Thursday, May 1, 2014

Joseph Pierce

born May 10, 1842, China
arrived in America early 1850s
enlisted in Union Army, July 26, 1862
Company F, 14th Connecticut Infantry
wounded in battle at Antietam; fought at Gettysburg
promoted to corporal November 1, 1863
mustered out May 31, 1865

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census has China-born “Joseph Pearce”, age 19, as a member of Langdon J. Peck’s household in Berlin, Connecticut. Pierce was naturalized March 27, 1866.














It’s not clear if “Jos Pierce”, found in the 1870 census, is the same person. At age 28, he was in Ephraim Peck’s household in Meriden, Connecticut. “Jos Pierce’s” birthplace was recorded as “Connecticut.”

According to the 1880 census, Pierce lived on Cook Avenue in Meriden, Connecticut, with his wife, Martha, and year-old daughter, Lulu. His birthplace was China and occupation engraver. The 1890 census is not available.

In the 1900 census, Joseph Pierce’s home was in Meriden at 17 Meridian Street. He continued work as an engraver. His birth date was recorded as “Jan 1849” and his birthplace as “Japan.” His two sons were Franklin, 17, and Howard, 15.

Pierce’s address was the same in the 1910 census. He was an engraver in a silver factory. Martha and Howard were with him. “Japan” was listed as his birthplace. Pierce passed away January 3, 1916, in Meriden.

Irving Moy did extensive research on Joseph Pierce and it can be read at the Association to commemorate the Chinese serving in the American Civil War.

Moy’s research on Joseph Pierce 1
Moy’s research on Joseph Pierce 2
Moy’s research on Joseph Pierce 3
Moy’s research on Joseph Pierce 4
Moy’s research on Joseph Pierce 5
Reader’s comment 7 (emails from a great granddaughter)


BOOKS

An American Journey
Irving Moy
lulu.com, 2010

Chinese America: History and Perspectives, 1995
Chinese Historical Society of America
Ruthanne Lum McCann profile of Pierce

Connecticut Yankees at Gettysburg
Charles P. Hamblen
Kent State University Press, 1993
Pvt. Joseph L. Pierce

Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander
Kent Masterson Brown
University Press of Kentucky, 2014
Joseph L. Pierce

History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
Charles Davis Page
The Horton Printing Co., 1906
photograph of Joseph L. Pierce





















Pickett’s Charge: A Microhistory of the Final Attack at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863
George Rippey Stewart
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1991
Private Joseph L. Pierce

Senate
34th Congress, 1st Session, Ex. Doc. No. 99
Report of the Secretary of State, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate of April 24, calling for information relative to the coolie trade.
August 5, 1856
Captain Amos Peck mentioned


PERIODICALS

The National Tribune
(Washington, DC)
October 23, 1890
Chaplain H.S. Stevens, of the 14th Conn., says that recently there has appeared in several papers and in our own journal, under the heading, “Our Only Chinese Soldier,” a statement that Mr. E.D. Cahota [sic], once of the 23d Mass, was “the only representative of the Mongolian race among the millions of men thus facing each other in a struggle for life and death.” This statement is erroneous, for there was at least one other Chinaman among the boys who wore the blue and saved the Nation. The 14th Conn., whose record as to number and severity of battles engaged in, number of men lost by war casualties and hard campaigning experience, surpasses that of any other regiment representing our good State in the field during the war, had in its ranks a simon-pure Chinaman, brought to this country but a few years before, Joseph Pierce by name. His record, as officially given shows that he enlisted, a private, with Co. F, from Berlin, Conn., July 26, 1982; was promoted to Corporal Nov. 3, 1863, and was mustered out May 31, 1865, thus serving with the regiment its full term. Our “Joe,” as we all call him, was an apt, capable, faithful and brave soldier, and “did us proud.” He is living now, an intelligent and industrious business man and good citizen, and I had the pleasure of greeting him at the recent (Sept. 17 last) Reunion of our dear old regiment at Middleton, Conn. “Joe” is a great favorite with us, as was evident from the hearty, vociferous round of applause with which he was greeted by the boys as he entered the hall at our recent meeting, his bright eyes snapping and sparkling in his honest face as they were wont to years ago. Now, if other Chinamen served as loyally and as well among our Union patriots during the war, why may we not hear from them?

