A Kanawha Cavalryman
SUBMITTED BY PAUL E. HAMER OF NORTHBROOK, ILLINOIS
NAME: Junius Marion Jones
DATES: 1841 to 1880
HIGHEST RANK: Corporal
UNIT: 2d West Virginia Cavalry, Company I
SERVICE RECORD: Enlisted in the 2d West Virginia Cavalry, Company I, onAugust 5, 1861, in Mason City, Virginia. Promoted to corporal on November 8.Captured on September 14, 1863, near Marion, Virginia, and sent to Belle IslePrison in Richmond. Transferred to Andersonville Prison in Georgia on March 21,1864. Exchanged on December 16. Mustered out in Annapolis, Maryland, onMarch 7, 1865.
The Civil War tore no state apart like it did Virginia. Citizens from the eastern part of the state sided with the South and voted to secede in April. Those in the westernmost counties, however, opposed secession and soon began to organize their own government. Though West Virginia would not become a state until June 1863, the men of the state-to-be immediately began enlisting in the Union army.
Junius Marion Jones joined this rush to arms on August 5, 1861, enlisting in the 2d West Virginia Cavalry, Company I, at Mason City. He was promoted to corporal on November 8, and his regiment soon got its first taste of war, skirmishing with Rebel guerrillas in the Kanawha River valley. For the next two years, the 2d West Virginia remained in and around the mountains of western Virginia, taking part in sporadic fighting against Confederates.
On September 4, 1863, Jones joined a cavalry detachment that had orders to destroy a critical Virginia & Tennessee Railroad bridge near Marion, Virginia, a bridge over which trains carried salt supplies from Saltville, 15 miles west of Marion, to the rest of the Confederacy. But the mission failed, and Jones and many of his compatriots were captured. Jones spent the next six months at Richmond’s Belle Isle Prison. Then, on March 21, 1864, he was transferred to Georgia’s infamous Andersonville Prison, where he would remain until he was freed via prisoner exchange at Charleston, South Carolina, on December 16. Andersonville took a heavy toll on the formerly robust cavalryman. Gaunt and weak, he nearly collapsed as he boarded the ship that took him to Annapolis, Maryland. Back in Union territory, he spent three months recuperating before being mustered out on March 7, 1865.
Jones soon moved to southern Illinois, and in 1879, he traveled to Boone County, Nebraska, where he planted fruit trees on 60 acres of land. The next spring he went to the Dakota Territory, where the market for his trees was at its peak. In August 1880, he sent a postcard to his family back in Illinois, telling them he was coming home. But Jones apparently fell victim to Indians or highwaymen and was never heard from again. His two-wheeled cart was found in what is now Custer County, South Dakota.