Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 48th/150th: "The only thing we want to see is the war over:" Lt. Curtis C. Pollock's Fredericksburg Account

One of the best accounts of the 48th's actions at the Battle of Fredericksburg was penned by Lt. Curtis C. Pollock, of Company G, on December 18, 1862.

Pollock was only 18 when he enlisted as a corporal in 1861, but he rose quickly through the ranks to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, of Company G. A brave young officer, Pollock was struck down and mortally wounded in June 1864 at Petersburg, Virginia.

Camp near Fredericksburg
December 18, 1862
My dear Ma
Today a week ago
[December 11, 1862] we marched off about half a mile from our present camp expecting to cross the river at once but were halted there. All day we laid in mud about three inches deep and listened to the artillery firing which was kept up incessantly all day. Towards evening we were ordered back to camp and hardly got there and our things off before we were ordered to fall in again and off we started to cross the river but we had not got farther than the place where we had lain all day when the order was countermanded again and back we went to camp. We slept very comfortably and were aroused before daylight to get ready to cross. We had not more than eaten our breakfast before the order came and on we started, this time in earnest. When we arrived at the bridge we found it already to cross. We crossed at the upper bridge, where they had two [pontoons] down. I see by the papers that this is called the lower bridge, but in fact it is the upper one being at the upper end of town. Well we got safely across, though the Rebs fired a few shells at us while crossing and though they fell into the river it was too far up to injure any of us.

As soon as we crossed we were formed in line of battle along the shore and afterwards we marched up into the street to let other troops take our places. We laid in the street about half an hour when we were again moved forward to the gardens behind the house, here we laid nearly all day and the men wandered all over town bringing in tobacco, etc of which they found in abundant supply in the town and as they were out of money and no way to get it, it was very acceptable. They also brought a number of books, some very handsomely bound and works of the best authors. Co. G got a complete set of Waverly novels, very finely bound in muslin. I have one of them. I did not run around much being afraid of the regiment moving. In one very handsomely furnished home a ball struck a piano and knocked it from the corner, in which it was standing to the center of the room and destroying it entirely.

Everything was apparently left in great haste and the men could be seen walking around with every imaginable article of household goods. One man brought into camp a large doll. . . others had lace, shawls, silk dresses and in fact everything. I was told that a man belonging to one of the batteries found a whole set of silver and carried it off.

About four o’clock we were marched down the street nearest the river to about the middle of the town and halted just in front of where a whole block of houses had been burned to the ground, nothing was left of them but the tall chimneys and the smouldering embers. Here we had orders to bivouac for the night and as we could not light any fires the men made their coffee and cooked their evening meal on the burning ruins. Soon after dark one of the chimneys fell down with a loud crash and as the men were lying all around under them at every little there was we all supposed two or three must be badly injured, if not killed, but by good fortune all the men got out but one, who was not seriously injured, he being near the bottom.

Soon after this I changed my bed, having made it close to the fire, and not wanting any [chimney] to fall on me, I moved to the other side of the road. It was quite cold, and I laid down to try and go to sleep. I do not know how long I slept, but I got awake feeling very cold, and, hearing a great deal of commotion around I got up and saw a crowd around one of the fires, and on asking what it meant, learned that another chimney had fallen down and hurt another man. I jumped up and went over. The doctor was there and I could tell by his face that he was seriously injured. He was carried off to the hospital but died before morning. It was too cold to go to sleep again so I sat up on a narrow drawer and fell asleep with my head on my hands, but I had hardly got to sleep before the drawer gave way and I fell into the fire and burned my wrist slightly. It did not take me long to get out of it, I tell you. Well, after that there was no more sleep for me that night.

Saturday morning rose as stated in the papers. About 10 o’clock we moved down the street to the lower end of town and laid there until about one o’clock. (The infantry firing commenced about 12), when we were moved out through town towards the firing. When we arrived at the outskirts of the town we were order to remain there in reserve, while the rest of the Brigade went out. We laid down behind a stable for some time, when one of the staff officers reported the rebels going to charge, and then we were ordered to support the men already out. We started off on a double quick across the fields and as soon as the Rebs saw us they commenced pouring in their shells thick and fast, but we kept on and by our going at double quick we escaped a great many of their shells, which otherwise would have fallen directly in our ranks. Gen. Sturgis complimented us very highly on the manner in which we went up and said it was the best line he ever saw go into a fight.

