Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Park Ranger Gerald Ford: 1913-2006

In the summer of 1936, twenty-three-year-old Gerald R. Ford found employment as a Park Ranger at Yellowstone National Park, making him the only U.S. President to be employed as a ranger with the National Park Service. He referred to his summer of rangering as one of the greatest summers of his life, and although he said the position was "very challenging," he also stated that it was one of the greatest jobs he ever held. Of course, Ford would hold many more jobs, including that of President of the United States. On August 9, 1974, he was sworn in as the nation's 38th President, assuming the office after the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. During Ford's two and a half years in office, 18 new areas were added to the National Park Service, including the Monocacy Battlefield, near Frederick, Maryland, the Clara Barton National Historic Site, the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site at Kinderhook, New York, and the Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Gerald Ford died yesterday evening at the age of 93. As we honor and remember the life of President Ford, most will think of his tenure as U.S. President. But as a park ranger myself, I will remember him also as a ranger for the National Park Service.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Soldiers of the 48th: Captain Benjamin B. Schuck, Company I: "A Good Officer and Above All a Brave Soldier"

Captain Benjamin B. Schuck
Company I, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
[Courtesy of Mr. Ronn Palm and the Museum of Civil War Images] 

Benjamin B. Schuck was born and raised in Milton, Pennsylvania, but moved to Middleport in Schuylkill County sometime prior to the outbreak of civil war in 1861. On August 15 of that year, Schuck, a twenty-seven-year-old tinsmith, enlisted into Company I, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry as the company's first sergeant. He proved to be a very able soldier and a good leader. He advanced steadily through the ranks, being promoted to 1st lieutenant in October 1862, and then to captain of Company I on August 28, 1863. Surviving the battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania, Schuck was wounded on the evening of June 25, 1864, outside of Petersburg, Virginia, most likely by a Confederate sharpshooter. This was the same day the soldiers of the 48th first put pick and spade to earth in their ultimately successful effort to mine the Confederate works at Elliot's Salient. 

Schuck lingered for one month and two days later. Sadly, on July 27, 1864, Schuck succumbed to his wound at the Seminary Hospital in Georgetown. The body of the slain officer was sent back home to Schuylkill County and was laid to rest in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery in Pottsville. Several days after his death, Francis D. Koch, who had served alongside Schuck in Company I since the summer of 1861 and who assumed command of the company following Schuck's mortal wound, wrote to the Pottsville Miners' Journal, expressing the sympathy of the company and eulogizing the deceased captain: "In losing the Captain," said Koch, "we lost from our midst 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 forth to engage the enemy in deadly strife. He has been in the following engagements to wit:--Newbern, Second Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Burnside's Campaign in East Tennessee, and the present campaign of Gen. Grant, and has participated in every engagement with the enemy during this campaign, up to the 25th of June. . . . .During his stay with the Company and Regiment, he won the esteem and admiration of all who knew him, for no one knew him but to honor and praise him for his manly actions and the noble service he has rendered in the defense of our country's cause. Peace to his ashes." 

The Grave of Captain Benjamin B. Schuck
Odd Fellows' Cemetery, Pottsville, PA 
Captain Benjamin B. Schuck
(United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, PA)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Incidents & Anecdotes: 1862 New Year's Day Flag

In December 1861, the citizens of Schuylkill County sent an American flag, measuring 20 feet long by 10 feet wide, to Company B, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers, which was then encamped at Fort Clark, on Hatteras Island, North Carolina. The soldiers of Company B raised the flag over the fort on New Year's Day, 1862, and sent the following letter of acknowledgement and thanks:

Fort Clark, Hatteras Inlet, N.C.
January 1st, 1862
To The Citizens of Schuylkill County: Co. B, of the 48th Regt. P.V., being the recipients of a handsome flag, furnished them by your generosity, set apart New Year's day to the hoisting it upon Fort Clark, which pleasing ceremony was performed in the presence of Col. [James] Nagle, Major [Daniel] Nagle, and the Chaplain, and Co. B, amid a multitude of cheers and cries of "long may it wave." After the flag had been flung to the breeze, Col. Nagle and our worthy Captain [James Wren] made a few appropriate remarks, which were eagerly listened to, after which the Chaplain offered up a patriotic prayer. The committee on resolutions then withdrew, and adopted the following, on behalf of the Company:
Resolved, That we, officers and members of Co. B, do offer our sincere thanks to the citizens of Schuylkill County, for their extreme kindness, in bestowing upon us such a beautiful emblem of the free.
Resolved, That the members of Co. B, in their infinite gratitude to the kind donors, do hereby re-pledge their word of honor, that they shall ever be true to the noble flag of our country, which has so ruthlessly been trampled upon by rebellious feet, in defense of which they will shed their life's blood, if necessary.
Resolved, That the members of Co. B, shall make this flag the special object of their pride and care so long as it shall remain in their power.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the Miner's Journal, for publication, through which medium our friends may be made acquainted with our doings, &c.
Serg't Jno. George Bassler,
Serg't Wm. H. Humes,
Committee on Resolutions, in behalf of Co. B, 48th Pa. Regt.

Captain James Wren, Company B 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

(Photo: United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, RG98S-CWP 196.54)

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The 48th Pennsylvania Day-By-Day: From Fortress Monroe, Virginia, to Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina: November 11-12, 1861

On November 11, 1861, after spending the past six weeks at Fortress Monroe, the 48th Pennsylvania boarded the steamer S.R. Spaulding and set sail for Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. Their orders were to relieve the 20th Indiana Volunteers, which had been stationed there as the garrison force. Lieutenant Oliver Bosbyshell, in his regimental history, recorded the voyage: “The unexpectedly warm and balmy atmosphere, combined with the bright radiance of the silvery moon, made the journey down the coast delightful in the extreme; few of the members of the regiment sought repose until long after midnight. Many had their first glimpse of a sunrise at sea on the morning of the twelfth and enjoyed its glories to the full, out of a cloudless sky.” (Bosbyshell, 21)

The Steamer S.R. Spaulding

(From Samuel Ward Stanton, American Steam Vessels , New York: Smith & Stanton, 1895, page 154)
(Online at: Maritime History of the Great Lakes:

At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of November 12, 1861, the Spaulding dropped anchor at Hatteras. After some difficulty, a wooden plank was secured from the wreckage of another vessel and down this plank, which was elevated at a 45 degree angle from the Spaulding, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania disembarked, one man at a time. By 10:00 a.m., the last man was ashore. As the Schuylkill County volunteers disembarked, they surveyed the beach, which would be their new homes. "Our first impressions of Hatteras were not very favorable," wrote Sergeant Joseph Gould, while Oliver Bosbyshell remembered that as the soldiers of the 48th made their way down the plank, many of them “missed the lovely wooded hills and grassy valleys of their charming mountain homes. No trees here, no bushes to relieve the dull monotony, not a spear of the sickliest looking shrub even, no green grass to gladden the eye, naught save sand and sea.” (Gould, 42; Bosbyshell, 23). "No one," concluded Bosbyshell, "would choose Hatteras Island at the inlet as a cheerful place to live; not even for a seaside resort." (Bosbyshell, 23).

