Jesse Coon

Jesse Coon was born in 1840.

Jesse was possibly related to Philip and Sabrina Coon, who settled their family in Walker, Kent County before 1850, and were living in Walker in 1860. (During the war Jesse corresponded with at least two members of the Nelson Fitch family; their son Morris Fitch served in the Second Michigan cavalry and his mother Arletta. The Fitch family lived in Walker, Kent County in 1860.)

Jesse was 21 years old and probably living in Kent County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861.

Sometime around September 1, 1861, he wrote to his friend Morris Fitch, serving in the Second Michigan Cavary in the western theater of the war.

It is fun to see Gen. [Israel B.] Richardson ride when passing in review, one hand in the mane and the other guiding the horse and he hobbling all around like some fat old woman making her first essay at riding; but he is a trump and the boys all like him. After the review we performed several evolutions and fired blank cartridges until the air was filled with smoke and the hill fairly rattled again. At the close of old Zack Chandler had to make a little speech in which he piled on the agony considerable if not more. I have been to Mt. Vernon and was well pleased with the visit although it rained all the afternoon. It is a splendid spot, and for me to tread where the immortal Washington had was glory enough for one day. There is not much doing in the army hereabouts just now, except standing picket and drilling. We have been laboring on the fort, and men are now hired to finish it up; it will be when finished one of the strongest forts built since the war began. There is talk now of our going down just below Mt. Vernon and building log houses for winter quarters, but it is not definitely decided on yet. We shall then be about ten miles below Alexandria. Our Brigade participated in the grand review at Bailey's Cross Roads; it was a splendid sight near or quite 70,000 men, a larger body than I ever expect to see together again.

On January 5, 1862, he wrote from Camp Michigan to Morris, “Tuesday after I wrote you on Sunday, we pulled up stakes at Fort Lyon and about four miles west on the Richmond road, and camped in the woods, expecting to build shanties and winter there.

Got the[re] in the forenoon and some of the boys commenced cutting logs for shanties, in the night there was an alarm in camp; the Reg. was turned out and ordered to hold themselves ready to march, but it proved a false alarm. In the morning we were ordered to strike tents and move back two miles, as we had got out so far that we could be properly supported, in case we were attacked. So here we are, our Regt the farthest out at present. We have the best camp ground that we have had since coming out here it being a gravelly dry ground, with hills on the north and east of moderate height, clothed with timber, that on the north being a dense thicket of scrub, pine and cedar in which is our hospital; some of the boys have built shanties, covering them in some cases with poles brush and dirt, in others digging out troughs from the halves of small trees, and putting on two courses. Some remain in the tents without any fixing, others cut stockades about five feet long, split them, set them in the ground about 18 inches, raise the Sibley tent up on top of them and then shank up with dirt, which gives a great deal more room and makes it quite warm besides. We have our tent fixed so, it was used until a few days ago for the orderly's tent, when our second sergeant who acted as orderly was sent home to recruit, when they removed the desk to the Lieuts. tent. Our Squad now consists of Sergeant James O'Donahue, Corporal John G. Carpenter, his brother Benj. Carpenter, Charles E. Henry and myself, the latter three high privates; the Corporal has washed the dishes most of the time until yesterday morning he was on guard so I took the care in hand. I used to do such work and I find I have not forgotten all about it yet. Well I must take another sheet. I have just bought a Baltimore Clipper in which I learn that Gen. Sigel has tendered his resignation, for which I am truly sorry as he was an enterprising and energetic officer. I think the stand-still policy of the govt. had something to do with [it]. If they do not come up to the scratch pretty soon and make their policy something else but a pro-slavery one they will loose [sic] all their best officers an[d] men too if they don't look out. Christmas we made one of those ineffectual reconnaissances for which this Potomac army is becoming notorious. Several Regts. of infantry, a battery of artillery, and some cavalry went as far as Pohick church starting at five in the morning. When nearing the church our co. was thrown out as skirmishers, but found nary a rebel. Arrive[d] at the church, stacked arms, eat our dinner, fooled around, fired one gun at some rebel pickets on a hill across a stream, and then come to the conclusion that if we crossed we might get licked out with our small force, so turned tail to and came back to camp, not in the best of humor as we were led to believe when going out that we should have a brush with the Secesh, but behold we had not any means to cross the stream, and not men enough to accomplish anything but defeat if we did cross.

On February 2, 1862, he wrote to Arletta Fitch, Morris' mother living in Kent County, Michigan, from Camp Michigan in Virginia, that

in one of your letters, you was lamenting, that you have not any wool, that you might knit Morris [Fitch?] and myself some socks. Now I can remedy that evil in part; good heavy three-threaded colored cotton socks, are just as warm and will outwear any woolen sock I ever wore. Now I will enclose a dollar which will buy yarn enough to knit four pairs, two for Morris and two for myself, and I guess pay the postage on them to us besides, and the knitting I will trust to your” skill. “Em's part in the business may be the marking our names on them. In doing them up to send by mail ends of the package should appear and they will come through for about ten or twelve cents. Pretty liberal now ain't I? All on my side though I will try and give a description of the size of my foot, it is somewhere a little less than the size of a small barn pretty definite that isn't it? Well my foot is chunked and short wearing a number eight boot. Well I guess that will do for a description. Today has been pleasant, but the mud continues as deep as ever; it has been the most quiet Sunday in camp for a long time; no ear piercing fife nor rolling has broken upon its stillness; several of our boys that did not go yesterday have gone today on picket. The Regt will be out four days. There came very near being an accident in camp today. Some of the boys cut a small tree, and feel[ed] it across the tent occupied by the Sutler for an eating, and partly for storage. But as luck would have [it] there was no one hurt; well I have about written out, so I will close. Tell Lewie he must be a good soldier and Ella that she must be a good girl in school.

Jesse was taken prisoner on May 31, 1862 at Fair Oaks, Virginia, interned for a short time at Salisbury prison in North Carolina, and was paroled in late November or early December of 1862. Upon hearing that one of his friends in Company A, George W. Miller, had disappeared at Fair Oaks, on December 8 Jesse wrote to George's mother from the camp for paroled prisoners.

Madam you are excusable in addressing a stranger under the circumstances, for there is no soldier I trust in the army so dead to the feelings of humanity as to refuse to give all the information possible in such a case. Your son was certainly not taken to Salisbury [prison in North Carolina], for I knew all of the Regiment that was there but 8 of us. I also think that all of the prisoners taken in that battle [Fair Oaks] that were not too severely wounded to prevent it were taken to Salisbury. Your son was highly esteemed in his company and no doubt they made a careful search for him as the nature of the ground would admit of. The battle was fought for the most part in dense thicket of scrub oaks and pines and in some places the timber had been slashed down and a person falling in those slashes might easily escape the notice of those searching for him. It is the opinion of his friends that he fell in one of those thickets, and so escaped their search. Deeply sympathizing with a mother for the loss of a dear son, you will please accept the sincere condolence of a soldier in your great affliction.

(George had in fact been killed at Fir Oaks but his body was never found.)

Jesse returned to the Regiment on December 28, 1862, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia.

He was killed in action May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia, and presumably buried among the unknown soldiers buried at Chancellorsville.

No pension seems to be available.

Interestingly, George Coon, a son of Philip and Sabrina Coon (see above), named his daughter born in 1863, Jessie. George and his family as well as his parents were still living in Walker in 1870.