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Manuscripts Collections


Collection 13

James Wall Schureman (1822-1852)

Papers, 1841-1848, 1909

Processed by

Doris K. Handzo

Edited by

Gregory J. Plunges

Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey

August 1980


James Wall Schureman (1822-1852) was born on March 2, 1822, probably in Shrewsbury, N.J. His parents were James Schureman (1793 March 10 - 1877 May 12) and Susan Wall Schureman (1785 January 21 - 1880 April 13). James Schureman, the father, was originally from New Brunswick, N.J., lived in Belvidere, N.J. for a short period, and then moved to Shrewsbury, N.J. Susan Wall Schureman was born in Middletown, N.J., the daughter of a Revolutionary soldier who was present at the Battle of Monmouth. Her uncle was Garret D. Wall who, in 1829, was elected governor of New Jersey, but declined the honor. Wall Township, N.J. was named after him.

James Wall Schureman's parents were married in Christ Church in Shrewsbury, N.J. on September 9, 1817. He was the third of their five children. Two brothers, James Wall (1818 July 23 - 1821 October 6) and Samuel Pintard (1820 May 15 - 1821 October 11), died before his birth. He later had two sisters, Mary Elizabeth (Mrs. Peter Campbell) (1823 November 12 - 1910 May 30) and Cornelia Mathilda (1827 December 7 - 1833 June 10).

James Schureman entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY on July 1, 1838 and graduated 42nd in his class on July 1, 1842. He was promoted to a Bvt. 2nd Lieutenant, 7th Infantry, and stationed at Fort Wood, Louisiana. He went from there to the Buffalo Barracks, NY 1844-1845. While there he very likely commissioned the portrait in oils of himself in full dress uniform, now in the collection of the Monmouth County Historical Association, Freehold, New Jersey. This portrait was painted by Albert Tracy, a Buffalo artist, in 1845.

With the outbreak of the Mexican War, Lt. Schureman went to Mexico and served under General Winfield Scott and General Lovell. He fought in several of the battles, including the Siege of Vera Cruz (1847 March 9 - 29). On August 20, 1847, he was promoted to Bvt. 1st Lieutenant and cited for galland and meritorious conduct in the Battles of Contreras (1847 August 19-20) and Churubusco (1847 August 20).

After the war, he was made a 1st Lieutenant in the 2nd Infantry on January 12, 1848 and did frontier duty at Benicia, California, 1849 - 1850. He died on January 30, 1852 of a blood clot in the lungs while on a packet in San Francisco harbor. He was buried in the Naval Cemetery at Benicia, California.


The collection contains primarily letters fromLt. James W. Schureman to his sister Mary (Mrs. Peter Campbell) written during the period of his service in the military up to the time of his death in San Francisco (1841 - 1848). The letters give an interesting and detailed insight into several different aspects of military life, beginning with his life at West Point. He discusses drill, classes, riding, fencing, dances, and the weddings after graduation.

During his tour of duty at Ft. Wood, Louisiana, Lt. Schureman writes of the mosquitoes and yellow fever and describes the life and social customs in New Orleans in great detail, including the frequency of duels, the lifestyle of the Creoles and the condition of the slaves. There are references to the Republic of Texas, the possibility of its annexation and the resulting danger of war with Mexico. While Lt. Schureman was in Mexico he wrote to his sister describing the Mexican people -- their clothing, manners, speech, customs, and religion.

A great number of the letters are introspective. Lt. Schureman writes often of his philosophy of life in general and his religious views. He had strong religious feelings and was a devout Episcopalian. He makes an interesting prediction that trans-Atlantic travel will speed up to the point of taking only a morning to get from New York to London. In another letter he refers unflatteringly to Boz (Charles Dickens).

There are two undated letters at the end of the collection and an undated letter with no salutation, signed "Jas" or "Jos" which describes Lt. Schureman's death. The only other document in the collection is a letter dated 1909 April 5 from J.W.S. Campbell, representing the office of the Presidend of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey, to the War Department, requesting Lt. Schureman's military record.

The letters in this collection deal more with Lt. Schureman's views of the social and military life around him than they do with the Mexican War, although several letters actually describe military encounters and the one on the Siege of Vera Cruz gives an excellent in-depth account of the battle. The collection would be extremely valuable to researchers interested in the mores and social history of the times as well as an insight into the Mexican War.

PROVENANCE: Acquired 1947 November 15, as a gift from Mrs. Harry Campbell, Santa Monica, California.





1 / 1 / Letters, 1841 April 5 - 1848 August 2, 1909 April 5 (27 items)


Cullum, Bvt. Magor-General George W. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. Vol 2. 1841 - 1867. New York: James Miller, 1879

Stillwell, John E. Historical and Genealogical Miscellany. Vol. 5. New York: The Author, 1932

Wyknoop, Richard. Schuremans of New Jersey. 2nd ed. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1902

______ Supplement. 1906


Entered the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY 1838 July 1

Graduated 1842 July 1. Bvt. 2nd Lieutenant, 7th Infantry

Garrison at Ft. Wood, Louisiana. 1842 - 1844

Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry, 1844 Jan 25

Buffalo Barracks, NY, 1844 - 1845

Ft. Gratiot, Michigan. 1845 - 1846

Newport Barracks, Kentucky. 1846

War with Mexico. 1846 - 1848


Siege of Vera Crus, 1847 Mar 9 - 29
Battle of Cerro Gordo, 1847 April 17-18
Skirmish of Oka Laka, 1847 Aug 16
Battle of Contreras, 1847 Aug 19-20
Battle of Churubusco, 1847 Aug 20
Bvt. 1st Lieutenant, 1847 Aug 20

Jefferson Barracks, Missouri 1848

Fort Hamilton, NY 1848

Promoted to 1st Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry, 1848 Jan 12

Frontier duty at Benicia, California, 1849 - 1850

Rancho del Chino, California, 1850 - 1852



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This page last updated 4 August 2008.

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