* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
- The Civil War Letters of Private Daniel Reedy, Company E, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
- The Civil War Letters of Corporal John Brobst: Com...
- Field & Staff
- Company A
- Company B
- Company C
- Company D
- Company E
- Company F
- Company G
- Company H
- Company I
- Company K
- Unassigned Men
- 48th Pennsylvania Photo Gallery
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Private George Dentzer, Co. K, 48th PA
Another will burn in tribute to Private Alexander Prince, a nineteen-year-old laborer from St. Clair, just outside of the Schuylkill County seat of Pottsville. Prince survived the carnage on September 17, only to be struck down and killed the following day while trying to save the life of a wounded comrade. The soldiers of the 48th spent most of September 18 on the firing line, subjected to a sometimes heavy skirmish fire. In between shots the cries of the wounded rent the air. The pleas from one soldier were too much for Prince to bear. At 12:15, he crawled forward on his hands and knees despite the protests from his fellow soldiers in order to take water to a grievously wounded man. Prince delivered his canteen, turned around, and began to crawl his way back to the skirmish line when the wounded soldier begged to be carried back. Prince’s comrades on the skirmish line watched as the young soldier turned back and lifted the man on his back. Suddenly, a shot rang out and Prince fell dead. “Whilst humanely trying to give a wounded comrade just over the skirmish line some water for his parched lips,” recorded Bosbyshell, “a minie ball pierced his heart. His death cry as he leaped into the air, and fell to rise no more, is still heard in the ear of imagination.” Captain Wren concluded that “through his kindness [Prince] lost his own life.”
Prince’s comrades were stunned; most of them no doubt outraged that he had been shot down while trying to save a wounded man. As the hours passed that afternoon, Prince’s body lay just to their front. “We dare not go into to him as the enemy had range on that ground & we was very ancious to get his Body,” wrote Wren. Unable to stand looking at the young soldier’s corpse, some members of the regiment finally crawled forward and were able to bring it in. “I had [the body] taken down to the Bridge & had it Buried in the field near the Bridge,” said Wren, “whear we had the struggle for to get across.” The following morning, Captain Wren met with Alexander Prince’s brother, an artilleryman in the Ninth Corps. “He told me he saw his Brother before he was Buried & I was glad he had seen him, even if he was dead. I gave him his pocket book, which contained $1.30 Cents in money & 3 rings & 5 buttons which I gave to him & also the Bible, he showed me a few days ago & he got his Knapsack yesterday & he being his nearest friend, is entitled to it.”
That same day, Captain Wren also sent John Robinson’s knapsack to Robinson’s father in Pottsville, “Just as he had it packed when he was shot.” Like Prince, Private John Robinson, also just nineteen years of age, was shot on September 18. He suffered for a while but finally succumbed to his wounds in the weeks ahead.
Dentzer, Prince, and Robinson were three of the fifty-nine casualties suffered by the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry at the Battle of Antietam and tonight--December 3, 2011--at the twenty-second annual Memorial Luminaries, a candle will burn, lighting the darkness, for each of these fifty-nine soldiers either killed or mortally wounded.
Luminaries burn near the Maryland Monument at Antietam (NPS/Keith Snyder)
More than 23,000 other luminaries will be lit, one for each of men, Union or Confederate, who fell either killed or wounded or went listed among the missing, during this costliest single-day battle of the American Civil War.
Tonight's event will be the seventh luminary I have had the pleasure to participate in, if only helping to park the vast procession of vehicles. Still, there are few more incredible sights to see than the night sky lit up over this hallowed ground by 23,110 candles. It is a number I say everyday at the battlefield, in my interpretation of the fight. It is an easy one to say, but an impossible number to imagine. Antietam's luminaries reveal just how tremendous a figure 23,110 actually is.