Once the regiment was ashore, they formed into line and marched toward Forts Hatteras and Clarke, two earthen works that guarded the inlet. Forts Hatteras and Clarke were constructed by Confederate soldiers, or, rather, by slave labor, during the early days of the war to help protect blockade running ships. In late August 1861, these forts were captured by Union forces in a joint land-sea operation under the command of General Benjamin Butler and Commodore Silas Stringham. Fort Hatteras was about a half mile from where the 48th disembarked and no one in the regiment would forget the march they had to endure. "When we accomplished one-half the distance," wrote Gould, "the regiment halted to make preparations to wade an inlet separating us from the fort. In ten minutes we were moving again, and such a looking set of men--some without breeches, in their drawers, and many without either, and it was a laughable, enjoyable sight and furnished much amusement to the men" (Gould, 40).

Finally, the 48th Pennsylvania reached the fort and set up camp. "When we relieved the 20th Indiana Regiment. . .and saw their deplorable condition, [and] heard their tales of woe. . .we certainly felt despondent," wrote Gould (42). While most members of the regiment set up their tents, others occupied the wooden barracks erected by the 20th. Some of the officers took up quarters in the crude huts that dotted the beach where some local inhabitants resided. It was not long before the 48th dubbed their new homes "Camp Louse." “Our first night on this bleak island was dreary indeed. The coffee we cooked for supper was utterly unfit to drink; the water was brackish and salty, and we were obliged to excavate new wells on the following day to procure water which could be used for cooking and drinking.” (Gould 41).

Fort Hatteras, North Carolina, with Fort Clarke in the distance.

(Harper's Weekly, February 15, 1862, p. 101)

While settling into their new quarters and getting acquainted with their new surroundings, some members of the regiment gathered sea shells to send to their loved ones in Schuylkill County. This photograph is of a box of seashells collected by Colonel James Nagle, which he sent home to his children in Pottsville.

Photograph Courtesy of Mr. John R. Nagle, of North Carolina, a direct descendant of James Nagle.

Many members of the regiment also began writing letters home. This letter was written by Corporal Curtis C. Pollock, of Company G, on November 15, 1861. It describes not only the regiment's departure from Fortress Monroe, but also the young soldier's impressions of Hatteras Inlet:

Dear Ma

Here we are away down on the coast of North Carolina in the most dreary place in the world. We received orders to get ready to march for Hatteras Inlet on Sunday evening [November 10] and about two o’clock and on Monday afternoon we got into line ready to march for the boat and after waiting about half an hour, we started for the wharf, as we passed Mansfield’s house each company gave him three cheers. After we got to the boat we had to wait until dark before we started. We got off at last and had quite a pleasant ride, about 9 o’clock I began to feel a little sick so I went and laid down and went to sleep and slept it off and when I got awake I felt as well as ever. We arrived here all safe and sound about 10 o’clock and it took about two hours for us all to get off the boat.
When we all got landed we were formed into line and were marched up to Fort Clark, about half way between the two forts there is a small channel washed by the sea waist deep which we had to wade. After we get up we take off our things and go down and carry up all our baggage which took us until evening and the tide having risen the channel was nearly up to our necks. Some of the men are in small wooden barracks which were built by the rebels and the others are in their tents. I am in one of the houses with ten others and we are fixed very comfortably. We have been eating hard crackers since we have been here but they do very well .
It is awful hard place here nothing but sand though there are some very pretty shells to be found on the beach. I suppose you received that shall I sent you in the letter I gave to Capt. [Philip] Nagle We have but two drills a day and dress parade in the evening. Two of the companies here are drilling on the guns in Fort Clark and they are getting along very well.
Nov. 16th
It is quite cold here this morning. the wind is from the north and the waves are very high. It is quite comfortable in the houses but the men that were in the tents say it was very cold. I do not think much of General Williams he seems to think we ought to be drilling all the time in the sand up to our ankles
The sand here is much like snow at home and you sink quite as deep into either. The water is very bad, some of it so salty that you can hardly drink it though in some places you can get some that is pretty good. The mail is very irregular, only coming when a boat happens to come down from Fortress Monroe so you will not hear from me so often, but I will write you a letter once a week and hope you will do the same.

The 48th Pennsylvania would remain in North Carolina until the summer of 1862. . .

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Soldiers of the 48th: Captain Ulysses A. Bast, Company B

In April 1861, twenty-two-year-old Ulysses A. Bast, a machinist from Schuylkill Haven, marched off to war as the First Sergeant in the Scott Artillery, a militia company that served its three-month term of service in the 5th Pennsylvania Infantry. Discharged in July 1861, Bast helped recruit Company B, 48th Pennsylvania, and on September 19, was mustered into service as the company's first lieutenant. Two days later, the young lieutenant received "a beautiful sword, sash, and belt" presented by "the ladies of Schuylkill Haven, in consideration of [his] high personal character and unalloyed patriotism." Bast, who stood five feet, three inches, with a light complexion, dark hair, and brown eyes, served as the regimental quartermaster from March until September 1862, when he was promoted to the captaincy of Company B, to fill the vacancy created by the elevation of James Wren to major. While encamped in Pleasant Valley in October 1862, Wren "impressed on the minds of the men [of Company B] to obey thear New Captain as I believed Captain Bast to be a good and efficient officer."1
Captain Bast led Company B at the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, throughout 1863, during the Overland Campaign of 1864, and at Petersburg. On September 30, 1864, Captain Bast was honorably discharged, his three-year enlistment coming to an end.
{1. Captain James Wren's Civil War Diary: From New Bern to Fredericksburg, edited by John Michael Priest, New York: Berkley Books, 1991: Page 101}.
{Photograph from Hoptak Collection}

Sunday, December 3, 2006

INCIDENTS & ANECDOTES: "The Ragged 48th"

Last week, I posted "Song for the 48th P.V.V.," which was authored by Private David Hamilton of Company E while the regiment was encamped on Hatteras Island, North Carolina. The following is another of Hamilton's works, a poem titled "The Ragged 48th."

