|Birth: ||Oct. 27, 1836|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Aug. 23, 1864|
Henry Jervis Potter was the son of Merritt Potter and Maria Fort. Henry married Zeruiah Ann Dawley on September 15, 1857 in Green Creek, Ohio. Not long after their marriage, he bought a farm of 80 acres adjoining that of his father-in-law and began making improvements on it. During the winter seasons he taught school at the Dawley schoolhouse.
In the summer of 1863 a volunteer company of Home Guards for the military defense of the State of Ohio during the Civil War was organized in Ballville in which Mr. Potter took an active part. This organization was known as Company K, under command of Capt Jeremiah C. Mudge, later becoming a part of the 50th Regiment O.V.I. which was organized at Fremont under Col Nathaniel E. Haynes and in September of that year attended a grand military review at Toledo in presence of Governor Brough and some military officers who feared an invasion of Ohio from Canada. A few weeks later Mr. Potter went with his company to aid in guarding Johnson's Island, in Sandusky Bay, where some Rebel officers were confined as prisoner's of war.
The scare was soon over and the company was recalled but Mr. Potter had become so aroused in regard to his duty to country in its hour of peril that he decided to enlist in the 72nd Regiment, O.V.I. for three years or during the war. All the men of the regiment who agreed to re-enlist for three years were granted a veteran furlough, and were then on their way home from Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Potter and his friend, Henry Innis, were assured that if they enlisted they would get the benefits of this furlough, and thus have plenty of time to settle their home matters before going to the front. They enlisted at Fremont, February 27, 1864 in Co E, 72nd Regiment, under Col R.P. Buckland, whose headquarters were at Memphis and on March 1 went to Sandusky to be mustered in and receive their township bounty money. They next proceeded to Columbus to get their State bounty, supposing they could return to go with the veterans. Instead, they were sent to Tod Barracks, refused leave of absence to visit their friends, and were hurried on to the front in company with 13 other raw recruits. Their squad proceeded down through Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chattanooga to Stevenson, Ala, then back to Cairo, Ill and down the Mississippi to Memphis. Mr. Potter wrote many letters to his wife descriptive of the scenes he passed through. At Memphis he did guard duty at the Navy Yard, saw wounded men from Fort Pillow, refused a roll of greenbacks as a bribe from a Rebel spy, and kept a full diary of every day's happenings. He went out on several raids into the enemy's country, taking part in the Sturgis raid. The last letter his wife received from him, he wrote when he was near Ripley, Mississippi in which he told her to not be uneasy about him. In the unfortunate battle at Guntown, Mr. Potter and Mr. Innis were captured by Rebel cavalry in a thicket of scrub oaks while trying to make their escape. Mr. Innis advised Mr. Potter, who was fleet of foot, to make his escape, and he tried to do so, but soon returned saying, "Hank, I hate to leave you this way!"
They were taken to Andersonville prison, which they entered on June 13, 1864, and were stripped of all their valuables as well as some of their clothing. It rained, almost constantly during the first two weeks, and they had neither shelter from the alternate drenching down-pour and hot sun, nor comfortable covering during the chilly nights, and Mr. Potter had only pants, blouse, and cap to wear. There were 38,000 men in the enclosure. Rations of food were very scant and most of what there was had to be eaten raw. After a month's confinement Mr. Potter was taken sick with scurvy and diarrhea and had no medical treatment except what his comrades could give him. On the 21st of August gangrene set in, and, at his request, his faithful comrades, JP Elderkin and Henry Innis, carried him outside the stockade where he hoped for better air and treatment, but died two days later. He left in charge to an Illinois comrade, the pictures of his wife and children, with a request that they be forwarded to the dear ones at home, with his own hand directing the package. On the day of his death 108 Union soldiers were carried out and buried in one long trench, he among the rest. Their graves were marked with slabs giving their name, company and regiment. When the news of Mr. Potter's death reached his home, a funeral service was held in his memory at the Dawley schoolhouse, November 1, by Rev. James Long, who seven years previous had solemnized the deceased's marriage.
Excerpts from Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Sandusky and Ottawa, Ohio, published by JH Beers and Co, Chicago, 1896.
Eternal gratitude to Rhonda C. Poynter for sponsoring this page of a true American hero.
Zeruiah Ann Dawley Potter (1838 - 1892)*
Daniel Merritt Potter (1860 - 1944)*
Clarissa M Potter Wolfe (1862 - 1947)*
Note: Memorial Gravesite at Green Springs Cemetery, Ohio Henry Jervis Potter
Andersonville National Cemetery
Andersonville National Historic Site
Plot: Section E, Plot 6589.
Maintained by: Red
Originally Created by: Bud
Record added: Sep 11, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 41842553