Today's story perhaps begins way back in 1862 during the US Civil... or should I say... UNCIVIL War. That was the year that Joe enlisted in the US Navy at New York City. I have yet to find records regarding his true age but it was probably about 20.
It has been said that for at least 17 of the next 20 years Joe wore the uniform of a sailor. Slight broken service after some re-enlistments account for the 3 yrs lost time in uniform.
Ten years into his service Joe's name would be recorded for all eternity as a naval hero, for those interested enough to check it out. It would be just one day after Christmas in 1872 that Joe, now a fully trained seaman would hear his call into the history books.
Here is what the Captain had to say about Joe...
Regardless, Joe would be awarded a Medal of Honor for his heroism. He would be the 2nd of 3 from this vessel that would receive MOH's for bravery during service on this vessel during their time in the North Atlantic Squadron.
It has been noted in earlier blogs here and quite often on the net that Joe received the first Medal of Honor awarded after the end of the Civil War.
This has been disproved by my research in the last few weeks. But more on this possibly in a future blog.
On 24 August 1873 the Powhatan got caught up in a hurricane off the coast of Halifax, Some 600 lives were lost, 900 buildings destroyed and 1,222 vessels lost. The Powhatan was not lost, but was driven from the Cunard wharf across the inner harbour to the Ordnance Wharf in Halifax Nova Scotia. On board may well have been Joe and two other MOH recipients at the time.
Joe continued his service and, while sailing on the USS Wyoming, he was sent from there in 1881 to the naval hospital at Norfolk, Virginia in 1881, suffering from paralysis and "starting to lose his mind." By June his case had worsened and he was transported to the Government Insane Hospital at Washington DC. Insanity was the catch all, in those days, for veterans who suffered from what we now call PTSD.
On 21 March 1882 he passed away there and was buried on site.
Much more on this in 2 weeks.