Malachi Kesucker Poole

by Russell I. Poole and Deone Pearcy

At the age of 24 years, 11 months and 13 days, Malachi Kesucker POOLE, of St. Joseph Co., Indiana, enrolled in Company H., of the 12th Indiana Cavalry (127th Regiment) on January 18, 1864.

This regiment was organized at Kendallville and Michigan City, Indiana, from December 10, 1863, to April 28, 1864, and was the only cavalry organization in which St. Joseph County was represented. Company H consisted of just over 100 men.

At the time of enlistment, Malachi, known as "Ki", was listed as 5' 11" tall and of light complexion, brown hair, and gray eyes (according to his pension papers, his eyes were blue). He was married to his second wife who had just given birth to their first child (his fourth) a few months earlier.


The average height for a Union Soldier was 5' 8", with the tallest recorded being a Captain from Indiana at almost 6" 11". The shortest soldier was recorded as 3' 4", presumably being a young boy. Therefore, Malachi, being 3 inches taller than the average soldier, probably appeared tall in stature.

During the time of Malachi's enlistment, there was a critical need for volunteers, since many of the earlier enlistments had run out. Bounties of $300 were offered to those who volunteered. On February 1, 1864, President LINCOLN found it necessary to order another draft of 500,000 more men to serve 3 years or for the duration of the war.


An interesting tidbit of information, which was probably unknown to Malachi, is the fact that Malachi's father Mathias King POOLE and President Abraham LINCOLN were 4th cousins, sharing the same 3rd Great Grandfather Adam SHIPLEY (SHIPLEIGH) who came to Anne Arundel Co., Maryland, from England in 1668. Therefore, Malachi Kesucker POOLE and President Abraham LINCOLN were 4th cousins, once removed.

As many young and old men alike, Malachi was probably engrossed by the accounts of the war from the start which can be surmised by an event early in the war. A young colonel with the name Elmer ELLSWORTH became a hero of the war on May 24, 1861, when he was shot after cutting down a rebel flag in Alexandria, Virginia.

ELLSWORTH, a friend of LINCOLN, became a martyr for the Federal cause as the body of President LINCOLN lay in state at the White House. It is believed that this was the origin of the name used for Malachi's son, Ervin Ellsworth POOLE, which was his only son born after the war.


January of 1864, opened with extreme cold across both the North and South with temperatures dropping to below zero as far south as Memphis. Charles HARPER, a member of Malachi's regiment, wrote home from Camp Mitchell, Kendallville, IN, on January 3, that it was 20 degrees below zero.

There had been no major military action since November, but the cold caused much suffering among the soldiers. However, skirmishing was on the increase but there was no large scale fighting as in the previous year. The 12th Indiana Cavalry rendezvoused at Kendallville and during this time were outfitted and engaged in drills. According to HARPER, the drills were four hours per day.

The 12th Indiana Cavalry left Camp Mitchell at Kendallville and proceeded to Camp Shanks in Indianapolis, where a few days later, on May 6, 1864, the regiment left the field under orders to go to Nashville, Tennessee.

Of the 12 companies in the regiment, Malachi's Company H was one of the six mounted but all were armed as infantry for lack of cavalry arms. Upon arrival at Shepardsville, Kentucky, which was just south of Louisville, the mounted companies turned in their infantry arms for cavalry arms.

It is not certain what the cavalry arms consisted of but we do know that in early 1864, General WILSON attempted to have all mounted units using the new seven-shot Spencer carbine. This is the rifle that the rebels claimed the Union boys loaded on Sunday and fired all week.

Per one of Charles HARPER'S letters home, the mounted companies were armed with saber's or Enfield rifles. The sabers were likely the U.S. model 1860 light saber and in addition they could have carried the 1860 model colt revolver.

After receiving the new arms, the mounted companies then marched to Nashville under Col. ANDERSON while the others proceeded by rail under Lt. Col. REED. It was about this time, May 7, 1864, that General SHERMAN was beginning his move toward Atlanta.

The regiment remained at Nashville in camp of instruction for about three weeks before being ordered to Huntsville, Alabama. Starting out on May 29, the dismounted portion traveled by rail, while the mounted, which included Malachi, went on march.


The 12th Indiana Cavalry was assigned to railroad defenses from Decatur, Alabama, to Paint Rock, Alabama, a distance of about 60 miles. They were also to defend the area between Huntsville and Paint Rock, and between the Tennessee River and the Memphis and Charleston railroad. That portion of the country was then infested with several bands of guerrillas and "bushwhackers".

