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Dear America Wiki

James Pease (left) on the cover of the second edition

All of the characters that appear in The Journal of James Edmond Pease by Jim Murphy.

Main characters[]

James Pease[]

Main article: James Pease

Sergeant James Edmond Pease (c. 1847[1] – 1914)[2] was a member of G Company in the 122nd Regiment of the Army of the Potomac. He joined the company in 1863 "because [he] needed a pair of boots and dinner." During a skirmish, James charged at the Confederates head on, though the enemy retreated at the same time. This action led to him being promoted to temporary Corporal, and later Sergeant. During the Battle of the Wilderness, Pease made his way through enemy territory with Davie and Sally.

Johnny Henderson[]

Main article: Johnny Henderson

Private Johnny Henderson (born c. 1844)[3] was also a soldier in G Company of the 122nd Regiment of the Union Army with James Pease, his good friend. He was raised on his family's farm with his mother and three sisters. Johnny was always good-humored and kind, but often clashed with Charlie Shelp. He fought alongside James during the Battle of the Wilderness.

Supporting characters[]

Alexander Toms[]

Lieutenant Alexander Toms (born c. 1820)[3] was in charge of G Company of the 122nd Regiment in the Union Army. Before the war, he worked as a schoolteacher near Syracuse, New York. In July 1863, Lt. Toms was demoted from Captain, after several of his company accidentally shot other Union soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg. He assigned James Pease to write an account of their company in a journal. Lt. Toms was injured during a battle, and returned as G Company's leader in January 1865. He never received the promotion he wanted, and was sent home after being wounded in Fishers Hill, Virginia.

Charlie Shelp[]

Private Charlie Shelp (born c. 1838)[3] was a member of G Company of the 122nd Regiment. He offended many of the people in his company and enjoyed thinking up hurtful nicknames, such as "Orphan Boy" for James Pease. Charlie fought several times with Johnny Henderson, which often ended in a brawl. Later, Charlie would openly defy James in front of other soldiers, when James was promoted to Sergeant. After the Civil War, Shelp became a foreman on the Union Pacific Railroad and later a manager of a factory in San Francisco.


Davie was a slave at a plantation in Virginia. He was the nephew of Sally, husband of Martha, and father of three, including Harriet. He previously lived in New Orleans, where his parents and brother's family died of Yellow Jack fever. Around 1854, he moved to Virginia with his owners. In May 1864, Davie and his family escaped from the plantation with James Pease, who helped them sneak past the Confederates. Davie and his family went to St. Louis for help in relocating.

Robert Donoghue[]

Sergeant Robert Donoghue (c. 1837[3] – May 6, 1864)[4] was a military officer in G Company of the 122nd Regiment. His father, Flann, was an Irish cooper, who became a soldier in the United States Army. Robert's family consists of his mother named Mary, two younger brother, his wife, and three daughters. He had joined the army prior to the Civil War. Sgt. Donoghue was shot through the stomach and killed during the Battle of the Wilderness.


Sally was a French-speaking slave that lived in Virginia during 1864. She was born on an island off the coast of South America, before being sold at age seven to some people living near New Orleans. After her husband died, Sally's owners moved to Virginia with their slaves around 1854. Her nephew was Davie. She first helped James Pease by hiding him in her shack. Later, she and Davie enlisted his help to escape the plantation. Sally relocated with her family, after visiting the Union Commission in St. Louis.

Sarah Henderson[]

Sarah Rebecca Pease  (née Henderson; c. 1849 – 1924)[5][2] was the sister of Johnny. She began a correspondence with James Pease, after writing him a letter thanking him for his courage. Sarah married James on June 4, 1864, while James was on two weeks furlough. After the war, Sarah traveled with James on his newspaper assignments. They had a daughter named Kate. Sarah died ten years after James, while working for National Geographic in New Zealand.

Willie Dodd[]

Private Willie Dodd (c. 1847[3] – May 6, 1864)[6] was James Pease's friend and a soldier in G Company. He owned a three-legged dog named Spirit, who often went with him to deliver messages. Willie had a fondness for all animals. His mother died when he was five and his father worked as an engineer for the New York Central Railroad. Willie died with Spirit during the Battle of the Wilderness.

Minor characters[]

