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Clark, John Wesley


Age: 33, credited to Montpelier, VT
Unit(s): 6th VT INF, USV
Service: comn QM, 6th VT INF, 9/28/61 (10/14/61), wdd, near Warrenton, 7/28/63, pr CPT and AQM, USV 4/7/64, m/o 12/6/64 (Medal of Honor)

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Birth: 10/25/1830, Moretown, VT
Death: 08/04/1898

Burial: Green Mount Cemetery, Montpelier, VT
Marker/Plot: Lot 574
Gravestone photographer: Kathy Valloch
Findagrave Memorial #: 22700


Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 6/9/1880; widow Ann B., 9/18/1898, VT
Portrait?: VHS Collections
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None


2nd Great Grandfather of Elizabeth Clark Young, Boston, MA

2nd Great Grandfather of Laureen M. Wintermyer, New Cumberland, PA

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Green Mount Cemetery, Montpelier, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


This soldier was awarded the Medal of Honor

John Wesley Clark

Rank and Organization: 1st Lieut. and Regimental Quartermaster, 6th Vermont Infantry.
Place and date: Near Warrenton, VA, 28 Jul 1863.
Entered service at: Montpelier.
Born: 25 Oct 1830, Moretown.
Died: 4 Aug 1898.
Buried: Green Mount Cemetery, Montpelier, VT
Date of Issue: 17 Aug 1891.
Citation: Defended the division train against a vastly superior force of the enemy; he was severely wounded, but remained in the saddle for 20 hours afterward until he had brought his train through in safety.


VHS - Reunion Society Collection


Captain John Wesley Clark was born in Moretown, Vermont, October 22, 1830, and received his education in the common schools and at Newbury Seminary. He began the battle of life when but a lad, and by his persistent energy and good judgment overcame all obstacles. In 1849, more than a year before attaining his majority, he took the overland route for California, at Little Rock, Arkansas, joining a party of sixty who were making the trip in typical "prairie schooners," provisioned for several months. Reaching the point of his destination, he was engaged in mining and mercantile pursuits for several years, and took an active part in public affairs, serving for some time as sheriff of Mariposa county, and being a member of the Vigilantes. On his return to Vermont, he established himself in business in Montpelier, being successfully engaged as a carriage manufacturer until the breaking out of the Civil war. On September 28, 1861, he entered his country's service as quartermaster of the Sixth Vermont Volunteer Infantry and participated in several important engagements, including the battles of Lee's Mills, Williamsburg, Golding's Farm, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Crampton's Gap, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Maryland Heights, Gettysburg, and others of minor importance. While in charge of a wagon train guarded by convalescent soldiers, on July 28, 1863, near White Plain, Virginia, he was wounded while repelling a charge of rebel cavalry, for gallant conduct during the engagement being awarded a medal of honor by Congress. On April 7, 1864, he was promoted to captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers. Returning to his home at the close of the conflict, he resided in Montpelier until his death, August 4, 1898. A wide-awake, energetic man, possessing great force of character, liberal-minded and sympathetic, he was recognized as a patriotic, loyal citizen, and his portrait, entitled "A Vermont Hero," rightfully occupies a conspicuous position in the Wood Art Gallery at Montpelier. He was a member of the Loyal Legion, Vermont Commandery. Captain J. W. Clark married, in 1854, Betsey Ann Dewey, daughter of Osman and Rebecca (Davis) Dewey, and great-granddaughter of Jacob Davis, the founder of Montpelier. She is still living, making her home with her only son, Colonel Osman D. Clark, in the house where her entire married life has been spent.

Hiram Carleton, Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, (Lewis Publishing Co., New York, 1903), p. 260.
NARA File Number: C-166-VS-1869.



Capt. John W. Clark died at 10:30 o'clock Thursday night at his home on State street, of heart failure, brought on by an attack of indigestion. He was about that day, apparently as well as he had been for a long time.

He has been attending to the duties on his farm on Worcester branch very closely for weeks during haying, and went there Thursday, remaining all day. He returned in the evening, and feeling chilled from the rain drew his chair in front of the stove and placed his feet in front of the oven. He had the table placed so that he ate his supper from this position. A half hour after eating he felt an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach, followed by severe pains and nausea.

He was, however, unable to relieve his stomach, which the physician afterwards stated would undoubtedly saved his life, had he been able to do so. From 7 until 10 o'clock he was in great pain, but during it all persisted that he would not have a physician.

He was so resolved in this that about 9 o'clock he arose and went out to the barn, as is his nightly custom, to feed the stock and prepare them for the night. When he returned he was still of the belief that a doctor was not needed and that his sufferings were only a short attack that would soon pass away.

Some of the neighbors were called in and it was deemed best to get a physician, Dr. H. S. Boardman being summoned. When he reached the house Mr. Clark was in great pain. He did all in his power for him, but at that time he was very far gone and growing worse. At 10:30 he died calmly, although he had suffered greatly up to a short time before he passed away.

Mr. Clark had not been a well man for a great many years, it being believed that he had lung difficulties, and all his friends considered that when he died it would be caused by these troubles. In fact Capt. Clark was considered in such health about 18 years ago that when he endeavored to join the Knights of Honor, then a new organization just starting, some of the members did not believe that he should be allowed to join, as they did not think him in perfect health. Strange to say Capt. Clark has outlived eight or ten of these same objectors.

