b. 13/11/1843 York, England. d. 26/05/1914 Janesville, Wisconsin.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 05/10/1864 Allatoona, Georgia.
James Edward Croft was born in York, England on 13 November 1843 and he emigrated soon afterwards with his parents and older sister Elizabeth to the United States. During the Civil War, when he married his first wife Catherine M. Fitch, he apparently added 10 years to his age, perhaps because at that time, it was considered by some as improper for a man to marry a woman who was older in age. They were married November 25th, 1863 in Rock County, Wisconsin, apparently when he was on furlough from duty.
James E. Croft enlisted with the 12th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery on August 20th, 1862 in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was promoted to Corporal in the Spring of 1864 while the unit was stationed in Alabama, prior to the Battle of Allatoona Pass in November of 1864. On the 16th of November, 1864, James and others from Janesville that were wounded in the battle arrived in Janesville to recuperate, including Sylvester St. John. At some time after that, James received an offer for a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with Company E of the then forming 51st Wisconsin Infantry, which he accepted. The 51st Wisconsin Infantry never mustered into federal service, so James Croft never actually served as an officer during the Civil War. He mustered out of federal service on June 7th, 1865. He would not receive his Medal of Honor until 20 March 1897.
After the war, James became one of the most prominent businessmen in Rock County, Wisconsin as the owner of a Masonry contracting business, and according to his obituary in the Janesville Daily Gazette he was “responsible for many of the brick buildings standing yet today in downtown Janesville, and for many of the beautiful brick homes.” He also worked as a lawyer, and was very active in the courts in Rock County, as documented by his many cases listed in the legal section of the Janesville Daily Gazette. James Croft was an active member of the Fraternal Order of Masons, and a member of the Lt. Henry S. Swift Jr. Camp #137 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Edgerton, Wisconsin, since his home was in Fulton Township, Rock County, just outside of Edgerton, Wisconsin, and North of Janesville until just before his death. His visitation was held at his second home at 338 Cherry Street in Janesville, Wisconsin, and he was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, preceded by his friends and family, and a procession of his comrades of the Masonic order and the Grand Army of the Republic. His family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville, Wisconsin contains the remains of James Croft, his first wife Catherine Fitch, his sister Ella, and his brother Joseph and his wife.
For extraordinary heroism on 5 October 1864, while serving with Battery 12, Wisconsin Light Artillery, in action at Allatoona, Georgia. Private Croft took the place of a gunner who had been shot down and inspired his comrades by his bravery and effective gunnery, which contributed largely to the defeat of the enemy.
BURIAL LOCATION: OAK HILL CEMETERY, JANESVILLE, WISCONSIN.
BLOCK 99, LOT 7, GRAVE 1
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.