If you have not yet seen Antietam's luminaries for yourself, make it a point, one of these years, to do so.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There were a total of fifty-nine casualties sustained by the 48th Pennsylvania at Antietam. Eleven of these men were killed or mortally wounded while the remaining forty-eight sustained non-fatal injuries. The names of these men follow:
Killed/Mortally Wounded :
Alexander Prince, Co. B
John Robinson, Co. B
Alva Jeffries, Co. D
John Sullivan, Co. D
Lt. William Cullen, Co. E
John Broadbent, Co. E
Charles Timmons, Co. G
Cpl. Lewis Focht, Co. I
Cpl. Daniel Moser, Co. K
George Dentzer, Co. K
Peter Boyer, Co. K
Cpl. Henry H. Price
John R. Simpson
Sgt. William Clark
Sgt. Edward Monahan
Cpl. Samuel Wallace
Cpl. James Gribons
Cpl. Henry Rothenberger
Sgt. John Seward
Sgt. William Trainer
Cpl. John McElrath
Sgt. John Jenkins
Sgt. William Taylor
Cpl. Charles F. Kuentzler
Lt. Michael M. Kistler
Sgt. Patrick Quinn
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Henry Rothenberger, Co. D
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Below are several letters, penned by soldiers of the 48th, describing the journey to Hatteras and their experiences trying to live on the storm-swept beaches. The first comes from Oliver Christian Bosbyshell to the editors of the Pottsville Miners' Journal; the second from Lieutenant George Gressang to his family in Pottsville; and the third from a soldier known as "G.W.H.," again to the Miners' Journal.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1). Fort Clark, Near Hatteras Inlet, N.C.
18th November 1861
Messers. Editors:--Well, here we are—the 48th, I mean—at the famous Ft. Clark, made famous by the gallant manner in which it was captured from the secessionists. It is a rude structure, but very substantial, as it would take a ball a long time to pierce the breastworks, they being made of matted sod, and some twelve feet thick. In the centre is a large mound, made of some material, which is used for a magazine. But I am anticipating—I [?] we were here; now it’s a question of how we got here, and I will proceed therefore to state how.—Last Sunday, the 10th inst., Col. Nagle received orders from headquarters to march his command to Fort Hatteras, N.C. On Monday afternoon, about five o’clock, we broke camp near Fortress Monroe, and succeeded in getting ourselves stowed snugly away on the steamer “S.R. Spaulding,” and at seven o’clock we bade adieu to Fortress Monroe, and steamed pleasantly out of the Chesapeake Bay into the broad Atlantic. We had a most delightful trip down the ocean, which was remarkably smooth—not a case of sea sickness occurred on board.
—At 8 o’clock Tuesday morning, we dropped anchor off Ft. Hatteras, and successed, after considerable difficulty, in getting a plank attached to the bulk of an old wreck.—Down this plank, which had an elevation of at least 45 degrees, our Regiment landed—one man at a time. Having, at last, reached shore, we formed on the beach and took up our line of march for Fort Clark, about three quarters of a mile further up the beach. When we accomplished over half the distance, the Regiment halted to make preparations to wade a narrow inlet, separating us from Fort H. In ten minutes we were moving again, and such a looking set of men—some without breeches in their drawers—others sans drawers, breeches, or anything else. It was a laughable scene and the men enjoyed it hugely. We halted on the other side to rearrange our disordered clothing, after which we marched on, and stacked arms on the beach between the Fort and the ocean. We were obliged to make several trips back to the boat, before we got all our things here. Immediately after we arrived, three companies of the New York 92nd Regiment vacated this post, and joined their regiment, encamped at Camp “Wool” two miles further up. Col. Nagle is now the commander of Fort Clark, his being a separate command from that of Fort Hatteras. This military department is under Brigadier General Williams, U.S.A.
The two Forts are built of the same material. Fort Clark mounts some four 32-pounders and one Dahlgren gun; these have been placed in charge of Co. B, Capt. Jas. Wren, and every evening at sunset a gun is fired.—Outside of the Fort, in different places, earthworks have been thrown up, behind which the companies are drilled every morning, after reveille, at simulating a defence—practiced in firing, standing and kneeling, from behind these fortifications. The field pieces, of which there are a number here, Co. H., Capt. Jos. Gilmour, has been detailed to take charge of. They are placed behind breastworks, and, in case of an attack, would prove most effective. This morning a grand review of the New York 92nd came off on the beach. The New York 92nd occupied the right of the line, and the 48th the left. We were reviewed by Brigadier General Williams and staff, and it was almost impossible not to notice with what pleasure the General surveyed the brilliant display before him. Indeed, who could help being pleased; each company filing by looking their best and doing their best, and you may be assured, the 48th made a most creditable appearance.
