Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Stroll Through Pottsville's Odd Fellow's Cemetery

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Yesterday was busy, with a lot of running around. By the time I arrived home, I noticed that I put more than 300 miles on my car. . .The morning and afternoon found me in the Lehigh Valley. After a little business there, I stopped by to say hello to my in-laws before heading up to old Schuylkill County to see my parents and my sister.
While there, of course, I just had to visit some of my favorite old haunts (no pun intended). . .
I went to Pottsville and strolled briefly through the Odd Fellows Cemetery, which is almost hidden in plain view on the mountain side north of town. The cemetery, which has seen better days, is the final resting place of scores of Civil War soldiers, especially those who served in the 48th PA & 96th PA. With daylight fading fast, I didn't have much time to photograph all the grave sites (the cemetery is rather expansive) but I did manage to snap a few photos. . . .
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This section of the cemetery was set aside in 1861 for the bodies of the war dead. . .
* * * * * * * * * * Captain Benjamin B. Schuck
Company I, 48th P.V.V.I.
Benjamin Schuck was a tinsmith from nearby Middleport, but when the Civil War broke out, he was quick to enlist his services. He was mustered in as 1st Sergeant, Company I, 48th PA Volunteers. Always in the thickest of the fray, Schuck demonstrated all the qualities of an able officer and he advanced steadily through the ranks. In October 1862, he was promoted 1st Lieutenant, filling the vacancy created by the wounding of Lt. M.M. Kistler at Antietam. Less than one year later, in August 1863, Schuck was elevated once again in command, this time to the rank of captain. He led his company at the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, and during the initial assaults on Petersburg. On June 25, 1864, the very same day the regiment began their work tunelling the Petersburg Mine, thirty-year-old Benjamin Schuck was struck down, most likely by a Confederate sharpshooter. He died two days later, and his body sent home for burial. Francis Koch, who became captain of Company I following Shuck's death, wrote: "In losing the Captain, we are deprived of a good officer, and above all a brave soldier. He was never wanting in time of battle, but always at the head of his men, leading them against the enemy in every encounter. . . .During his stay with the company and regiment, he won the esteem and admiration of all who knew him, for none knew him but to honor and praise him for his manly actions and the noble service he had rendered in the defense of his country's cause. Peace to his ashes."
Captain Schuck's Grave

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Lieutenant William H. Hume
Company B, 48th P.V.V.I.
William H. Hume, a twenty-year-old clerk from St. Clair, was mustered into service in September 1861 as the Orderly Sergeant of Company B, 48th PA Volunteers. He survived the regiments toughest battles. . .2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, while advancing to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. On May 31, 1864, as the 48th neared the Confederate entrenchments surrounding the crossroads town of Cold Harbor, Virginia, Lieutenant Hume was in command of the regimental skirmish line. A bullet shattered his arm, and he lingered in great pain for nearly a month before, mercifully, he died on June 30.
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Sergeant Robert Alexander Reid
Company G, 48th P.V.V.I.
Medal of Honor
Robert Alexander Reid was born in Scotland, but in the years before the Civil War had immigrated to the United States. He settled, presumably along with his family, in Pottsville, where the young man found work as a roller. When the Civil War broke out, Reid, at age 19, volunteered to fight for his adopted country. He was mustered in as a private in Company G, 48th PA, which was raised almost exclusively from Pottsville and St. Clair. Reid was a scrappy, tough fighter, and was fearless in battle. Before too long, he was promoted to sergeant. On June 17, 1864, at Petersburg, Reid captured the flag of the 44th Tennessee Infantry. For this action, the young soldier was later issued the Medal of Honor. Reid was mustered out in September 1864 following the expiration of his three year term of service. He returned to Pottsville, where he passed away on April 25, 1929, at the age of eighty-seven.
Sergeant Reid's Grave. . .

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