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McCunn's research 2

Continue Ms. Ruthann Lum McCunn's work

It is believed that this is WOO Hong Neok's picture in Union uniform, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Courtesy of Dr. Thomas P. Lowry, a retired physician and author of several Civil War books, and also, courtesy of Michael Musick, archivist of Civil War Military Record at the National Archive, Washington, D.C.

Hong Neok Woo

At least one family in China has members who fought on opposing sides of the war. According to

Ms. McCunn's source, Dr. C.Y. Shu, one of his grand-aunts was married to Confederate veteran Marshall Tsao, another to Union veteran Hong Neok Woo. (Letter from Dr. C.Y. Shu, dated July 30, 1986. The sister of Union veteran Hong Neok Woo married Dr. Shu's maternal grandfather's younger brother, while Confederate veteran Marshall Tsao married the sister of Dr. Shu's maternal grandfather.) Nothing much is known about the Confederate veteran Marshall Tsao, other than that he returned to China after the war and became an Episcopalian minister, and that one of his sons served as president of Tsing Hua University in Beijing (Peking). (The webmaster is in the process of doing some research on Marshall Tsao, aka Charles K. Marshall.) But we knew a lot more on Hong Neok Woo.

Woo was born on August 7, 1834, "in a little hamlet called Antowtson, 5 miles outside the south gate of Chang Chow, in the district of Yanghuhsien, China." His people were poor but industrious farmers with ambitions for their sons to work in a hong, one of the large companies through which the Chinese government forced foreign merchants to trade. When Woo's father, who frequently went to Shanghai to sell farm products, learned of the Shanghai Mission School, opened by Bishop William J. Boone of the American Church Mission. The father enrolled his son.

(The source came from William Frederic Worner, "A Chinese Soldier in the Civil War" Lancaster County Historical Society, vol. 25, no. 1. January 1921. Rev. F.L.H. Pott, D.D., "The Late Reverand H.N. Woo" March 1920.)

Woo, then thirteen, boarded at the school. Two years later he was baptized by Bishop Boone in the school chapel. The following year he was confirmed. Under the tutelage of a Miss Fay, who took kindly to the "patient, plodding boy," Woo "generally stood well in his classes." Then a new superintendent arrived and took over the instruction of Miss Fay's twenty boys. This man was extremely strict, and when he called Woo a dunce, the boy ran away. Nor was Woo the only student to do so. Many of his classmates also "disappeared." Soon after the superintendent left for the United States, these same boys returned one by one and asked to be readmitted. "For the sake of discipline," Bishop Boone refused. Instead, "he found the boys places of employment."

(The source came from Miss Fay, "Hong Niok, Chinese Convert and Candidate for Orders, A Sketch of His History" in Spirit of Missions, November 1871.)

At that time, the American Church Mission was the only American mission in Shanghai. So when the frigates Susquehanna and Powhatan from Commodore Perry's expedition to Japan visited that city, their officers attended Sunday services at the mission. Since Woo expressed an interest in seeing the United States, Reverend Points, who was attached to the mission, persuaded the officers on the Susquehanna to take Woo on as a cabin boy.

During the ship's eight-month voyage, Woo waited on the ship's surgeon, Dr. John S. Messersmith. And when the ship landed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in March 1855, Woo accompanied Messersmith to the doctor's home in Lancaster, living in the same household until Messersmith's marriage. When Woo had another opportunity to study at a parochial school, but Woo turned down the offer. Apparently since Woo was burned once and shy twice on his bad experience. He did not tell the real reason about his apprehension, and instead, he just said he was a poor student. Due to an economic depression, he failed to find employment. A sympathetic neighbor, Joseph Clarkson, suggested Woo learn the trade of a printer, so he worked seven years at the Lancaster Examiner and Herald, four years as an apprentice, three years as a journeyman, after which he was employed by the Daily Express as a pressman.

