Brothers’  military careers cut short by shipboard mishaps

Hosea A. Bryant - enlisted 18 May 1861 at age 21, at Portland, Me. for 1 year as a Landsman in the US Navy.  He was credited to Wrentham, MA.   He was assigned to the receiving ship, USS “Ohio”, from which he was discharged 28 May 1861, as unfit for service as a landsman.  Undaunted, he re-enlisted a year later from Portsmouth on 18 May 1862, again for one year as a  Landsman, this time credited to Boston, MA.   Unfortunatley, he once again was assigned to the same ship, the USS “Ohio”.  There was to be no smooth sailing again on this trip as he jumped ship 15 Nov 1862 and deserted.  He struck out with his wife and two children to the foothills of Benton, NH.  There he disappeared and is presumed dead by 1869, as his wife remarried in September of that year to an M. Edward True in Benton.

(photo: USS “Ohio”)

His younger brother, William H. Bryant,  (AKA Henry W.),  enlisted 12 Oct 1861 at age 21 as a Private in the Army, Company I, 6th Infantry.  Mustered in 11 Dec 1861. He drowned 13 Aug 1862  by foundering of the steamer “West Point” in the Potomac River. 

Both brothers were born in Newmarket, Hosea, b.1840,  and William, b.1842,  to James and Elija Bryant.  James was a shoemaker in Newmarket and taught both his sons the same craft.  They both listed cordswainer (shoe makers) as their occupation in the 1860 Census and when they enlisted.  William never married.  Hosea married Josephine L. Cilley, of Nottingham, on 19 Mar 1859 in Bradford, MA; they had two children, both born in Newmarket: Jennie A (b.1861) and Chauncey E. (b.1868).    Besides their parents, both brothers were survived by two sisters  Mary and Abby.


(Re-printed from The New York Times New York 1862-08-15)

Aquia Creek, VA Steamers GEORGE PEABODY and WEST POINT Collide On Potomac River, Aug 1862



Washington, Thursday, Aug. 14.

A collision occurred on the Potomac River, last night, off Ragged Point, between the steamers PEABODY and WEST POINT, involving the loss of seventy-three lives. The WEST POINT was bound to this place from Newport’s News, with convalescent troops of GEN. BURNSIDE’S army. The PEABODY brought the rescued soldiers and passengers to this point, and from Lieut.-Col. CHARLES SCOTT, of the Sixth New Hampshire, who was on board of the ill-fated vessel, and in charge of the troops, I have obtained the following account of the affair:

We left Newport’s News on Tuesday, the 11th inst., with 254 soldiers, four officers, three ladies and one child.   At Fortress Monroe we took on 17 men, making in all 279 souls.

On Wednesday evening, the 13th inst., about 8 o’clock, off Ragged Point, on the Potomac, we were startled by a shock, and soon discovered that a collision had taken place between our steamer and another, named the GEORGE PEABODY, bound down the river. The WEST POINT began to leak very fast, and it was ascertained that she would sink in less than ten minutes. The PEABODY, which had been partially disabled, could render no assistance, except with the small boats.

(photo: sketch of The Peabody)

From other sources I learn valuable assistance was rendered by Capts. BIGGS and HALL, and their assistant quartermasters, of GEN. BURNSIDE’S Army, who were passing in the steamer John Farren at the time, and by Acting-Master JOSLYN, of the gunboat Reliance. An unknown bark also rendered valuable assistance, and, by the combined efforts of all, two hundred and three persons were rescued.

The WEST POINT went down in four fathoms of water, about one and a half miles from the Maryland shore, and nothing can now be seen of her but her smoke-stack, masts, and some wrenched up planks on her decks. All of her crew were saved except one fireman, named JOHN RUSSELL.

The brief period during which the WEST POINT remained afloat after striking, and the consternation which prevailed, prevented the efforts to save all from being as successful as could be desired. Capt. DOYLE and Lieut. SCOTT were the last to leave the vessel. Without attributing the blame to either party I give you the statements on both sides.

The following is the statement of WM. F. KERWIN, Pilot of the PEABODY.  It is corroborated by Capt. THAYERS, who was on deck at the time of the collision:

The steamship GEORGE PEABODY left Aquia Creek, Aug. 13, for Fortress Monroe, at 4 1/4 o’clock P. M.  The steamer proceeded down the river, and when about off Ragged Point, and steering east by south, made an unknown steamer, which was the WEST POINT, on our port bow.  I gave one blow of our steam-whistle, which was answered in return by the steamer WEST POINT. When the steamer neared,  I ported our wheel.   The pilot, or whoever had charge of the steamer WEST POINT, starboarded his wheel, and struck our bows on the port side, forward of our water wheel, at five minutes past 8 o’clock P.M.

