Sgt. William Harrison Kinsey

Just after the fearful Battle of Shiloh was all over and the enemy had finally disappeared forever from that field of blood, and the time had come for return to camp of the few survivors, Captain Rhodes of Company H, 28th Illinois Infantry, directed the orderly of his company to call the roll to ascertain the names of those still remaining in line; and of all the noble boys of that company at the rising of Sunday’s sun, the following comrades only responded to their names, that is to say:

Hinman Rhodes, captain
John B. Carithers, acting orderly
William H. Kinsey, sergeant
George Whitfield Reese, private
Simpson Sturgeon, private
John A. Jacobs, private.

Total, six; each and all of whom, except the captain, entered the service from Ipava, Fulton county, Illinois. ¹

How Kinsey might have looked

Military records tell us that William Henry Harrison Kinsey (1841-1863) entered the service on 15 August 1861 at the age of 20 at Vermont, Illinois, enlisting in Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry for a period of three years. He gave his place of birth as Randolph County, Indiana; his occupation as teacher; and described himself as a brown-haired, brown-eyed, 5 foot 8 inch single man with a fair complexion. I might add that William’s handwriting and composition indicates that he was better educated than the average Illinois volunteer, which probably accounts for his occupation.

As near as I can determine, William died on 27 July 1863 from wounds received in the 12 July assault on Jackson, Mississippi. Unfortunately the history books have not done justice to Kinsey’s service. The regimental history does not reveal the termination of his service; a history of Fulton County does not even list him among the counties volunteers; and he is rarely mentioned elsewhere. Neither can I find any burial record for the sergeant — in Illinois or elsewhere. As further evidence of his death during the war, there are no post-war military or civilian records for William.

William was the youngest child of Jesse Kinsey (1800-1870) and Naomi Ellis (1799-1872). His older sisters were named Martha Eliza (b. 1823), Rhoda (1828-1901; married Joseph T. Bingman), and Naomi (b. 1835; married Nathaniel Ross). In the 1850 Census, the Kinsey family was enumerated in Pleasant, Fulton county, Illinois. We learn from that census that William’s father was born in North Carolina, his mother in Virginia, and his two older sisters in [Harrison county] Ohio.

Though William generally signed his name as W. H. Kinsey, he occasionally signed his name “H” and he signed one of his post scripts, “Harrison.” In the 1850 U.S. Census, William’s name was recorded as “William H. H.” which suggests to me that his full name was probably William Henry Harrison Kinsey — a common name for young males born in the immediate post-election era of the “Tippicanoe & Tyler too” presidential campaign.


William wrote all of these letter to Miss Mary Ellen Stoops (1843-1921) of Hickory Grove which was located in the Spoon River watershed of Fulton county, Illinois.  It is to her (and most likely her descendants) that we owe our thanks for preserving these twenty letters. Mary was the daughter of William H. Stoops (1815-1905) and Hannah Lindsey [or Lyndsay] (1819-1852) of Vermont township, Fulton county, Illinois. After his wife’s death in January 1852, Mary’s father married 23 August 1852 to Keziah Clark (1834-1860). After Keziah’s death, he married (17 April 1862) Mrs. Margaret Wentworth (1830-1892).

By his three marriages, Mary’s father had at least sixteen children: Hezekiah Stoops 1836–1837; Amy Stoops 1839–1901; John Stoops 1841–1856 Mary Ellen Stoops 1843–1921; Stephen Stoops 1846–1858; Rachel Stoops 1848–1849; Michael Stoops 1849–1850; William Henry Stoops 1852–1852; Sarah Jane Stoops 1853–?; Philena Adelia Stoops 1855–1858; Naomi Estaline Stoops 1857–1858; Benton Stoops 1859–1946; Perry Houston Stoops 1863–1949; Frank Elmer Stoops 1866–1870; Ada Elizabeth Stoops 1869–1891; Richard Owen Stoops 1871–1943.

On 14 September 1864, Mary Ellen Stoops became the second wife of William Guthrie (1837-1918) — a farmer of Vermont township, Fulton county, Illinois. William’s first wife was named Amanda Farr. William was the older brother of Francis “Marion” Guthrie (1841-1863) who served in Co. F,  103rd Illinois and died of disease at Cairo on 31 January 1863. See poem to Marion’s memory composed by comrade John W. Ellsworth.

¹ [Source: The illustrated comprehensive history of the great battle of Shiloh, by Samuel Meek Howard, p. 143]


Adjutant General’s Regiment History
Frederick Dyer’s Regimental History
Union Enlistments Residing in Ipava, Fulton County, Illinois