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Joseph Wareham
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Birth: unknown
Death: Aug. 14, 1920

Joseph Wareham's exact birthdate is unable to be correctly verified, due to the fact that he provides different accounts of his age, in various statements. From the varied responses he provided for documentation, it would seem that he was born sometime between the years 1838 and 1840, almost certainly in the state of Pennsylvania, where his family lived. In one account he makes the statement that "I have no record whatsoever supplying evidence of the date of my birth. I am not aware whether or not my birth is registered at Philadelphia or elsewhere and I have never seen any certificate of any such registration. I do not recollect there being any family Bible at my home in Philadelphia containing any family record of my birth. I verily believe that I was christened at some Church of England at Philadelphia aforesaid but I have never seen a certificate of my baptism nor am I aware whether or not any record now exists of such baptism." [1] Documentation shows at least three different claims of where he was born, one being in New Jersey, one at Boston, Massachusetts, and the most reliable one being at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One separate account, by a fellow Civil War pensioner, also residing in New Zealand, even claims that Wareham was born in South Carolina, and had fought in the War of Independence! [2]

After the death of his father, Wareham, who was one of seven children, eventually left home at the age of 16 (not 10, as shown in one very inaccurate account of the life of Joseph Wareham), and sailed in the merchant marine service. From his own account, it would seem that he may have had a falling out with his family, and never saw them again. He lived in Calcutta, India, for three years. In a declaration made in 1913, he states: "I am one of a family of seven children, namely James, Daniel, Ellen, Catherine, Maria, Janet and me this deponent. Before joining the ‘Colorado' I permanently left my home about three years before and my mother Ellen Wareham and my four sisters already mentioned (then unmarried) were at that time living at their home in Philadelphia. My two brothers had left home before I did. After I left Philadelphia I never communicated with any of my family and have never heard of any of them since." [3]

Service in the Union Navy.

After his residency in India, he obviously returned to the United States as a merchant mariner, on the breaking out of the Civil War, as he makes the clear statement that he had lived in Calcutta, before he enlisted in the Union Navy, and that he had been "at sea prior to that from 16 years of age." Having arrived in Boston after his overseas sojourn, he joined the United States receiving vessel at that city, the Ohio, May 24, 1861, for one year, and immediately received the rating of seaman, due to his previous experience on the high seas. (If he had not had any seagoing experience, he would have been rated as a landsman). A week later he left the receiving ship to join the steam screw frigate, USS Colorado, which had been placed in ordinary at Boston since August of 1858. On her being recommissioned as a United States Navy vessel, June 3, 1861, she would have received most, if not all, of her personnel from the receiving vessel Ohio, and Joseph Wareham was one of those so transferred. The vessel, under the command of captain Theodorus Bailey, left Boston on June 18, 1861 to join the Gulf Blockading Squadron, arriving at Key West, Florida, on July 9, 1861, where she replenished her coal and water supplies. (It was while at sea that a discovery was made that indicated that an act of sabotage had previously been conducted, and the ship's engines had been tampered with at Boston, and, as reported in a dispatch sent by captain Bailey, to Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, dated at sea, June 23, 1861, stating, "previously to my taking charge of this ship at Boston, the ship's engines had been tampered with by some evil-disposed person or persons, intending to render the same insecure." Fortunately the ship's engineers were able to repair the damage and, after a stop of thirty-six hours, the Colorado continued on her journey.) [4]

The USS Colorado, after completing her replenishment of supplies at Key West, headed for Fort Pickens, where she arrived July 15, 1861, and the very next day flag officer William Mervine, who was in command of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, transferred his flag to the Colorado. The vessel remained in the vicinity of Fort Pickens, on blockading and other duties.
On the night of August 3, 1861, an expedition, consisting of personnel from both the USS Colorado, and the USS Niagara, set forth to cut out and destroy a schooner fitting out as a privateer, at the Navy Yard at Pensacola (at that time still in Confederate hands). The expedition was discovered before it could complete this mission, and the expedition returned without any casualties, due to the confusion of the attack. This was almost certainly the first attempt made upon the Judah, which was destroyed in the subsequent attempt. It should be noted that the Judah was never, at any time, a commissioned vessel of the Confederate States Navy, and thus should not be classified with the initials CSS, as at least one very unreliable source shows. Neither was she a privateer, but in the process of being converted to one. She had not reached the stage of being classified as a privateer prior to her destruction.