It was there, while oiling a machine, Woo's right hand got caught in a cogwheel, and the flesh, skin, and nail were torn from his middle finger. The terrible experience, he said, left him with a lifelong desire to help those suffering illness and pain.

On September 22, 1860, Woo became a naturalized American. He took his citizenship seriously. Moreover, he had a power sense of duty, and "with him an impulse of duty [was] followed by corresponding action." For example, in his middle years, after he was married and a father, he even left his dying child to conduct an ordinary chapel service simply because it was "his turn." Not surprisingly, when the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania, Woo answered Governor Curtin's call for fifty thousand volunteers to protect the state and strengthen the Union Army.

"I volunteered on June 29, 1863, in spite of my Lancaster friends being against it, for I felt that the North was right in opposing slavery. My friends thought I should not join the militia and risk my life in war, for my own people and family were in China and I had neither property nor family in America whose defense might serve as an excuse for my volunteering." (Source: H.N. Woo, "Autobiography of the Rev. H.N. Woo" published in Chinese language and translated into English [but not published] by Rev. Andrew Yu Yue Tsu, Ph.D. of St. John's University, Shanghai, China.)

(Webmaster: At that time, there were quite a number of "Dutch", Quaker, Amish, Mennonite and Copperhead and some Southern-sympathizer [a class of anti-war pacifists] in Pennsylvania. They hated violence and military actions and they won't volunteer to join the Union army. They only cared for the safety of their persons and properties. It is very remarkable for Woo to volunteer; fighting for freedom for his host country, fighting for someone else's ideal, even though personally he had no stake in this fight. He had nothing to protect.)

As a member of Company I, Fifteenth Regimental Infantry, Pennsylvania Volunteer Emergency Militia, commanded by Captain John H. Druckemiller, Woo was immediately sent to Safe Harbor, a camp on a hill at the mouth of Conestoga Creek. Seeing no action there, he returned to Lancaster and mustered into the service of the state on July 2, 1863. His company was sent to Harrisburg, where it was equipped, then transported by train through the Cumberland Valley to Chambersburg. After a short stay, the men marched on to Hagerstown and Williamsport, Maryland, doing picket duty at Dam No. Five on the Potomac River. In August, the company returned to Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, and Woo mustered out of the service at Lancaster on August 15, 1863, still having seen no action.

(Webmaster: Woo's army was so close to see the elephant [experience combat.] At that time, Confederate Lieutenant General Richard Ewell led his Second Corps army marching straight North to Harrisburg, ordered by Gen. Lee. Ewell took three routes: one through Emmitsburg; another by way of Chambersburg, and the last through McConnellsburg. Ewell's task was to collect supplies for the army, and if Harrisburg should come within his means, Ewell was directed to capture it. Taking Harrisburg, the State Capital of Pennsylvania, would produce such a psychological shock to the Union. The overall command of the Pennsylvania militia was the experienced Major General Darius Couch, who even ranked General George Meade at the battle of Chancellorville. He was so disgusted with the performance of the Commander, General Joseph Hooker, that he resigned from the Army of the Potomac, and recommended Gen. Meade to the War Department to succeed Hooker. Even with the talent of Couch, leading a small group of inexperienced State Militia, would have been no match with Ewell's Second Corps veterans. Ewell would have taken Harrisburg easily. The citizens of Harrisburg were so fearful, that they buried their treasures in the ground. The famous candy/chocolate maker, Mr. Hershey, did that. But Fate changed everything. When Ewell's army was marching so close to the Susquehanna River, since June 27, 1863, he received an order from General Lee, on July 29, 1863 to turned back immediately. What happened was that Confederate Brig. General Harry Heath, of Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill's third Corps, encountered the Federal Cavalry commanded by John Buford, in a little town called Gettysburg, on June 30, 1863. That changed everything. After the 3-day battles, Gen. Lee retreated from the South Mountain, cutting through Maryland back to Virginia. The webmaster had several chances to visit the battlefield of Gettysburg, and also Lee's South Mountain retreat route, which included the vicinities of Hagerstown and Williamsport, and the crossing of the Potomac River. In fact Woo's regiment had the effect of 'tracking' and 'chasing' and 'guarding against' Lee's Army, at a later time frame, should Lee decided to turn back and renew the attack. The webmaster wanted to emphasize that Woo was so close to be in the heat of great battle, but only Fate had blown the dark cloud away. Woo's military service was indeed very valuable to the defense of the State of Pennsylvania, even though he did not experience combat.)

