Although the military history of his family goes back to the Revolution, to Commodore Chauncey in the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes and up through most of the wars including current day.
The afternoon I sat down with Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Chancey, it was his Civil War grandfathers that I was interested in.
This past February, after the second annual Civil War ball was held in Vandalia, one of the images from the ball carried in the local newspaper was that of a Union soldier and lady captured mid-dance. The Leader-Union identified the couple, and since then I have wondered what Union connection Mr. Chancey had in his family tree.
My opportunity came at the recent Grande Levée when I was able to talk with him a little and discover that he had not one great-great-great grandfather who was a Union veteran, but two.
Jackson Neace, of Ava, Jackson County, was 18 years old when he joined Co. H, 27th Illinois Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. The unit mustered in at Camp Butler, near Springfield, and within 20 days was in service at Cairo, protecting Mississippi River traffic.
The first action seen by the 27th Illinois was at Belmont, Mo., in a two-day battle on Nov. 6-7, 1861.
Initially, the Union troops had the Confederates on the run, and seemed to have won the battle in a rout. During the battle, Pvt. Jackson Neace was shot in the leg and taken prisoner.
He was quickly exchanged and returned to the Union camp. Ultimately, his right leg was amputated and he was eventually discharged on Aug. 4, 1863, to return home and begin life as a civilian.
Mr. Chancey said that his mother would often talk about her grandfather Neace, whom she remembered. Then, several years ago, she made the comment that there was another Civil War veteran in the family by the name of Coroden Robinson.
Research revealed that Coroden Robinson, a native of New York state, was a 38-year-old widower with a 16-year-old son of the same name when he signed up to serve. He was living in Ionia County, Mich., at the time he was assigned to Company G, 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry, on March 29, 1864.
Military records for Coroden do not show prior military service. However, two days after he mustered into the unit, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Sgt. Robinson saw service at the battle of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Courthouse, Bethesda Church and Cold Harbor, among others. On June 12, 1864, the Second Michigan crossed the Chickahominy River and joined in the battle of Petersburg. On June 18, Sgt. Robinson was among 69 members of his unit who were injured, he with a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Along with others, Coroden was evacuated to Harewood Hospital, Washington, D.C., and when death came to him on Sept. 4, he was buried in grave 8569 of Section 13, on the grounds of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s home – later known as Arlington National Cemetery. His grave is just up the hill and to the right of the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Chancey’s interest in the service of his Civil War ancestors has led him to join Sons of Union Veterans, a service organization formed to perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.
Within Illinois, there are eight encampments or camps, with one of the local camps, the Hecker Camp, being located in the metro-east area. In addition to living history events, men from these camps take part in educating the public about life among the soldiers during the Civil War.
Anyone with an ancestor who served with Union forces is eligible to join the Sons of Union Veterans organization.
As for Pvt. Jackson Neace, he returned home to raise a family in Jackson County, and later received a pension for disability.
Coroden Robinson Jr. received his father’s personal possessions after his death, including two shirts, shoes, socks, blouse, a tent valued at $41 and a "housewife," which is a kit with needle and thread.
Thus is the story of two American war veterans.