Last Thursday a rebel steamer made its appearance away off in Pamlico Sound, and approached this way with an evident intention of making observations, but one of the Federal steamers stationed here gave chase to it, exchanging several shots, and it is said three took effect—anyhow, the rebel vessel made tracks and had not been seen since. Yesterday our first mail on this lonely isle arrived, brining many letters to many anxious recipients. But few Journals were received—those that did reach here were eagerly sought after, and here and there could be seen large crowds of men gathered around some one who was fortunate enough to procure one, and who was obliged to read the news aloud.
We also had a very interesting religious service yesterday afternoon. Our Chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Holman, delivered a very good and appropriate sermon, and the men listened to it with marked attention. The general health of the men is good—very little sickness, and none of a serious nature prevails. Of course, we have some hardships to encounter, and have no delicacies in the shape of food, being obliged to go it on army fare alone. Some are quartered in wooden shanties, while the greater majority prefer the tents, which are floored nicely.
We are getting along very well, considering the nature of our abiding place, of which a better description can not be given than by citing an extract from one of the men’s letters home, as follows: “A great deal of sand and a great deal of water, and if I have anything more to add, it is a little more sand and a little more water.”
[Oliver Christian Bosbyshell]
2). Hatteras Inlet, N.C., 15th November 1861
Dear Father:--As you no doubt will be very anxious to hear from me and to have a slight description of this place, I will endeavor to give you an outline of it. We left Fortress Monroe on Monday evening, the 12th, and after a sail of some 13 hours in the fine steamer S.S. Spaulding, we arrived here. We had already heard of the place from the Indiana boys and we found that the assertions they made to us were but too true. If Columbus had first landed here when he discovered America, he would have went back in disgust. The heavy storm they had here last week washed away part of the Fort; but I will first describe the place to you. As we arrived here on board the boat, we were wondering how we were to land, as the vessel could not get near the shore and our only way was to wade over in water up to our waist; but we watched the movements of the Colonel, who had to land first, and the way he proceeded was to go part way in a small boat, and the balance of the way, we saw him mounted on the back of a contraband darkey, amid the shouts of the boys. . . . . After we had orders to land from Gen. Williams, we had a kind of bridge made from the boat to the schooner, and from there we waded to land. We then marched past Fort Hatteras to Fort Clark, where, by the way, we had to wade water again almost up to our neck, and we are now in camp. The boys call it Camp Misery, and well they may, for it is a miserable place. When the tide is up, we have about ¼ of a mile of Island, and when it is down we have about 3 miles. We cannot eat anything without there is sand in it; in fact we have sand in our mouths, sand in our teeth, in our eyes and hair, on our floors, and sand, nothing but sand everywhere else. Water is very bad here. We can’t drink it unless we hold our noses shut, for it smells bad enough to knock one down. I would rather give 25 cents for a glass of water out of the Schuylkill than drink this [?], and it had already given the diarrhea to a great many. Fish and Sea Shells are plenty here, and that is about it. We have to live on crackers, bacon and coffee here, and we can’t go to bed at night with the hope of getting up dry in the morning, as the sea rises very high here. Sometimes it is known to be two feet high all over the shore, and we can’t make the tents stand, for there is always a high wind, and the stakes will not hold in the sand. We are, however, quartered in some small wooden sheds which the rebels had erected for their accommodations, but which have got plenty of holes in from the shells of our fleet the time they captured the place. The way pieces of shell lay about here looks as if they came down like hail. Drilling goes very hard here, as we are always up to our knees in sand, and Gen. Williams is not liked at all, as he is entirely too hard on the men. He has them up at 4 o’clock in the morning, and in bed at 8 o’clock P.M., and then has drills every hour in the day. The guard must stand under arms from 6 A.M. to broad daylight, and the strictest observances must be held here, as the enemy are continually annoying us. They send the steamer Fanny which they captured up here in Pamlico Sound, to watch our movements, but she takes care not to come within gun range. I saw the fleet exchange shots with the enemy yesterday afternoon. Two of our gun boats had up the Chickamimico yesterday morning to scout, and in the afternoon the rebel steamer Cerlew came up, no doubt thinking the place was abandoned, and when about three miles off the Fort they fired a shell at us, but it was quickly responded to by a 32 pounder from the Fort. They exchanged shots several times, but they all