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James McManus

Co. A   3rd Iowa Infantry

Compiled and transcribe and contributed by Ron Seymour


James McManus was born in Ireland around 1841 to James and Catherine McManus. Little is known of his early years or when the family moved to America.  James Sr. died on Jan 15, 1856 leaving fourteen year old James Jr. to care for his mother. There is no record of any other children from this marriage.


On May 18, 1861, James enlisted in Company A of the 3rd Iowa Infantry and was sent to Benton Barracks in St. Louis for training. He said on his enlistment papers that he lived in Dubuque, but it is unclear exactly which side of the river he lived on.


Prior to his enlistment James worked as a laborer for John Beattie who ran a livery stable in Dunleith (now East Dubuque) Illinois. Beattie later testified that most of James wages were paid to his mother, Catherine and that she was dependent on James for her “sole and entire” support and had been since the death of her husband.


Phineas W. Crawford a thirty-year-old Vermont native, living in Dubuque, who had enlisted the same day as McManus was appointed 2nd Lt of Company A. After the war he described the tragic accident that took the life of James McManus. He “…was killed by a gunshot wound in the back of the head, at Benton Barracks, St Louis MO while engaged with his Regiment in a drill and sham battle. He was supposed to have been killed by his rear rank man, as the muzzle of the gun was so close as to burn his cap. At the time the Regiment was firing with blank cartridges, while moving on the double quick. He died instantly.” Crawford also admitted “I was present at the time, though I did not see the occurrence, but saw the body of McManus immediately after he was killed.”


McManus’ body was returned to Dubuque and interred in the Old 3rd Street Cemetery on Kelly’s Bluff. Years later his remains were removed to Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Key West.




James McManus

Co. A

3rd Iowa Infantry


photo courtesy of Ron Seymour

After the usual Government delays, in 1864 forty-five year old Catherine McManus was awarded a pension of $8 a month back dated to the time of his death. Her pension was later raised to $12 per month until her death in Chicago in 1890.


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