The Ragged 48th
By Private David Hamilton

What men are those now rushing past
With double quick and musket grasp
And white shirt tails about half mast
The ragged 48th

And are those the men who came to fight
For stars and stripes and country's right
Allowed to go in such a plight
Poor ragged 48th

To fight the rebels those men came
From Pennsylvania State of fame
To gain that mean inglorious name
The ragged 48th

Oh, Pennsylvania if you know
How mean and ragged we all go
Why do you not some pity show
On the ragged 48th

For they are men who will not flinch
Though cold and hunger both should pinch
They never will retreat an inch
The ragged 48th

Our colonel he does try and try
To get our quarters warm and dry
But Sam's agents plays it on the sly
On the ragged 48th

And when we have the rebels licked
I suppose we'll get ourselves kicked
And on some desolate island sticked
Poor ragged 48th

But never mind they'll see the day
They'll want us again at this same play
And when they ask us we'll say nay
We're the ragged 48th

But the Union is our motto still
And fight for it we ever will
And never forget Old Bunker Hill
Hurrah for the ragged 48th

(Private Hamilton's works can be found at the United States Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The 48th Pennsylvania Day-By-Day: At Camp Hamilton, Fortress Monroe, September 26-November 11, 1861

Sometime around 6:00 a.m. on September 26, 1861, the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry arrived at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and settled into Camp Hamilton, where they would spend the next six weeks. Most of this time was spent in training and drill. Sergeant Joseph Gould wrote that “strict attention was given to squad, company and regimental drills,” while Corporal Curtis C. Pollock, in a letter written to his mother just days after the regiment’s arrival at Camp Hamilton, said “We have commenced drilling and have about six drills per day.” Continuing, Pollock wrote, "I have just come in from a regimental drill and in about half an hour will have to go out on company drill. We are kept busy pretty much all the time," concluded the young corporal from Pottsville, “and have not much chance to run around.”
Commanding Fortress Monroe during these early days of the Civil War was General John E. Wool. Born in 1784, Wool was a veteran of the War of 1812 as well as the Mexican-American War, and, by the start of the Civil War, was one of the oldest generals in the army. Despite his age, Wool frequently visited the camp of the 48th Pennsylvania, and “his venerable appearance. . .won the respect of the boys.” Meanwhile, General Joseph Mansfield, in command of Camp Hamilton, would too make regular visits to Colonel Nagle and his Schuylkill County volunteers.
Dress parades and grand reviews of the troops stationed near Fortress Monroe soon became quite common. But despite all the training, drilling, and marching, the soldiers of the 48th “enjoyed every minute we spent of this place.” “We were pleasantly situated, having plenty of army rations and luxuries in lavish abundance. Fish, oysters, clams and crabs could be had with little effort, and despite a few rain-storms, accompanied by wind, which blew our tents down, and obliged some of us to sleep in a few inches of water, we were comfortable and happy.” Oliver Bosbyshell remembered that on October 9, the regimental sutler, Isaac Lippman, arrived in camp, while on Sunday, October 13, the first religious service for the regiment was held. “These Sunday services became general, and at least a fourth of the regiment, many times a greater number, attended.” On October 22, after nearly one month in service, the soldiers finally received “the necessary clothing and camp equipage,” and were armed with Harper’s Ferry muskets. “Our first uniforms,” remembered Gould, “were of very ordinary quality, and it took but a few weeks of service to develop the weak spots in their make-up.”
A reminder of the dangers of life in camp and in the field came in late October when a soldier from Colonel Benjamin Christ’s 50th Pennsylvania succumbed to disease. Corporal Pollock recorded the event in a letter dated October 30, 1861: “On Monday afternoon the Captain told us he wanted us all to go to the funeral, we wondered who was to be buried as no one in our camp had died. The Captain marched us down to the fort and we found out that one of Col. Christs men had died on board of one of the vess[els] but they would not let any of his comrades come on shore to bury him so we were called on to do it. there were eight of us shot over his grave the first time for me.”
Around this same time, the volunteers of the 48th learned of the Union disaster at the battle of Ball’s Bluff. “I saw an account of a fight at Balls Bluff,” wrote Pollock, “and think that whoever ordered that movement without furnishing the necessary arrangements to recross the river in case of defeat should be court-martialed or severly dealt with. These fellows make too many mistakes and it will soon be time to put a stop to them.”
On November 10, 1861, after spending the past six weeks at Camp Hamilton, the 48th Pennsylvania received orders assigning the regiment to Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, to relieve the 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. “. . .it cannot be said that a very large degree of enthusiasm was manifested over this assignment,” wrote Bosbyshell. Nevertheless, on November 11, the tents were struck and all equipment packed up and placed aboard the steamer S.R. Spaulding. The regiment bade farewell to Camp Hamilton and marched to the wharf near Fortress Monroe where they boarded the Spaulding. As the sun was setting that evening, the Spaulding set sail for the shores of North Carolina.
Unlike the steamship Georgia, which carried the regiment from Baltimore to Fortress Monroe in late September, the S.R. Spaulding was “a fine ship, only two years old, delightfully fitted out with the best appliances and most comfortable conveniences. Very agreeable was her graceful motion as she steamed out of [Hampton] Roads into the broad bosom of the Atlantic.”
At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of November 12, 1861, the 48th Pennsylvania arrived at Hatteras. . .

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Soldiers of the 48th: Private Henry Ege, Company I

Private Henry J. Ege
Company I, 48th Pennsylvania
[Courtesy of Mr. Ronn Palm]
I grew up in the small town of Orwigsburg, in southern Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Having an avid interest in all things Civil War from an early, early age, I would oftentimes walk among the tombstones of the town's three cemeteries, searching for the graves of Civil War soldiers, and especially those who served in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers. There are a number buried in my home town, but one that always particularly resonated with me was the grave of Henry Ege in Saint Paul's Lutheran Cemetery. 

Looking into the records, I discovered the story of this young man whose life was cut far too short on the field of battle.  

He was born on June 12, 1845, and named after his dad, Henry, Sr., a carpet weaver. His mother, Hannah, would give birth to at least four other children. When America's Civil War broke out in the spring of 1861, Henry J. Ege, was still only fifteen years of age, and was thus too young to enlist. In February 1864, however, and with the end of conflict still nowhere in sight, new recruits were needed and Ege, now eighteen, was quick to enlist. On February 23, the young laborer who stood 5’5 ½ with blue eyes and brown hair, was mustered into service as a private in Company I, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The next month, Ege, along with the reenlisted veterans of the 48th as well as the other new recruits, boarded train cars in Pottsville, setting out for Annapolis, Maryland, where the Union Ninth Army Corps was then assembling.