fell short. The Rebels are in a bad way, as we have them entirely closed up, and the Inlet is entirely is our possession. But for all this I think 4 good gun boats could hold the place, and that the Government ought not to keep two regiments in such a miserable place. Men who are here and have been for the regular service say that this is the worst spot that exists, and if we stay here two months and they send us to the next worse place it will be a perfect Paradise. So if we once get used to this we will be able to stand any hardships whatever. What you read and hear about Hatteras Inlet, you can put down for true, as they can’t make the place worse than it is. Our health so far is pretty good, but I am afraid it will not last long with such water and living. Gen. Wool says he will not keep us here longer than six weeks or two months, and I hope he will keep his word. We don’t know whether we will go back to Fortress Monroe, or further South. The weather here in the daytime is as hot as it is on the 4th of July in Pottsville, but the nights are rather chilly. People that live here are fishermen, and the men and women are a long, lanky, dirty looking set. They say they are all Union, but they do that to keep from starving. We have not received the Journal for last Saturday, the 9th, yet, and a steamer only enters here once in ten days, so when the news comes it will be old. In fact we get no papers of any kind, and we would be very thankful to our friends if they would send them to us even if they were old, if it would be inconvenient.
Geo. H. Gressang
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
3). Fort Clark, Hatteras Inlet, N.C.
Wednesday, Nov. 18th 1861
We had a delightful trip down here. The sea was rather calm. We did not see much, as it was nearly dark when we left Fort Monroe; but we all enjoyed the trip. The steamer we came in was the S.R. Spaulding. The men were packed in pretty close between decks, but they seemed to enjoy it. We were quartered on deck. Just before leaving Camp Hamilton one of Capt. Pleasants’ men died. His was name was Richards, and I believe he lived in Hamburg. [Daniel Reighard, Co. C, died 11/11/1861, 25 yrs. old, died at Fortress Monroe].
We will get no regular mail here, and of course, will miss our newspapers, but we hope you will endeavor to keep us posted up. The men are now busy carrying the boxes and other things from the vessel. She returns this afternoon, and this letter goes with her. There are some quantities of shells here, and quite handsome ones. Some of the men have gathered quite a number already. There is nothing however, but shells and sand here. One important thing we are deprived of here, and that is good water. The water is very offensive. Some of the boys have headed their letters Camp Misery, Sandy Bottom, etc., as yet we have not received our pay. All however, seem in as good spirits as can be expected. Hoping to have something more pleasing in my next,
I remain yours, respectively,
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Accompanying the gift was a letter addressed to the colonel, which was prepared and signed by a number of officers who had served under Nagle in the 6th. This letter speaks of the personal and military qualities and characteristics that endeared Nagle to his men and won the respect of his superior officers.
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 maintained 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 calm 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 as 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 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,
Lieut. Theo. Miller,
Lieut. D.P. Brown,
And many others.
Upon receipt, Nagle penned the following reply:
Head Quarters 48th Regt., P.V., Camp Hamilton
Near Fortress Monroe, October 11th, 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 6th Regiment. In conclusion, allow me agin 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 shalle have been firmly re-established, and the Stars and Stripes shall again be floating proudly over the whole of our country,
I remain, Gentlemen, Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
Colonel commanding 48th Regt., P.V.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
On September 28, 1861, having settled into camp life, Corporal Curtis C. Pollock of Company G recorded the following observations in a letter to his mother in Pottsville:
". . . got up in the morning and saw the sun rise out of the sea. We arrived here about 6:00 o’clock in the morning and saw any quantity of “contrabands” running around and some fishing for crabs others loafing around and looking at us. We waited about a half hour until Col. Nagle reported to Gen. Wool and then got off and were marched about a mile back and inspected the camp. He is a small man not much taller than Uncle Robert or Joseph and not near so stout. I have been appointed corporal. Capt. Nagle appointed some sargents and corporals over me who were never out before and are almost as dum as they can be. We have commenced drilling and have about six drills a day. I have just come in from a regimental drill and in about half an hour will have to go out on a company drill. We are kept busy pretty much all the time and have not much chance to run around."
