Sunday, March 30, 2014

John Tomney

Union Army
Private, Company D
70th Regiment, New York Infantry
Promoted to full Corporal

Killed in action July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg

National Park Service

The Gettysburg Experience
May 2010
Diana Loski
“…He was part of the Excelsior Brigade, Humphreys’ Division, in Dan Sickles’ Third Corps. After a narrow escape of running into a sizeable Confederate force at Black Horse Tavern upon their arrival at Gettysburg very early in the morning of July 2, the Excelsiors were deployed with the rest of their division in the Peach Orchard, near the Emmitsburg Road. Because the ground was well suited for artillery but ill favored for infantry, the men were subjected to a horrendous barrage of cannon fire from Longstreet’s Confederate line. Several shells exploded in the vicinity of the 70th New York, killing and desperately wounding many in the ranks….”


The death of Tomney, whose surname became Tommy in the newspapers, was widely reported, in Union states, after the battle at Gettysburg. Twenty-five years later, in 1888, Tomney’s death was reported again.


The Adams Sentinel
(Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
June 30, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman known as John Tommy.  He was attached to the first regiment Excelsior Brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorville [sic], and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded unto Gettysburg but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs and he shortly bled to death.

Boston Daily Advertiser
(Massachusetts)
July 10, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First Regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Prince’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known.

Courrier des Etats-Unis
(New York, New York)
July 10, 1863






































Springfield Republican
(Massachusetts)
July 10, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to Gen. Sickles’ brigade and was a great favorite. The company he was in went into the action with 28 men and lost 20 in killed and wounded. Tommy’s case was peculiar, as he was the only representative of the empire of China in the finest army on the planet.

The Sun
(Baltimore, Maryland)
July 10, 1863
China at Gettysburg.
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death.

Troy Daily Times
(New York)
July 11, 1863
A Chinaman called John Tommy fought in Sickles’ old brigade at Gettysburg, and was one of eight men in his company who escaped injury. Probably John Tommy is the only representative of the celestial empire in the finest army on the planet.

The New York Times
July 12, 1863
China at Gettysburg.
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Price’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known both from that circumstances and certain peculiarities of his own. John Tommy came to this country immediately after the breaking out of the war, and was induced to enlist in Gen. Sickles’ brigade, at that time being raised in this city. He was then a mere lad, entirely ignorant of our language. Being bright, smart and honest, he soon become a favorite at Red Hook, Staten Island, and was at once the butt and the wit of the whole regiment. Before he became located on the Maryland shore of the Potomac opposite Aquia Creek, in one of the reconnaissances on the south side of the river, Tommy was taken prisoner and soon become a lion in the rebel camp. He was brought before Gen. Magruder, who surprised at his appearance and color, asked him was he a mulatto Indian or what? When Tommy told him he was from China, Magruder was very much amused, and asked him how much he would take to join the Confederate army. “Not unless you would make me a Brigadier-General,” said Tommy, to the great delight of the secesh officers who treated him very kindly and sent him to Fredericksburgh. Here Tommy become a great lion, and his picture was published in the Fredericksburgh papers. Subsequently he was sent to the Libby Prison, Richmond, where he met his captain, Benjamin Price, who had been taken prisoner at Williamsburgh. After his parole Tommy came to New York City, where he employed his time in attending upon his sick and wounded comrades. He was the kindest of nurses and spent his little means in providing delicacies for a sick fellow-soldiers. In the subsequent engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigade, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s night he was wounded by a shell, which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death. The company he was in went into the action with twenty eight men and lost twenty in killed and wounded. Tommy’s case is peculiar as he was the only representative of the Empire of China in the finest army on the planet. — World.

Boston Evening Transcript
(Massachusetts)
July 14, 1863
The only Chinaman in the army was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

Daily Citizen and News
(Lowell, Massachusetts)
July 14, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to Gen. Sickles’ brigade and was a great favorite. The company he was in went into the action with 28 men and lost 20 in killed and wounded.

Hartford Daily Courant
(Connecticut)
July 14, 1863
The only Chinaman in the army was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

New York Herald Tribune
July 14, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States Army, was slain at Gettysburg. The brave little fellow belonged to the 1st Excelsior Regiment, which he joined at its organization. He was a kind, unpretending, clever fellow, much beloved by his comrades, and noted for his attention to the sick and wounded.

