Henry Jouette Churchman

Henry Jouette Churchman was born on August 24, 1828, in Augusta County, Virginia, to Jonathan Churchman and Ann Tapp. His father was a planter who served as Augusta County’s sheriff for several years. By 1860, the family owned about $120,000 in property, including at least 23 slaves. 

In 1849, Henry enrolled at the University of Virginia, where he studied ancient languages, mathematics, and chemistry. On October 4, however, he requested permission to withdraw from the university. He returned in 1851 and earned his medical degree the following year. He spent a year studying at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia before returning to Virginia. In May 1860, "when it was evident that a civil war was impending," he moved to Quincy, Illinois, where he worked as a physician.

The Civil War left Churchman’s family bitterly divided. His brother John served in the Confederate cavalry, and his brother Vincent helped organize and equip a Confederate infantry regiment. Henry, however, remained loyal to the United States; as he later explained, he was “the only one of our family on the Union side.” On October 4, 1862, he received his commission as a surgeon in the Union army. 

Churchman was stationed in Fayetteville, Arkansas, during the winter of 1862-1863, and in March 1863 he was briefly placed in charge of the naval hospital in Mound City, Illinois. His health began to deteriorate that summer. He spent most of May 1863 in an officers’ hospital in Memphis, and in June he received sick leave to convalesce at home in Quincy, Illinois. In July 1863, after the Union army captured Vicksburg, Churchman was appointed post surgeon for the city, a position he held until August 1864. He took part in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea, serving as a medical director. 

On the march, his health once again declined. He developed a urethral stricture while riding a “rough horse furnished by the division quartermaster,” and in Goldsboro, North Carolina, he contracted bilious fever. The army transferred him to New Bern General Hospital, and he mustered out of service on July 14, 1865, in "broken down health." 

He spent the next seven months convalescing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In November 1865, he wrote to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton asking to receive the rank of brevet lieutenant colonel. During the war, Churchman explained, poor health prevented him from applying for the promotion. Nonetheless, "I would like still to have that honor conferred upon me as a reward of faithful service." The War Department granted his request later that month, backdating his promotion to June 1, 1865. Churchman spent a few months in Brownville, Nebraska, before moving to Chillicothe, Missouri, in the summer of 1866. He remained there until 1869. He then spent several years in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, unsuccessfully seeking treatment for his stricture. He sought advice from two of his former professors, Dr. John Staige Davis and Dr. James Lawrence Cabell, both of whom had served on the faculty of Virginia’s Medical School during the Civil War. 

Churchman played an active role in the Young Man's Christian Association. In April 1878, he delivered a "stirring and very interesting" address in Staunton, Virginia. In June 1879, he "spoke in [his] usual zealous manner on the chapter read by the leader," and later that year, he presided over the Sunday evening meeting and made "interesting remarks upon the 19th chap[ter] [of] Matthew." 

He applied for a pension in 1877, insisting that he was “now a cripple for life—have been for twelve long years and not till now have I undertaken to ask sympathy of the Government I defended.” He had faithfully served the Union during the war and had “suffered much in various ways” for his loyalty. According to family tradition, his father refused to let him return home after the war because of his service in the Union army. The War Department, however, rejected his application because of the lack of military records documenting his condition. He enlisted the help of Orville H. Browning, who had served as Secretary of the Interior under Andrew Johnson, but he never received a pension. He died in Staunton, Virginia, on January 23, 1881, at the age of fifty-two.


Henry J. Churchman to Edwin M. Stanton, November 1, 1865

Business Card of Henry J. Churchman

Name:Churchman, Henry Jouette
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
U.S. Army Medical Department
Branch of service:Army
Muster In1862-10-27
Muster Out1865-07-14Louisville, KYMustered Out
Residence at UVA:Staunton, VA
UVA Begin Year:1849
UVA End Year:1852
Residence at enlistment:Quincy, IL
Rank In:Major
Rank Out:Brevet Lieutenant Colonel
Highest rank achieved:Brevet Lieutenant Colonel
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Churchman, Henry JouetteChurchman, Henry Jouette231372application-invalid
Churchman, Henry Jouettenoneapplication-minor
Churchman, Henry Jouettenoneapplication-parent
Churchman, Henry Jouettenoneapplication-widow
Birth date:1828-08-24
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:Augusta County, VA
Death date:1881-01-23
Death place:
Causes of death:

Compiled Service Records for Henry J. Churchman, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; Pension records for Henry J. Churchman, RG 15, National Archives and Records Administration; Letters to the Commission Branch 1863-1870, accessed through Fold3.com; United States Census, 1850, 1860, and 1880, accessed through Ancestry.com; UVA Student Catalogue, Jefferson's University: Early Life; Session 26 of the Faculty Minutes, October 1, 1849- June 29, 1850, “Jefferson’s University: The Early Life”; Staunton Spectator, 23 April 1878, 10 June 1879, 2 September 1879, and 25 January 1881.