The following February he decided to return to China, again working on board to pay his passage. Back in Shanghai, he interpreted for an English establishment that employed Chinese workmen. At the same time, he "began a course of study with Mr. Thompson, preparatory to being admitted to Holy Orders." Ordained a deacon in 1867, Woo advanced to the priesthood in 1880. According to his former teacher, Miss Fay, he was an eloquent preacher with "a wonderful gift of speaking, seizing upon the most simple and effective truths of our holy religion, and impressing them upon the hearts of his hearers." He also "showed great love for the theory and practice of medicine, nursing and caring of the sick," and helping to establish a dispensary that eventually developed into St. Luke's Hospital.

A man of "untiring energy," he served as catechist, hospital assistant, physician, and chaplain, organizer of and teacher in the boys' schools, as well as general missionary of the diocese. "Generous, warm-hearted, and impulsive," he also possessed an "unfaltering self-confidence." At seventy-two, an age when he might have entered a well-earned retirement, he began a vigorous, and ultimately successful campaign for the establishment of an Industrial Home for poor widows, raising sufficient money to purchase land and construct a building for more than a hundred women. Ironically, it was in his mission work that Woo finally "saw action." While he was attempting to open Taitsing to mission work, the conservative literati in the town raised such strenuous opposition that the local magistrate had Woo seized and taken to the Yamen, where he was severely beaten. Undaunted, Woo remained dedicated to spreading the Gospel until his death on august 18, 1919. He was buried in Shanghai's Westgate Cemetery.

John Tomney

John Tomney arrived in New York City shortly after the war began. At that time, General Daniel E. Sickles, under special authority from the War Department, was recruiting a regiment that came to be known as the First Regiment Excelsior Brigade, or sometimes simply as Sickles' Brigade, in New York City. Although at that time, Tomney was "entirely ignorant" of English, he was somehow "induced to enlist" on May 15, 1861, to serve three years. He was eighteen years old.

On June 21, 1861, he was mustered in as a private in Company D, the seventieth New York Infantry at Camp Scott on Staten Island. Described as "bright, smart, and honest," he soon became "a favorite" and "was at once the butt and wit of the whole regiment." The regiment left the state July 1861, and served at and near Washington, D.C., from July 1861; in Sickles' Brigade, Hooker's Division, Army of the Potomac from October 15, 1861; and in the same, Second Brigade and Second Division, Third Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March 1862.

On March 17, 1862, Tomney "fell out of ranks" while on the march in Stofford and Prince William counties in Virginia. Whether he fell out with a detachment of the regiment or alone because of fatigue is not clear, but he was captured at Stofford on March 30, 1862. As a prisoner, Tomney was "brought before General Magruder ('Prince' John Magruder), who surprised at his appearance and color, asked Tomney whether he was a mulatto, Indian, or what? When Tomney told him he was from China, Magruder was very much amused and asked him how much he would take to join the Confederate Army. "Not unless you make me a Brigadier General," said Tomney." The secesh officers, delighted with this retort, "treated him very kindly." Indeed, Tomney "soon became a lion in the rebel camp."

Confined at Richmond, Virginia, he was paroled at Newport News on May 13, 1862, and for the next several months, Tomney "employed his time attending his sick and wounded comrades. He was the kindest of nurses, and expended his little remand in providing delicacies for his sick fellow soldiers."