While the dismounted part of the regiment was erecting block houses for defense, the six mounted companies were fighting numerous skirmishes and engagements and quite a large number were killed or wounded. These six companies of the 12th Indiana, which included Malachi's Company H and Charles HARPER'S Company D, were the only mounted cavalry in and around Huntsville at that time.


Writing from Huntsville, June 13, HARPER relates that he was unable to write earlier as he was in the saddle every day, continuing that he had been on a scouting trip but accomplished nothing and that the unmounted portion was guarding the railroad bridge.

He notes that the Rebs were in force across the river. On June 17, his letter indicates that they do their own cooking and that there was plenty of fruit being peaches, mulberries, raspberries and blackberries soon to be ripe.

He mentions the capture of a Confederate Captain who was later shot trying to escape. Further letters in June and July mention skirmishes with Rebs that resulted in one man being killed and several horses killed and wounded from the 12th Indiana Cavalry. They were on scouting duty most of the time with orders to clear the plentiful bushwhackers out of the hills.


While stationed at Huntsville, Alabama, we can assume that Malachi saw action since all the mounted companies were on scout. Company H had confronted the enemy in this area as evidenced by the number killed there. Malachi's Company H lost a total of seven men. Four died of their wounds on August 11, at Vienna, Alabama, and three died of disease at Huntsville, from July 7, to August 15, 1864.

There was action at Big Cove Valley, Alabama, and the report of Captain RICHART to Colonel ANDERSON on the skirmish of June 27, 1864, involved a detachment of the 12th Indiana Cavalry. The report gives an idea of the type of duty Malachi was involved in.

Captain RICHART received information that JOHNSON'S band of guerillas was in the Big Cove Valley, six miles northeast of Huntsville. At 5 pm, he left the post with 41 men and crossed the mountain by what is known as Franklin's Path.

He moved cautiously up the cove until 10 o'clock, and then went into camp. At daybreak, they were again on the move and after marching about ¾ of a mile, halted at the creek to water the horses. As they started out, they suddenly came upon fifteen of the enemy who were feeding their horses and under the command of Parson JOHNSON.

In RICHART'S words, "I immediately attacked them, and, although they occupied a very strong position on ground that was very unfavorable for cavalry to operate upon, yet at the expiration of fifteen minutes' sharp fighting, we drove them in confusion, capturing five horses and equipments and wounding three or four of the band."

"We chased them into the hills near Blevingston Gap, a distance of two miles from the scene of the fight. After eating the breakfast prepared for the band and feeding the horses, I moved down the valley with the captured property, safely arriving at camp at 3:30 pm of the 27th instant."

"My loss in the skirmish was, I am sorry to say, one man, Private John TWIFORD, who was mortally wounded at the third volley fired by the enemy; also one horse killed and ten wounded, several seriously. The men behaved well, with one or two exceptions; much better, indeed, that could be expected of raw troops the first time under fire."


On August 10, the diminutive Georgian, Joe WHEELER, had begun his raid through east and middle Tennessee. Shortly after this time, we have a report dated August 18, in the "War of the Rebellion" which indicates all of the mounted men of the 12th Cavalry were involved so we can assume that Malachi was included.

The operation started August 12, or just one day after several of Company H were killed in action at Vienna. The following was sent to the Assistant Adjutant-General, Major B. H. POLK from Brig. Gen. Robert S. GRANGER at Huntsville, Alabama. "On the 12th of this month, a detachment of Tennessee cavalry left here and marched to within seven miles of Fayetteville, turned east, scouted the country on headwaters of Flint River and near New Market, and returned here on the 14th after having marched all night."

"The commanding officer of the party reports the guerrillas as having left that section of country and taken with them all their stolen plunder and their families. Citizens represent that they have left with a view of crossing the Tennesse River."

"I have all the mounted men of the Twelfth Indiana Cavalry scouting between Flint River and Paint Rock. They have killed and wounded a number. They are still in considerable force in that neighborhood."

In mid September of 1864, Major General Nathan Bedford FOREST, with about 4,500 men began operating against Sherman's communication lines in northern Alabama and middle Tennessee. His expedition would continue until mid-October and would be resisted in part by Company H of the 12th Indiana Cavalry.

