Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wallking In The Footsteps of the 48th. . .With Mr. Siegfried

One of the most memorable highlights of this past year at Antietam. . .my sixth, if you count my first year as a volunteer. . .was walking in the footsteps of the 48th Pennsylvania with Mr. David Siegfried, a direct descendant of the regiment's commander at Antietam, Lt. Col. Joshua K. Sigfried.

Brevet Brigadier General Joshua Sigfried

Born on July 4, 1832, in my own hometown of Orwigsburg, Joshua Sigfried attended school at the Pottsville Academy then found work with the coal business in neighboring Port Carbon. In the pre-war years, Sigfried organized the Marion Rifles, a militia company that would later serve under Colonel James Nagle in the three-month 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. With the expiration of this initial term of service in late July 1861, Sigfried helped in raising what would become the 48th Pennsylvania, recruiting many of the members of the Marion Rifles plus more volunteers from the Pottsville/Port Carbon area. When the 48th was organized in September/October 1861, Sigfried was the regiment's major but the resignation of Lt. Col. David Smith would soon elevate Sigfried to that rank, making him the regiment's second-in-command. When Colonel Nagle was elevated to brigade command in April 1862, Sigfried assumed command of the 48th, which he would lead until the spring of 1864, and at such places as 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and during the regiment's campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee. In April 1864, Major General Ambrose Burnside, recognizing the leadership qualities of Sigfried, named him a commander of a brigade of United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.), a brigade he would subsequently lead during the Battle of the Crater.

With Mr. Siegfried at the 48th PA Monument

This fall, I had the distinct privilege of taking one of General Sigfried's descedants on a tour of the 48th's actions at Antietam. We spent three hours walking in the footsteps of the 48th, from their supporting operations during the attacks on the Burnside Bridge to their movement to the front late that afternoon to help stem the tide following A.P. Hill's flank assault. Meeting descendants of 48th PA soldiers is always, always a great thrill for me, and after spending years conversing by letter, it was great to finally Mr. David Siegfried and an honor to stomp the battlefield of Antietam with him and his wife. Just like meeting the Dentzer siblings last summer, whose ancestors fought and died as soldiers in Company K, 48th PA, this will rank among my most memorable experiences at Antietam.

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