Jesse was born 19 June 1836 in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, son of John F. Luther and Elizabeth and 3rd oldest of ten siblings. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the oldest of Jesse's two brothers was 4 years in his grave and the youngest just turned twelve. Jesse had married the previous year to Mary Jane Igo and still lived and worked on his parent's farm. His father John would die in September of that year at age 57 and since I have found no military record of him and no battles took place in that part of Pennsylvania at that time, I have assumed that it wasn't due to the Civil War that he died.
Jesse was prime fighting age in 1861 but didn't volunteer until 1 September of 1864 when he entered Company I of the 211th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry for one year's service. He was given $29.40 for a clothing advance and given $33.33 as a sign up bounty and another $33.33 when he mustered in five days later.
Jesse was my only ancestor stationed in the Virginia theater of the Civil War and his regiment was a part of the siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia from the fall of 1864 until the spring of 1865. Perhaps the most notable battle was the one that resulted in the fall of Petersburg followed by the pursuit of Lee's army as they fled. He was mustered out at the end of the war on June 2, 1865 in Alexander, Virginia and presumably went home to his wife and two sons.
Jesse and his growing family stayed in Pennsylvania until 1869 when they headed for the northeast corner of Scotland county, Missouri. According to his pension application records, he spent quite some time just proving he was a veteran since his name didn't appear in any rolls. Though I have copies of his records signed by his unit, this is still true today and most websites fail to mention a Company I of the 211th Regiment. Finally he was proved to be a vet and then spent the rest of his life battling the government for disability payments and supposed automatic pension increases due to his name not being listed on their official rolls. He did so until his death at age 85 on 24 July 1921.
Of my eight ancestors to serve in the Civil War, Jesse Luther is the only one of which I have a picture. It is the only picture I have of him and the uncropped picture shows him with his son (my 2nd great grandfather) and grandson (a brother to my great grandfather). His right hand seems twisted with arthritis and his beard white with age but I see the spark of his younger self in the smirk of a half smile.