Then, either on August 15 or September 23, 1862, he reported at Camp Parole, Maryland, where he became a member of Captain Dimmick's Detachment, Second Battalion of Paroled Prisoners, an organization made up of paroled prisoners of war for duty compatible with their parole. He finally returned to camp December 17, 1862, and was promoted to corporal on February 8, 1863. The Excelsior Brigade, taking part in eighteen engagements, was known as "the bravest of brigades," and John Tomney as "one of [its] bravest soldiers." On July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, "he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death." He left no personal effects.

Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Decatur Bunker

Photo Identification:
Front row:
Left hand side, taller boy: Christopher Wren Bunker
Right hand side, shorter boy: Stephen Decatur Bunker
Back row: From left to right
Sarah Yates Bunker, Eng Bunker, Chang Bunker, and Adelaide Yates Bunker

Christopher Wren Bunker was named after the famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren, 1632–1723.

Stephen Decatur Bunker was named after a famous American naval officer, Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr., 1779- 1820.

On April 2, 1865, Union Major General George Stoneman paused in North Carolina, and decided to draft some of the locals, no matter what their sympathies were, into his Division, and the names of all males over eighteen were put into a lottery wheel.

One of the names drawn was Eng Bunker, a Chinese originally from Siam (Thailand), a devoted Confederate. Not only that, he was also the world famous, first known "Siamese twins", for he had a five-inch ligament of flesh in his chest, linked to his twin brother, Chang Bunker. The two also shared one liver. Chang, as strong in his southern sympathies as his brother, refused to go. Since Chang's name had not been drawn, Gen. Stoneman could not forced Eng to join.

Eng and Chang, known as "the Chinese twins" in their native Siam, arrived in the United States in 1829. Ten years later, they bought 110 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains from their earnings as "Siamese twins" on exhibit. Soon after, they became Naturalized citizens, taking oaths of allegiance to the State of North Carolina as well as to the United States. Fishermen in Siam, they read widely on agriculture and soon became skilled farmers. They were among the first in the state to produce the "bright leaf" tobacco, which was especially prized in the manufacturing of cigarettes. And using the most modern methods available, they raised milk cows, cattle, sheep, pigs and fowl; grew wheat, rye, Indian corn, oats, peas, beans, and potatoes; kept bees; and cultivated orchards, all with the help of slaves.

The twins' ownership of slaves, twenty at the outbreak of the war, seems ironic, as they themselves had been "sold" by their mother for exhibit by a Captain Coffin. As historian John Kuo Wei Tchen suggested that Eng and Chang "fully adopted the values of Southern planters, and could improve their own sense of personal self-worth and personal liberty." Certainly, their acceptance by the community in which they chose to settle was marginal: When Eng and Chang proposed marriage to the Yates sisters, people in the area vigorously opposed the union as "unnatural," while the young ladies' parents tried to prevent it because the twins were Chinese.

The twins persisted and eventually prevailed. On April 10, 1843, Eng married Sarah, Chang married Adelaide, and they raised their children, twenty-two between them, as such staunch southerners that their eldest sons both enlisted as soon as they came to age.

Christopher, born to Chang and Adelaide, enlisted in Company I of the Thirty-seventh Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, on April 1, 1863 "for the war." But he was not called up for service until September 14, 1863. Of course, as the son of loyal Confederates, he had been aiding the war effort long before he entered active service. The Bunkers offered warm and generous hospitality to the troops, from providing food and clothing to nursing the wounded. Active service brought Christopher onto the battlefield.

In the summer of 1864, Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland, under orders from General Jubal Early in his Shennondoah Valley Campaign, to relieve the pressure on the defense on the Siege of Petersburg, invaded Pennsylvania again and took Chambersburg, crossing the Potomac River with twenty-six hundred cavalrymen, including Christopher. Sweeping aside the Union cavalry, McCausland took control of Chambersburg on July 30 and demanded either $100,000 in gold coin or $500,000 in U.S. currency to spare the city. When the inhabitants failed to raise the money in the three hours he had allotted, McCausland ordered Chambersburg destroyed, and while the city burned, drunken soldiers plundered freely, going so far as to tear brooches, finger rings, and earrings off women in the streets.

