Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Joseph Shipley [Insane] (b. c. 1835 - d. 1928)
MSA SC 3520-16845
U.S.C.T. Soldier, Howard County, Maryland


Biography:


    Joseph Shipley was born on November 24th 1839; he was a slave “in Howard County Md owned by a man by name of Charles McLavish”.1 Not much is known about Joseph Shipley prior to his service in the American Civil War except that he was one of eight enslaved children by the same mother.2


    On November 24th 1863, Joseph Shipley mustered into Company K of the 9th United States’ Colored Infantry with his brothers Moses and William Shipley. The 9th Regiment of the United States Colored Infantry was organized at Camp Stanton in Maryland during November of 1863.3 The regiment participated in the Siege Operations against Petersburg and Richmond, particularly the second skirmish at Deep Bottom.4 The unit also notably served in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, the Battle of New Market Heights, the Battle of Fair Oaks, and the Battle of Darbytown Road.5 The infantry attended to duties in Richmond, Petersburg, Brownsville, and the Rio Grande until mustering out on November 20th 1866 in Texas.6


    Shipley was reportedly a good soldier who was prudent and capable of attending to his duties. However, “on one occasion [Shipley] fell down when the Company was going ‘double quick’ and about one third of the Company went over him”.7 After the incident, the 9th USCT traveled to Virginia for a 9 month ensnarement known as the Siege of Petersburg.8 Lt. Gen. Grant paid a great cost to seize the Confederate city and incidentally take control a major trade route to Richmond.9 All three brothers fought in the Siege of Petersburg, but William Shipley was killed in the Fight at Deep Bottom II.10 In front of Petersburg, Shipley began showing signs of insanity due to the accident. Moses Shipley reported that Joseph “served kinda foolish and crabbed & like he could not understand what he was doing. This continued with him during the whole time of his service”.11 “He acted funny and was cross... [Shipley] smacked...the front and back of his head with his hand frequently...he got worse while...in Texas as he was orderly sergeant...someone else had to act as orderly sergeant for him”.12


    Shipley would rise to the rank of sergeant before being mustered out on November 26th 1866 in Brownsville Texas. Shipley retained his mental faculties for the most part throughout his service. It was not until after returning home to Howard County that he began acting strangely; “...about a month after his discharge...his mind had almost completely given away”.13 Shipley would “walk up and down the street shouting with stick, running and shouting imagining that he was in the army and shouting ‘Grant says blow ‘em up’”.14


    Moses Joyce, a friend of the Shipleys, reported his first encounter with Joseph Shipley. Joyce said “I first knew Joseph Shipley when he was discharged from the Army. The first I saw him was soon after his discharge my brother and I were coming down the road and we met him. He had a green corn stalk on his shoulder and was firing through the drill maneuvers. I being young was very much frightened at his actions, but my brother told me not to [be frightened] as it was only Joe Shipley a crazy man...I was always afraid of him”.15


    Sarah Shipley reported that “[Joseph] once cut his sister Justine Saunders now living in New York [and] also his mother at [the] same time. He chased them both with a knife. After this we had him taken in charge and sent to Bay View Asylum.
[Shipley was released after 5 months of incarceration for good behavior.] In about 2 to 3 months he again became violent and we was then sent to Spring Grove Asylum. He got out and went to Ellicott City and burned [Senator Gorman’s barn] and the people there were about to lynch him but finding he was insane they sent him back to Spring Grove Asylum where he has been ever since".16 On September 22nd 1874, Joseph Shipley was checked into the Maryland Hospital for the Insane in Baltimore, Maryland.17


    Moses Shipley recognized the effects of war on Joseph’s mind and applied for an invalid pension as the trustee of Joseph Shipley. Shipley’s first invalid claim application was rejected on April 21st 1892 “on the ground that there is no record of the alleged impairment of mental faculties and claimant aided by a thorough special examination...[and] testimony obtained in special examination shows that claimant was of same mind during service”.18 There was controversy as to whether Shipley’s deterioration was a direct result of his service in the USCT because he was allegedly of sane mind during service according to the testimonies of fellow veterans Horace Price and Thomas Henry Day.19


    Moses Shipley applied again for an invalid pension on behalf of Joseph and was awarded $12 per month on December 3rd 1890 under the Act of June 27th 1890; the 1890 statute provided that disabled veterans were eligible for money even if their disability was unrelated to the war.20 On November 3rd 1911, Moses Shipley filed for an increase application on behalf of Joseph Shipley and earned $15 per month in compensation for his service.21 Several statutes enacted by Congress widened the berth for eligibility and compensation for disabled veterans. Shipley was again awarded $30 per month from January 21st 1915 under the Act of May 11th, 1912 and $40 per month from June 10th 1918 under the act of June 10th, 1918.22  Joseph’s final application for increase provided him with $50 per month from May 1st 1920 by the act of that date.


    Moses Shipley died on March 18th 1910, leaving Sarah Shipley, Joseph’s sister, as “Committee” on March 18, 1910.23 The committee title was passed between multiple family members until Joseph Shipley’s death on September 19th 1928 at Crownsville State Hospital in Anne Arundel County.24


Endnotes:

1. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 109.

2. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 120.

3. "9th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry." Regiment Details. Ed. National Park Service. National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 16 July 2013. Web. 14 August 2013.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 71.

8. "9th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry." Regiment Details. Ed. National Park Service. National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 16 July 2013. Web. 14 August 2013.

9. Ibid.

10. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 82.

11. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 110.

12. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 82.

13. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 26.

14. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 24.

15. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 22.

16. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 120.

17. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 4.

18. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 20.

19. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 77.

20. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 28.

21. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 40.

22. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 37.

23. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 34.

24. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 3520] Joseph Shipley (insane), Box 31, Folder 16. Page 42.


Written and Researched by Daniel Ingham, 2013. 

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