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J.E. Dooley

J.E. Dooley

Confederate (CSV)


John E. Dooley, Jr.

(1842 - 1873)

Home State: Virginia

Education: Georgetown University

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 1st Virginia Infantry

Before Sharpsburg

In July 1860 he turned 18 years old and lived with his parents and siblings in Richmond, VA - his father a very successful hat and cap manufacturer. In June 1862, by then a 19 year old student at Georgetown University, he enlisted in Richmond and served on Provost Marshal duty. On 11 August 1862 he transferred as a Private to Company D, First Virginia Infantry; his father had been Major and briefly commanded the regiment to April 1862.

On the Campaign

In company with his slave/body servant Ned, he was on the Maryland Campaign from Frederick to near Hagerstown, then at Fox's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September 1862:

About two o'clock P.M. we pass through Boonsboro and soon an ambulance goes by containing the remains of Gen. Garland of Lynchburg, former Col. of the 11th Va of our Brigade. He was killed that morning ... Gen. Lee is near by, and he too is in an ambulance. His arm is in a sling and it would appear he too is wounded. Theres two mishaps make us feel pretty gloomy ...

Scarcely are we at the summit or near the summit than a battery but a short distance away opens ball and shell upon our ranks ... [T]here is no commanding officer, no orders of any kind have been given the Brigade ... [I]n the midst of this confusion, crash and roar of the artillery, Capt. Becker [probably Major Beckham] of Genl. Kemper's staff, than a braver young man never lived, undertook to lead us where we would escape the terrible fire and meet the Yankee infantry on open ground.

I tell you, I was frightened! ... My idea was that this position was growing intensly warm, and I considered it a great want of prudence on our part to remain. In fact, nothing but pride, sense of duty, and shame of hurting my reputation kept me in this awful state of suspense ... I was just making up my mind to make a double quick change of direction to the base of those heights when a Capt. Mitchell of the 11th Va., who was doing all he could to rally the Brigade, clapped me on the back, saying, 'Hurrah for you! You are one of the 1st Va. I know you'll stand by us to the last!' What could I do under such circumstances?
At Sharpsburg on the 17th, he and his Brigade were posted near the town of Sharpsburg.
When ordered into position to meet the enemy our brigade was again supposed to be able to do the duty of a full brigade or at least try to do it. So depleted was it, however, that our Regt. had but 17 men rank and file, 8 officers and 9 men. With this brigade of about 200 men we covered a space of nearly as many yards, not presenting a skirmish line ... Now they [the enemy] rise up and make a charge for our fence. Hastily emptying our muskets into their lines, we fled back through the cornfield.

Oh, how I ran! or tried to run through the high corn, for my heavy belt and cartridge box and musket kept me back to
half my speed. I was afraid of being struck in the back, and I frequently turned half around in running, so as to avoid if possible so disgraceful a wound ...

Scarcely had we, breathless, reached the edge of the cornfield, than we met Toombs' brigade of Georgians advancing in line of battle to our relief ... two pieces of the Washington Artillery are hurried rapidly forward to our support ... they together with our small force of infantry (Georgians and Virginians) kept the enemy cowering in the meadows beyond us until the darkness of night shrouded the field and its carnage from our sight ...

The rest of the War

He was elected First Lieutenant of Company C on 10 April 1863 and was wounded by gunshot(s) to both thighs and captured at Gettysburg, PA on 3 July 1863, probably while serving on General Garnett's staff. He was promoted on that date to Captain, though he did not know of his commission until much later. He was a prisoner at Fort McHenry on 6 July and sent on to Fort Delaware on the 12th. He was transferred to Johnson's Island near Sandusky, OH on 22 August 1863 and paroled and sent to City Point, VA for exchange on 24 February 1865.

After the War

He returned to Georgetown to study for the priesthood but died of tuberculosis about 9 months before he was to have been ordained, just 30 years old.

References & notes

His service from his Compiled Service Records 1 (CSRs), online from fold3, and from John Dooley Confederate Soldier: His War Journal (Georgetown University Press, 1945), source of the quotes above and also of his photograph. Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1860. Thanks to J.O. Smith for the pointer to Dooley and his Journal.


07/12/1842; Richmond, VA


05/08/1873; Georgetown, DC; burial in Georgetown University Jesuit Cemetery, Washington, DC


1   US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, Record Group No. 109 (War Department Collection of Confederate Records), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927  [AotW citation 27819]