Saturday, November 25, 2006

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

When the American Civil War broke out in the spring of 1861, Henry J. Ege of Orwigsburg was just fifteen years of age, and was thus too young to volunteer. In February 1864, however, when the call once again went out for three-year volunteers, 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 regiment as well as other new recruits, boarded train cars in Pottsville and set 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 camp of the 48th 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

Less than one month later, on May 12, 1864, Henry J. Ege was shot through the head at the battle of Spotsylvania 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 their comrades killed in action on that terrible day. To indicate the spot where Ege’s remains were buried, the soldiers of the 48th erected the wooden marker pictured here.
Ege lay buried near Spotsylvania for some time before his father traveled to Virginia to bring his son’s body back home to Orwigsburg for a permanent burial.
(Ege letter courtesy of the Frantz Family, Orwigsburg; Photographs courtesy of Mr. Al Morgan)

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