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Colonel James Hemphill Jones, Commodore Matthew C. Perry's Commander of the Marines, Wounded in Commanded Co. B Marines First Battle of Manassas

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Colonel James Hemphill Jones, of the United States Marine Corps, was born in Wilmington, Delaware on May 6, 1821. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on March 2nd, 1847. Second Lieutenant Jones served, on land, during the Mexican War in the years 1847 and 1848. He was then assigned to the Frigate Raritan with the home squadron in1849, then, the steam frigate Saranac in 1851, the Marine barracks, Philadelphia, and the steamer Princeton in1852. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant September 1, 1853. Jones then served in the sloop Macedonian and the steam frigate Mississippi patrolling the East Indies in 1853. First Lieutenant  Jones was next assigned to the East India Squadron as commander of the Marines aboard the side-wheel steam frigate USS Powhatan and arrived on station via Cape of Good Hope on  June 15, 1853. The Powhatan’s arrival in Chinese waters coincided with an important phase of Commodore Matthew C. Perry's negotiations for commercial relations with the Japanese and the opening of two Japanese ports. The Powhatan was Perry's flagship during his November visit to Whamopa, China. The Powhatan entered  Edo (Tokyo) Bay on February 14th 1854 along with the rest of the East Indies Squadron. When Commodore Perry wished to make an impression upon the Japanese, he paraded the Powhatan’s Marines commanded by First Lieutenant James Hemphill Jones through the streets of Edo. The Convention of Kanagawa was signed on March 31, 1854. In July 1855, Chinese pirates in the Hong Kong area captured four British owned merchant ships.  In response on August 4th 1855, armed boats from the East India Squadron frigate USS Powhatan, the seamen and Marines commanded by First Lieutenant James Hemphill Jones, and the Royal Navy sloop-of-war HMS Rattler attacked the pirates at Ty-ho Bay. HMS Eaglet towed the boats into position which then proceeded to destroy twenty of thirty-six junks. Seven merchant ships were also rescued. An estimated 500 pirates were killed or wounded and over 1,000 taken prisoner the allied loss was nine killed and twelve wounded. The USS Powhatan then assisted an Anglo and French attack by bombarding the Chinese Taku Forts. No further engagements between Chinese and American forces during the war are known to have happened though American citizens living in Canton fought as militia at the 1856 battle at Canton accompanied by Marines from the USS Powhatan commanded by First Lieutenant  Jones. Jones was then ordered to the receiving ship Ohio, at the Boston Navy Yard. He was promoted to Captain in 1861. Captain James H. Jones commanded Co B of United States Marines at the 21 July 1861 Battle of Bull Run (First Battle of Manassas) where he was lightly wounded by a spent ball which had killed one of his lieutenants. From 1861-67 he served in the Pacific squadron. In 1864 he was promoted to Major, and the same year to Lieutenant-Colonel. From 1868-71 he was on duty at Mare Island, California. In 1879, while stationed at the Marine Barracks, Boston Navy Yard, he was promoted to Colonel, and ordered to the command of the Marine Barracks at League Island, Pennsylvania. While in the act of obeying his orders, he was suddenly stricken ill with pneumonia, of which he died, after a brief illness on April 17, 1880.

The Chinese made silver Tankard was presented to James Hemphill Jones by John B. Goodridge in Canton China during Commodore Matthew C. Perry's opening of China and Japan in 1853. On March 19, 1855 Marines were landed in Canton to protect U.S. citizens from piracy. First Lieutenant James Hemphill Jones and 41 men from the USS Powhatan went ashore and remained there for two days where he stayed with John B. Goodridge. The tintype is from the Civil War. Other photographs from the 1870's. Colonel James Hemphill Jones grave site in Wilmington DE.







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Great artifact and well written, thanks for posting.


I was fortunate to acquire this cabinet card image of Jones by the same photographer. 







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Kurt Barickman

Amazing, an officer in the Marine contingent during the Perry voyage into Japan; what an historical item and something you don´t see surface in the Midwest. Thanks for sharing this with us Dick.



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You could go to a hundred museums and not see an item of this caliber. What an amazing Marine officer and a stunning tankard by which to remember him by. Thank you for sharing this stunning piece.



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