The regiment was ordered to garrison the post at Tullahoma, Tennessee, on the 15th day of September. Three mounted companies, being C, D, and H, remained stationed at Huntsville, Alabama, to participate in the defense there.

According to Malachi's discharge, he participated in the Battle of Wilkinson Pike on December 7, 1864. The Wilkinson Pike leads west from the Nashville Pike a little northwest of Murfreesboro. In describing the action, we have three reports which are summarized.

The action began from the post at Murfreesboro, Fortress Rosecrans, and was order of Major-General ROUSSEAU, commanding District of Tennessee, to "make a reconnaissance and feel the enemy in the vicinity of this post."

General Milroy, leading the union troops, divided his force in two brigades with the 12th Indiana Cavalry being in the 2nd Brigade. Milroy was no doubt aware of a large enemy force nearby since they left from the fortress with infantry, artillery, and cavalry totaling 3,325 men. The Murfreesboro and Stone's River area was the scene of a large four day battle two years before beginning December 30, 1862, which was probably on their minds.

Also listed on Malachi's discharge is the battle of Shelbyville Pike on December 14. The Shelbyville Pike ran due south out of Murfreesboro and was a likely place to meet the enemy. Malachi's Company also took part in the Siege of Murfreesboro, December 1864. According to CHAPMAN'S History of St. Joseph County, one member of Malachi's Company H, Emerson WOODBURY was killed in action at Murfreesboro on December 20.


In April of 1863, Colonel Benjamin GRIERSON made his famous cavalry raid of 600 miles from Tennessee to Baton Rouge to confuse the confederate General PEMBERTON and cut off his supply lines.

This raid was of great help to General GRANT and hastened the fall of Vicksburg that July. Nearly two years later, a second raid of over 700 miles by GRIERSON included Malachi and the 12th Indiana Cavalry. This was the last action shown on Malachi's discharge papers.

The 12th Indiana Cavalry reported to GRIERSON on the 17th day of April 1865, and participated in a raid of over 700 miles through Alabama, into Georgia, and then back across the state of Alabama, to Columbus, Mississippi, where it arrived on the 20th of May 1865.

Malachi was listed as a teamster on his military record for the period during this raid. A copy of a letter from Gen. GRIERSON to Governor MORTON requesting a promotion for Major CALKINS states, "He has for the past five months had command of the regiment [12 Indiana Cavalry], and with it, has participated in the recent expedition from Mobile, Alabama. into Georgia, thence to Columbus, Mississippi.; the entire march being over 700 miles."

"I believe it my duty to a worthy officer and take pleasure in stating, that with one exception ‘the 13th Indiana', the 12th Indiana Cavalry is the best disciplined regiment in my entire command."

The losses of the Twelfth Indiana Cavalry during service were 16 enlisted men killed and one officer and 154 enlisted men died of disease.

In Malachi's Company, the dead were listed as five killed and six died by disease, also, James GOIT, Malachi's brother-in-law, was reported as missing in action and no record has been found as to his demise. It was assumed by James GOIT'S brother, Edson GOIT, that he was captured and died in a prisoner of war camp.


Malachi Kesucker POOLE was born February 5, 1839, in New Bedford, Pennsylvania. "Ki", as he was commonly known, was the eighth son and youngest of nine children born to Mathias King POOL (Jan 1802 - Jun 1877) and his first wife Ruth KESUCKER (ca. 1802 - Sep 1859). Mathias was a farmer and seemed to move often without leaving a record of land ownership.

On June 27, 1858, in Rockville, Parke Co., Indiana, Malachi married Lydia SHANKS (ca 1833 - 1862). Their eldest child, Mary Jane "Jennie" was born in Rockville on April 29, 1859. She married H. A. YERRICK on April 28, 1909, and died in South Bend, St. Joseph Co., IN, on April 10, 1921. She had no children.

Malachi and Lydia's second child Rhuey Catharine "Kate" was born September 4, 1860, in Cook Co., IL, and died February 1, 1950, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., California. Kate married Benjamin Franklin Pierce McDONALD on February 24, 1875, near Walkerton, St. Joseph Co., Indiana. Kate and Benjamin had ten children.

Albert E. was born November 1861, in IL, and was living in Niles, Berrien Co., Michigan, in 1939. Albert married Annie M. HIPP on May 25, 1887, in La Porte Co., Indiana. Albert and Annie had four children who lived past infancy.