Roman Citizen
(Rome, New York)
July 17, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States Army, was slain at Gettysburg. The brave little fellow belonged to the 1st Excelsior Regiment, which he joined at its organization. He was a kind, unpretending, clever fellow, much beloved by his comrades, and noted for his attention to the sick and wounded.

Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph
(Gloucester, Massachusetts)
July 18, 1863
The only Chinaman in the army was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment.

Havana Journal
(New York)
July 18, 1863
The only Chinaman in the war was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

Public Ledger
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
July 20, 1863
China at Gettysburg.
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First Regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Price’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known both from that circumstance and certain peculiarities of his own. John Tommy came to this country immediately after the breaking out of the war, and was induced to enlist in Gen. Sickles’ brigade, at that time being raised in this city. He was then a mere lad, entirely ignorant of our language. Being bright, smart and honest, he soon become a favorite at Red Hook, Staten Island, and was at once the butt and the wit of the whole regiment. Before he became located on the Maryland shore of the Potomac opposite Aquia Creek, in one of the reconnaissances on the south side of the river, Tommy was taken prisoner and soon become a lion in the rebel camp. He was brought before Gen. Magruder, who surprised at his appearance and color, asked him was he a mulatto Indian or what? When Tommy told him he was from China, Magruder was very much amused, and asked him how much he would take to join the Confederate army. “Not unless you would make me a Brigadier-General,” said Tommy, to the great delight of the secesh officers who treated him very kindly and sent him to Fredericksburg. Here Tommy become a great lion, and his picture was published in the Fredericksburg papers. Subsequently he was sent to the Libby Prison, Richmond, where he met his captain, Benjamin Price, who had been taken prisoner at Williamsburg. After his parole Tommy came to New York City, where he employed his time in attending upon his sick and wounded comrades. He was the kindest of nurses and spent his little means in providing delicacies for a sick fellow-soldiers. In the subsequent engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigade, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s night he was wounded by a shell, which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death. The company he was in went into the action with twenty-eight men and lost twenty in killed and wounded. Tommy’s case is peculiar as he was the only representative of the empire of China in the finest army on the planet.

Salem Register
(Massachusetts)
July 20, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First Regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Prince’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known.

The Daily True Delta
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
July 23, 1863
p1 c5: Among the killed was a young Chinaman known as John Tommy. He was attached to the first regiment Excelsior Brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death.

Cleveland Leader
(Ohio)
July 28, 1863
The only Chinaman in the war was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

San Francisco Bulletin
(California)
August 1, 1863
John Tommy, the Chinaman Killed at Gettysburg.—An Eastern paper says:
(see Public Ledger text above)

The Daily Constitutionalist
(Augusta, Georgia)
August 2, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States army, was slain at Gettysburg.

The Macon Daily Telegraph
(Georgia)
August 4, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States army, was slain at Gettysburg.

Robinson Constitution
(Illinois)
October 24, 1888
A Chinaman, supposed to be a member of the Seventieth New York, was killed at Gettysburg. (scroll down column to “Random Shots”)

Union Springs Advertiser
(New York)
October 25, 1888
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth [sic] New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

The Angola Record
(New York)
October 25, 1888
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth[sic]  New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

The St. Lawrence Plaindealer
(New York)
February 13, 1889
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth [sic] New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

Boone County Recorder
(Burlington, Kentucky)
June 26, 1889
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth [sic] New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Times
(Pennsylvania)
June 29, 1963
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman known as John Tommy. He was attached to the first regiment Excelsior Brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs and he shortly bled to death.


Links
Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York (1902)
Tomney, John.—Enlisted, May 15, 1861, at New York city, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. D, June 21, 1861; promoted corporal, no date; killed in action, July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa.; also borne as Tommy.
The Gettysburg Death Roster: The Federal Dead at Gettysburg (1990)

North & South, April 1999, page 37

Chinese Soldiers Fought in U.S. Civil War

Tomney is profiled in the National Park Service book, Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War.

(Updated February 26, 2015; next post: John Fouenty)

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