of the 'FAUGH-A-BALLAGHS" rush ahead to take the rebels at close quarters. And it requires all the determination and firmness of Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Kelly to keep them in line. I know Sergeant [Charles M.] Granger [Grainger] and others were almost at the brow of the hill, carried away with their enthusiasm, before the voice of the colonel, calling them by their names caused them to halt and rejoin their companies.

The rest of the War

He was officially commissioned Adjutant on 17 October 1862 to date from 8 August but except for a visit in March 1863, was absent from his unit, recovering, through most or all of 1863. He was appointed Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General, US Volunteers on 23 December 1862 and mustered out of the 88th New York on 6 February 1863 to take that promotion and a position on General Meagher's Irish Brigade staff. He was killed in action at the Wilderness, VA on 5 May 1864.

References & notes

His service information from the State of New York1 and Heitman.2 Personal details from the finding aid to his papers at the NY State Library and a piece on Wild Geese by Mike Kane, Ger Regan, and Joe Gannon. The quote above from the New York Irish American of 18 October 1862. His gravesite is on Findagrave, which has his birth in 1835.

Turner wrote extensively about the experiences of the Irish Brigade in the New York Irish American newspaper under the pen name Gallowglass, from the Irish, gallóglaich, meaning "foreign warrior."

More on the Web

His December 1862 commission as Captain and Assistant Adjutant General was auctioned by The Cobbs Auctioneers in July 2021 for $3250.


1833; Ardee, County Louth, IRELAND


05/05/1864; the Wilderness, VA; burial in Bayview-New York Bay Cemetery, Jersey City, NJ


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905  [AotW citation 10851]

2   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, Vol. 1, pg. 975  [AotW citation 26366]