York County soldiers: Pvt. James Grey
A Cannonball reader sent in the above photograph of an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. The family knew “that he was in the Union Army during the Civil War, married to a woman named Mary about 1863, and that he has a son named James Grey Jr. born about 1864 who was married to Jane Shea about 1885. They are my great grandparents on my dad’s mother’s line.”
So who was James Grey?
According to researcher and author Dennis W. Brandt‘s database of York County soldiers on-line at the York County Heritage Trust, Grey served in the 200th Pennsylvania, Company A. He enrolled August 23, 1864 as a volunteer and served until the end of the war, being honorably discharged on May 30, 1865. He enlisted in York, but was credited by the army to South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County even though he was born in York County. Jim Grey was 21 at the time of his enlistment. He was 5′ 5″ tall, with sandy hair and blue eyes according to his enrollment papers, and worked as a cooper.
The 200th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was organized at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on September 3, 1864. The regiment left the Commonwealth via train and headed south to Virginia, where it served at Bermuda Hundred, arriving on the 9th. The 200th was attached to the Engineer Brigade of the Army of the Potomac for a month until a reorganization saw it assigned to the Provisional Brigade of Benjamin “Beast” Butler’s Army of the James.
Jim Grey and his comrades were on duty near Dutch Gap with Army of the James from September 11 to November 28, 1864. They saw their first combat action on November 19th when they repulsed a Confederate attack.
Shortly afterward on November 28, the 200th was returned to the Army of the Potomac as part of the Provisional Brigade, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac (later the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division). Grey served in the trenches during the Siege of Petersburg throughout the winter until the spring of 1865 when he and the 200th fought in several battles including Dabney’s Mills, Hatcher’s Run, (February 5-7) and Fort Stedman (March 25).
In late March, the end of the war in Virginia neared as Robert E. Lee was forced to abandon Petersburg and Richmond. Grey and the 200th took part in the assault on and capture of Petersburg on April 2. The following day they entered the city.
Lee led his beleaguered Army of Northern Virginia into the countryside in a desperate attempt to head south to link with Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army in the Carolinas. The 200th marched in pursuit of Lee in what later became known as the Appomattox Campaign. They were part of the victorious army in the area around Appomattox Court House, where Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army.
Following Lee’s surrender, the 200th was on duty at Nottaway Court House until May when the regiment was ordered to City Point and was shipped from there to Alexandria. It was there until May 30 when James Grey and his comrades whose terms of enlistment had expired were mustered out of the army. The men with time remaining were transferred to the 51st Pennsylvania.
The 200th Pennsylvania lost during its service thirty enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and twenty-four enlisted men by disease for as total of fifty-four fatalities. No officers perished.
After the war, many of the former soldiers joined the Grand Army of the Republic and participated in reunions and parades. One by one their ranks thinned until none were left.