From Chambersburg, McCausland skirmished with pursuing Federals, then moved on to Moorefield, West Virginia. Three miles outside the town, certain he had left Union troops far behind, he ordered his men to set up camp in an area that was flat and militarily indefensible. Within twenty-four hours, Union cavalry ambushed a Confederate scouting party, then (disguised in gray) surprised and overwhelmed Confederate sentinels, pickets, and a small detachment on night duty, thus riding into camp without raising any alarm. In the mayhem that followed, Christopher became one of the many Confederates who were wounded and captured.

The largest Federal military prison at that time was Camp Chase, four miles west of Columbus, Ohio. Under the charge of Colonel William F. Richardson, the prison was surrounded by a twelve-foot-high wooden wall. Christopher, housed in a small wooded barrack with 197 other prisoners, slept on a straw-covered bunk and passed his waking hours reading the Bible and carving boats and musical instruments out of wood. Packages from home supplemented his meager rations. His father also sent him money with which he could buy items from the prison store. Nevertheless, Christopher was probably, like most of his fellow inmates, short of clothing and infected with lice. At least once he was reduced to eating a cooked rat, and on September 9, 1864, he was hospitalized from "variola," a virus that could have been either smallpox (which was then raging through the camp) or the less serious chickenpox. Finally, on March 4, 1865, he was exchanged for a Union prisoner of war, and his family welcomed him home on April 17, 1865.

His cousin Stephen's military experience was similar. Enlisting in the very same cavalry battalion on July 2, 1864, Stephen escaped the debacle at Moorefield. But on September 3, 1864, he was wounded in fighting near Winchester, Virginia. According to Judge Jesse F. Graves (who wrote an unpublished biography of Eng and Chang.), Stephen "bore himself gallantly," going back into action despite his wound. Indeed, Stephen's two sons claimed that shortly before the end of the war, their father was wounded a second time and then captured by the Union Army. After the Confederate surrendered, Stephen and Christopher both chose to live in Mount Airy, farming like their fathers, but without slaves.

The papers of Christopher Wren Bunker
The pictures of Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Decatur Bunker
The picture of the tombstone of Eng and Chang Bunker
The biography of Eng and Chang Bunker
Another website on Eng and Chang Bunker, with Christopher and Stephen
(Most of the information came from the research work of Ruthanne Lum McCunn, who graciously allowed me to use in this web site. Others were the result of the webmaster's own research, which I had added to this article. So the article is the result of both researchers' work. I have visited Mount Airy, North Carolina, on November 2001, and on the back graveyard of the White Plains Baptise Church laid the twin's tombstone. The site is a National Historic Landmark. The bridge leading to the town is named Eng and Chang Bridge. A street was named on one of their descendants, Scott Bunker. I also found a Bunker family tombstone, descendants of the twin, but unfortunately, not the tombstones of Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Decatur Bunker.)

Webmaster’s notes on the papers of Christopher Wren Bunker

The papers of Christopher Wren Bunker were filed in the Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-8890, U.S.A. Its microfilm file number is CB#3934. The copyright owner is from Utah. May I call the person Utah Copyright Holder (UCH). The papers are open to private use to all researchers. For any public use, permission must be granted by the UCH. The webmaster attempted to contact the UCH, but couldn’t find the UCH.

Respecting the copyright of UCH, the webmaster won’t be able to reprint the papers here. However, I could describe the date, location, recipient and general characteristic of the letter, but without the verbatim content. Any researcher who is interested to read those letters could contact the University of North Carolina. You could get a copy of his papers after you paid the xeroxing service fee (from the microfilm) to the Library.

As far as we know, this is the only known document written by Chinese veteran serving in the American Civil War. So it reflects very important significant evident that Chinese indeed served in the American Civil War. (I have seen reference that Hong Neok Woo had written his biography in Chinese in Shanghai, and was translated into English. I am still looking for the original Chinese text and hadn’t found it yet.)

