James Stoddard History


James Stoddard was born on March 6, 1844 in Port Robinson, Canada West (now the Province of Ontario, Canada). Port Robinson is approximately 10 miles West of Niagara Falls, New York. He enlisted for one year in the Union Navy at Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 1863, and listed his occupation as blacksmith. Shortly after enlisting, Stoddard was assigned to USS Marmora, a stern wheel steamer operating on the Yazoo River as part of the Mississippi Squadron under the Command of Rear Admiral David Porter.

On March 5, 1864, Marmora was assigned to support the 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in defending Yazoo City, Mississippi from fierce Confederate attacks. During this action Stoddard was assigned with two other sailors to dismount one of the ships rifled howitzers, mount it on a field carriage and take it ashore to support the Illinois Volunteers. To quote from a report by RAdm Porter to Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles: "�At this time the fighting in the city was hand to hand. The gun was placed in position in the street and did good service, helping very much toward winning the day. The crew at one time was driven from the gun, they did not have sufficient support to hold it, but the soldiers seeing the crew driven, rallied, charged on the rebels and retook it, losing three men in the charge, and wounding James Stoddard of the Marmora�I am proud to say that the Navy was well represented by 3 sailors, who nobly stood by their guns through the whole action, fighting hand to hand to save the gun and the reputation of the Navy. The sailors are highly spoken of by the army officials for their gallant conduct. Their names are�James Stoddard of the Marmora. I would recommend them for your consideration." A more detailed report by the Commanding Officer USS Marmora indicates that while the gun was severely damaged during the attack, "to the bravery of that guns crew may be attributed the change of fortune of the day�I would most respectfully solicit in their behalf that you would confer a medal of honor on the following men:� James Stoddard, seaman, shot through the neck, slowly recovering�"

On April 16, 1864, Stoddard was awarded the Medal of Honor and on May 8, promoted to Acting Masters Mate for his heroic action during this battle. In his acceptance of promotion to Acting Masters Mate, Mr. Stoddard documented that he was a citizen of Canada.

Stoddard continued to serve as an Officer on USS Marmora until late 1864 when he was transferred to USS Choctaw, another steamer in the Mississippi Squadron. Chaoctaw continued operations in the lower Mississippi into 1865, and Acting Masters Mate Stoddard was discharged from the Navy on May 20, 1865 (well beyond his one year enlistment) near New Orleans, Louisiana .

No records have been located to date to indicate where Mr. Stoddard settled after the Civil War, but it is presumed that he returned to Canada.

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