John Livesley A Potter From Shelton Who Fought in The American Civil War


The American Civil War


Thousands of Britons took part in the American Civil War (1861-1863) fighting and dying for both the Union and the Confederacy.

Many were ex-soldiers who had fought in the Crimean War (1853-1856) while others were civilians from all walks of life who crossed the Atlantic to fight for a cause that they believed was just.

Writing home, an Englishman serving in the Union Army told his family:

“The Corporal of our detachment is an Englishman who celebrates today as the anniversary of “Inkerman” and wears his medals on his jacket, including the Victoria Cross, with silver bars, possibly the greatest honour an Englishman can earn.

“He was a Sergeant Major in the Rifle Brigade, and I can assure you he is by far the best soldier in our company.

“I find it worthy of mention that there are about 20 Englishmen in our company (about a fifth of its strength) and although we are small in proportion, every Sergeant is English excepting the Quartermaster Sergeant who is Scots.”

One of the men from North Staffordshire who fought with the Union Army was John Livesley.

Born in Shelton in 1838, John was the son of a local pottery manufacturer.

In January 1864 he went to the United States and enlisted in the 6th Regiment New York Cavalry.

His military career ended a few months later in August 1864 when he was wounded and taken to hospital where an arm and a leg were amputated.

John returned to Stoke-on-Trent and became a grocer in Lichfield Street, Hanley. He married Ellen Twigg in 1866 and died four months later aged 29.

History does not tell us how many Britons took part in the American Civil War,  but we do know that 67 of them who fought in the Union Army were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour, the United States of America’s highest military award for bravery in the face of the enemy.

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