The National Tribune
October 30, 1890
Personal.
J.E. Standard, Co. G, 14th Conn., Welaka, Fla., having seen the mention of genuine Chinamen in the army, says he knew Joe Pierce as a true soldier. There was another Chinaman in the 27th Conn, named Antonio Dardell, who was brought from China by a Capt. White when quite young. Dardell served his time with credit, and now lives in New Haven.

The Boston Herald
(Massachusetts)
April 26, 1894
Is a Civil War Pensioner.
Yet Joseph Pierce Must Register as a Chinaman Under the Geary Law.
Meriden, Ct., April 29, 1894. An American citizen and a veteran of the civil war has been ordered to register under the Geary Chinese law. The instructions came from Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue Fox. The Chinaman is Joseph Pierce, who was born in Canton, China, and who has been in this country since he was 10 years old. He served through the war, and is now on the pension roll. He is loth to register as a Chinaman, yet, having no money with which to contest the matter, fears that he will be deported after May 1.

New York Daily Tribune
April 29, 1894
The Talk of the Day.
Joseph Pierce, an American citizen of Meriden, Conn., has been in this country since he was ten years old, served through the Civil War and is now on the pension rolls, but as he was born in Canton, China, he has been ordered by the Internal Revenue Collector of Meriden to register as a Chinaman, under the Geary act. Joseph naturally objects, as he fears his registration may lead to deportation after May 1.—(Philadelphia Ledger.

Buffalo Courier
(New York)
April 30, 1894
Joseph Pierce, an American citizen of Meriden, Conn., has been in this country since he was 10 years old, served through the Civil War, and is now on the pension rolls, but as he, was born in Canton (China) he has been ordered by the Internal Revenue Collector of Meriden to register as a Chinaman, under the Geary act. Joseph naturally objects, as he fears his registration may lead to deportation after May 1.

The St. Johns Herald
(Apache County, Arizona Territory)
June 28, 1894
Joseph Pierce, an American citizen of Meriden, Conn., has been in this country since he was 10 years old, served through the civil war and is now on the pension rolls; but as he was born in Canton, China, he has been ordered by the Internal Revenue collector of Meriden to register as a Chinaman, under the Geary act. Joseph objects.—Mining Industry.

The Evening Star
(Washington, DC)
July 28, 1899
Other Chinamen Pensioners.
To the Editor of The Evening Star:
In your issue of the 25th instant was a communication giving the statement that “the first pension ever granted a Chinaman was issued today to Ah Yu of Shanghai, China.” Allow me this: Joseph Pierce, a Chinaman pure, I do not remember his Chinese appellative, a corporal of Company F, 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, served in the latter organization from July 26, 1862, to the general muster out, May 31, 1865. The regiment had an exceptional experience as to number and severity of battles engaged in, hardships of campaigns and casualties, and “our Joe,” as we all called him, was rarely off duty—a brave, capable and faithful soldier. He was granted a pension in 1891, and he well merited it. He resides in Meriden, Conn., a respected and worthy citizen. I knew him well in the service, and have known him well ever since.

A few years ago an article went the rounds of the papers, giving out that a certain man [Edward Day Cohota], name not remembered by me now, was the only Chinaman who served in the Union army during the war. I called down that article by giving a bit of the history of “our Joe.” It would not surprise me if we should yet be informed that still other Chinamen served, under other names than their Chinese patronymics, in our great war. If not, then let due honor be given “our Joe.”

H.S. Stevens
Formerly Chaplain, 14th C.V inf.
July 27, 1899

The New York Times
July 29, 1899
Chinamen Who Get Pensions
Ah Yu, Who Serve on the Olympia, Not the First on the Lists.
Washington, July 28.—The granting of a pension to Ah Yu of Shanghai, China, the other day led to a report that this sailor was the first Chinaman whose services had ever been rewarded in this way by the United States Government. Ah Yu served on the Olympia in 1897, and contracted a disease while in the service which entitled him to a pension.