I am going to write notes on the characteristic of the letters on, who wrote it; to whom it was written, date and place it was written. The letter reflected the lacking of food, clothing, supplies and equipment. He asked help from home to supplement his needs. It also depicted the tiredness of the cavalry soldiers. It also showed the locations that they had traveled.



Letter 1

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: November 2, 1863

Location: Camp East Tennessee

Letter 2

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: April 20, 1864

Location: Camp Head waters of Hoeston?? (illegible) Brun. ?? (illegible) County, Virginia

(Note: The webmaster did a little research on the rivers in Virginia and the County in Virginia. The river name should be Holston, an old river name, probably named after an early explorer or settler. The county name Brun. could be the abridged name for Brunswick. This is the closest county name I could find. If someone who knew the geography of Virginia, and could confirm the head waters of the river Holston is in the county of Brunswick, then, everything would jive.)

Letter 3

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: May 14, 1864

Location: Dublin, Virginia

Letter 4

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: June 26, 1864

Location: Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia

Letter 5

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: July 1, 1864

Location: Camp Stantant, Virginia

Letter 6

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his father, mother, brothers and sisters

Date: October 12, 1864

Location: Camp Chase

Letter 7

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: October 17, 1868

Location: not stated

Letter 8

Written by Christopher Wren Bunker

To his sister

Date: November 18, 1868

Location: Camp Davall




John Akomb

John Akomb was arrested on August 11, 1878 for selling cigars without paying revenue tax. He, with three other Chinese could not pay the $250 fine and they were all imprisoned. Reporters interviewed them. Akomb told reporters that he had served in the Civil War as a steward on the gunboat Massachusetts, under the command of Captain Hudson, then as a cook during the Red River expedition in Louisianna, in 1864. Admiral David Porter had the overall Union Naval Command, while Union Major General Nathaniel Banks commanded the army, against the very capable Confederate Lieutenant General Richard Taylor.

Akomb was then almost blind. He was married to an Englishwoman named Kitty and lived in 62 Cherry Street. Their three children were all dead. He was discharged on his own recognizance.

John / William Hang

When Hang enlisted in the Civil War at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on July 24, 1863, he did not sign his name but made his mark, and his Navy records are under the name John Ah Heng. At the County Court of Richmond on Staten Island twelve years later, he signed William Hang on his declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States. As a cigar maker in New York City in 1904, his letterhead read Hong Kee Kang. And his applications for a certificate to replace his lost discharge papers in 1910 and 1918 are signed John Hang. Notwithstanding this confusion of names, parts of his history have been recovered.

Hang was born in Canton, China. Twenty-two at his enlistment, he had already been in the country for five years. He served as a Landsman (a sailor of little experience, rated below an ordinary seaman) on the North Carolina (until August 13, 1863), then the Albatross (until May 14, 1864). He later claimed to have been on board the Hartford (Flagship of Farragut) as well as the Albatross during Admiral Farragut's blockade squadran, attacking Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, Alabama. That was where Farragut uttered his famous cry, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

John Hang told the reporter, "Not fight, but handed out powder, all same." Tranferred to the Penguin, his rating remained that of a landsman until July 31, 1864, at which time he was made cabin steward. He was discharged at the Boston Navy Yard on September 30, 1864.

From Boston he went to Staten Island, where he opened a grocery store. On September 22, 1875, he personally appeared at the Court of Common Pleas for the city and county of New York and made his sworn declaration of intention to become a citizen. His citizenship was granted on October 6, 1892. He lived at 13 Pell Street in Manhatten. Four years later, his citizenship was vacated and set aside by the New York's Supreme Court, because of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Researcher Terry Foenander in 2009 found out that John Ah Hang had stayed in the Bath Soldiers' Home, in Steuben County, New York. He sent me a copy of the register page.


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Webmaster Gordon Kwok
email address: gordoncwrt@gmail.com
May 1, 2000

Revised and uploaded on January 26, 2009