Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Soldiers of the 48th: Private Daniel Barnett, Co. E

Private Daniel D. Barnett
Company E, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
[Hoptak Collection] 

Daniel Barnett was only fourteen years old when, in April 1861, America went to war with itself. Like many his age, Barnett was eager to enlist but was much too young to shoulder a musket. For Barnett, the prevailing thought that the war would be a short affair, decided after one strong show of force, may have been just a little frustrating. If this would indeed be the case, then he would miss out on the great adventure of soldiering and on the honor of having served his country in its time of need.
But as events proved, the war would certainly not be a short-lived conflict. It would drag on and on, through many long months and through many savage battle and certain by 1864, the notion that this war would be a glorious affair was wiped clean from most minds. Having been reduced in number from 1,000 in September 1861 to just over 300 in February 1864, the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry was actively seeking new recruits to fill its depleted ranks.  In New Philadelphia, young Daniel Barnett, by now seventeen years of age, finally got his chance to volunteer. Outfitted with the Union blue and given the accouterments and weapons of war, Barnett made his way the short distance to Pottsville and proudly posed for a photographer, doing his best to look somehow older than his seventeen years.

According to his mustering information, Barnett was a laborer from New Philadelphia, PA, who stood just 5'4" in height. He would survive the horrific combat at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and at Cold Harbor. He also made it unscathed through the opening attacks at Petersburg, and survived Pegram's Farm. By the beginning of 1865, Barnett was a veteran of at least a half dozen major battles. But for the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania, there would be but one more major battle before the war finally came to a close.

On April 2, General Ulysses Grant ordered an all-out, frontal assault on the thinly-manned  but still formidable Confederate lines surrounding Petersburg. All along the lines it was a savage, and in places chaotic and hectic affair, with the veterans of so many hard-fought battles rushing forward, bayonets glistening, and their proud banners, torn by shot and shell, flying high above their heads. But for all this romanticism, this was still war, with all its terrible and horrific realities. Hundreds were killed, thousands more received ghastly, disfiguring wounds.

The loss of life in the 48th Pennsylvania was high. The regiment's commander, Colonel George Washington Gowen, was killed instantly when an artillery shell tore away half his head. The regimental flag was splattered by his blood and brains. Included among the killed, too, was Private Daniel Barnett. Sometime during the charge, the eager young soldier was shot through the temple and, in that instant, his life came to an end.

Exactly one week later, hostilities in Virginia ceased when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. There would be celebrations throughout the army and throughout the North, but it is impossible imagine anything in the way of celebration among the members of Daniel Barnett's family. Instead, there would be mourning and a funeral to plan. Even as the armies settled in and around Appomattox Court House, Daniel Barnett's father made the long, melancholy journey to Petersburg to retrieve the mortal remains of his young son.

On April 22, 1865, the Miners' Journal reported and the death of Barnett and of the arrangements for his funeral and burial services:

Death of Another Brave Soldier.--Daniel D. Barnett, son of Mr. Daniel G. Barnett of New Philadelphia, this County, a private of Co. E, 48th Regiment, P.V.V., was instantly killed by a rebel bullet at the battle before Petersburg, Va., on the 2nd of April, inst. Young Barnett was only eighteen years and five days old. He joined the 48th Regiment on the 24th of February, 1864, and on all occasions fought gallantly for his country. His remains were brought home by his father on Tuesday last, and will be interred with military honors to-morrow (Sunday) afternoon, in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, Pottsville. A special train on the Schuylkill Valley Railroad will leave Pottsville for New Philadelphia and Middleport at twelve o'clock, noon. Funeral services will be held at the residence of his father at one o'clock. The train will arrive at Pottsville at half past two o'clock and return to New Philadelphia and Middleport at half-past four o'clock, P.M.

            Returned soldiers and citizens are respectfully invited to attend the funeral. 

Daniel Barnett's Mother, Elizabeth Barnett
[Hoptak Collection]

Daniel Barnett's Sister Olympia Barnett
[Hoptak Collection]

Daniel Barnett's Sister Annie Barnett
[Hoptak Collection]
The Barnett Family Plot in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, Pottsville, PA
Daniel Barnett, Sr., and Elizabeth Barnett on left and Daughter Annie Barnett is on right, with cross
It is possible that Daniel Barnett is buried between his mother and sister Annie

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