Lieut John C. Jenness

Lieut John C. Jenness

Birth
Lancaster, Coos County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 2 Aug 1867 (aged 24–25)
Wyoming, USA
Burial Crow Agency, Big Horn County, Montana, USA
Plot Section B, grave 79
Memorial ID 12888270 · View Source
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US Army officer, he was a First Lieutenant in the 27th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, when he was killed by hostile Indians.

Raised in Lancaster, New Hampshire, he enlisted at age 20 on November 25, 1862, in Company A, 17th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant. He was mustered out on April 16, 1863, but returned to military service on September 19, 1864, when he accepted the rank of First Lieutenant in Company I, 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Regiment. He was mustered out of active duty at the end of the Civil War on 15 June 1865. About a year later, he received the commission of First Lieutenant in the 27th US Infantry Regiment, and was posted to Fort Phil Kearny, in Wyoming Territory. In the summer of 1867, over 1,000 Indians under Chief Red Cloud, attempting to repeat the Fetterman victory, attacked woodcutters and soldiers camped about five miles from the Fort. During initial stages of the battle, twenty-six soldiers and six civilians took cover inside an oval of wagon boxes used as a stock corral. Armed with new rapid-fire breech loading rifles the soldiers and civilians commanded by Captain James Powell held off the massed warriors until a relief force arrived from the fort. Three men were killed and two wounded inside of the corral, while Indian casualties were estimated at from five to sixty or more killed and five to one-hundred-and-twenty more wounded.

LT Jenness was the second-in-command at the famed Wagon Box Fight, on August 2, 1867. Soldiers of Company C, 27th Infantry Regiment were protecting wood cutters near Fort Phil Kearny, when Sioux chief Red Cloud's warriors attacked. Taking shelter inside a corral of wagon boxes, the soldiers stood off the Indians for several hours using newly issued breech-loading Springfield rifles. Lieutenant Jenness was one of only three soldiers killed that day. The breech-loading rifles were a significant improvement over the muzzle-loading muskets the soldiers had used earlier. Indians would wait until the soldiers had to stand up and reload their muskets, with very obvious arm movements to ram a ball and powder into the barrel, thus indicating that they were reloading. Since the soldier could not fire while he was reloading, the Indian could safely charge the soldier. The faster firing breech-loading rifles eliminated this obvious vulnerability.


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  • Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
  • Added: 4 Jan 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12888270
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lieut John C. Jenness (1842–2 Aug 1867), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12888270, citing Custer National Cemetery, Crow Agency, Big Horn County, Montana, USA ; Maintained by Kit and Morgan Benson (contributor 46483611) .