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Capt. J. P. Worrell
Something of His Life and Character
A Tribute from a Comrade

The funeral of Capt. J. P. Worrell was held at the home last Thursday afternoon. The services were in charge of the G.A.R., assisted by the Sons of Veterans and Co. F, K.N.G. It was a military funeral. After scripture reading and prayer by Rev. Barton, the G.A.R. gave their impressive service. At the cemetery members of Co. F, formed the firing squad.

At our request the following paragraphs regarding the life of Captain Worrell were kindly prepared for us. It is very appropriate at this memorial time that the life and splendid war record of Capt. Worrell be reviewed, for the benefit of his many friends in this city and county. He is one of the men we honor today, one of the nation’s defenders.
Those who came from a distance to attend the funeral were Rev. J. S. McClung, of Wichita, brother of Mrs. Worrell, Miss Helen Ball, of Lawrence, Kansas, sister of Mr. H. M. Ball, and Mrs. H.M. Ball, who came from Washington, D.C.

From friends of Mrs. Ball, who is president of the Department of Potomac, Woman’s Relief Corps, many beautiful flowers were received from those who met Capt. and Mrs. Worrell on their memorable trip to Washington.

Condolences were also sent by many of the officers of both the Grand Army of the Republic and the Woman’s Relief Corps. Among the other beautiful tributes received were the badge of the order in roses and carnations from Larned Woman’s Relief Corps, roses from Mr. and Mrs. Brubaker, roses and carnations from Miss Bess Baldwin, of Topeka, roses from Mrs. Depew and daughters, and many beautiful tributes of flowers from the family and friends at a distance.

The funeral ceremonies were strictly military, as Capt. Worrell wished. The music was that of the fife and drum, its purely martial effect fitting the surroundings. The casket was placed in the center of the lawn under the shadow of the flag Capt. Worrell so loved, with the trees about him that he had planted and tended with proud care, on the carpet of thick grass where he had passed many delightful hours with his friends in social intercourse, and where he was so fond of sitting with his grandchildren and family.

About four years ago, Mrs. H. M. Ball, Capt. Worrell’s eldest daughter, brought to him from Washington a handsome bunting storm flag. Capt. Worrell immediately planned a flag pole. With the assistance of Capt. A. A. Thorp the pole was made, and the raising was turned into a gala occasion to which the whole country was invited. A regular baked bean campfire supper was served on the lawn about the hospitable home of Capt. and Mrs. Worrell, and the flag was raised just at sunset, with a salute by Co. F. National Guard, the playing of the Star Spangled banner by the Larned Band, and the grandchildren of Capt. Worrell drawing the flag to the top of the staff amid loud huzzas.

Last Thursday, at the conclusion of the impressive military funeral, the same grandchildren, Carlos and Wayne Worrell, Rex, Moree, Gail, and Gladys Buckles marched out to the flag staff, and reverently lowered the flag which had been flying at half staff during the week. As it came fluttering down, the children caught the ruddy folds, and walking to the casket laid above their loved grandfather the flag he so loved, and wrapped about the casket, it formed his winding sheet as he had so often desired should be done.

During the long day and nights that passed while waiting the arrival of relatives, details of B. F. Larned Post, G.A.R., the Sons of Veterans, the National Guard and the Masons stood guard over the remains of the man whom they had honored in life, and who loved them all. Capt. Worrell was extremely fond of young people, and it was appropriate that they should watch over him, as he had often watched over them in sickness, or helped them during hours of sorrow or trial.

Only his comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic were permitted to see his features for the last time.
Capt Worrell died as he had often expressed the wish to die. “He wrapped the drapery of his couch about him and laid down to pleasant dreams.” At night he went to sleep like a little child, and when the sun was rising the next morning, he lay still as though asleep, with his hand under his silvery white head, his eyes closed. When his spirit winged its way above, it went so softly that no one knew, and no shadow of pain rested on his placid face.
James Purcell Worrell was born in Alexandria, Va., April 8, 1834. When about four years old his father, Samuel Worrell, with his family removed to Fayette county, Ohio, where Capt. Worrell grew to manhood. His father was a shipwright, and built and launched the first ship ever set afloat at Alexandria, in that day a port of entry, and promising to be a great city. Just a few years ago one of the Washington newspapers which was making a feature of historical incidents of early Washington and Alexandria had a long article about the wharfs and shipyard of Capt. Worrell’s father at Alexandria.

The genealogy of Capt. Worrell’s family reaches back into the ancient history of Scotland and the north of Ireland. On his mother’s side he traced ancestry to the Scottish King James, through the Stuarts, and a Worrell lies in Battle Abbey. The first of that family came to the new west world in 1619, in the “Good Ship Elizabeth,” which antedated the Mayflower one year and landed at Philadelphia.

