|Monument to the 49th PA at Gettysburg|
The regiment was at Cold Harbor, with Sheridan in the Valley Campaign, and at Petersburg, and Gillespie was still unscathed. He was again promoted, this time to first sergeant of Company E. In April of 1865, Grant finally forced Lee out of his defenses at Petersburg and the Army of the Potomac pursued the wavering Confederates vigorously.
The 49th Pennsylvania saw their last major action at Sailor's Creek on April 6, 1865. They were pressing the enemy, specifically Ewell's Corps and the fight was nasty, but short-lived as they overwhelmed the tail of Lee's disintegrating army. Seven men in the regiment went down with Rebel lead that day. After three years and eight months of service, the luck of 21-year-old John D. Gillespie finally ran out.
He was taken to Carver Hospital in Washington, D.C. and surely he received news of the surrender of Lee's army at Appomattox Court House on April 9. Over the following month though, he continued to decline. John D. Gillespie succumbed to his wound on May 12, 1865, among the last sacrifices of the bloody struggle. His remains were transported home where he was buried in the Saint Agnes Cemetery, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania with other members of his family. Although I have not been able to find any wartime documents that corroborate this information, his tombstone reads "Lieut." He may very well have been acting in that capacity at the time of his wounding, and surely if he had survived he probably would have received a promotion. Rank means little to the sacrifice, but in some way it might be an appropriate epitaph to the bravery of this young man.
Finally, here is a picture of young John D. Gillespie, so much youth and seemingly plenty of life ahead, but it was not to be.