On April 13, 1864, Henry Ege wrote the following letter to his mom and dad in Orwigsburg from the regiment's camp at Annapolis:

Dear Parents
I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well at present time and hoping that these few lines may find you enjoying the same state of happiness. I have not much news to tell you this time. I am out of money and would like if you would send me about five dollars as soon as you receive this letter. I would not have written for some money but we don’t know when we will get paid, a person feels lost if he has no money out here. General Burnside and Gen. U.S. Grant were here today, they are very fine looking Generals. The rest of the Orwigsburg boys are all well. I have no more news for this time. I had a letter from my school master C.H. Meredith. No more at present. Excuse bad writing for I had a bad pen.
Answer Soon
From Your Son
Henry J. Ege

Just over a month later, the Ege family in Orwigsburg would receive another letter, one likely written by one of Company I's commissioned officers, notifying them that their son had given his life on the field of battle. It was at a place called Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia. There, during horrific slaughter on May 12, 1864, the 48th had suffered especially heavy losses. Private 
Ege was shot through the head and killed instantly. The eager eighteen-year-old volunteer was in the army less than three months. 

When the guns fell silent and the smoke cleared from the fields near Spotsylvania, members of the 48th Pennsylvania buried Ege on the battlefield along with at least twenty more of his comrades who had also been killed in action on that terrible day. To indicate the spot where Ege’s remains were buried, the soldiers of the 48th placed a marker, one that would replaced a year later with the one seen in the photograph to the right, placed there by Union soldiers in an effort to better mark the many battlefield burials. Later, the remains of these and other soldiers were laid to rest in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. 

But not Ege's.  

Sometime between 1865 and 1867, Henry Ege, Sr., and likely a few others, traveled to far-away Spotsylvania to retrieve his son's remains, which were then brought home to Orwigsburg for burial in the Ege family plot in Saint Paul's Lutheran Cemetery, where they continue in their silent repose. 

The Grave of Henry Ege
Saint Paul's Lutheran Cemetery
Orwigsburg, PA

(Ege letter courtesy of the Frantz Family, Orwigsburg; grave  marker photograph courtesy of Mr. Al Morgan)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The 48th Pennsylvania Day-by-Day: From Harrisburg to Fortress Monroe: September 24-26, 1861:

Fortress Monroe, Virginia
(Library of Congress; E. Sachse & Co. Lithographer)

August-September, 1861: The 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry is recruited from throughout Schuylkill County and organized at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg.
September 24, 1861: After being mustered into service and presented with its flags, the 48th Pennsylvania left Harrisburg on the boxcars of the Northern Central Railroad and headed for Baltimore, Maryland. The journey of the 48th came to a halt for over ten hours when, within ten miles of Baltimore, the train stopped
. . .there was a wreck on the tracks ahead. Some in the regiment speculated that it was the result of some “fiendish attempt” on the part of secessionists to derail the train. The long halt meant that regiment would not arrive in Baltimore until the morning of
September 25, 1861: After marching two miles through Baltimore, from the train depot to the wharf, the 48th embarked upon the steamship Georgia and set sail down the Chesapeake Bay, heading for Fortress Monroe, Virginia. “The trip down the Chesapeake Bay was accomplished safely and really enjoyed by all, notwithstanding the fact that the Georgia was a precarious old craft, likely to fall to pieces.” Lieutenant Bosbyshell of Company G later remembered that the “captain [of the steamship] wisely crept along close in to shore, not knowing what moment the timbers of the old hulk would separate. He was all anxiety, and his constant call admonishing to ‘trim ship’ kept the boys moving. The night moved slowly away, the somnolent regiment unmindful of the danger, although ever and anon through its weary hours the cry of ‘trim ship’ caused a shifting of position. Finally on the morning of
September 26, 1861: The 48th Pennsylvania arrived at Fortress Monroe. After passing around the high walls of the fort, using a long and narrow road and bridge that connected the fort with Hampton, the regiment arrived at Camp Hamilton. “Here,” recorded Sergeant Joseph Gould, “we settled down into a soldier’s life as naturally and contentedly as though we were old veterans.”

But the volunteer soldiers of the 48th were by no means veterans. Just a few days after being mustered into service, the regiment now found itself encamped on what was the enemy territory of Virginia, although the United States would control Fortress Monroe throughout the war. It was necessary to post guards outside of camp and some members of the regiment proved negligent of this very important duty. “One dark, blustery night,” General Joseph Mansfield, who was in command of Camp Hamilton, slipped past Private Jake Haines and entered the camp of the 48th undetected. Concerned for the safety and welfare of the troops, Mansfield notified the officer-of-the-guard that he was able to walk right past the guard and ordered the inattentive soldier be reprimanded in the morning. The following morning Colonel Nagle did, indeed, reprimand Private Haines but he did so “in the low squeaking voice which the Colonel sometimes adopted.” After the Colonel left, Private Haines, whom Oliver Bosbyshell described as “deaf as a post,” turned to one of his comrades and asked: “What did he say?”

The 48th Pennsylvania remained at Camp Hamilton, Fortress Monroe, until November 11, 1861, when they set sail for Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. . .

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

INCIDENTS & ANECDOTES: "Song for the 48th P.V.V."

In November 1861, the 48th Pennsylvania was ordered to Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, and there spent the first winter of the war. As the winter passed into spring 1862, the 48th remained in North Carolina, attached to General Ambrose Burnside's Expeditionary Force that helped secure the eastern part of the Tarheel State for the Union.
Early in 1862, David Hamilton, a private in Company E, composed a few songs and poems for the regiment. At age 44, Hamilton was among the older members of the 48th Pennsylvania, and was a farmer before enlisting in December 1861. He was listed as "Sick, in the Hospital" on 12/5/1862; unfortunately, I have not been able to discover what ultimately became of Private Hamilton. His "Song for the 48th P.V.V.," however, is transcribed below. Keep in mind he wrote this in the early spring of 1862 while stationed in North Carolina. I will add Hamilton's other pieces in the future.
"Song for the 48th P.V.V."
By David Hamilton, Private, Company E

The stars they do twinkle the moon is in the shade
The pickets on Hatteras feel no way dismayed
The sea does surround us on this sandy isle
Though the night may seem dreary, the morning will smile
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

To put down rebellion we do take delight
We will put down the rebels and do what is right
Secession is strong but their pluck we will try
For our Star Spangled Banner they cannot defy
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

We fought them at Hatteras and soon made them run
We whipped them at Roanoke until they gave in
We beat them at Newbern and made them to cry
Then they burned down the bridge and away they did fly
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

Burnside's expedition clearing its way
Wherever they go they are causing dismay
In terror the rebels prepare for the fly
For our Star Spangled Banner they cannot defy
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

Fort Macon is taken we do understand
Four hundred new prisoners new in our hand
We hope such good success will always attend
The arms of all those whom the Union defend
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

May heaven inspire us our armor to wield
And fire us with courage when led to the field
Our freedom is sanctioned by power that is high
Four our Star Spangled Banner will conquer or die
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

And if in the conflict we chance to fall
Never mind brother soldier it is but a call
To take us away to a land that is blessed
Where our Star Spangled Banner forever will rest
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