That the Worrell’s were sturdy men of affairs in the history of the country is shown by the fact that the early records of Philadelphia show that men of that name were mayors of the town, and filled many places of importance prior to the Revolution nearly 100 years. That the Worrells were fighters is shown also by the Revolutionary records. In Philadelphia there is one very large chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the eligibility clause for admittance to the chapter being that one shows kinship to a Worrell who fought in the Revolutionary war.

The ancient spelling of the name shows it to have been in all probability of Welsh origin, it being variously spelled in old documents across the water as “Wherle,” “Whorle,” “Whorrell,” “Wherrell,” about the time of coming to this country the “h” being dropped.

Capt. Worrell went to Illinois in 1853, and May 21, 1865, was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth McClung; of Putman county, Illinois. The McClungs, like the Worrells were of the old Scotch and Irish stock and came to this country very early after the settlement of Jamestown. They located in Rockbridge county, Va., and the McClung homestead is still in the McClung name in that historic county which gave Washington to the country.

Mr. and Mrs. Worrell settled in Marshall county, Illinois, and there most of their children were born, eight in all. Four of these died while small, and are buried in the little churchyard at Snechwine, now Putnam, Ill.

Mr. Worrell was one of the first to enlist when the shots from Sumter’s guns echoed around the world, but the quota for Illinois was filled before his company was reached and he had to wait for a time to get into the service. His second enlistment was in Co. D. 47th Ill. Vol. Infty. In 1862, while home on furlough he helped to recruit Co. B., 86th Ill., the men being nearly all of them his personal friends in and about Henry, Ill., then his home.

He took service in this company where his record as a fighting man among fighting men became notable. So notable in fact that the records of the War of the Rebellion printed at tremendous expense and long years of compilation carry pleasing mention of his gallantry in action. At the battle of Stone River Gen. Geo. H. Thomas personally praised his conduct in the face of falling fire, and bestowed upon him his own sword, and a sash which he had worn. Capt. Worrell’s captain was branded a poltroon at that battle and Capt. Worrell led his company into the fight on the order to hold a “forlorn hope at all hazards.” He held it.

Endorsement of Capt. Worrell’s action was made by the general upon Capt. Worrel’s commission as a Captain, but the sword, sash, and the commission have all been stolen since coming to Pawnee county.

Capt. Worrell was promoted to captain from first lieutenant for Stone River, over the heads of many aspirants, and bore himself with such gallantry as to command the unstinted praise of his superior officers.

He led his regiment in the Chickamauga campaign, being actively engaged in the skirmishes and battles leading up to the mighty conflict and ending with the battles of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Capt. Worrell had his horse shot from under him and rolled with it down Lookout mountain, and his cap shot off at Mission Ridge. He was wounded twice in different battles.

Col. D. W. Magee, the lieutenant colonel commanding the 86th at Chickamauga several times mentions Capt. Worrell in his report of that battle. He reported that Capt. Worrell’s company was ordered to hold a forlorn hope along with Co. L of the 86fth. “These two companies did a splendid work,” says the report. “The advance of the rebels now became so formidable and rapid that before our skirmishers were well aware of it, they had turned our right and threatened to cut them off entirely from the regiment.

But becoming aware of their perilous position, they jumped from tree to tree retreating the while, until Capt. Fahnestock (who held the right) got his company within reach of the rear of our column, which was then moving by the flank (by order of Gen. Steedman) toward the old LaFayette road.

Captain Worrell, however, was not so fortunate, his left being so far advanced and acting under an order to hold his position until he heard Barnett’s battery open on the enemy, remained too long, and when forced to retreat, found his right covered by the enemy in force.”

The report goes on to state that Captain Worrell was so nearly surrounded by the enemy that he lost four men, all four of whom were taken prisoner, and spent many months in Andersonville. Capt. Worrell succeeded in rejoining his company and the regiment with the remainder of his company.

“The conduct of Captains Worrell and Fahnestock with their companies on this occasion, I am proud to say, was that of brave and true soldiers, and worthy of the great cause for which we are all battling.”

In conclusion of the report, which covers very fully the action of the 86th regiment in that campaign, Col. MaGee said: “The conduct of the officers and men composing my regiment on the three days we were connected with the troops engaged in the conflict referred to, was such as to reflect credit upon themselves and the state they represent, and especially Captain Worrell, commanding Co. B, and his brave officers and men, I most cordially thank for the heroism displayed.”

