Saturday, January 12, 2013

Surname Saturday - John H. Cotton Wounded at Battle of the Wilderness

My 3X great-grandfather, John H. Cotton, served as a private in the 17th Maine Infantry, K Company from 18 August 1862 to 11 Jan 1865. Looking at the regiment's history, this means he took part in the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the Battle of Gettysburg. There were numerous other campaigns as well but those are the major battles in which the unit participated before John H. Cotton was discharged. 

The Battle of the Wilderness was the beginning of the campaign to finish off the Confederacy and capture the capital of Richmond. On May 6th at the Battle of the Wilderness, he was shot in the right arm and had it amputated. The picture below is from the Maine Memory Network and while it give the names of many of the men, none of those identified is my ancestor. Still it's interesting to see the group on the day the battle started. The caption on their site reads: 
The 17th Maine Infantry is pictured on May 3, 1864, with some of the men identified. May 3 was the beginning of the Battle of the Wilderness. Two days later many of these soldiers were killed.

Collections of the Maine Historical Society
Looking at records found on, I found this:

Cotton, John H., rank private, company K, regiment 17 ME infantry, enlisted 18 Aug 1862, discharged 11 Jan 1865, length of service 2 years, 4 months, and 23 days. 

Amputation, Right Arm, GSW (gun shot wound), Recd in action, May 6/64, Wilderness

His death record states that he died on Christmas Day, 1894 of cancer of the stomach. He is listed as a farmer and I wonder how he managed with only one arm. Was he right-handed? I'd like to get his pension application but that will wait a bit because of the cost. 

Sources of Information:

John Henry Cotton & Christiana Cox
Francis Llewellyn Cotton & Lizzie Philbrick
Ray Everett Cotton & Annie Florilla Gibbs
Fern Lyndell Cotton - my grandmother 


  1. Your ggggrandfather was a patriot and a hero. I enjoyed reading your post about him.

  2. Hi Pam. Your John Henry Cotton was a brother to my third great grandfather, Thomas Hathaway Cotton. I would love to share information. My email is