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Edward Jennings was born in 1848 in England. Edward was the son of John Jennings, a stonemason originally from Ireland who migrated from England to the United States around 1850, after marrying his wife Catherine in England, who was born in England; when Edward 12 years of age. In the 1860 Census records his next younger brother, Michael, was listed as being 10 years old and as having born in Pennsylvania. There are no birth certificates or other official birth records for anyone born in Pennsylvania before 1860 and very few birth records for anyone born in Pennsylvania before the late 19th century. Living at Lancaster, Pennsylvania and working as a common labourer, Edward first heeded the call to arms by joining Company A of the 33rd Pennsylvania Volunteers Militia Regiment on June 26, 1863; at around 14 or 15 years of age and had to lie about his age in order to enlist. Company A was under the command of Captain Elwood B. Davis and 1st Lieutenant Charles M. Hooper, and consisted of ten officers, two musicians and forty-one privates.  It was originally organized due to the perceived threat of General Robert E. Lee’s army invading the northern states; and Pennsylvania in particular. After a period of time, when the threat seemed less dangerous, the 33rd was disbanded and Jennings was mustered out on August 4, 1863 without having seen any action. Company A of the 33rd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was one of a number of short service militia companies recruited during the middle of the Civil War; for 3, 6, or 9 months periods of service.

Then, on March 22, 1864, Jennings again enlisted, in Battery D, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery at Germantown, Pennsylvania, at the age of 18. The 1st Pennsylvania was recruited in Blair and Philadelphia Counties and Jennings later served for a time in the 43rd Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Edward, still a Private and having fulfilled his three year period of enlistment, mustered out of military service with his Company on June 30, 1865. Though it has been claimed Jennings served in a Cavalry unit under General Crook, there is no evidence or record of such an enlistment or tour of duty.

The Philadelphia City Directories for 1856, 1857, 1858 and 1860 records that Edward’s father, John Jennings, was working as a stonemason again and still living in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

In 1869 the Philadelphia city directory shows Edward Jennings was then working as a boatman and living in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in 1870 as a ships Captain. According to immigration records, Jennings arrived in Australia during the first part of 1874; making his home in Adelaide, South Australia. Some four years later while working as a coal trimmer and a fireman, on September 24, 1878, Edward met and married Eliza McLean. Edward returned to life on the sea in 1899, but departed the ship on which he was serving at a port in South Africa. There he enlisted in the South African Light Horse as a Sergeant, was listed in the Australian Commonwealth Horse as a Lance Corporal, was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal  and during a fight at “Spearman’s Camp” he was severely wounded in the knee.

Edward returned to Australia after his injury and remained until 1905, when he again signed aboard a ship to return to the sea. From 1905 Edward sailed aboard a number of ships out of both San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon, finally returning to Australia yet again in 1912; settling in Rosewater in state of South Australia.

Eventually applying for a military pension from the United States Government, Edward turned to his employer for support; obtaining an affidavit from Captain Weir, the harbourmaster at Port Adelaide, which stated that Edward Jennings had worked under him as an engineer aboard the “Tug” for ten years, beginning in 1885, and as Second Mate aboard the ship “Governor Musgrave” in 1901 and 1902.

At 89 years of age and in failing health, Edward Jennings took to bed for the last time and died on August 15, 1936. After a memorial ceremony, Edward was laid to rest in Cheltenham Cemetery in Adelaide, South Australia. The headstone which marks his final resting place was supplied by the Veterans Administration of the United States Government, in Washington, D.C.


Andy Carr, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 “Australian Commonwealth Horse, Boer War 1899-1902”

 Bob Shaffer, Sons of Union Veterans, Scranton, Pennsylvania

 Gene Stackhouse, President Emeritus, Germantown Historical Society    

 “History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865”, S. P. Bates
 Ivan E. Frantz, Jr., Sons of Union Veterans

National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Tce, Canberra

“Official records of Australian contingents to the war in South Africa 1899-1902”, P.L. Murray,

 Pennsylvania Archives, ARIAS Card Index database

 Richard D. Orr

 “The Australian Commonwealth Horse”,

 U.S. Federal Census, 1860

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