Oliver Bosbyshell, also of Company G, remembered well these days at Camp Hamilton: "On the third of October, the regiment, having been flooded out the previous night, moved to higher ground, occupying a camp vacated by one of the regiments that had been ordered away. The ninth of October was made memorable by the arrival of Sutler Isaac Lippman, with a great, unwieldy tent, which the boys pitched in indefinite delight, although a heavy storm of wind and rain prevailed. On the eleventh, Shaw made himself famous by shooting in the leg a Massachusetts soldier, who attempted to pass his picket post--thought he was 'secesh.'"
While the war seemed distant to many of the troops at this time, Bosbyshell could not help but notice the preparations underway for an anticipated amphibious campaign further south. "Great interest was felt in the grand expedition fitting out here for the South Atlantic coast. Hampton Roads was crowded with vessels waiting to join the Armada, and a large force of troops was being gathered at this point."
Remembering the days spent at Fortress Monroe some forty years later, regimental historian Joseph Gould wrote: "We enjoyed every minute we spent at 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 to sleep in a few inches of water, we were comfortable and happy." Like Bosbyshell, though, Gould was also impressed with the build-up of forces there. "Along about the 13th of October vessels began to arrive laden with troops destined for Port Royal, South Carolina, until about thirty-thousand were collected at this point, amongst them the 4th Rhode Island, 1st Delaware and 55th Pennsylvania Regiments."
It would not be long until the 48th itself received its 'marching orders.' On October 22, the regiment was at last equipped and armed; their weapons were the Harpers Ferry muskets, with the "buck and ball" cartridge. "Our first uniforms," wrote Gould, "were of very ordinary quality, and it took but a few weeks of service to develop the weak spots in their make-up."
On Sunday, November 10, 1861, the regiment received orders that it would be heading out. . . their destination: Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The Georgia landed at Fortress Monroe on the morning of September 26. The 48th disembarked, stretched their legs, and marched around the walls of the fortress and across the narrow land bridge that connected to Hampton. There, they settled in at Camp Hamilton. "Here we settled down into a soldier's life," wrote Joseph Gould, "as naturally and contentedly as though we were old veterans."
General Joseph Mansfield
In an effort to demonstrate how easy it was to access the campsite of the 48th, Mansfield got into the habit of walking into the camp "night after night," each time dropping by Colonel Nagle's tent, letting him know that he was there. This surely embarrassed the colonel. "Day after day," said Gould, "while on regiment drill, Colonel Nagle formed the regiment in 'hollow square' and told of Mansfield's nocturnal visit to his quarters. He was greatly displeased at this seeming lack of vigilance on the part of the guards, and demanded greater care by officers and men; but the nightly invasions continued, though not so frequently."
During one of Mansfield's visits, he was able to slip past Private Jake Haines, who was on guard duty, without challenge. Mansfield instructed the officer of the guard to have Haines reprimanded, but Haines, as Bosbyshell described him, "was as deaf as a post," which most likely accounted for his lack of vigilance. Colonel Nagle understood and though he did reprimand Haines, he did so in a "low squeaking voice which the Colonel sometimes adopted." Nagle walked away and Haines turned to a comrade and asked, "What did he say?"
At last, Mansfield was stopped one night trying to get into the 48th's camp; a soldier named Rogers yelling to the aged warrior, "halt, or I'll prog ye!" Rogers, with bayonet forward, escorted Mansfield to the Officer of the Guard, who then walked with Mansfield to Nagle's quarters. There, Mansfield at last congratulated Nagle and his regiment. "This episode," summarized Gould, "occurring in the formative period of the regiment, the impression remained, and vigilance on camp and picket guard became a marked characteristic of the command. . . ."
Less than one year later, on September 17, 1862, General Mansfield was struck down with a mortal wound while leading the Twelfth Corps at the Battle of Antietam.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Organized during the summer of 1861 from throughout Schuylkill County, the volunteers--1,010 of them--rendezvoused at Harrisburg's Camp Curtin where, on September 20, 1861, the regiment was mustered into state service (they would then become United States soldiers of October 1, 1861).