Per Malachi's pension records, his first wife, Lydia SHANKS POOLE died August 6, 1862, in St. Joseph Co., Indiana. Eight months later, on April 13, 1863, in South Bend, St. Joseph Co., Indiana, Malachi married Nancy GOIT (ca 1843 - ca 1887), daughter of Archibald and Elizabeth GOIT (GOYT). One child, James Edson, was born to this union on August 3, 1863. The year of birth is controversial as to 1862, 1863, and 1864, but is believed to have occurred in 1863, based on documents and events.

It was within a matter of months after his marriage to Nancy, and the birth of his son, that Malachi enlisted in the Union Army in the 12th Indiana Cavalry (127th Regiment) on January 18, 1864. Nancy's brother, James GOIT, was in this same company.

It appears that the marriage of Malachi and Nancy may have not been an especially happy one given the dates and circumstances. In a court of law, Nancy stated that Malachi had abandoned her and their son in March of 1866, and was granted a divorce on the grounds of all sorts of wrong doings. Malachi did not show up to refute her statements and Nancy was granted a divorce on September 18, 1867.

On June 28, 1868, Nancy married John A. STRODE, in St. Joseph Co., IN, and they raised James Edson POOLE, the Great Grandfather of Deone PEARCY. Not very long after their marriage, Nancy and John left Indiana and resided in Kansas and Texas before settling in Indian Territory which was to become the state of Oklahoma. Together they had five children.

Nancy and Malachi's only child, James Edson POOLE, known to most in later years as "Uncle Jimmy", married Sonora Isabel "Nora" DAUGHHETTEE (February 1859 - September 1923), daughter of Joel C. DAUGHHETTEE and Susannah BRADBURY, about 1887, in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Nora was the widow of George GAHAGAN, whom she had married May 21, 1876, in Randolph Co., Arkansas. Nora had four small children at the time of her marriage to Jim. Jim and Nora had six children, one of which is still alive and will be 102 years old in June of 1996. This daughter, Dola Isabel STONE, resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Upon leaving Indiana, James Edson POOLE only saw his father, Malachi, one other time which was sometime after 1900 when "Jimmy" returned to Indiana for a brief visit with his father. He never talked much to his family about his trip or their reunion.

On September 20, 1869, in St. Joseph Co., Indiana, Malachi married Mrs. Mary Jane (HARDY) BUNCH (February 1837 - July 1888), daughter of William and Mary HARDY and mother of five children. Malachi and Mary Jane had four children.

Luella Blanch "Lou", was born about 1870, and died March 1945, in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. Lou married Frederick BENTLEY in St. Joseph Co., Indiana, on March 23, 1892, in St. Joseph Co., Illinois.

Sarah Melissa "Sate" was born Sept 16, 1871, and died December 19, 1935, St. Joseph Co., Indiana. She married Cory N. ULLERY in St. Joseph Co., Indiana, on January 7, 1889. Five children were born to this union.

Ervin Ellsworth, the only son born to Malachi and Mary Jane POOLE, was born August 17, 1873, and died July 19, 1931, in St. Joseph Co., Indiana. He married the daughter of his father's fourth wife, Iva Mae BRANNIGAN, on May 30, 1899, in Pueblo Co., Colorado. Two children were born to this union. Ervin and Iva Mae POOLE are the grandparents of Russell I. POOLE.

Vesta Estelle "Stell" was born about 1876 and died October 25, 1942. Stell married Joseph CAVEN on September 19, 1900, and two children were born to them.

Malachi was a farmer and is found in Marshall Co., Indiana, in the 1870 Census, and Walkerton, St. Joseph Co., Indiana, in 1880 Census. He applied for a pension in 1877, claiming partial disability from his civil war service. It was probably soon after Mary Janes's death that he moved to South Bend.

From 1889 through 1895, Malachi was listed in the South Bend city directory as a Flagman for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad where his brother Joseph was Roadmaster for this line.

After the death of Mary Jane, Malachi married Mrs. Emma C. "Emily" (YETTER) BRANNIGAN, on May 2, 1889, in St. Joseph Co., Indiana. No children were born to this union but Emily had two small children at the time of their marriage.

Malachi's pension file states that he was in poor health in his later years due to the hardships of army life in the Civil War.

On August 13, 1913, Malachi passed away and was laid to rest next to his third wife Mary Jane in the Walkerton cemetery. He has a government issued civil war marker with a GAR marker beside it.
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