Monday, January 14, 2013

The 48th/150th: Settling Down Into Winter Camp/Swords and Flags

150 years ago--in January 1863--after the thrashing at Fredericksburg, the 48th Pennsylvania settled down into winter camps. "More substantial log huts were built with ample chimneys," remembered regimental historian Oliver Bosbyshell, "and the cold weather found these preparations necessary for comfort."  And there the regiment would remain--"resuming all the usual routines of camp life"--until early February.

Union Winter Camp, near Fredericksburg (LOC)


During this time of relative quiet and peace, there were a number of special swords and flags presented to members of the regiment.

On January 19, for example, the people of Schuylkill Haven presented to one of its sons--Lt. James K. Helms, a "very handsome sword, sash, and belt."  Several weeks later, on February 7, Colonel Joshua Sigfried, commanding the regiment, received a sword from the people of Port Carbon, Sigfried's adopted home. Inscribed upon the scabbard: Presented to Colonel J.K. Sigfried 48th Regiment, P.V., by his friends of Port Carbon, for gallantry and efficiency as an officer in the battles of Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg


Lt. James K. Helms, Co. D
(The Civil War Diaries of J.K. Helms)


Not to be outdone, on January 24, the soldiers of Company B presented a sword to their former captain--now the regiment's major--James Wren, "for his undaunted courage and gallantry exhibited in the several battles in which this regiment participated." 

On January 1, the "Ladies of Port Clinton" presented a new National Flag to the members of Company A. The flag, described as a "beautiful one," contained the names of all the regiment's 1862 engagements, including New Bern and, most recently, Fredericksburg.



All of this, of course, makes me wonder. . . .just whatever happened to all these ceremonial swords??

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