≡ Menu

Can YOU Identify This Signature?

Another historical mystery found its way into my little corner of Civil War cyberspace recently.  Gary Skinner sent along a beautifully preserved letter recently for use on my Siege of Petersburg site.  The letter, written on August 4, 1864 and describing the Battle of the Crater, is a lengthy one.  The mystery concerns exactly WHO wrote it.

We know the following:

  • The letter writer was writing to a Miss Millie Stevens from Chelmsford, Massachusetts.  It appears her father (brother, uncle?) was S. Stevens from Chelmsford.
  • The letter writer was a member of the 11th Massachusetts Battery
  • The letter writer does not appear to be an officer of the regiment based on clues in the letter
  • The letter writer was taking care of Captain Edward J. Jones, who was suffering from a recurring fever
  • The letter writer’s signature is displayed below and on the letter’s permanent page:


So what do you think?  Who was this man?  What was his rank?  Is the signature above a first name, a last name, a nickname, or something else?  Let’s see if the combined brainpower of all you readers out there can figure this one out.  Feel free to comment below or use the contact form if you want to send me an attachment to back up your assertions.


{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Scott McPhail February 26, 2014, 9:38 pm

    I might be jumping to conclusions but it looks like a woman’s hand in my opinion. And if I had money to place I would say it says “Wyfy.” I read it and I don’t recall anything that rules out a woman acting informally as a nurse as the writer.

  • bschulte February 26, 2014, 9:44 pm


    That thought occurred to me as well. I’m not 100% sure this was a soldier or even a male. I’m almost 100% sure the last three letters are “yfy”.


  • Scott McPhail February 26, 2014, 10:29 pm

    Edward Jenkins Jones, son of Jacob and Mary (Covell) Jones, was born in Boston, October 15, 1822, and was educated at the public schools and Hampden Academy. He was appointed deputy sheriff in Boston in 1845 by Sheriff Eveleth, but after serving some years in that capacity he studied law and was admitted to the Suffolk bar in October, 1878. During the War of the Rebellion he was captain of the Eleventh Massachusetts Battery, and was brevetted major for gallantry at the battle of Fort Stedman in Virginia. He was chief of the State Police from 1866 to 1872, a representative in 1872 and 1874, and trial justice for juvenile offenders three years. He married Emily D., daughter of James and Fanny B. Campbell, of Milton, in Boston, April 26, 1847 [alternate date: March 31, 1849]. He has compiled Massachusetts criminal laws up to 1868, and the decisions of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts up to 1868 on the liquor laws. He lives in Boston.
    –Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Volume 1, The Boston History Company; 1895


  • Scott McPhail February 26, 2014, 10:30 pm

    hmmm, my other comment, did it go through? darn internet.

  • bschulte February 26, 2014, 10:32 pm

    Your comments on Hill vs. Will and the short Edward Jones bio went through. Did you have another one?

  • Scott McPhail February 26, 2014, 10:34 pm

    No, just those- my connection has been very iffy.

Leave a Reply