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James William Sibley was born in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1837 and by 1862 was a medical physician in the state of Vermont in the United States. Prior to arriving in the United States Sibley had contracted tuberculosis while in the West Indies and thought he had recovered before entering the service; but later found it had reoccurred. He enlisted in the Union Army on November 21, 1862 at Washington, D.C., as an Asst. Surgeon, and on November 25,1862 was commissioned into Field & Staff in the 95th New York Infantry; also known as the “Warren Rifles”.  Due to his health problems, it’s not known exactly how much action Sibley saw or how many battles he actually participated in. James was the brother of Dr. Jonathan Campbell Sibley, both of who later registered with the Medical Board of Victoria, Australia on the same day, April 7, 1865, holding successive registration numbers; number 479 and 480. Jonathan Cambell was presumably the older of the two as his quailification is the earliest listed. The Medical Register lists No. 479 Jonathan Campbell Sibley M.D. New York 1857 and No. 480 James William Sibley M.D. Vermont 1862, M.D. New York 1864.

 

The 95th Infantry, however, was organized at New York City from November 1861 through March 1862; Leaving the State of New York for Washington, D.C. on March 18, 1862. It saw duty in the Defenses of Washington, D, C. until May 1862, and at Aquia Creek, Virginia until June. It participated in the Battles of Gainesville on August 28th, at Groveton on August 29th at Bull Run on August 30th, the Battle of South Mountain on September 14th, Antietam from September 16th through the 17th, the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia from December 12th through 15th, the infamous "Mud March" in January, the  Battle of Chancellorsville in May, the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July, the Battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, the fall of Petersburg and all the various campaigns throughout the war.

They ended up at the Appomattox Court House on April 9 and was present at the Surrender of Lee and his army, after which they moved to Washington, D.C. in May and was mustered out on July 16, 1865. James William Sibley, however, was discharged on September 2, 1863, due to his reoccurring bouts with tuberculosis.

After being discharged, Sibley arrived in Australia in 1865 and by 1868 was living in Sandhurst, Victoria. In Bendigo he served as an Assistant Surgeon at the Bendigo Hospital, as he had done during the American Civil War with the Union Army. Jonathan Campbell Sibley his brother gave his address in the Medical Register for 1869 and the early 1870s as also being in Geelong. James married Julia Evans and they had a daughter named Julia and a son named James Robert.
 

James William Sibley had been living in Echuca, Victoria, and subsequently at Watson's Bay, New South Wales, when he died at his brothers house in Geelong, just eight days short of being 32 years of age; on October 13, 1869. He was subsequently buried in the Geelong Western Public Cemetery in PRS 1, number 1111; register number 1462; on October 15, 1869.  His wife, Julia Evans Sibley is said to have died on May 17, 1903 and was also buried in Geelong Western Public Cemetery beside her husband, in grave 1112; register number 4820. The 1917 deaths in the Bendigo Advertiser, however, records her death at Sydney, New South Wales on   October 12, 1917; the “widow of James W. Sibley M.B, Echuca and Bendigo. Aged 71 years.”

 

A memorial plaque for the gravesite of James William Sibley was applied for by the American Civil War Round Table of Queensland, Inc. on July 2, 2006 and received by the Geelong Cemetery Trust on August 30, 2006; for placement on his gravesite.

 

Bendigo Advertiser, October 16, 1869

Betty Jackman, B.R.G.S.

Doctors and diggers on the Mount Alexander goldfields, K.M. Bowden, Maryborough,

Vic., 1974

Geelong Americans, Geelong Family History Group

Geelong Cemeteries Trust

Geelong & District burials database

Geelong & District Consolidated Books database

James F. Kralik, Sheriff, New City, New York

Lance Ingmire, Regimental Historian, 95th New York

Pam Jenning, Geelong, Victoria

Report of the Adjutant-General, New York

Sheriff Kralik, Rockland, , New York

Stephen Due, Australian Medical Pioneers Index, Geelong

Susie Zada, Geelong, Victoria

The Geelong Americans, Elaine Kranjc

95th New York Regimental Histories

 

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