The time is at hand when Jeff Davis must yield
He must either surrender or fly from the field
We hope some brave soldier will soon cut him down
Then his country with laurels his memory will crown
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

From the ladies we love we are parted afar
But when we return at the end of the war
In our arms will enfold them and true to them prove
All that's charming we'll keep for the lady we love
Then let us be brave our country to save
Let us put down rebellion or welcome a grave

Monday, November 20, 2006

Soldiers of the 48th: Corporal John Humble, Company G

Over my years of researching the 48th Pennsylvania, I have collected quite a number of CDVs of soldiers who served in the regiment. One of my favorites is that of Corporal John Humble, of Company G. With a pose that somewhat betrays his name, Humble appears very proud to be serving in Union blue. His uniform is wrinkled and dirty, showing the effects of war, but this did not deter the young soldier from striking a proud and determined pose.
John Humble was 24 years old when he enlisted in Company G, 48th Pennsylvania. The company muster roll has him standing at 5'5 1/2", with blue eyes, dark hair, and a florid complexion. Before the war, Humble labored as a moulder in Pottsville. He served throughout the course of the war, rising to the rank of corporal, and seeing action with the regiment at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg. He was mustered out with the regiment on July 17, 1865.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

PROFILES: General James Nagle (1)

The following biographical sketch of James Nagle appeared in Memorial to the Patriotism of Schuylkill County, by Francis Wallace (Pottsville: Benjamin Bannan, 1865): Pages 501-504.

“General Nagle was born in Reading, Pa., on the 5th of April, 1822. Even when a youth his tastes were military. In 1842 he organized in Pottsville, where he resided, the Washington Artillery Company. When war was declared against Mexico, he, among the first, tendered the services of his Company. They were accepted. The Company left Pottsville, December 5, 1846, for Pittsburgh, Pa., and was mustered into the United States service as Company B, 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. The Regiment was among the first troops to land at Vera Cruz. The Company was one of the four that first approached the city within a few hundred yards under cover of darkness, to clear away the chapperal to enable a naval battery to be planted. Gen. Nagle was engaged during the entire siege, and rendered efficient service. At the Battle of Cerro Gordo he acted as Major with the Regiment to Perote Castle, where he was stationed with three other companies under command of the Colonel to keep communication between Vera Cruz and Puebla open, while the army under Gen. Scott, was advancing. June 20, 1847, he and his company were engaged at Lahoya in assisting Gen. Cadwallader through the Pass with reinforcements and large trains of stores and money. The Pass was strongly fortified by guerillas, but they were routed. October 9, 1847, he and his company were engaged at Huamantla; on the 12th at Puebla, and on the 19th at Atlixco. In each engagement the enemy was routed with heavy loss. Subsequently he advanced with his Regiment to the City of Mexico; remained there several weeks, and was finally stationed at San Angel until the close of the war. The company was mustered out of the service at Philadelphia, July 27, 1848, and reached Pottsville on the 28th, where it experienced an enthusiastic reception.
At a meeting of the citizens of Pottsville, the following among other resolutions, was adopted:
Resolved, That while we rejoice in the glorious termination of the late struggle with Mexico, we acknowledge the brave and gallant conduct of the officers and men composing the volunteers from Schuylkill County, under the command of Capt. James Nagle, who answered to the call of duty, regardless of the privations and sufferings incident to a long campaign in an enemy’s country, thousands of miles from their homes.
Soon after his return, he was presented with a handsome sword by the citizens of Schuylkill County, for his gallant services in Mexico. In the Autumn of 1852, he was elected Sheriff of the County, and subsequently to Brigade Inspector and Colonel. He kept up the organization of the Washington Artillerists, until the commencement of the Rebellion in 1861, when the Company, under the command of Capt. James Wren, was one of the first five companies to reach Washington for its defense.
Captain Nagle was commissioned Colonel of the Sixth Pennsylvania Regiment by Gov. Curtin, for three months. His Regiment served in the Brigade of Col. Geo. H. Thomas, Gen. Patterson’s Department. Col. Nagle was engaged with his Regiment in the skirmish at Falling Waters. He crossed the Potomac four times, and advanced beyond Martinsburg and Charleston, Va. At the termination of his term of service Col. Nagle was highly complimented by Gen. Patterson, and received a complimentary order (No. 16) from his Brigade Commander, Col. Thomas.
In a fortnight after his return from the three months’ service, Col. Nagle organized the 48th Pennsylvania Regiment for ‘three years or the war.’ He was commissioned Colonel of it by Gov. Curtin. He was ordered to Fortress Monroe, and shortly after his arrival there, was sent by Gen. Wool to Hatteras Island, after Gen. Williams had been relieved. He was in command of the post four months. After the capture of Roanoke Island, he, with a portion of his Regiment, accompanied Gen. Burnside’s fleet, and was present at the capture of Newbern, N.C. Immediately after the battle of Newbern, he was assigned by Major General Jesse L. Reno to the command of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps. The Corps soon joined Gen. Pope. Gen. Nagle was engaged with his Brigade in the Second Battle of Bull Run. In an assault upon the enemy, made in dense woods, where it was impossible to remain mounted, he led his Brigade on foot. His horse was captured after receiving eight wounds.
Soon after the battle Gen. Reno recommended him to the President for promotion to Brigadier-General. Gen Reno’s letter was as follows:
Headquarters, 9th Army Corps
Near Washington, Sept. 7th, 1862
To His Excellency, the President of the United States:
Sir:-I have the honor to recommend Col. James Nagle, 48th Regt. Pa. Vols., for promotion as Brigadier General. Col. Nagle has served with me with fidelity and ability as commander of a Brigade, since the Battle of Newbern, and in recent battles conducted himself with gallantry, and led his command with judgment and discretion.
I have the honor to be
Very Respectfully, Your obd’t servant,
J.L. Reno
Major-General com’dg
The appointment was made. Gen. Nagle was subsequently in the battles of Chantilly, South Mountain, and Antietam, where his Brigade did good service. During the last named engagement Gen. Nagle’s Brigade was the first to advance upon the enemy at the bridge over the Antietam, and, when it had expended all its ammunition, the 2nd Brigade of the same Division relieved it. Several more rounds were fired, when the enemy began to waver, and the bridge was stormed and carried by the 2nd Division, commanded by Gen. Sturgis. The loss was heavy, but the gallant assault saved the day, as appears from the following order:
Head-Quarters, 2nd Div. 9th A.C.
Antietam, September 20, 1862
General Order, No. 11
The General commanding the Division, avails himself of this lull in the roar of battle to return his thanks to the officers and troops, for their handsome behavior in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam Bridge, and to say to them that he has been assured by Gen. Burnside that Gen. McClellan considers the carrying of the bridge as having saved the day.
S.D. Sturgis
Brig. Gen., com’dg