The soldiers of the 48th were presented two stands of colors on that same September 20. One flag was presented by Governor Andrew Curtin--Pennsylvania's "War Governor"--which he presented on behalf of the state. Curtin, said regimental historian Joseph Gould, "made a very eloquent speech to the boys, and was heartily cheered at its close." Oliver Bosbyshell of Company G agreed, writing that "the glowing words of his speech made a deep impression upon the command."
The second flag--the National flag--was presented by John T. Werner, a Pottsville attorney, described by Gould as "a grand old patriotic citizen--one of those men whom it was a pleasure to know and be associated with." Werner's eighteen-year-old son, J. Frank Werner, was at that time serving in the ranks of Company D. By war's end, the young Werner, a clerk before the war, was the company's commanding officer. Werner traveled to Harrisburg and presented the flag on behalf of the grateful people of Pottsville. It was a silk flag and upon its blue canton was a fitting inscription: In The Cause Of The Union, We Know No Such Word As Fail.
Later that evening, an appreciative Colonel James Nagle wrote a letter for publication in Pottsville's Miners' Journal:
Oliver Bosbyshell later proudly wrote that throughout the conflict these flags "were gallantly defended, and although shattered and torn by bullet and shell, were safely returned to the State. . . ."
The 48th would receive new stands of colors in 1864 to replace these first ones, which were, as Bosbyshell attested, torn and shattered by war.
Being mustered into service, the regiment received orders to depart Harrisburg on September 24, 1861. They were on their way to war. . .
This is all that remains of the 48th's first "state" flag, presented to the regiment on September 20, 1861, by Governor Andrew Curtin. Despite its condition, it is still in much better shape than the regiment's first "national colors," by presented by John T. Werner, on behalf of the people of Pottsville. . .
It is a real shame there is so little left of this. . .I would have loved to see that inscription:
In The Cause Of The Union, We Know No Such Word As Fail
Friday, September 9, 2011
“Here is a paper with which I will be bashed and vilified for for generations to come:” Some (generally rambling) Thoughts on Special Orders No. 191
September 9 is an important date for students of the September 1862 Maryland Campaign, for it was the date on which General Lee dictated what became Special Orders No. 191, his plan of operations for the continuance of the campaign after first crossing the Potomac and moving north to Frederick. Following the instructions spelled out in 191, the Army of Northern Virginia began evacuating Frederick the following morning—September 10—then began spreading out across western Maryland and portions of northern Virginia (today West Virginia) in order to both continue with the movement northward and force the evacuation of the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry. Several days later, of course, and just hours after the final elements of Lee’s army left town, George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac arrived in Frederick and on the morning of September 13, Corporal Barton Mitchell of the 27th Indiana happened upon the famous—or infamous—lost copy of Special Orders No. 191. Making its way up the chain of command, 191 ultimately landed in the hands of George McClellan.
Ever since this document has been used as even more ammunition for generations of historians and "Monday moring quarterbacks" to further bash McClellan for his supposed failure not to immediately capitalize upon this “amazing” discovery and not to achieve a “decisive” win during the campaign.
But Special Orders No. 191 contained outdated and inaccurate information that may have hindered McClellan more than it helped him. And, 191 or not, the fact of the matter was that McClellan and his men did emerge victorious during this consequential campaign.
Less than two weeks earlier, McClellan had been called upon (again) to take the helm of the Federal forces gathering in Washington in what was perhaps the darkest days of the Union war effort. . .and for a general typically characterized as slow and cautious, he immediately went to work, consolidating and organizing a new Army of the Potomac, which now included John Pope’s Army of Virginia and Burnside’s Ninth Corps, and setting off north and west from Washington in pursuit of Lee’s invading columns. A master strategist, McClellan realized that Lee’s overriding purpose of the invasion was to draw the Army of the Potomac to battle, and not to capture Harrisburg or Baltimore nor to attack Washington, as so many of the nation’s leaders feared were Lee’s intentions. Satisfied that Lee was heading west from Frederick, McClellan moved quick. . .so quick, in fact, that he caught General Lee entirely off-guard and unaware, ultimately forcing Lee onto the defensive at South Mountain. Even before McClellan was handed 191, his plan was to continue pushing west from Frederick and across the South Mountain range. Portions of army, including his cavalry and the Ninth Army Corps, were already advanced west of Frederick, and inching their way toward South Mountain with orders to continue their way across the following day.