A subsequent expedition, consisting of about 100 men, this time all from the USS Colorado, set out on the night of September 13, 1861, for the Pensacola Navy Yard, to destroy the Judah, as well as to spike a gun, in battery at the Yard. The attack commenced at 3.30 on the morning of September 14, with the resulting death and wounding of several members of the expedition, including Joseph Wareham, shot through the left arm into his shoulder. An unreliable unofficial report indicates that the wounded Wareham had dived from the burning schooner, the Judah, and swam towards the retreating launch and cutters, but this fantastic scenario is highly unlikely, since the official report of the expedition shows that everyone had already started retreating into the launch and cutters, before the Judah was set on fire, with the exception of the two persons who were responsible for setting alight the cabin of the schooner, namely, assistant engineer George H. White and Patrick Driscoll. It is not known if Wareham was actually wounded in the direct attack upon the Judah itself, or in the spiking of the gun, at the southeast end of the Navy Yard. However, it should be stressed that the official dispatches make no mention of any heroic act by Wareham, even though mention is made of the actions of another participant, coxswain Robert Clark, who was in the same action, and received a promotion to master's mate. The only mention of Joseph Wareham, within the pages of the "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion", is on page 673 of volume 16, which just cites a list of officers and men who were killed and wounded in the action of September 14, sent by surgeon Gustavus R.B. Horner, who would have compiled this list from data supplied by assistant surgeon Stephen D. Kennedy, who was cited for rendering "valuable assistance in the care of the wounded." Common knowledge shows that fleet surgeons, such as Horner, did not act as clerks, and would never have "questioned each one of the wounded in turn, recording their injuries and where they were born" as is stated by one so called "expert". This chore would have been relegated to either the surgeon's steward, or the assistant surgeon. Furthermore, there would have been no need to record such data, anyway, as the place of birth of each sailor was included in the ship's muster rolls. Anyone with even a simplistic knowledge of injuries or wounds would know that in some cases it would be practically impossible to "question" a wounded person, especially if the wound was severe enough to prevent the recipient from answering any questions. Furthermore, the places of birth of those killed in the action were also recorded in the dispatch sent by Horner, and the only source this would have been taken from was the muster roll, as it was impossible to question each one of the dead!! [5] The Medical Journal of the USS Colorado shows the following entry, #225 on page 45: "Joseph Wareham, act 24, born in New Jersey, shipped Boston May 24th 1861. Admitted Sep. 14th with gsw [gunshot wound] of left arm four inches below shoulder extending to back and base of scapula. Ball was easily felt and was extracted next day by excision. Wound continued to heal and patient was discharged Oct. 14th, cured." Wareham was promoted coxswain, September 16, 1861, taking the place of coxswain Robert Clark, who was himself promoted to master's mate. The deck log of the USS Colorado, for that date states that "Joseph Wareham (sea) is hereby promoted to the rank of coxswain of the 2nd cutter and will be respected as such. This promotion is made as a reward for gallant conduct in action and as some recompense for a serious wound received" and the entry was signed by captain Theodorus Bailey. Although he also indicates, in his pension application of some fifty years later, that he had been rated captain of the maintop, there is no official documentation of such a position held by Wareham, in his Navy Department file.

The USS Colorado, after this action, continued on blockading duties, and was stationed at the head of the passes of the Mississippi River. Unable to cross the bar of the pass, due to her draft, she remained just outside the passes, and was involved in the capture of the steamer Calhoun, with a cargo of powder, a few rifles and other assorted cargo, destined for the Confederate States, from Havana, in January, 1862.

In April of 1862, captain Theodorus Bailey, "having found it impossible to get the Colorado over the bars of the Mississippi", sent a large number of her guns and crew to fill up the deficiencies of the vessels that were about to make the well planned attack upon Forts Jackson and St. Philip, below New Orleans, Louisiana. Most of these personnel were volunteers, but because Joseph Wareham makes no mention, whatsoever, of his participation in this big event (in his own account of his Naval service), it can be assumed that he remained behind with the USS Colorado. [6]

