Growing up in the coal town of St. Clair, in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, young William Hume listened, obeyed, and respected his father, Matthew, a hard-working coal miner. During the Civil War, however, father Matthew obeyed the orders of his son. William Hume, now a bright and promising young man of twenty employed at the outbreak of war as a clerk, volunteered his services on September 19, 1861, and was mustered into service as 1st Sergeant of Company B, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Two days later, William's forty-four-year-old father, Matthew Hume, also volunteered, enlisting into the ranks as a private in the same company. One can readily imagine that Matthew's decision to enlist was in part motivated in order to look out for the welfare and safety of his son. One can also imagine the awkwardness that surely happened at times as now William had to now take orders from his son. . .
|1st Lt. William H. Hume, Co. B|
Serving side-by-side, Matthew and William Hume, survived the skirmishes in North Carolina and the battles in Virginia and Maryland in 1862. On September 20, 1862, just a few days following the bloodletting at Antietam, Hume was promoted to Second Lieutenant. Promotion to 1st Lieutenant, Company B, followed late in the summer of 1863, as the 48th campaigned in Kentucky and later east Tennessee.
Tragically, however, neither man would survive the war. Matthew Hume, the father, fell first. It was on May 6, 1864, in the tangled web of secondary growth in Virginia known simply as the Wilderness. Heavily engaged that day, Company B suffered a number of casualties. And the heartache must have been pronounced when Lt. Hume discovered that his father was killed. Just a few weeks later, Lieutenant Hume fell to a sharpshooter's bullet. It happened on May 31, 1864, as the regiment crossed the North Anna River, and made their way across the Armstrong Farm, as the army closed in on a crossroads called Cold Harbor. That day, three of the 48th's best officers were gunned down by Confederate sharpshooters. Lt. Samuel Laubenstein of Schuylkill Haven was struck, mortally wounded, as was the beloved Major Joseph Gilmour. Lt. William Hume was struck in the arm and the wound did not, at first, appear dangerous. However, as regimental historian Oliver Bosbyshell recorded, "the trying work of the campaign had so reduced his system that he failed to recover from the shock of the wound," and young Lieutenant William Hume died one month later, on June 30, 1864, in Georgetown's Seminary Hospital. His remains were sent back home to his grieving mother in Schuylkill County and were laid to rest in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery in Pottsville. Matthew Hume, Lieutenant Hume's father, was buried where he fell in the thick Virginia Wilderness, though his remains were later removed and interred in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. In reporting on the deaths of both Matthew and William, the Miners' Journal recorded that "the blow upon the widow of the elder Hume who is left with five young children is peculiarly severe."
|The Grave of Lt. William Hume in Pottsville's Odd Fellows' Cemetery|