Last Civil War Soldier in Atlantic County Honored

On November 2, 2019, the Col. Louis R. Francine Camp #7, Department of New Jersey, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, placed and dedicated a “Last Soldier” marker for Atlantic County, New Jersey’s last Civil War veteran, Samuel Morey, in a grave side ceremony. The Francine Camp was assisted by Beck’s Philadelphia Brigade Band a/k/a James S. Stratton Camp #82, Department of New Jersey, SUVCW, who provided a fine program of period martial music. Commander of the Francine Camp, Frank Tomasello, and Tom Burke, representing New Jersey Department Commander Robert Meyer, welcomed the approximately 60 attendees. Special guests included 3rd generation Morey descendants Andrew Megill, and Patricia Morey, as well as 4th generation descendant Elizabeth Megill (who ironically shares her birthday with Morey). Andrew Megill spoke and also read remarks from Harold “Sonny” Hand (3rd great grandson) author of the history of Morey’s regiment, the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, “One Good Regiment”. Thereafter, the Francine Camp dedicated Morey’s marker in accordance with the prescribed SUVCW ritual. The Morey descendants were then afforded the honor of “unveiling” the last soldier marker which had been shrouded in a Civil War era National flag through the ceremony. A musket salute was fired by Company A, 7th New Jersey Sons of Veterans Reserve, recipients of the 2018 National SUVCW Unit Citation award. Those in attendance were thereafter treated to a luncheon provided by the generous donations of the brothers of the Francine Camp.

Samuel Morey was born December 27, 1839, at Bass River, Ocean County, New Jersey, to John C. and Rachel Camp Morey. He was the second youngest of 11 children and lost his father when he was but 7 years old. He started to work after his father died, doing mostly farm labor, to help support the large Morey clan. On August 14, 1862, he enlisted as a Private in Company I of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry. This regiment was being raised to be a part of the soon to be famed Irish Brigade which was then being raised as the 69th New York Infantry. For that reason, the 13th was nicknamed the “Irish Dragoons”. (There is some indication that by the time of Pvt. Morey’s enlistment, his mother had also passed away.) The 13th saw extensive action during the war and battled in 14 engagements, the more notable being: Second Winchester; Sulphur Springs; Mine Run; The Wilderness; Spotsylvania Courthouse; Haws Shop; Trevilian Station; Saint Mary’s; Jerusalem Plank Road; Malvern Hill; Lee’s Mill; Wyatt’s Farm; Boydon Plank Road; Hatcher’s Mill and Dabney’s Mill. The 13th completed their service in North Carolina with the surrender of the Confederate Army of the Tennessee under the Command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.

Records indicate that at some point in 1864 Pvt. Morey was detached from his unit to serve as pioneer. Being a pioneer was a very dangerous undertaking. These were advance units that would scout ahead of the action. They were particularly prone to being caught or killed by enemy pickets or by stumbling into a Confederate Army.

The main weapon carried by the pioneer was the axe, as their principal function was to cut down trees and construct corduroy roads for the army to advance, often under heavy enemy fire.

At the end of the war, after three years in the saddle, Pvt. Morey and the 13th were treated to a train ride home to Philadelphia and mustered out on July 14, 1865. Pvt. Morey returned home and made his living as a lumberjack and collier in the pine barrens of southern New Jersey.

In 1868 he married Mary Newman and together they would have 7 children. (There is also some indication that Pvt. Morey had been married prior to the war but his first wife had deserted him for another.) Pvt. Morey died on February 20, 1943, at the age of 103, after suffering a fall. He had been a widow for 28 years, blind for approximately 7, and bed ridden at the home of his daughter for 3. When he passed away, he was survived by 4 of his daughters. Even at such an advanced age, he was keenly aware of world events and kept up with news of World War II by radio. He expressed the hope that he would live long enough to know the outcome of World War II. Sadly, that was not to be.

When he died, his obituary was carried by several major newspapers as it was mistakenly thought that he was the last Civil War veteran from New Jersey. It is clear however that Samuel was the last Civil War veteran from Atlantic County, New Jersey and the last member of the General William J. Sewell Post #47, of the Grand Army of the Republic, which met in Mays Landing. Pvt. Morey was buried in Union cemetery, Mays Landing, New Jersey with full military honors.