The Rev. H.S. Stevens, who during the civil war was Chaplain of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers, denies that Ah Yu is the first Chinaman to receive a pension. He says that a pureblood Chinaman served under the name of Joseph Pierce as a Corporal in Company F, Fourteenth Connecticut, during the civil war. Mr. Stevens does not recall Pierce's Chinese name. Pierce joined the regiment on July 26, 1862, and served to the general muster-out on May 31, 1865.

“The regiment,” said Mr. Stevens, “had an exceptional experience as to the number and severity of battles engaged in, hardships of campaigns, and casualties, and ‘Our Joe,’ as we all called him, was rarely off duty–a brave, capable, and faithful soldier.”

Pierce, who now lives in Meriden, Conn., received a pension in 1891. Mr. Stevens says he thinks it probable that other Chinamen may have served under American names in the civil war.

St. Albans Daily Messenger
(Vermont)
January 20, 1900
How race prejudice will show itself, despite every honest endeavor a man may make to be broadly tolerant, generous, and fair with all his neighbors. Here’s a man who writes a New York paper about a Chinaman who served in the Union army during the civil war, says his Americanized name is Joseph Pierce, that he is an engraver in Meriden, Conn., seems to be rather proud of such an instance of good citizenship in one who represents a despised race, and then kicks it all over by concluding:

I would say further that Mr. Pierce, although a Chinaman, is one of the whitest men I ever met.

Although a Chinaman! There you have it. The words ran jauntily along, billing and cooing, and making quite a pretty ado over a yellow brother—when a pert little conjunction all unconsciously turned up its nose and sniffed and spoiled it all. Although! What a world of pig tails, nasty opium pipes, yellow finger nails, dead girl babies, puppies, joss sticks, rice, red paper, and lanterns is tucked away in that one word!

Richmond Times Dispatch
(Virginia)
October 12, 1906
Personal and General.
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

The Wilkes-Barre Times
(Pennsylvania)
October 18, 1906
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

The News and Courier
(Charleston, South Carolina)
October 21, 1906
Among those that attended the reunion of the 14th Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the army of the Potomac.

The Patriot
(Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)
October 23, 1906
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

The Kalamazoo Gazette
(Michigan)
October 24, 1906
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the army of the Potomac.

The Washington Times
(DC)
October 26, 1906
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

Broad Ax
(Chicago, Illinois)
October 27, 1906
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

The Syracuse Herald Magazine
(New York)
October 28, 1906
A Chinese Veteran.
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

Weedsport Cayuga Chief
(New York)
November 3, 1906
The Hall of Fame.
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut recently was Joseph Pierce of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

Auburn Citizen
(New York)
November 5, 1906
Among those who attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut recently was Joseph Pierce of Meriden, Conn., the only Chinaman that enlisted in the army of the Potomac.

Elkhart Daily Review
(Indiana)
November 13, 1906
The Hall of Fame.
Among those that attended the reunion of the Fourteenth Connecticut was Joseph Pierce, of Meriden, Conn. He had the distinction of being the only Chinaman that ever enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.

Military Images
July/August 2000
Cover: Joseph Pierce
page 1: Front Cover: Corporal Joseph Pierce, 14th Connecticut Infantry, Chinese-American veteran of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and beyond. For more on Pierce, see page 18. Carte de visit courtesy MI Senior Editor Michael J. McAfee.

pages 18–19: A Nation of Nations
by Michael J. McAfee





















June 30, 2013
The Gettyburg redress


RELATED POST
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee


WEB SITES
14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
both by Irving Moy



Chinese-American participation in the Civil War—Joseph Pierce

Corporal Joseph Pierce
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Marker Dedication Ceremony
Walnut Grove Cemetery, Meriden, Connecticut
August 5, 2006

Researching Chinese soldiers in American Civil War.
Chinese Soldiers Fought in U.S. Civil War

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

Irving Moy will be at the 2015 Tucson Festival of Books to promote Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War.

(Updated May 16, 2015; next post: John Akomb)

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