Capt. Worrell’s record all through the war was of the same high order. He was often complimented and commended by his superior officers, and held many commissions of trust and confidence during his service, which was not concluded till he was mustered out in August 1865. His health failed him during the latter year of his service and he was placed in charge of the cattle for Gen. Thomas’ army as commissary of subsistence.

At the close of the war, though he had handled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cattle for Gen. Thomas, he was able to settle his business to the last penny without the slightest difficulty.

Capt. Worrell always kept the muster rolls of his company, and copies of his official papers, and upon those muster rolls depended the fate of most of the men of his company who desired pensions, and whose pensionable status were easily settled by reference to those rolls.

In this connection Capt. Worrell once related with a good deal of satisfaction a story of how he was “investigated” by the pension office at Washington. The singularity attending all those of Co. B who applied for pensions was that they could tell almost to an hour when they were in hospital, when wounded, when furloughed for sickness or anything else that would give them a pensionable status.

The commissioner of pensions, some 20 years or less ago, concluded to find this “Capt. Worrell” and investigate on the sly the man who gave to the men of his company so glibly a pensionable status. The pension examiner came, called on Capt. Worrell under some other guise, and led him to talk of his regiment and company. Finally the examiner asked about the record of the last man who had applied for a pension, and Capt. Worrell replied again with satisfactory evidence for the man to get a pension.

Finally the examiner remarked that Capt. Worrell must have a very retentive memory. Capt. Worrell replied that he had what was better, the company rolls, and that he could give the history of every man who had ever served under him. The special examiner looked over the roll books, and after that when one of Co. B, 86th Ill., applied for a pension, establishing his grounds on the report made by his Captain, that pensionable status was not questioned.

Capt. Worrell was a member of “Our Country’s Defenders,” the organization which practically antedated the Grand Army of the Republic, and became a member of the Grand Army as soon as he could form a post. He was a charter member of B. F. Larned Post, G.A.R., and never held membership anywhere else. He was several times commander of the post, and had held many other offices in it. He had been many times upon the staff of the commander-in-chief, and at Washington, in 1902, he was a special aid upon the staff of Commander-in-Chief Torrence, acting as his personal escort and orderly.
Comrade Capt. J. P. Worrell
Because of old time acquaintance may I be permitted my humble tribute to an old comrade and brother.
In the spring of 1873, third of a century ago, in our little town of Larned, I first met Capt. J. P. Worrell; and the friendship then begun has ripened into a bond of comradeship which has never been severed. Captain Worrell and family soon became identified with all the interest of our little town.

He was a man of sterling qualities, of strong and positive convictions, and naturally became a factor in all the enterprises for the good of our community. He tried the first case, the old depot being the court room. He helped to organize the first school district, his family furnishing the first teacher. He took an active part in the building of and was one of three trustees of the first church built in Larned, it being a union church, and he was ever found in the ranks of those who were working for the best interest of our town and country.

He was an uncompromising patriot, and his devotion to his country and flag was such that he could brook no aspersions upon either, or their defenders, and was just as loyal to his home, family and friends.

In the transition of all frontier towns, these were times that tried men’s souls; and Larned was not an exception, and some of the old settlers well remember times when men like Captain Worrell were needed, and that he was ever found ready for the occasion. He was out spoken and positive. If he liked you, you knew it, and his enemies never failed to know where he stood. But he never fought under cover, but out in the open, face to face.

And yet with all, he possessed a big loving heart, easily touched with the feelings of others, and ever responsive to the needs of his fellow man. And in this, he was no respecter of persons. For the rich and poor, white and black, friend and foe, when in need of sympathy and help, alike found a ready response in the heart of Comrade Worrell’ and his heart and hand were ever open to the needs of the suffering and bereaved.
During the terrible scourge that swept away so many of our dear little ones, leaving desolate homes, and bleeding hearts, Oh, how many can testify to the ready response of Captain Worrell and his good wife.

Do you think we will ever forget these gracious ministrations of this couple, who like as the Master, went about doing good, visiting the sick, binding up broken hearts, and giving sympathy and comfort to sorrowing ones, and we are now speaking from experience, and out of the depth of our grateful heart.

And because of these things we will ever cherish the memory of this departed comrade and brother; and because of these things, we also, can confidently entrust him to the loving care of the blessed Savior, to whom all hearts are open, and who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

In behalf of the old comrades and friends, we bide him farewell until we meet him again at that grand muster over the river, where there will be no more parting forever. As ever, an old time comrade and friend,
W. R. Adams

Transcribed and Contributed by Richard Schwartzkopf

Last Updated:  Friday, November 25, 2005 18:04:40

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