James Parnell Jones
July 7, 1864
Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon had recently issued a circular requesting "carte-de visite" photographs of Maine officers serving the State in the Civil War for an album he wanted to compile.
Major James Parnell Jones, of the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment, asked a Philadelphia friend, J.W. Jacob, to forward his recently taken photograph to Hodsdon.
"I gladly perform this little duty," Jacob writes to the Adjutant General, calling Jones a, "noble fellow."
Jones was the son of well-known and highly respected Quaker parents. His father and mother were missionaries for the Society of Friends. He graduated with highest honors from the State University of Michigan, and from the Friends’ College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, where he was appointed Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin. He declined the position and instead returned to his home town of China, Maine, where he took up the post of Principal of its Quaker school, China Academy.
Hodsdon, in his Annual Report of 1864, said of Jones, "to the surprise of all who understood the relation he held to a society that did not countenance war, and against the most earnest remonstrances of his parents and relatives generally, commenced enlisting a company."
The Quakers were ambivalent in their attitudes about the Civil War. As much as they abhorred the taking of human life, they equally opposed the institution of slavery and the dissolution of the Union; and some thought that perhaps the war was justified.
Many Quaker men found alternative ways to help the Union cause by volunteering as hospital stewards or by serving with relief agencies.
But Jones, along with several hundred other Quaker men from around the country, decided to fight.
He began as a Captain in the 7th Maine, and in 1863 was promoted to Major. He was wounded at the battle of Antietam, and again in The Wilderness battles of 1864. In July, 1864, he returned from a short leave of absence in Philadelphia, where he had his picture taken, and where he asked Jacob to send it to Hodsdon.
Meanwhile, Confederate General Jubal Early launched an invasion of the North intending to capture Washington. The Union 6th Corps – including the veteran 7th Maine – was hurriedly brought up to defend the Capital. The two armies clashed on July 12 at Fort Stevens, just outside the city. James Jones was killed.
The Philadelphia Friends arranged for Jones' body to lie in state in Independence Hall, before it was sent home to be buried.
The photograph Jacob sent to General Hodsdon is annotated in Hodsdon’s handwriting: "A brave and good officer."
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