On June 5, 1862, captain David G. Farragut, flag officer of the Western Gulf Squadron, sent a dispatch from his flagship, the USS Hartford, anchored off the recently captured city of New Orleans, to lieutenant John L. Davis, then commanding the USS Colorado, advising him to proceed, with the Colorado, to Boston, Massachusetts. Whether or not Joseph Wareham had taken part in the attacks on Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the subsequent capture of New Orleans, it was left to Farragut to address a dispatch to Secretary Gideon Welles, stating, in part, "I feel it due to the Colorado's crew to say that these men have acted with great zeal and good faith to the Government. They were so anxious to get into the fleet coming up the river that large premiums were offered for the places of those selected by the officers of the ship to fill vacancies on board the vessels, and they have continued to do their duty without a murmur until our return from above, when they respectfully asked for their discharges unless the ship was to be sent north, and I have therefore directed Lieutenant Davis to take her to Boston and report to you on her arrival." The vessel arrived at Boston, June 21, 1862, and was decommissioned a week later. [7]

Wareham was subsequently discharged from Naval service on June 30, 1862, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, according to his own statement, shown in his pension application, dated May 30, 1913. His discharge was almost certainly conducted aboard the United States receiving vessel, the Vandalia.

He subsequently made his way to Australia, from Boston, arriving at Melbourne aboard the bark Victoria. Later, he headed for the New Zealand goldfields, and later worked as a carter, in the Grey River district. On August 30, 1866, he married 22 year old Bridget Brennan at the Roman Catholic Church in Hokitika, on the West Coast of New Zealand. The marriage is shown to have been registered in September, 1865, though the year is almost certainly transcribed in error. Children of this marriage were James, born in 1867; Joseph, born in 1870; Anne Maria, born 1871; Ellen, born 1873; Daniel, born 1875; William, born 1878, and Catherine, born in 1880.

In or about the year 1878, he settled in Dunedin, remaining there for eight years, before moving to Wellington. He is also shown to have resided at Brighton and Charleston, on the West Coast of the South Island. He was involved in business loading and unloading of shipping trading between Australia and the West Coast. After his removal to Wellington he became proprietor of Barrett's Hotel, and later, of hotels at Feilding and Stratford. Although Wareham, at the time of his enlistment, is shown to have had no marks or scars, in later life he indicates that he had tattoo marks of a crucifix in blue black on the right forearm, and a star in blue black on the back of the left hand just above the first finger.

Joseph Wareham died of bronchitis and cerebral haemorrhage (certified by doctor C.H. Upham), August 14, 1920, at Lyttelton, and is buried at the Karori Cemetery in Wellington. His death certificate indicates his profession as a retired hotel keeper.
Documented Notes:

[1] From a signed statement made by Joseph Wareham titled "Act of May 11, 1912: Declaration for Pension." Other inconsistencies in his birth date are in his age, shown as 23, when he enlisted in the Union Navy, in 1861, and in his declarations for a United States Government pension, filled out in 1913, when he states that he was then aged 73. Because recollections at an earlier age are considered to be much more reliable, it would seem that his statement, made at enlistement, in 1861, that he was then aged 23, should be first taken into account. As age creeps on people tend to be more forgetful, and make all sorts of very unreliable claims. I know of one gentleman who claimed to have served in the Second World War, even though he was confirmed as being born in 1939. Perhaps he may have been in his cradle at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed in 1941!!

[2] Most of his statements, in documentation filled out for his pension claims, indicate that he was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and that his family had been living there from a very early age. His death certificate shows, almost certainly incorrectly, that his birthplace was Boston, Massachusetts, and at enlistment, he gave his place of birth as New Jersey (this could have been because of ostracisation from his family, and possibly to throw the enlisting officers of the track).

[3] This could have been a possible reason why, on later enlisting in the United States Navy, he gave his state of birth as New Jersey, so as to avoid the possibility of the enlisting officer ever locating his family home, in the case of any contingency.

[4] See the full report of engineer George Gideon to captain Bailey, dated June 21, 1861, and Bailey's own dispatch to Secretary Welles, dated June 23, 1861, in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, (hereafter cited as ORN) series 1, volume 16, pages 559-560.

[5] All details of the first and second expeditions against the Pensacola Navy Yard are adequately covered in ORN 1, 16, 610 – 612 and 670 – 677.

[6] ORN 1, 18, 172.

[7] ORN 1, 18, 539 – 540.
Karori Cemetery
Wellington City
Wellington, New Zealand
Plot: Rom Cath 111 A (Record 80257)
Created by: Terry Foenander
Record added: Dec 12, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23367453
Joseph Wareham
Added by: James Gray
Joseph Wareham
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Jeff J
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