Chess Family

 Submitted by Rev. Mary Sprowls to me in 1992

This page created Friday, July 24, 1998

JONAS CHESS (1839-1864)

Jonas Chess, fifth and youngest son of Peter and Anna (Jacobs) Chess, was 
eight years old when his mother died. He was reared by his father and his 
step-mother, Elizabeth.

About age 22, Jonas married Cassandra "Cassy" Stall, the daughter of George 
Stall and Rachel (Henderson) Stall. Cassandra was first married to Samuel Stahl, 
a son of Abraham Stahl, by whom she had two children, Abraham born 1852, and 
Sarah born 1854. Some time after the birth of Sarah, Samuel Stahl went west in 
search of gold, and after an absence of several years an erroneous report was 
received that Sam had been killed in a rock slide.

On December 8, 1861, Cassandre married (Mary's line) Jonas Chess. They were 
the parents of twin boys, Peter and George Washington Chess. George Washington 
was born October 12, 1862. Peter died in 1866 and is buried in the Chess 

In June of 1863, General Lee with an army of apporximately 80,000 troops 
crossed the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, preparatory to an invasion of 
Pennsylvania. The battle of Gettytsburg was fought July 1-3, 1863. The 
appearance of the war on Pennsylvania soil brought about increased enforcement 
of the National Conscriotion Act of 1863, and on July 13, 1863 Jonas was taken 
forciably by Army recruiters from the porch where he sat with his infant sons. 
He was assigned to Co. G., 76th 
Pennsylvania Infantry, as a private, and served 
until his death July 19, 1864 in Point Lookout Hospital, Maryland, where he died 
of a gunshot wound received in action May 16, 1864 during the battle of Drewry's 
Bluff, Virginia.

Jonas was buried in the grounds of what is today Point Lookout Confederate 
National Cemetery, with a wooden headboard marking his grave. The remains of the 
Union soldiers buried there during the war were later removed and reinterred in 
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. The grave of Jonas Chess is 
number 12013, in Section 13, located in the western portion of the cemetery 
between Garfield and McPierson Drives. Each year all graves are decorated with 
small United States flags on the work day immediately preceding Memorial Day, 
and removed on the first work day following.

Sam Stahl returned from the west some time after the death of Jonas and he 
and Cassandre were remarried about 1869. George Chess lived with his mother and 
stepfather, along with two more half-brothers, Irvin Stahl born 1871, and Samuel 
C. Stahl born 1876.