The following is the statement of Capt. DOYLE, of the WEST POINT:

J. E. G. DOYLE, master of the steamer WEST POINT, certifies that between 8 and 9 o’clock P.M., of August 13, steering from Ragged Point to get soundings, about five miles above Lower Machodie, about west by south across the channel, heard a whistle blow once two points on the starboard bow.   I immediately answered it, which signal means, “Keep to the right,” our lights all burning at the time, our green light being the only one that could be seen from the other steamer, with which collision occurred.   I saw the boat coming down on us, immediately stopped the engine and backed the boat; the other boat apparently going full speed, her port guard and paddle box took our bow and stove it in, taking away about ten feet, leaving us in a sinking condition. I immediately hailed him to stay by, as we were in distress.  He passed us, and I advised the pilot to beach the boat immediately, which order was complied with.  My steamer headed for the Maryland shore, and sank in about four fathoms water.  I did everything to avoid the collision, and used my utmost exertions to save all I could.

Through the kindness of Capt. BLAND, and Post-Quartermaster WEST, of this place, who kindly afforded me facilities for visiting the PEABODY, I am enabled to send you the following partial list of the missing. The entire number missing is seventy-three, of whom a portion may be saved, as a number were picked up by small boats and schooners in the vicinity.

Wife and Child of MAJ. DORT, Sixth New Hampshire.

Wife of Lieut.-Col. SCOTT, Sixth New Hampshire.

Wife of Capt. CUMMINGS, Co. C, Sixth N. H.

(John A. Cumming’s young wife, Katie Scott Cummings, and Lt. Col. Charles Scott’s wife, Sophia Fuller Scott, of Peterborough, were enroute to Union military hospitals in Newport News, Va., to nurse their husbands injured in battle. They drowned in this ship collision;  they are the only women listed on Peterborough’s Civil War monument erected in 1869.)

______ WAYLAND, Co. H, Ninth New York.

Sergeant SCHANS, Forty-sixth New York.

Private J. B. McCUTCHEON, Co. I.

W. FOX, Co. F, 51st New York.



Private THOS. WILLIAMS, Co. B, 48th Pennsylvania.

Sergeant-Major JONES IREDELL.

Sergeant JOHN YOUNG.

Private GEO. MYERS, Co. I.

JAS. GURVINS, Co. G, 51st Pennsylvania.

Privates EZRA GRANT, Co. D; JOHN F. BERRY, Co. K; THOS. BROWN, Co. I, 48th Pennsylvania.


Privates C. E. BAKER, Co. E; ______ MANAH, Co. B; P. W. CROSS, Co. K; LUTHER CASS; SAMUEL PLAINTED, Co. A; STEPHEN BROOKS, Co. B; WM. KIMBALL, Co. C; H. BRYANT, Co. I;  JNO. SIMONDS, OLIVER YOUNG, Sergt. GEO. W. DERBY, Co. F, Sixth New Hampshire Volunteers.

Private FRANK WETZEL, Co. A, 48th Pennsylvania.

Corporal JNO. F. GARDINER, Co. D; privates LAWRENCE GIGLINN, Co. I; JNO. H. DANCOE, Co. F; ADAM WALSH, Co. F; JNO. FAUCETT, Co. D; JNO. STYLER, Co. E, 2d Maryland.

Privates MICHAEL SWEENEY, Co. I; JNO. PHALEN, Co. A; JAS. GALLAHER, Co. B; PATRICK COLLINS, Co. F; P. O. B. KITCHEN, Co. G, 28th Massachusetts.

Privates J. W. MYER, Co. K; GEO. WILLIAMS, Co. G; GEO. KLEIN; GEO. KERRIGER, Co. C, 50th Penn.

Private WALTER KALE, Co. K, 4th Rhode Island.

Private GEO. HALE, Co. I, 21st Massachusetts.

JOHN RUSSELL, fireman, steamer WEST POINT.

Ten O’clock P. M. — Two bodies, not identified, have been recovered and buried.

The captains of the two steamers have been put in charge of the Provost-Marshal here, and, on the recommendation of Quartermaster BIGGS, an investigation is now being had as to the parties to which the blame is to be attributed.

(Source: Above article initially posted April 26th, 2008 by Stu Beitler on the General Disaster wesbsite: