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  • Sword Pommel Cap and Buttons of General William Sewell

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    Sword Pommel Cap and Buttons of General William Sewell - Inventory Number: IDE 031

               Irish Immigrant

               Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

               Wounded at Gettysburg

               Governor of New Jersey

               Sewell N.J. is Named after this General

    Typed note which accompanies these items states: Brevetted General William J. Sewell of the Fifth New Jersey Vol. Infantry Regiment, who would later become the Governor of the State of New Jersey, was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg.  This Medal cane head & buttons belonged to General Sewell. A very interesting story relates to these buttons and cane head. – The older gentleman who I obtained these items from said in the 1930’s he was a junk picker (anything to make a dollar in those days) and that he cleaned out a house where he found these items plus scrap books, letters, telegrams, plus many other items relating to Gen. Sewell’s Civil War and Governor time period.  – All items except the cane head & buttons were thrown away as “Trash”. Gen. Sewells’ black mourning coat was full of moth holes so he cut the buttons off & scrapped it with the other so called trash.  The wood on the cane was in bad shape so he removed the cane head. – The “Eulogy” book of Gen. Sewell was saved and sent to the librarian of Sewell, New Jersey.  It is very rare to find history which relates to the Civil War & Post Civil War life of a General and Governor of a state, Also included is the Battle history of the 5th New Jersey Vol. Inf.

    The top of the pommel cap has a tulip shaped floral design.

    The cuff buttons are in mint condition and have backmarks of: S.H. & G New York

    The coat size buttons are in mint condition and have backmarks of: Shannon, Miller, & Crane – New York Ca. 1867


    William Joyce Sewell:

    Residence was not listed; 

    Enlisted on 8/28/1861 at Camden, NJ as a Captain.

    On 8/28/1861 he was commissioned into "C" Co. NJ 5th Infantry 

    He Resigned on 7/2/1864

    On 10/1/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff NJ 38th Infantry 

    He was Mustered Out on 6/30/1865 at City Point, VA

    Promotions:

    * Lt Colonel 7/7/1862 

    * Colonel 10/21/1862 

    * Colonel 10/1/1864 (As of 38th NJ Inf)

    * Brig-General 3/13/1865 by Brevet 

    * Major-Gen 3/13/1865 by Brevet 

    Intra Regimental Company Transfers:

    * 7/7/1862 from company C to Field & Staff 

    Other Information:

    Born 12/6/1835 in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland

    Died 12/27/1901 in Camden, NJ 

    Buried: Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, NJ

    Medal of Honor Information: He was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 5/3/1863 at Chancellorsville, VA. (Assuming command of brigade, rallied troops and fought  through several hours of desperate conflict)


    Civil War Union Brevet Major General, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, US Senator. Born in Ireland, he was orphaned at a young age, and emigrated to the United States in 1851. When the Civil War started, he raised a company of Volunteers, and was commissioned Captain and commander of Company C, 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. He fought with his regiment in the Peninsular Campaign and at the Second Battle of Bull Run and had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in July 1862. When the 5th New Jersey’s commander, Colonel Samuel H. Starr, was recalled in October 1862 from volunteer service back to the Regular Army, William Sewell became commander of the regiment and was promoted Colonel in January 1863 (on the recommendation of Colonel Starr himself). He led the unit at the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, where he would render his most distinguished service of the War. In the heavy fight along the Plank Road, the 5th New Jersey’s brigade commander, Brigadier General Gershom Mott, was severely wounded and had to leave the field. His brigade and other elements started to retreat, but Colonel Sewell, now in command of the brigade, rallied them around the brigade colors and successfully led a counterattack. Although wounded himself, he held his position, fending off several more attacks before his unsupported troops, out of ammunition, had to retreat. His bravery in rallying his men would win him the CMOH 33 years later. He would recover sufficiently from his wounds to be in command of the 5th New Jersey during the Gettysburg Campaign. On the second day of that great Battle (July 2, 1863) his unit was at first posted in the Trostle Woods with the rest of his brigade. When it became apparent that the Army of the Potomac’s III Corps line, dangerously extended to the Emmitsburg Road, need re-enforcement, Colonel Sewell’s regiment was detached and sent to Emmitsburg Road in between the Rogers and Klingel Farm Houses. Late in the afternoon the regiment absorbed the first attacks by Confederate Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox's brigade, holding their position until driven back, and stopping to support 1st Lieutenant Francis W. Seeley's Battery K, 4th United States Regular Artillery in front of the Klingel House. Here Colonel Sewell’s command took a great pounding from Confederate counter-battery fire, as well as pressure from Rebel troops to their front and left. Finally, the 5th New Jersey was ordered to withdraw, and Colonel Sewell was again severely wounded. He would not be able to rejoin his regiment for some time afterwards but was sufficiently recovered to lead the unit during the Wilderness campaign. In that last battle fatigue and his wounds got the better of him, and he left the regiment, eventually resigning in July 1864 due to his ill health. Two months later his services were again called upon, and he was appointed as Colonel and commander of the newly raised 38th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. He commanded his new unit, which mostly saw only garrison duty along the James River, until its muster out in July 1865. On March 13, 1865 he was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers for “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va.” and Major General, US Volunteers for “gallant and meritorious services during the war”. After the war he became a powerful Railroad executive and a power broker within New Jersey state politics. He served in the New Jersey State Senate from 1872 to 1880, being its President from 1876 to 1880. In 1881 he was elected as a Senator from New Jersey in the United States Senate, serving from 1881 to 1887. In 1895 he was again elected to the Senate, serving from 1895 to his death in office in 1901. Like in his home state’s legislature, he became a powerful figure in the US Senate. He had served as a Brigadier General in the New Jersey National Guard, and was one of New Jersey’s Gettysburg Monument Battlefield Commissioners. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, he was appointed as Major General of Volunteers by President William McKinley, but he declined the commission, which would have forced him resign his Senate seat. His Medal of Honor citation reads “Assuming command of a brigade, he rallied around his colors a mass of men from other regiments and fought these troops with great brilliancy through several hours of desperate conflict, remaining in command though wounded and inspiring them by his presence and the gallantry of his personal example”. His Medal was issued on March 25, 1896. He was the only New Jersey officer to be awarded the CMOH while in command of a New Jersey regiment during the Civil War. In the Gettysburg National Military Park, his name is inscribed on the 5th New Jersey Infantry Monument, located on Emmitsburg Road just south of the Rogers Farm site.


    Inventory Number: IDE 031