James T. Battles (102nd USCT)

James T. Battles was born on July 29, 1839, in Charlottesville, Virginia. His parents, Robert and Mary Battles, were both free. The family eventually moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Battles's parents passed away. By 1860, he was living in Niles, Michigan, with his brother John and his sister. James and John both worked as carpenters in the early 1860s, and James grew and sold produce to supplement his income. 

Battles enlisted as a private in the Union army on September 1, 1864, and mustered in 4 days later in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His service record describes him as 5 feet, 11 inches tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a dark complexion. He and John served in Company B of the 102nd USCT Infantry Regiment, which was stationed throughout Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. Battles served on detached duty guarding baggage on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, from January 27, 1865, until March. While in service, he later claimed, he suffered from sunstroke, rheumatism, and mumps, which left him unable to do manual labor. Battles mustered out on September 30, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Battles returned to Niles after the war. He married Sarah Francis Finley in Niles on April 14, 1867, and they had at least six children, including Eva, born December 1, 1867; Amilla, born January 28, 1871; and Lansing. Battles worked as a manual laborer and occasionally earned money through "garden trucking." His health, however, never fully recovered, and he suffered from rheumatism for the rest of his life. Although he struggled to secure a pension, he began receiving payments in 1908. By 1912, he was receiving $20 per month. His wife Sarah died on April 22, 1897, and Battles moved into the soldiers' home at Grand Rapids, Michigan, toward the end of his life. He died of apoplexy on December 19, 1913, in Grand Rapids. The local GAR post attended his funeral and burial, and a local newspaper eulogized him as a man with a "a kindly disposition and a fund of ready wit." He is buried in Newaygo County, Michigan.


Testimony of James T. Battles

Testiomny of John Battles on behalf of James T. Battles

Name:Battles, James T.
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
102nd Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored TroopsB
Branch of service:Army
Enlistment1864-09-01Niles, MIaccepted25Free
Muster In1864-09-05Kalamazoo, MI
Muster Out1865-09-30Charleston, SCMustered Out
Residence at enlistment:Niles, MI
Rank In:Private
Rank Out:Private
Highest rank achieved:Private
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Battles, James T.Battles, James T.728893application-invalid
Battles, James T.Battles, James T.591418certificate-invalid
Birth date:1839-07-29
Birth date certainty:Exact
Birth place:Charlottesville, VA
Death date:1913-12-19
Death place:Soldiers Home Hospital Grand Rapids, MI
Causes of death:disease: apoplexy
Occupations:Carpenter, Peddler
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Battles, James T.parent ofBrown, Eva
Battles, James T.parent ofFerguson, Amilla
Battles, James T.parent ofBattles, Lansing
Battles, James T.parent ofBattles, Thomas A.
Battles, James T.parent ofBattles, Edith May
Battles, James T.parent ofBattles, John
Battles, Sarah Franceswife ofBattles, James T.

Compiled Service Records for James T. Battles, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; Pension Records for James T. Battles, RG15, NARA, Washington, D.C.; Fifteenth Biennial Report of the Board of Managers of the Michigan Soldiers' Home (Lansing, MI: Wynkoop Hannebeck Crawford Co., State Printers, 1914); United States Federal Census, 1850, 1860, 1880, accessed through Ancestry.com; Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., “‘A Just and True Account’:” Two 1833 Parish Censuses of Albemarle County Free Blacks,” Magazine of Albemarle County History 53 (1995):114-139; John A. Braden and Terry Wantz, The History of Newaygo County, Michigan Civil War Veterans (Newaygo County Society of History and Genealogy 1984), 61; Family tree from Cinder Stanton; "James T. Battles," Findagrave.com, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60622882.