Sunday, November 19, 2006

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.”


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this informative information on Gen. Nagle, my 2nd great-granduncle. It provided additional information for me to add to my Family History.

John David Hoptak said...

I'm glad I was able to help you out! Have a great day.