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)

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