An officer wrote from the battle-field that Nagle’s and Ferrero’s Brigades of Sturgis’s Division, occupied the ground and held the crest of the hill all that night, and drove the enemy from the field.
At Amissville in a skirmish, Gen. Nagle with his Brigade, drove the Rebels finely. They were also engaged at the First Battle of Fredericksburg. The Brigade fought bravely under its gallant commander, and sustained a heavy loss.
Subsequently the Ninth Corps was detached from the Army of the Potomac, and sent to Newport News to recruit. They remained there for several weeks, and were then sent to Lexington, Ky., where Gen. Nagle was in command of the post for a short time. He was then ordered to advance with his Brigade to Winchester to watch the movements of the enemy. From there he went to Richmond, Ky., Paint Lick and Lancaster, where in May, 1863, Gen. Nagle resigned on account of severe suffering from angina pectoris—a painful disease of the heart.
Upon tendering his resignation, Gen. Nagle received from Gen. Sturgis the following expression of regret:
Head-Quarters, 2nd Div., 9th Army Corps
Dear General:
I cannot better express the pain it gave me to forward your resignation, then by giving you a copy of my endorsement upon it, viz: ‘Respectfully forwarded and approved. But I must express my deep regret at the necessity for this forwarding it. By his intelligence, energy, zeal and courage, and quiet, unassuming deportment, withal, Gen. Nagle has endeared himself to this command, and will carry with him the love and respect not only of those gallant troops he had led so often to victory, but of all who have the good fortune to know him.’
S.D. Sturgis
Brig. Gen., com’dg

Gen. Nagle issued a farewell address to his troops, and amid their regrets and with their earnest wishes for the speedy recovery of his health, returned home.
After having been at home about a month, rest and absence from the excitement and exposure of the field, had a beneficial effect. His health became better, and when Gen. Lee commenced his invasion of Pennsylvania in June, 1863, Gen. Nagle organized the 39th Regt., Pa. Militia, for the ‘emergency,’ and was commissioned Colonel by Gov. Curtin. He was mustered into the service on the 4th of July, 1863, and proceeded to the front at once. On his arrival there, Gen. Couch immediately assigned him to the command of a Brigade, composed of six regiment and one battery, numbering some forty-eight hundred men. He was mustered out of the service, August 2, 1863.
When in 1864, a call was made for the Hundred Days’ Service, Gen. Nagle with characteristic promptness and energy, organized the 194th Penna. Regiment, of which he was commissioned Colonel by Gov. Curtin, July 21, 1864. He was ordered to Baltimore. On his arrival Gen. Wallace directed him to report to Gen. Lockwood, commander of the 3rd separate Brigade, who assigned Gen. Nagle to the command of all the troops at Mankin’s Woods—about 8000 men. He guarded some of the approached to the city until the expiration of his term of service, when he was relieved and returned with his Regiment to Harrisburg, and was mustered out, Nov. 5, 1864.
General Nagle’s services in the Rebellion will ever be remembered with gratitude by not only the people of Schuylkill County, but by the nation at large, who owe the preservation of their liberties to the self-sacrificing devotion of men like him.’

PROFILES: General James Nagle (2)

The Following Biographical Sketch of James Nagle appeared in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, by Samuel T. Wiley (Philadelphia: Rush, West and Company, 1893): 298-300.

“General James Nagle, soldier and citizen, was a son of Daniel and Mary (Rorig) Nagle, and was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, April 5, 1822. Philip Nagle, his grandfather, was a native of Reading, where he died in 1840, at the age of eighty-four years. He was a stone mason by occupation, and served in the Revolutionary war as a drummer. His son, the father of James, was born in 1803, but before he reached his majority removed to Wommelsdorf, Berks county, and thence to Pine Grove, Schuylkill county. Five years later he removed to Pottsville, where he died in 1851. By occupation he was a cabinet maker, in connection with which he did painting of various kinds. He voted with the Whig party, and in religious belief adhered to the doctrines of the Lutheran church. By his marriage, eight children were born that grew to maturity, three daughters and five sons; James, Eliza, Daniel, Ellen, Mary, Philip, Levi and Abraham. Philip entered in D.A. Smith’s company, as first lieutenant, for a term of three months. This company was among the first at Washington, and belonged to the troops known as the ‘First Defenders.’ At the expiration of this term of enlistment, he was promoted to the captaincy of company G, 48th Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, and was stationed at Hatteras Island. He died in March 1891, at the age of fifty-three years. Levi enlisted as a musician in the 48th regimental band, and after his term of service remained in Washington as a clerk in the pension bureau. Abraham served in company D, 6th Pennsylvania regiment, for 3 months, and afterwards in Company D, 48th regiment, Pennsylvania volunteers, for a term of three years. He is now a resident of Pottsville.
James, our subject received his early education in the Reading public schools, but the greater part of his education was obtained in the school of experience and through continued self-effort. He usually worked during the day and went to school at night. In his youth he learned the trade of paper-hanger and painter, which he followed throughout his active business life, taking his father’s business after the death of the latter. He showed a decided military talent from earliest manhood, and became a member and later, a captain of a company of Pennsylvania state militia. In 1844, he organized the Washington artillery, of which he was captain, and left Pottsville on December 5, 1846, to enter the Mexican war. This company was known as company B, First Regiment, P.V.I., Col. F.M. Wynkoop commanding. During the course of the war he took part in the siege of Vera Cruz, and at the battle of Cerro Gordo acting-major of his regiment. On January 20, 1847, his command routed a force of Guerillas at Lahoya, and on October 14 and 19 he took part in the engagements at Huamantla, Puebla, and Atlixco, each of which resulted in an overwhelming victory for the United States troops. Subsequently he entered the City of Mexico with his regiment in the triumphal procession which marked the coup d’etat of the Mexican war, and was finally stationed at San Angle until the war formally closed. He was mustered out of service with his company at Philadelphia, July 27, 1848. Upon his return to Pottsville, in 1852, elected Sheriff of Schuylkill County, and shortly thereafter he was appointed Brigade Inspector of Pennsylvania, with the rank of Colonel. He remained closely identified with the military affairs of the county and state until 1861, when, at the beginning of the civil war, he was commissioned colonel of the 6th Pennsylvania, and ordered out for service, taking part in the skirmish at Falling Water.
In August, 1861, he organized the 48th Pennsylvania regiment, with a view of serving three years, and of which he was commander. His regiment did service at Fort Monroe, Hatteras Inlet and Newbern, while at the second battle of Bull Run General Nagle commanded with gallantry and judgment the 1st brigade, second division of the 9th army corps. Soon after this battle he was recommended for promotion by General Reno, and was subsequently commissioned by President Lincoln as brigadier-general. In this capacity he commanded at the battles of Chantilly, South Mountain and Antietam, in each of which engagements his brigade bore itself with credit and distinction. At Antietam his command took an important parting carrying Antietam Bridge, which was considered by General McClellan as the one event that saved the day. For this service General Nagle received the highest compliments. At Amissville and Fredericksburg his brigade was in the thickest of the fight and sustained heavy losses in both killed and wounded. From this time until 1863, General Nagle was ordered into Kentucky, and in consequence of heart disease was compelled to resign his command much to the regret of his men and General Sturgis, who was in chief authority. While at home, rest and absence from the excitement and arduous duty of war soon acted as a restorative, and his general health improved to such an extent that when General Lee began his invasion of Pennsylvania, he organized the 39th regiment Pennsylvania militia for the emergency, and was placed in command. The troops were mustered out, however, August 2, 1863, and in the next year he organized the 194th Pennsylvania for a one hundred day service, was commissioned commanding colonel July 21, 1864, and ordered to Baltimore, Maryland, where he was placed in command of eight thousand troops at Monkin’s Woods, to guard the approach of the city. On November 5, 1864, he was finally dismissed, and on August 22, 1866, died of heart disease at his home in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
General Nagle was married to Elizabeth, a daughter of John and Catherine Kaercher of Pottsville, December 15, 1842. To them have been born nine children, seven of whom grew to maturity: Emma, wife of James Bowen, superintendent of the Pottsville as Works; James W., married to Josephine Hutchinson, and at present advertising agent for the Philadelphia Inquirer; John D., secretary and treasurer of the Textile Record, Philadelphia, married to Mary Crosland; Laura, wife of John Dooley, late conductor on Philadelphia and Reading railroad, both deceased; Marcus H., married to Sallie Helms of Pottsville; Frank L. of Boston, Mass., connected with the Textile Record of Philadelphia, and principal agent, married to Laura Rosengarten, of Pottsville, Pa.; Kate A., wife of Lincoln Phillips, a jeweler of Jamestown, New York.
In politics, General Nagle in the earlier part of his life aligned himself with the Whig part, but upon the organization of the Republican party transferred his allegiance to that party. At the time of his death, he was a member of the borough council of Pottsville. He held membership in the Lutheran Church.
General Nagle was pre-eminently a military man, and a patriot. His life was permeated with a military spirit, and in this respect broadened him into a loyal and devoted citizen. After his return from the Mexican war, in token of his eminent services and the goodwill they bore him, presented him with a valuable sword. He is still remembered by a large number of his fellow-townsmen, and occupies a generous place in their hearts.”