  • Private Alonzo Clute, Pte. Benjamin Breed, Pte. Boswell Grant, Pte. Brower Davis, Pte. Charles Holman, Pte. Chester Youngs, Pte. David Bernard, Pte. Develois Stevens, Pte. George Chittenden, Pte. Hiram Wicks, Pte. Hiram Woolsey, Pte. James Crozier, Pte. Jehial Lamphier, Pte. John Doty, Pte. John Keller, Pte. John Williams, Pte. Joseph Landphier, Pte. Miles McGough, Pte. Sanford Van Dyke, Pte. Will Hammond, Pte. William Bateman, and Pte. William Zellers, members of G Company in the 122nd Regiment of the Army of the Potomac.
  • Private Asa Rich (born c. 1842), Pte. Hudson Marsh (born c. 1841), and Pte. John Robinson (born c. 1828),[7] three new recruits in December 1863. They also fought in the Battle of Spotsylvania.
  • Benjamin was the grandson of plantation owner, Bill.
  • Bill was a Southerner, who owned Sally and Davie. He had a grandson, Benjamin.
  • Caesar was Lt. Toms' elderly servant, who was freed in Virginia. He previously worked near Gordonsville, and helped Lt. Toms plan routes around there.
  • Private Charles "Charlie" Buell (born c. 1833)[8] was a lawyer from Manlius, New York. He joined G Company after helping some slaves escape to Canada. Charlie deserted in early December of 1863.
  • Private Charles Stevens (born c. 1832) and Private Theodore Stevens (born c. 1847),[3] two soldiers in G Company that were shot, but not killed on May 5, 1864.
  • Private Cornelius Mahar (c. 1843[3] – May 1864),[2] a member of G Company, who died during battle.
  • Captain Clapp was an officer in charge of A Company. He was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain for showing valor in battle. Later, he had Lt. Toms and G Company become a part of his command.
  • Third Lieutenant Ernst Altgelt was a member of G Company, before being transferred to K Company.
  • Gabrina Sales (born c. 1837),[3] enlisted as Private William Kittler, a mysterious soldier of G Company. She was wounded in Cold Harbor, but refused treatment. Gabrina fell unconscious and was revealed to be a woman. She was sent north to recover and was never heard from again.
  • Private George Chittenden (born c. 1834),[3] a G Company soldier, who was swept into a river, but saved.
  • General George Meade was the commander of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War.
  • Harriet was the daughter of Davie and Martha. James carried her, while they were escaping.
  • Second Lieutenant Harrison Jilson was an officer in G Company, before dying of typhoid fever.
  • Private Henry Clements (born c. 1845)[3] was a member of G Company. His father, also named Henry Clements, owned a dry-goods store and livery service, while his mother, Henrietta Clark, taught piano. Henry was attending Harvard College, when he enlisted in the army. He was injured during a skirmish.
  • Private Henry Wyatt (born c. 1846)[3] was the brother of James Wyatt. He was in G Company.
  • James Pease's uncle and aunt were James' only living relatives. They raised him after his parents' death. His uncle was a hardworking, religious man, who had convinced James that he was unlucky. James' aunt was quiet and frail. They began resenting James, after suffering a food shortage.
  • Private James Wyatt (born c. 1843)[3] was a soldier in the 122nd Regiment. He had a brother, Henry.
  • Corporal John Bell (born c. 1842)[3] was a military officer in G Company. He broke his leg and was sent north for treatment.
  • Private John Farner (born c. 1819)[3] was a member of G Company. He joined the army to end slavery.
  • Corporal Titus was a military officer in the Union Army. He was the commanding colonel of the 122nd Regiment during the Civil War.
  • Private Lyman Swim (c. 1846[3] – May 1864),[2] a G Company soldier, who died during battle.
  • Martha was the wife of Davie and mother of three. She was a slave, until she ran with her family.
  • Corporal Miles Gorham (born c. 1842)[3] was a member of G Company. He was promoted from Private.
  • Major Mitchell was a military officer in the 122nd Regiment of the Union Army.
  • Private Niles Rogers (c. 1829[3] – May 6, 1864)[9] was a soldier in G Company. He was tent-mates with Philo Olmstead. Rogers was killed during the Battle of the Wilderness.
  • Private Osgood Tracy (born c. 1842),[3] also known as the "Little Profeser", was a soldier in G Company. His father was a surgeon, who enlisted in the Union Army as a brigade surgeon. Osgood was in medical school, when he enlisted as a soldier. After the war, Osgood became a doctor in Albany, New York.
  • Private Otto Parrisen (born c. 1830),[7] joined G Company during the winter of 1863. He was injured during the Battle of the Wilderness.
  • Private Peter "Pete" McQuade (born c. 1846),[3] a soldier in G Company. James Pease gave him the lucky coin that Sarah had given him, which Pete later returned. Pete was injured and sent home.
  • Major Pettit, (died May 6, 1864)[10] also known as "The Merry Widow Maker", was an officer in the Union Army. He was "always in the fiercest part of any battle." Pettit was in charge of G Company and three other companies during the Battle of the Wilderness, where he was killed.
  • Sergeant Philip Drake (born c. 1841)[3] was a military officer of G Company. He fell ill and was unable to work for some time. Drake returned and was promoted from Corporal.
  • Private Philo Olmstead (born c. 1828)[3] was a soldier in the Union Army. He was raised in Belvidere, New Jersey, where his father worked as an undertaker. He moved to a small town in New York with his father and became a carriage maker.
  • Captain Riskind was an officer in the Union Army. He assigned James to unload ambulances.
  • Robert E. Lee was a general in the Confederate Army.
  • Spirit (c. 1860[3] – May 6, 1864)[6] was the three-legged dog of Willie Dodd. He was killed by two Confederates after the Battle of the Wilderness.
  • Private Theron Chrisler (born c. 1844)[7] was a soldier in G Company. He attempted to desert, but was caught and punished.
  • Thom Roche was a newspaper photographer. He took a picture of James Pease.
  • Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant was a commander in the Union Army.
  • Private Washington Evans (born c. 1844)[7] was a soldier from Syracuse, New York. He joined G Company in November 1863 and bunked with James Pease, Johnny Henderson, and Charlie Shelp. Washington followed in his father's footsteps and became a carpenter in Syracuse, after the war.

Epilogue characters[]

  • Kate Pease was James' and Sarah's only child. She lived in Montana, where she received a trunk of her parent's possessions, including her father's Civil War journals, after their deaths.


See also[]