Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The American Civil War – John H Littrell

Thanks to Bill West of West in New England for the Civil War Blog Challenge to mark the 150 anniversary of the start of the Civil War on 12 Apr 1861.  I’ve been meaning to blog about my third great grandfather, John H Littrell.  (See Fearless Females – Mini Profile, March 31, 2011 to read about his wife Letis Ellen Knox). I was quite surprised to find out how many American ancestors that I had, let alone an ancestor in the American Civil War.  My American ancestors are from my Mom maternal side who came to Alberta, Canada in the 1890s. 

Most of what I know about John Littrell comes from Pension No. 11273 (Applicant-Letis Ellen Littrell, Veteran-John H Littrell) and a couple of census records.  I have no parents for John and I’m not sure what the H stands for.  According to the records John was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1831. The year corresponds to his census record for 1860, taken in Mercer County, Illinois.  Although the census states he was born in Iowa. I tend to believe the pensions records as John probably gave them the information.

John Littrell was enlisted by Lieutenant S.S. Newberry of the Twelfth Regiment of Infantry at Dubuque, Iowa on November 29, 1861.  At this time John is married to Letis Ellen Knox and has five children.  He is to serve three years but doesn’t make it passed one.  On October 11, 1862 he’s discharged with a Surgeon Certificate of disability at Fort Hamilton NYH.  The surgeon, B. Randall, finds him incapable of performing his duties of a soldier because of a “pallid look, flabby muscles and broken down constitution”.  Somehow he makes it back to Dubuque, Iowa. His wife, Letis, in a letter to the pension office says that he died of his illness November 17, 1862.  

I believe that John H Littrell is buried at the Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque, Iowa. Although when I e-mailed the cemetery they replied they didn’t have records back that far.  But I have found mention of a John Littrell of the Twelfth United States Infantry whom grave is at Linwood on p 419 of a book on google “The History of Dubuque County, Iowa, a history of the County, its Cities, Towns, & C.” published in Chicago by Western Historical Company, 1880.  John Littrell is, also, mentioned as one of the soldiers’ graves decorated at Linwood Cemetery on May 30, 1868 from the Dubuque Daily Herald on Dubuque County IA GenWeb.

I’m still searching for clues about John Littrell and learning about the civil war.  My husband is quite surprised that I’ll watch the civil war shows on TV with him. But they’re so much more interesting when you have ancestors who lived during that time period.  I have a lot of unanswered question.  Who were his parents? What battles was he involved with during the civil war? Is he really buried at Linwood cemetery and does he have a grave marker?


  1. Hi Jacqueline!
    An interesting case and post. I look forward to learning what you eventually find out about John's parents.

    Thanks for taking part in the Challenge!

  2. We have Littrel's in our line - in our French Canadian branch! Best wished on your genealogical quests!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)