PROFILES: General James Nagle (3)

Throughout the course of the American Civil War, James Nagle helped raise and commanded no less than four regiments of Pennsylvania volunteer soldiers, including the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. He also commanded three different brigades at various times throughout the conflict. His first command was of the Sixth Pennsylvania, a three-month unit that served in the Shenandoah Valley, under General Robert Patterson, from April until July 1861.
In October 1861, the officers and men of the Sixth Pennsylvania, many of whom then serving in different three-year organization, presented James Nagle with an ornate and beautifully inscribed field-glass, “as a Tribute of regard for his Gallantry and Patriotism.” Accompanying this gift was the following letter, penned by the former officers of the Sixth Pennsylvania:
Pottsville, October 8th, 1861.
Col. James Nagle,
Dear Sir:--A number of your friends, officers and privates of the late Sixth Regiment, P.V., commanded by you during the time it was in service, desire to present the accompanying field-glass, for your acceptance, in token of our high personal esteem, and the exalted opinion we entertain of your military knowledge and capacity.
Though your characteristic modesty may shrink from any public eulogy of your conduct and services, our gratitude and admiration will not permit us to pass them by, without this tribute of affection and respect.
For many years past the military spirit and organization of Schuylkill County have been chiefly sustained by your exertions. When the Nation’s honor was to be manifested on the plains of Mexico, you with a well disciplined corps under your command, sprang to arms and hastened to the field of conflict; in Cerro Gordo’s terrific fight you stood clam and unmoved amid the leaden storm of death which fell on every side, and by your presence of mind and courage saved many gallant men from the fearful carnage.
During the long season of peace which followed the closing of that war, in your own quiet and happy home, you faithfully discharged the duties of a husband, father and citizen, endearing yourself both to your family and the community in which you dwelt.
But now the tocsin of war sounds through the land, and her valiant sons are called to defend her against foul rebellion’s deadly blows. Speedily a regiment of your fellow citizens take the field, and confer upon you the command. During the three months we served together, though inflexibly firm and persistently industrious in the performance and requirement of every camp and field duty, yet such was the kindness of your demeanor, and your tender regard for the health, safety and comfort of your men, that we regarded you rather a friend and father, than a mere military commander.
And now, that you have, at the head of a Schuylkill County Regiment—Pennsylvania’s 48th—again taken the field at your country’s call, and may soon be in the thickest of the most eventful battle the world has ever witnessed, on the issue of which the destiny of human freedom and progress is suspended, we present you with the accompanying glass, as well in token of our esteem and admiration, as that your eye which never dimmed with fear as it gazed upon a foe, may more readily perceive his approach and prepare for victory.
Praying that the God of Battles may preserve you in the midst of danger, and return you unharmed to your family and friends, when our glorious Union shall be firmly re-established, and covered with still more illustrious renown,
We remain, yours truly,
Capt. C. Tower
Lt. Col. Jas. J. Seibert
Maj. John E. Wynkoop
Capt. H. J. Hendler
Lieut. Theo. Miller
Lieut. D.P. Brown
And many others.

In response to the gift, Colonel Nagle replied as follows:

Head-Quarters 48th Regt. P.V. Camp Hamilton
Near Fortress Monroe, October 11, 1861.