Special Orders No. 191 placed Jackson’s command at Martinsburg, (West) Virginia, and Longstreet’s command at Boonsboro, Maryland, at the western base of South Mountain. There was nothing in the document that dictated that either Jackson move toward Harpers Ferry--which he did after the Federal garrison retreated there from Martinsburg--and Longstreet take his command to Hagerstown, which Lee directed on the morning of September 11. As far as McClellan was concerned, and as was spelled out in 191, Longstreet’s entire command was still at Boonsboro along with D.H. Hill’s Division, which is why he ordered the bulk of his army toward Turner’s Gap, which traversed South Mountain just east of Boonsboro.
Still, despite the tremendous pressure he was under, the fact was, McClellan moved aggressively throughout the entirety of the Maryland Campaign and within two weeks—following a lamentable season of defeats—led the Union army to victory at both South Mountain and Antietam, drove Lee out of Maryland, wrestled the initiative from his opponent (who firmly held it since the Seven Days’ Battles in late June-early July), and kept Washington and Pennsylvania safe. As my friend and historian Tom Clemens often points out, from September 14-September 19, George McClellan planned and executed three offensive actions (South Mountain--Antietam--Shepherdstown), two of which resulting in victory.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Daniel B. Kauffman, a twenty-nine-year-old dispatcher of the Schuylkill Canal from the village of Port Clinton, set to work, organizing what became Company A. Like Kauffman, many of his volunteers hailed from Port Clinton--indeed, a good number had already served in the uniform of the Port Clinton Artillerists, a three-month organization that had served in the Shenandoah Valley from May-July, 1861, but saw no combat. Other recruits hailed from Tamaqua and the areas between in southern Schuylkill County. Also like Kauffman, many of his volunteers earned their living laboring on the Schuylkill Canal, which cut directly through Port Clinton.
After enlisting their services, Kauffman's volunteers were directed to rendezvous at Harrisburg's Camp Curtin where, on September 17, 1861, they were formally mustered into federal service as Company A, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
The 1861 roster of Company A, 48th PA was as follows:
Captain: Daniel B. Kauffman
1st Lieutenant: Abiel H. Jackson
2nd Lieutenant: Henry Boyer
Orderly Sergeant: Benjamin G. Otto
1st Sergeant: Lewis B. Eveland
2nd Sergeant: Albert C. Huckey
3rd Sergeant: William Taylor
4th Sergeant: Milton B. Nice
1st Corporal: John J. Huntzinger
2nd Corporal: Francis M. Stidham
3rd Corporal: Peter Zimmerman
4th Corporal: John Little
5th Corporal: John S. Bell
6th Corporal: John Taylor
7th Corporal: Joseph B. Carter
Thomas B. Boyer
William A. Berger
Benjamin F. Cummings
James S. Eveland
William F. Heiser
Henry C. Honsberger
Jacob S. Honsberger
William Jacob Hein
Jordan C. Haas
William K. Jones
Willis L. Kerst
William H. Koch
Coleman Jacob Kramer
John H. Leiser
Samuel B. Moyer
Henry H. Price
Richard B. Perry
Lewis M. Reese
Frank W. Simon
John V. Spreese
Abraham F. Seltzer
John F. Youser
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Oliver Bosbyshell, who served with the Washington Artillerists and who was mustered into what would soon become Company G, 48th Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1861, remembered the enlistment process. "As rapidly as men were secured the were forwarded to Camp Curtin, in Harrisburg, where the regiment rendezvoused. The medical examinations having been successfully passed, the recruits were 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. For the majority this was their first taste of military duty; however, there were many who had served in the Three Months' Service, in the Sixth, Fourteenth, Sixteenth, Twenty-Fifth, and other organizations. A number of those who first entered Washington City, and who are now known as the "First Defenders," re-entered the service in the Forty-Eighth Regiment, nearly all attaining the rank of commissioned officers."
In the weeks ahead--as we continue to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War--I will be posting biographical information on each of the above-mentioned men who recruited companies for the 48th, as well as the original field and staff officers. I will also be describing further their enlistment into Federal service and their first few weeks in uniform. Full rosters of each of the companies, with descriptions of each soldier, will also be provided.