My mother's memories (*My Aunt Ruth) of Cassandre are of a warmly 
affectionate woman with thick shiny red hair worn up in braids; of blue eyes and 
a dimpled chin; of gay laughter; a golden locket; the softly swishing rustle of 
petticoats; and a little rag doll named "Peef".
(*Received from Judy Perfect, my cousin and daughter of my Aunt Ruth--Mary) The Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Virginia 76th Pennsylvania Infantry In July of 1863 the 76th Pennsylvania Infantry was ordered from seige operations against Fort Wagner to Tenth Corps Headquarters, Hilton Head, S.C., where it remained on post duty until spring. In the interim the corps underwent reorganization, and on January 28, 1864 the Second Brigade of the Second Division was activated. This Brigade, placed under the command of Col. Wm. B. Barton of the 48th New York Infantry, was composed of four infantry regiments, the 47th, 48th, and 115th New York, and the 76th Pennsylvania. The Tenth Corps was ordered to Yorktown, Va. in April of 1864 to serve with the Army of the James, under Major-General Benjamin F. Butler, in operations beginning on the south side of the James River. During May the corps engaged in the capture of Bermuda Hundred on May 5th, the action at Port Walthal Junction, Chester Station, Proctor's Creek, operations against Fort Darling, and the battle of Drewry's Bluff. The battle of Drewry's Bluff, in which Jonas Chess received his critical wound on May 16, resulted in defeat for the Union forces necessitating their withdrawal back to the Bermuda Hundred front. The following description of operations May 12-16 is based on a report written May 17, 1864 from Second Division Headquarters in the field near Hatcher's, Va., by Brigadier-General John W. Turner, commanding, as published in the Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 36, Part 2, pp. 93-95. The Corps moved out about 4 a.m. of May 12th on the road leading to Wars Bottom Church, and by noon had encountered enemy skirmishers at Redwater Creek. Before dark the lines of the Second Division had advanced nearly half a mile to Proctor's Creek, where it remained for the night. At noon of the 13th the Division crossed the creek and by dark, having taken up a position to the left of the pike in a dense growth of timber and underbrush, was actively engaging the enemy who were strongly entrenched in an open field. After several hours the enemy retreated beyond a belt of timber into another series of entrenchments. The Division then advanced, another half mile and formed a line at the skirts of the timber, in which position it remained during the 15th and 16th engaging the enemy, most of the time. Early on the morning of the 16th the Division received orders from the Corps commander to be ready for a frontal assault on the enemy. Skirmishers were hotly engaged and enemy artillery was pounding the division when a serious attack occurred on the right flank of the Tenth Corps which necessitated immediate deployment of troops to resist it. Before these reinforcements could reach their position the enemy had broken through in considerable numbers and was "pouring a galling flank and reverse fire on the left wing of the (Second) Division". The attack on the right flank was effectively thrown back, but before further disposition of troops could be made the enemy made a violent charge into the line of the Second Division on the left of Barton's brigade. The 6th Connecticut Regiment broke and fled, carry with it part of the 76th Pennsylvania and the enemy succeeded in reaching the lines of the Second Division, even taking some prisoners. The 76th Pennsylvania, rallied by a Major Eddy, was quickly thrown back into the line along with regiments from another Division and ultimately the enemy was driven back in disorder. After undergoing another severe attack, by which the enemy nearly effected capture of the entire 142nd New York Infantry, orders were received to retreat to Proctor's Creek, where in late afternoon the second Division retired into camp within it's earlier entrenchments. Losses for the five days in the Second Division amounted to 601, of which the Second Brigade sustained 217, with 26 killed, 181 wounded, and 10 missing. A fleeting glimpse into the part played by the 76th Pennsylvania Infantry, on May 11th, is reveald in two brief Union communiques issued while events were taking place: May 11, 1864: "General Terry: The Major-General commanding directs that you cause the 76th Pennsylvania Volunteers to be relieved from picket duty at the front as early as practicable, and ordered to report to their Division commander." May 14, 1864: "General Turner: The General commanding desires me to say that several hours ago he sent word to you to relieve regiments skirmishing before their ammunition failed. The 76th Pennsylvania has sent to these headquarters four different times for ammunition. Will you please relieve it?" Quotations are from pages 649 and 773, Series 1, Vol. 36, part 2, of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. In July of 1863 the Union established a hospital and prisoner depot at Point Lookout, Maryland. Point Lookout, lying at the mouth of the Potomac River where it empties into Chesapeake Bay, was subject to sudden attacks from raiding parties and detached cavalry from Confederate armies operating against Baltimore and Washington. Due to the vast number of prisoners detained here, it was necessary for the Union to strengthen and secure the position with forts commanding both the interior and exterior, in order to nullify attempts at liberation or escape. Wounded Union soldiers from the Bermuda Hundred front were brought to the hospital at Pt. Lookout by ship until they could be removed to other installations. A cemetery was established in 1864 and mainly used for interment if deceased prisoners, however, some Union Army soldiers were interred there, and later their remains were removed and reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery. The remains of 3,383 known, and unknown, Confederate soldiers are interred today in a common mound, as the individual graves could not be identified, the wooden headboards marking them having been destroyed by fire. In 1910, the State of Maryland requested the United States Government to assume the care of these dead in the same manner as are being done elsewhere, and towards that passed an Act relinquishing all right, title, and interest in the cemetery. The United States Government marked the common grave with a granite monument of reinforced concrete constructuion approximately 69 feet high, and to this monument were affixed twelve bronze tablets giving the names and comments of the 3,383 known Confederate dead and showing one designated unknown.

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