One of the greatest things I've discovered after launching this blog in 2006 is how much I have learned about the 48th Pennsylvania. Over the past two-and-a-half years, I have received countless messages from descendants of soldiers who served in the regiment, and each have been more than generous in sending along information about their ancestors; in several cases, they have also sent along photographs that have never before been released or published, and have spent the spent the past century and a half (almost) in family collections.
Several months ago, I received a great deal of information about Private Samuel Fryberger, of Company H, 48th P.V.V.I., from one of his descendants, Ms. Heather Makal, and since it has been a long, long time since I last wrote a Profiles piece, I decided to focus this post on the life of Private Fryberger, one of, if not the youngest soldier who fought in the 48th Pennsylvania.
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Private Samuel Fryberger
Samuel Fryberger was born on October 28, 1846, in Fountain Springs, but spent much of his childhood in the town of Gordon Plains, where he attended school and where his parents opened a general store. He went to work in the coal mines at a young age, but with the outbreak of civil war in the spring of 1861, young Samuel, at just fourteen years of age, volunteered his services. He enlisted as a private in Company H, organized under the direction of Captain Joseph Gilmour, on August 2, and was formally mustered into service on September 19. Since the age given on the muster roll is 18, it is quite obvious that young Samuel lied about his age in order to enter service. He stood 5'5 1/2" in height, had a Light Complexion, Gray Eyes, and Brown Hair.
Private Fryberger survived the action along the North Carolina coastline in the spring of 1862 as well as the bloodletting at 2nd Bull Run in late August. However, at Antietam, he fell with a grievous gunshot wound to the hip. After recovering from this wound, Fryberger was discharged from the regiment. He returned home in February 1863, and for the next year found work as a shoemaker. By the early spring of 1864, Fryberger returned to the regiment, only to be wounded again at the Wilderness on May 5, 1864. There, a bullet tore into his chest and lodged in his lung. This bullet would remain in his body until his untimely death thirty years later.
Following a lengthy recovery from his Wilderness wound, Fryberger one more volunteered his services, being mustered in as a private in the Veterans' Reserve Corps on January 10, 1865. Seven months later, and with the end of hostilities, he was mustered out of service for the final time. After the war, Samuel Fryberger, not yet twenty years old, but carrying with him two painful wounds, went to work as a conductor on the Mine Hill and Schuylkill Haven Railroad. He worked his way up to the position of engineer before being transferred to the Shamokin Division of the Reading Railroad. He married in 1868 and soon began a family.
In 1893, Fryberger's health took a turn for the worse. He fell ill with ailments associated with his May 1864 gunshot wound to the lung. He died on June 6, 1896, at the age of 49, leaving behind his wife Margaret and several young children. As Fryberger was, perhaps, the youngest member of the 48th Pennsylvania, he also may very well have been the last in the regiment to die of a war-related injury.
Private Fryberger was laid to rest in the "Soldier's Circle" in the Shamokin Cemetery. Buried nearby is Lieutenant Henry "Snapper" Reese, hero of the Petersburg Mine.