1SGT Jacob W. Wilks


1SGT Jacob W. Wilks

Clark County, Kentucky, USA
Death 6 Feb 1922 (aged 82)
San Angelo, Tom Green County, Texas, USA
Burial San Angelo, Tom Green County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 23567940 View Source
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Sergeant, Civil War
1st Sergeant, 9th U. S. Cavalry,
aka The Buffalo Soldiers

At a young age, Jacob along with his parents and a sibling fled the Wilks Plantation in Boone County, Kentucky under the cover of darkness, traveling only at night and guided solely by the North Star, the family walked many miles to the Ohio River. Once the family reached the river they hid in brushes until they could attract the attention of some fishermen in a boat on the north bank of the river. These fishermen were connected with the "Underground Railroad.".

In July of 1862, Congress passed an act that allowed President Lincoln to authorize the formation of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), and began enlisting black soldiers in the Union army. After Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Jacob Wilks, traveled back to Kentucky and was among the first blacks to enlist in the 116th Regiment Company "C" United States Army Colored Volunteer Infantry Union Army at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.

On March 28, 1865, Jacob Wilks Regiment joined the Appomattox Campaign in the pursuit of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his army. The afternoon on April 8, 1865, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant met with General Robert E. Lee under an apple tree in the fields at Appomattox Courthouse. Lee and Grant rode up on their horses and they both tipped their hats. General Lee was dressed in a new uniform with gold braids and a lot of brass buttons. Lieutenant General Grant had on an old blue coat so dirty it looked black. They talked under that apple tree, shook hands, mounted their horses, tipped their hats and rode off.

All of the Union troops witnessed this meeting and were overjoyed because they knew the war was unofficially over (my great great Grandfather Jacob W. Wilks, mention witnessing this meeting in a 1914 interview with John Warren Hunter, in San Angelo, Texas). The next day some of the Union soldiers went back to the field to cut branches off the apple tree where General Lee and Lieutenant General Grant had met. There was no tree in sight; nothing was left but a hole in the ground. The soldiers had cut the whole tree down and taken pieces for souvenirs. Every piece was gone even the roots.

On September 26, 1866, in Greenville, Louisiana after serving three years and nine months Private Wilks mustered out of the Infantry. On the same day, Lieutenant Bucklen enlisted Wilks for a period of five years in the newly formed Ninth United States Cavalry (The Buffalo Soldiers). This was one of the six regiments two cavalry regiments and four Infantry regiments that Congress had passed legislation on to establish the regiments whose enlistment composition was to be made up of Blacks.

Sergeant Wilks was honorably discharged on October 2, 1876 from Fort Seldon, New Mexico after serving two terms. Jacob Wilks settled in Fort McKavett, Menard County, Texas. On October 20, 1884 Jacob W. Wilks married Elizabeth Moore, in Fort M Kavett, Texas.

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