Although not of robust health Capt. Clark was wiry, and muscular which added to his good habits greatly prolonged his life.

Capt. Clark was 68 years of age the 16th of last October. He was born in Berlin, being the son of Oliver Clark of that place. But one brother now lives, Septimus Clark, who resides in Berlin.

At the age of 18 he went to Little Rock. Ark., where he intended to assist an aunt who conducted a ministry school in that place. He remained there a short time. It was then the year 1850, when the gold craze of California was sweeping the country.

A pioneer party of 60 was formed in Little Rock to go to California, and young Clark joined the number. They started out in canvas-covered wagons provisioned for several months. The journey was made over an unknown country into wilderness that had never before been explored, and among savages who would gather in great bands and fight to death with the white settlers.

All along the way this little band of 60 was harassed by red skins, until many of then turned back, disheartened, but most of them were killed in giving fight. But here was no turning back for Capt. Clark. When the party reached California, out of the 60 who started there were but six or seven besides young Clark to tell the story.

The journey occupied seven months, but it was so terrible that he did not attempt it on the return, but came by way of the Isthmus of Panama.

On reaching California Capt. Clark went into the mines. He was a young man and full of vigor. In a short time he owned horses and did trucking of all kinds for the miners, besides having an interest in a claim that was being worked. His Yankee brain served him in good stead and he put his hand to all sorts of odds and ends to make a living.

He was so successful in his work there, that during the last four years he was in California he was a member of the celebrated Vigilante committee and sheriff of the Mariposa county whose word in that country at that time was more powerful than the President's.

Prisoners were not given very long or careful trial in those days, and the committees formed for the protection of property and life went little further than the nearest tree to string up anyone against whim there was the last evidence.

It appeared as though he was followed by the hand of fate, yet withal he was guided by the kind finger of Providence. On the ship on which he sailed to see the dear ones at home, every moment of his time being given to the happy thoughts of the manner in which he would surprise them when he rushed into the house, a terrible pestilence broke out.

Of all the dread diseases that which is most to be dreaded, cholera, raged. The pestilence spread rapidly. Men died like sheep in a pen. Over 300 deaths were recorded. Capt. Clark was among the few who escaped.

On his return to Vermont he became acquainted with his wife, then Miss B. Anne Dewey, a daughter of Osman Dewey, a brother of Dr. Julius Y., the father of Admiral George Dewey and Charles and Edward Dewey, of this city.

Capt. Clark did not intend to remain in Vermont, but expected after visiting here he would go back again to California. He had large business interests there, Inadvertently he became interested in a carriage manufactory through F. C. Gilman, his brother-in-law, whom he loaned money in order to carry on the business.

Shortly afterwards he went back to California to close his business there, and on his return to Vermont again he became actively engaged in the carriage business, the shops being located where E. W. Bailey & Co.'s mill is now situated.

January 26, 1854, he married Miss B. Anne Dewey, the marriage taking place in the old "Brick church" on Main street near the sit on which the present "Bethany church" is located. Rev. Dr. Lord was the pastor in those days.

The wedding is remembered by the older residents as a very elaborate affair. Owing to the fact that Mr. Clark had just returned from California filled with stories of adventure and of the great riches of that State, he was looked on as a hero. One resident of the city remembered him and his bride riding to the door of the house of worship in a barouche and Mr. Clark handing coins to the ushers as he passed them by into the church.

Mr. Clark conducted the carriage business on his return from California until the breaking out of the civil war, when the old fighting spirit which he had contracted during his journey to California and later in the Indian war in California got the mastery and he enlisted in the Sixth Vermont, being appointed quartermaster sergeant with rank of captain. He served his enlisted time.

After the war he again settled back into peaceful pursuits. About 1870 he was appointed postmaster, which office he held for 12 years, succeeding James G. French. There was some dispute over the building which Mr. French had erected and for a time Mr. Clark had the office located in Phinney's rear store, now Ehle's book store.

During the late years of Capt. Clark's life he has conducted a farm on Worcester branch. His residence for a great many years has been on lower State street.

Capt. Clark is survived by a wife and one son, Col. Osman D. Clark, of the First Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, now at Chickamauga. He is on his way here. Having secured a 30 days' furlough. His home coming is sad on that account, as his father had looked to meet him Sunday, but instead they meet differently than each had expected.

Capt. Clark was a very prominent Mason, having held all the leveling offices in the various organizations. He was a member of Aurora lodge, King Solomon Chapter, Montpelier council, was past high priest of the grand chapter of Vermont, was also member of the Knights of Honor, as well as of the Legion of Honor.

Capt. Clark was one of the best citizens of the city. He was looked on with respect by everyone. He was a companionable man full of entertaining stories and adventures, both those which he had personal experience in and those that were told to him by others.

His entertaining qualities made him liked and sought after by everybody during the days when he was younger and went about socially. The family have the sympathy of a legion of friends in the community in their bereavement.

The funeral is to take place at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon from the house. Rev. Dr. Seaver will officiate. Col. Clark has been telegraphed for and will be here at that time.

There is an oil painting in wood Art gallery, having no name but that of "A Vermont Hero." It is Capt. Clark and was painted by Mrs. John W. Burgess.

Source: Argus and Patriot, August 10, 1898.
Courtesy of Tom Boudreau.