US GenWeb

This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Sergt. Major Irving P. Jaques

Irving P. Jaques, son of Edward and Emily Jaques, was born at Nassau, N. Y., on the 6th of March, 1844. His character for energy and bravery began to develop in very early youth. At school he was the acknowledged leader in study or sport, and was the pride of his teacher. He was distinguished for his powers of oratory, and his knowledge of mathematics. While filling the situation of a clerk in a village store, the sound of the first gun fired in Fort Sumter reached his ears; and though scarce seventeen summers had passed over his head, he was inspired with an uncontrollable desire to assist in maintaining the rights of his country. Accordingly he enlisted, August, 1861, in the Forty-seventh New York Regiment, "Washington Greys." The regiment was, in two months, ordered to Annapolis, to take part in the expedition to Port Royal, under Gen. Sherman. Here the brave but frail boy, while in camp, was attacked with typhoid fever, which so prostrated him that his superior officer, Col. Moore, advised him to quit the service. The first intimation his parents received of his condition, was the following letter, received from the State Comptroller of Maryland.

Annapolis, October 20, 1861
E. Jaques, Esq.

My dear Sir—Your son Irving is now lying sick of typhoid fever, and is expecting his discharge from service. His regiment was ordered to strike tents and embark on Friday last, and had no time to arrange for his comfort and care. I have taken him to my home, and called my family physician to see him, who thinks his case decidedly improving. I think he is very anxious to get home, although he uses but few words. He has just said he would like to have you to come here immediately, and there is little doubt but that he would improve more rapidly in the atmosphere of home. Until you come, I will see that all necessary attention is given him.

Yours very respectfully,

Irving's father immediately responded to the call, and, in a few days, the sick boy was at home, and again received to hearts filled with gratitude to God for his safe return. They also felt inexpressible thankfulness towards the ministering angels of the stranger family, who had so kindly supplied to him the place of both father and mother. Mrs. Seabrook, as well as her husband, had strongly espoused the Union cause, and was an active worker in it, visiting the sick soldiers in camp, and making every one as comfortable as circumstances would allow. While thus engaged, she heard of Irving in the following manner. She was told that a young man had been left behind by his regiment, on their departure for Port Royal, but where he was, no one could tell. She, however, determined, if possible, to find him, and made the tour of the town. After a long search, amid many discouragements, she found him at the house of a colored nurse, where he had been kindly placed by the Captain of his company. Immediately, and while even ignorant of his name, she procured a carriage, and carried him to her own home, and attended him as carefully as though he had been her own son. God bless the Christian patriot, Mrs. W. L. W. Seabrook.

Irving's discharge from the army was soon procured, and, on the recovery of his health, he entered the store of an uncle, in Marion, Wayne county, in the capacity of bookkeeper. But he found it impossible, while the dismal clouds of war grew thicker and blacker, to remain contented at his occupation. Accordingly, in July, 1862, he again enlisted in the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment, raised in the counties of Wayne and Cayuga. But his active spirit chafed at the dullness of camp life, and when the order to march to Gettysburg came, he had a great desire to become an active participator in the approaching battle. He made all necessary arrangements, borrowed a rifle of a comrade and received a reluctant permit from his Colonel to step into the ranks of the Second Corps, prepared for a deadly charge upon the rebel batteries, on the eve of July 2d. Yet it was evident that the poor boy was not hurrying on to his fate without some misgivings. Just before taking his place in the ranks, he turned to a comrade, saying: " Sterling, do you think we shall have a hard fight? " "Yes," his friend replied, "Irving, I'm sure we will.'' He gazed a moment thoughtfully and mournfully into his friend's face, then silently tearing a leaf from his memorandum book, he wrote his parents' address and handed it to him, saying: " Sterling, if I fall, tell my father and mother." He turned, stepped into his place, and, in a moment more, lay dead at his friend's side. " Mother," was the last word he ever spoke. "Mother," was the last word he ever wrote, and "good night, dear mother," were the closing words to his last letter written home, a short time before that fatal evening. Oh, 'tis a long, long good night where no morning is to come. May God look with pity upon every mother in the land who has thus received from her soldier boy the long "good night." The circumstances of the dear boy's death are given in the following letters, addressed to his afflicted mother:

Head Quarters, 111th Regiment, N. Y. V.
Camp near Elk Run, Va., August 16, 1863.)

Dear Madam—I have just returned to the regiment and found your letter awaiting my arrival. I hasten to reply, regretting that I did not receive your letter sooner. It is my sad duty to inform you that your son was killed at Gettysburg, Thursday, July 2d. He was killed instantly in the beginning of the action, being shot through the head. I saw that he was buried by himself, and his grave marked with his name and regiment. I visited his grave and wept over the last resting place of the brave boy. He was a young man of whom I thought very highly. He died nobly doing his duty, and in a glorious cause. I sympathise with you in this your deep affliction. I mourn for him myself, as one of the bravest and most gifted young men who fell on that bloody battle field.

My own wound has nearly healed. I was in Albany last week, on my way back. Had I known you resided there, I would have called upon you, and explained these things to you. You have my sincerest sympathies in this, your affliction.

I am, very truly yours,
C. D. McDOUGALL, Col. lllth N. Y. V.

Warrenton Junction, Va., July 29, 1863

Mrs. Jaques—I received a letter from you yesterday, dated July 17th, making inquiries in regard to the death of your son at the late battle of Gettysburg. Irving had insisted all along on the march from Centreville, and contrary to the wishes of his superior officers, that if a battle occurred, he might be allowed to take a place in the ranks of the company of which he was a member. There is a strong probability that if he had remained in the rear of the regiment, he might have been alive to-day. But his ambition and courage prompted him to go into the ranks and share the dangers of his companions, with a musket in his hands.

It was about sundown on the 2nd of July, when part of our forces had been driven back by the enemy, that our brigade was brought into the fight. Irving was killed in less than ten minutes after they started, by a bullet through his head. He left no parting word for he was killed instantly. He was buried on the field on the spot where he fell. You have lost a noble son. It is hard to part with him, but he leaves sweet and glorious memories behind him, and his name is added to the long list of those who have died that a nation might live. I tender to you in behalf of the regiment, our tenderest sympathies in your bereavement. That you may receive that support and consolation, that flow from an implicit reliance upon the divine power, that orders all thing well, is the prayer of

Your obedient servant,
WILLIAM VOSBURGH, Surg, lllth N. Y. V.

Thus fell the noble boy at the age of nineteen years, a young martyr to liberty and the Union. He now sleeps his last sleep in the little graveyard at Nassau, almost in sight of the home where he first saw the light, and where death and sorrow had never before come.

Send comments or suggestions to:
Debby Masterson

Go Back to Albany County Biographies
Go Back to Home Page