Private Henry Clay Wood Essay

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Roger J. Dostall’s (PCC) Maternal Ancestor

Private Henry Clay Wood, United States Marine Corps

Henry Clay Wood was born in Wales, Maine in 1836; the same year of Battle of the Alamo took place. Oral family history spins the story that Henry was born to an American Indian woman and an unknown father. As a foundling, he was left on the doorstep of a Protestant minister. No one is sure how he came by the surname Wood; thought Henry Clay was a prominent statesman and a popular name of the era.

By the year 1850, at the age of 12, Henry was residing in Raymond, Maine. Shared genealogical research found the home in which he resided was apparently that of a Great-Great Uncle to Brother Wendell G. Small, a fellow brother of Major General Thomas
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The following year, in 1860, Henry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Private Henry Wood’s enlistment papers showed him as a laborer. He was first assigned to the Marine detachment aboard the USS Powhatan. The USS Powhatan was the same steam-driven side paddle wheeler frigate that Commodore Perry used to open Japan to world trade in the 1850’s.

At the time of Private Wood’s first duty, the USS Powhatan was commanded by a then Navy Lieutenant named David Dixon Porter. David Dixon Ported later became Admiral David Dixon Porter. During Pvt. Henry’s military service he was also assigned to the USS Pawnee, a steam and sail sloop commissioned in 1850.

With his service aboard the USS Powhatan, Henry C. Wood would have been present at the relief of Fort Pickens Florida following the fall in 1861 of Fort Sumter, South Carolina. He also participated in the Gulf Coast Blockade and the Battle of Mobile Bay. He saw action along the Mississippi River, where he participated in a shore raiding party which destroyed Confederate telegraph lines.

During his service, most likely while still aboard the USS Powhatan, Henry was injured by flying rigging while at sea during a storm off Cape Hatteras, North

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