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LT John Clark Ely

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LT John Clark Ely

  • Birth 1828 Franklinville, Cattaraugus County, New York, USA
  • Death 27 Apr 1865 Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
  • Burial Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
  • Plot Section B Site 517
  • Memorial ID 71536987


In one of those ironic twists of fate, John Clark Ely survived almost three years of military service during the Civil War, part of that time as an inmate at the Confederacy's most notorious prison, only to die in a freak accident on his way home. Sadly, many of his comrades shared his bizarre fate.

Ely was born in Franklinville, New York, but spent the greater part of his life in Northern Ohio, where he married Julia Richmond in 1856 and began a family. When the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized in July and August 1862 for three years' service, Ely enlisted as a sergeant in Company C. After spending a year on guard duty in Ohio and Kentucky, in November 1863 Ely, now a 1st Sergeant, was sent with his unit to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for more guard duty - this time at blockhouses along the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. The following year in December, Ely's company fought Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler's forces in an engagement at La Vergne, Tennessee. On December 5, 1864, Ely was captured along with about 200 members of the 115th Ohio.

In his diary, Ely described the nearly unbearable conditions he suffered over the next months. Limited provisions and wintry conditions took their toll on the captives, who endured a forced march to Corinth, Mississippi. Ely and the others were then transported to Meridian, Mississippi, where they were incarcerated in a prison corral. On January 19th, 1865, the prisoners traveled by rail and boat to the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

As the months passed and the war's conclusion became obvious, Ely's company was paroled and managed to purchase transportation on the first train leaving Andersonville. The men were sent to a parole camp in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they boarded the paddle wheeler Sultana for their final trip home. On April 27, 1865, the seriously overloaded vessel exploded near Memphis, killing 1,700 passengers, including Ely and many members of the 115th Ohio. After surviving the deprivations of imprisonment, a simple twist of fate had placed John Clark Ely aboard the doomed riverboat, never to see his family again. America's Civil War

Family Members


  • Created by: JFJN
  • Added: 17 Jun 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 71536987
  • Laura Virgil
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for LT John Clark Ely (1828–27 Apr 1865), Find A Grave Memorial no. 71536987, citing Memphis National Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by JFJN (contributor 46976255) .