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Veteran of the Civil War (1861-1865) – Larned Cemetery, Larned, Pawnee, Kansas

On August 15, 1861, Sgt. James P. Worrell enlisted in Co. D, 47th Illinois. It was disbanded after seven months. President Lincoln was calling for more soldiers and Sgt. Worrell answered that call. He enlisted in Co. B, 86th Illinois. His rank to Sgt. to Capt. occurred in 1863 as he took the command of the 86th. He was discharged in June of 1865. Capt. Worrell was wounded twice, had his horse shot from under him nearly crushing him, and his cap was shot off while in battle. James Purcell Worrell was born on April 8, 1834, in Alexandria, Virginia. He was educated as a lawyer and moved to Marshall County, Illinois, and opened a practice. It was there where he met and married Elizabeth in 1854. Nine children are believed to have been born to James and Elizabeth with several dying in infancy.

When the call came for soldiers, went to Peoria where he volunteered to serve in Co. D 47th IL. After a long winter, the spring of 1863 found more than 200 men of the 86th had died of disease or were discharged because of disease. Of the 620,000 recorded military deaths in the Civil War, about two-thirds died from disease.1

After his discharge, James returned to his family and reopened his law practice for the next seven years. A decision was made to move west. James, his son, George, and some fellow comrades set out with a team and a wagon for Kansas. They arrived at Larned, Kansas on June 14, 1873. Elizabeth Worrell and three daughters joined them about four months later.

Capt. Worrell was the first lawyer in the area and settled several disputes. He organized the first school district and one of his daughters was the first teacher. He was highly respected throughout the county.

Capt. James P. Worrell passed away in 1907 and Elizabeth died the following year. They are buried on the same stone in Larned Cemetery.

Note: It is estimated that 2/3 of soldiers died of disease. Crowded conditions, poor hygiene, absence of sanitary disposal of garbage and human waste, inadequate diets, and no specific disease treatments were the culprits. Smallpox vaccination, citrus fruits, and fresh vegetables for scurvy and quinine for malaria were among the only specific and valid therapies. Diseases were generally treated by attempting to alleviate symptoms. There was no understanding of bacteria as a cause of disease or insect-borne infections. As the war progressed, the total number of cases of disease fell due to improvements in food, sanitation, and hygiene. However, the compiled data is perplexing as it shows that while the number of cases of disease decreased, the percentage of deaths from disease increased.1

1 Disease | Behind the Lens: A History in Pictures | Essays and Photos Courtesy of The Burns Archive | Mercy Street | PBS


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