Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A little bit of the American Civil War in Southern Cemetery ........... Philip James Baybutt

I doubt that many will expect to come across a memorial in Southern Cemetery to a man who had fought in the American Civil War and who had received the Medal of Honour for gallantry.

He was Philip James Baybutt who had been born in Hulme in 1843 and according to one source while visiting his brother in the United States joined the US Army at Fall River, Massachusetts in February 1864.

During the Valley Campaigns of 1864 he was awarded the medal for an action at Luray, Virginia on September 24, 1864 becoming the first British citizen recipient of the award.*

Now that is intriguing enough but to have then been buried back in Manchester in 1907 opens a story with fascinating possibilities.

His father was a carpenter and Philip was baptised in St Georges in Hulme in the December of 1843 and the brother he visited must be William who was five years younger.

He disappears as you would expect in the 1860s but a Philip Baybutt turns up in 1881, married to Harriet living in Stretford.  Their eldest child had been born in Manchester in 1874 and while it is not conclusive one of their children is called William.

In 1881 he described himself as a bookkeeper which seems a quiet occupation for a man who had ridden with the 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, Massachusetts Volunteers,  saw action and was awarded that medal for bravery.

Indeed it is worth pointing out that he was one of only two men from the regiment to be awarded the Medal of Honour.

So this may well be our veteran, and I think it fits because the memorial to Mr Baybutt stands in front of the gravestone which records not only his internment but that of a Harriet Baybutt in 1920.

I had hoped for a newspaper account of the burial of such an interesting man but have yet to uncover one that said I have I think located a relative in Australia so the story may yet take on a new twist.

Which is all to the good because his memorial is one of the high points on the guided tour led by Emma Fox who is a Manchester Green Badge Tour Guide.

 She is usually accompanied by David Harrop who maintains a permanent exhibition of memorabilia from both world wars at the Remembrance Lodge in the cemetery.**

Picture; the memorial and gravestone of Philip James Baybutt, courtesy of David Harrop

* Philip Baybutt, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Baybutt

**Emma Fox, http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/emma-fox-of-manchester-guided-tours-2517429510

And a thank you to Maureen Stephenson who located the Wikipedia entry

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