Gentlemen and Brother Officers, Soldiers and Friends:--Your favor of the 8th inst., came to hand yesterday with the beautiful field glass you saw proper to forward for presentation, to me. I can assure you it affords me much pleasure and satisfaction to receive and accept this tribute of affection and respect, coming from those whom I had the honor to command in the three months’ service. I always tried to discharge my duties faithfully, to the best of my ability, and am led to believe that you were all satisfied with my conduct. I therefore, accept the token of respect you send me, with feelings of gratitude and thankfulness, and hope I may be able to gain the confidence of the 48th to the extent you, gentlemen of the 6th, have expressed in your letter, and manifested in your beautiful present. It is a source of great pleasure and gratification to me to know that my services have been appreciated by the officers and soldiers of the Sixth Regiment. In conclusion, allow me again to return you my most sincere thanks for this valuable gift, praying with you, that the God of Battles may preserve us in the midst of danger, and return us unharmed to our families and friends, after our glorious Union shall have been firmly reestablished, and the Stars and Stripes shall again be floating proudly over the whole of our country.
I remain, Gentlemen, Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
James Nagle

Friday, November 17, 2006

Photographs: Regimental & Company Officers: September 1861

Photographs of the 48th Pennsylvania's Original Field & Staff and Company Officers, September 1861:
(Note: Photograph Sources in Parentheses)

Colonel James Nagle
(Library of Congress)

Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Sigfried

(Bosbyshell, The 48th in the War)

Adjutant John D. Bertolette

(Gould, The Story of the Forty-Eighth)

Captain James Wren, Company B

(Bosbyshell, The 48th in the War)

Captain Henry Pleasants, Company C

(Bosbyshell, The 48th in the War)

Captain Daniel Nagle, Company D

(Author's CDV Image)

Captain William Winlack, Company E

(Helms, Lieutenant James K. Helms's Civil War Diary)

Captain Joseph Hoskings, Company F

(Gould, The Story of the Forty-Eighth)

Captain Philip Nagle, Company G

(Gould, The Story of the Forty-Eighth)

Captain Joseph Gilmour, Company H

(Gould, The Story of the Forty-Eighth)

The Formation of the 48th Pennsylvania

In July 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 300,000 volunteers to serve for “three years, or the course of the war,” whichever came first. To help meet Pennsylvania’s quota, Governor Andrew G. Curtin, on August 14, 1861, authorized Colonel James Nagle of Pottsville to raise and recruit a regiment of three-year volunteers. Nagle resolved to raise this regiment from the towns and townships of Schuylkill County, and, to this end, he enlisted the help of ten men who set up recruiting stations throughout the county. Two of Nagle’s younger brothers, Daniel and Philip, set up recruitment offices in Pottsville, as did James Wren, Henry Pleasants, and Joseph Gilmour. Daniel Kaufman drew volunteers from Port Clinton and Tamaqua, while recruits from Middleport and Orwigsburg signed up under John R. Porter. William Winlack set up his recruiting office in Silver Creek and New Philadelphia, while Joseph Hoskings signed up men from Minersville. Volunteers from Schuylkill Haven and Cressona enlisted under Henry A. Filbert. All of these men, including Colonel Nagle and his brothers, had experience leading troops in the three-months’ service (April-July 1861). Within a matter of weeks, 1,010 men had volunteered to serve in Colonel Nagle’s regiment.

“As rapidly as men were secured,” recorded Oliver Bosbyshell, “they were forwarded to Camp Curtin, in Harrisburg, where the regiment rendezvoused.” On September 19, 1861, these 1,010 volunteers from Schuylkill County were mustered into service as the 48th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. A few weeks earlier, on September 2, the Citizens’ Cornet Band of Pottsville, numbering 25 musicians, left the Schuylkill County seat for Harrisburg, where they were mustered in as the regimental band.

All recruits, on arriving at Camp Curtin, underwent medical examinations and were then “equipped and assigned to their respective companies.” “Drills were instituted by the squad and company, and twice during its stay at Camp Curtin regimental drills were had,” wrote Bosbyshell.

On September 20, 1861, Governor Andrew Curtin presented the regiment with two flags. The first was presented on behalf of the state, while the other was purchased for the regiment by John T. Werner, a prominent Pottsville attorney, whose son signed up to serve in Captain Dan Nagle’s Company D. Upon the blue canton of this Pottsville flag, which cost Mr. Werner $60.00, was inscribed a fitting motto:
In The Cause Of The Union, We Know No Such Word As Fail

On September 28, after the regiment arrived at Fortress Monroe in Virginia, Colonel Nagle, thanked Mr. Werner for his generous gift in a letter to the Miners’ Journal, Pottsville’s leading newspaper:
“I desire to acknowledge. . .the receipt of a beautiful Flag, forwarded and presented to my Regiment by our fellow-townsmen, John T. Werner, ESQ. We feel very grateful to him, and return our most sincere thanks for the beautiful National Flag he saw fit to present us with—the flag we all swore to defend, and I have every reason to believe that the 48th will do its duty; believing our cause just, and trusting in Him who rules all nations and armies, we will be able to have our National emblem once more floating proudly over the whole of our beloved country.”

Field and Staff
48th Pennsylvania
September 1861

Colonel: James Nagle
Lieutenant Colonel: David A. Smith (Resigned 11/1/1861)
Major: Joshua K. Sigfried
Adjutant: John D. Bertolette
Quartermaster: James Ellis
Surgeon: David Minis
Assistant Surgeon: Charles T. Reber
Chaplain: Samuel Holman

Company Commanders
48th Pennsylvania
September 1861

Company A: Captain Daniel B. Kaufman (Port Clinton & Tamaqua)
Company B: Captain James Wren (Pottsville & St. Clair)
Company C: Captain Henry Pleasants (Pottsville)
Company D: Captain Daniel Nagle (Pottsville)
Company E: Captain William Winlack (Silver Creek & New Philadelphia)
Company F: Captain Joseph Hoskings (Minersville)
Company G: Captain Philip Nagle (Pottsville & St. Clair)
Company H: Captain Joseph Gilmour (Pottsville)
Company I: Captain John R. Porter (Middleport & Orwigsburg)
Company K: Captain Henry A. Filbert (Schuylkill Haven & Cressona)


Welcome to the 48th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Web Blog: An On-Line Journal Dedicated to the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.

Recruited in Schuylkill County during the summer of 1861 and mustered out of service in July 1865, the 48th Pennsylvania is best remembered as “that regiment of coal miners” who, in June and July 1864, tunneled under the Confederate defenses surrounding Petersburg and triggered the Crater explosion. But the history of the 48th Pennsylvania extends far beyond this memorable and remarkable feat. Using this online journal, I intend to present the history of this regiment one ‘blog’ at a time.

In future posts, I will add a chronological record of the 48th, an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources pertaining to the regiment, biographical sketches of soldiers who served in the ranks, photograph galleries of 48th Pennsylvania soldiers and officers, complete muster and descriptive roll information for each of the companies, plus much, much more.

As a native of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and a lifelong student of the American Civil War, I have studied the 48th Pennsylvania in-depth for the past fifteen or so years. I currently reside in Gettysburg and am employed as an interpretative Park Ranger at the Antietam National Battlefield. In 2004, my first book, First in Defense of the Union: The Civil War History of the First Defenders, was published, and I am currently working on a number of other book projects I hope to have completed by the end of next year. I began this web blog simply to tell the story of one regiment, the 48th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry. I will try my best to regularly update this journal. If you have any comments, questions, criticisms, or concerns about this web blog or about the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, please do not hesitate to contact me at
(The photograph above shows the tattered, torn, and battle-scarred flags of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. It was taken in July 1865, when the regiment was mustered out of service).