Joseph Dobson was born in Leeds on 27 April 1834. In 1852, aged 18, he set sail for the United States of America in search of a new life.
He settled in Illinois and worked on the construction of the Great Pacific Railroad connecting New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
In 1861, the American Civil War broke out following the secession from the union of eleven southern, slave-owning states which combined to form the Confederacy.
President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for volunteers from the northern states to form an army. Dobson answered this call and joined the 45th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, otherwise known as the Washburne Lead Mine Regiment, named after Illinois Congressman, Elihu Washburne.
Dobson saw action at the Battle of Shiloh and in the decisive Carolinas Campaign which led to the surrender of Confederate forces in April 1865. This came shortly after the assassination of President Lincoln on 15 April 1865, which left Dobson stunned and angered.
Dobson marched with the rest of the 45th to Washington DC where, on 23 and 24 May 1865, he took part in the military procession and celebration known as the Grand Review of the Armies attended by the new president, Andrew Johnson.
Dobson spent a total of 35 years in America but never took up citizenship because he refused to swear the oath of allegiance to defend the US against its enemies, including Queen Victoria.
He returned to Leeds in later life and lived in Rothwell until his death in the 1920s.
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The Grand Review of the Armies