Move to the East Coast – D.C. & the Generals

Based on information we have from multiple sources, we can create a timeline for the next 6 years of his life and his movements.

Richmond, August 1861: The U.S. Civil War began 12 Apr 1861 and it’s first large battle, Bull Run, took place 21 Jul 1861.  James’ next record is for Mary Ellen, their 4th child. She is born in Richmond on 15 Aug 1861.

Washington, D.C., July 1863: James is being taxed in Washington, D.C as a “retail liquor dealer.”1)U. S. IRS Tax Assesment Lists, 1862-1918, District of Columbia, 1863, Jas Morrissey; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://ancestry.com : accessed 28 Oct 2016), citing Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Group 58, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Their 5th child, daughter Anna Elizabeth (Nannie) is born in D.C. on 6 Dec 1864.2)Commonwealth of Virginia, Board of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death, 25 Mar 1927, Register 664, Anna Elizabeth Morrissey. According to the city’s tax records and directories, it appears that the family moves multiple times during their stay.

In July 1865, James taxed in D.C. for the last time.3)U. S. IRS Tax Assesment Lists, 1862-1918, District of Columbia, 1865, James Morrissey; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://ancestry.com : accessed 28 Oct 2016), citing Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Group 58, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

It doesn’t seem likely that he moved his family out of the way of danger considering the proximity of D.C. to many battles. Did James move to Washington, D.C. to avoid aligning with the Confederacy? Was he being called to enlist in the Confederate military? Slave Trading was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, and the whole institution in 1833.4)“An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade,” 25 Mar 1807, date of Royal Assent. So, James grew up in an Ireland where slavery didn’t exist. This later political beliefs all point to the fact that James was a Unionist. Then again, D.C. may have been a familial choice as many of Elizabeth Keenan’s immediate family lived there.5)Jean Morrissey Sanner, “Don’t Overlook Unmarried Female Ancestors: Who was Bridget M Keenan?” research for author, Sept 2016, [address for private use], Virginia, 2016.

In a handwritten letter from ca. 1889, James states that he gave assistance to Generals Grant and Sheridan for several years during the War.6)James Morrissey (Richmond, Virginia) to U.S. Treasury Dept, letter for job application, gauger of the Port of Richmond, abt 1889; privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, [address for private use,] Virginia, 2016. [The original letter segment is torn at the top and bottom. Unsigned, but clearly identified by the birth information therein. Approximate date of is calculated by the author’s age given.]

james-morrissey-handwritten-letter-services-to-gen-grant-a
Digital Image of a handwritten letter by James Morrissey (~1889). Note the second paragraph.

The second paragraph states: “Although not serving in the Union Army or Navy as an enlisted soldier during the late war, I rendered valuable service of a private nature to Genl. U.S. Grant and Genl. Sheridan, for over two (2) years, for which I never asked or received any compensation.”

I have not, as of yet, investigated the legitimacy of the claims in this letter. Both Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) and Philip Henry Sheridan (1831-1888) were stationed in Missouri prior to and during the early days of the U.S. Civil War. James, having spent considerable time in Missouri may have offered valuable advice. And even a brief time in Richmond might have also made his information valuable to the Union military leadership. He was in the right places and the right times to offer aid.

Later, as Monroe Ward, Richmond delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention, James makes a motion regarding and then is one of five representatives sent to meet General U. S. Grant and “extend to him the privilege of the floor of this Convention, and that he be requested to address the Convention.”7)“General Grant Invited,” The Staunton Spectator, Staunton, Virginia, vol 45, No 21, 28 Jan 1868, p 1, col 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Oct 2016).

Richmond, May 1867: James serves on jury duty in Richmond for the U. S. Circuit Court for the District of Virginia.8)“Jurors of the Jefferson Davis’ Treason Trial,” Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Charlottesville, Virginia; digital images, Encyclopedia Virginia, (http://encyclopediavirginia.org : accessed 28 Oct 2016).

Questions: Why does James remove to D.C. for the duration of the war? How does he meet Generals Grant and Sheridan? What is the nature of the information he provided them? Did that relationship extend beyond the war? What was the process for jury selection in Richmond in 1867?

Next: First Integrated Jury in the South

References   [ + ]

1. U. S. IRS Tax Assesment Lists, 1862-1918, District of Columbia, 1863, Jas Morrissey; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://ancestry.com : accessed 28 Oct 2016), citing Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Group 58, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
2. Commonwealth of Virginia, Board of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death, 25 Mar 1927, Register 664, Anna Elizabeth Morrissey.
3. U. S. IRS Tax Assesment Lists, 1862-1918, District of Columbia, 1865, James Morrissey; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://ancestry.com : accessed 28 Oct 2016), citing Records of the Internal Revenue Service, Group 58, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
4. “An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade,” 25 Mar 1807, date of Royal Assent.
5. Jean Morrissey Sanner, “Don’t Overlook Unmarried Female Ancestors: Who was Bridget M Keenan?” research for author, Sept 2016, [address for private use], Virginia, 2016.
6. James Morrissey (Richmond, Virginia) to U.S. Treasury Dept, letter for job application, gauger of the Port of Richmond, abt 1889; privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, [address for private use,] Virginia, 2016. [The original letter segment is torn at the top and bottom. Unsigned, but clearly identified by the birth information therein. Approximate date of is calculated by the author’s age given.]
7. “General Grant Invited,” The Staunton Spectator, Staunton, Virginia, vol 45, No 21, 28 Jan 1868, p 1, col 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 28 Oct 2016).
8. “Jurors of the Jefferson Davis’ Treason Trial,” Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Charlottesville, Virginia; digital images, Encyclopedia Virginia, (http://encyclopediavirginia.org : accessed 28 Oct 2016).