After a run of about a quarter of a mile we reached the place where the infantry was firing. they were posted behind a small hill and were firing over the hill at the Rebs who were behind a stone wall at the bottom of the hill, on the top of which they had their breast works, and near the stone fence ran a small creek between them and us. We were lying down behind the hill for a few minutes waiting for a Regiment to fire all their ammunition before we relieved them. When they were through we went up to the brow and commenced well, we fired away, but could not tell whether we did any damage or not. We were relieved by other troops who had come up while we were firing, and we went back out of the road. There was a regiment coming up soon after we were through firing (163 N.Y.) and as soon as they saw some of us some them fired right into us, taking us I suppose for Rebels, but after a great waving of flags on our part, they ceased firing and came up. They paid pretty dearly for their firing at us, for the Rebs seeing them stop dropped several shells right in their ranks and put them in great confusion. When they fired into us it killed two men, lying right at my feet, but never scratched me.

As soon as it was dark, we were marched back to town to get another supply of ammunition, and on the road we got mixed up with some other regiment and I lost my company. We went back to the place where we were the night before and, had hardly half the regiment but Col. Pleasants soon came up with the remainder. I went in the house that Col. J.K. Sigfried was quartered in and slept very comfortably.

Sunday morning we got up with the expectation of fighting again, and in fact it was rumored that Gen. Burnside had ordered the 9th A.C. to take the fortifications by storm, but we were lying around all day, in suspense afraid to leave for fear the regiment might move.

I slept in the same place that I did the night before, and the family who were living in the cellar came up occasionally and as there were two very pretty, and interesting young ladies who sang remarkably well, we managed to spend a very pleasant evening.

Monday morning came and we all were wondering what Burnside intended to do. We all thought it was folly to attempt to take the position which the Rebels held and we were getting anxious about lying around the town exposed to their artillery firing. The papers say so much about the men eager for the fray, but to tell the truth, you will not come across one man in the whole army who is not heartily tired of the whole thing and would like to see it settled any way at all. I thought I could see from the various movements about town that we were going to evacuate. The ambulance trains were running all day beside men carrying wounded men over the river on litters, old bed ticks, mattresses, chairs and in fact everything they could lay their hands on. This was kept up from morning until dark and I was told that the night before they were working quite as hard. Soon after dark we were marched off down the street the same way we went on Saturday and stopped at the same place. then the Colonel called the company commanders together and told us we were to go up to the outskirts of town and occupy the houses. We were to make loop holes through them large enough for one man to shoot through. From this I thought we were to direct the attention of the Rebs to the front while the remainder of the army went around and attacked them on the flank. but we had hardly got the work done when we were ordered to fall in again and marched back to town and over the same pontoon we crossed on before and marched up to our old camp. Thus ended the five days fight before Fredericksburg. There were some charges made on their fortifications but none got any farther than the creek. I was very glad we did not have to charge as we would have been almost entirely cut up. I believe that the position they hold is impregnable when attacked on the front.

We found our old shanty all knocked to pieces and for the first night we slept in with some of the men. But now we have one of our own again and much better and larger than the first. We have fine large fire places in it and warms it up finely. Lieut. Jackson was detailed to take a party over the river to bury the dead, and he tells us he has seen as much war as he wants to—He saw General Stuart and several other Rebel celebrities.

I commanded Company D and lost two men killed and two wounded. Co. G lost but one man wounded in the arm, not as the rebels could see, when each brigade left town and could have full sweep at them from that time until they got all the way up and under the shelter of the hill. Some regiments coming up you could see the shells bursting directly in their ranks and knocking men in all directions. Our regiment suffered less than most of the others and the reason of it is, I think that we went at it more systematically and did not get excited. Lieut. Jackson had a very narrow escape, a shell bursting directly in front of him and the powder burnt his neck and hands without doing any further injury.

It was quite cold last night but we slept very comfortably in our new house The weather was very mild all the time we were over the river, or the men would have suffered severely. We are getting along very well and are in good spirits, and the only thing we want to see is the war over. I think you will be pleased with this letter and about the only think that kept me at it so long was the thoughts of it pleasing you so much. I have had to stop and rest myself several times during the writing, but I have at last got it through and I am very glad of it.

With much love to all I remain your affectionate son,

The 48th/150th: "It was not long before the work of carnage began:" Captain Bosbyshell Describes The Battle

Captain Oliver C. Bosbyshell (seated), with Lts. Pollock and H.C. Jackson, Co. G
Saturday, December 13, was an exceedingly pleasant day, so far as the weather was concerned—warm and balmy—but anything but a pleasant one to the torn, shattered and maimed soldiers, who passed through the fiery ordeal of the that day! The streets of the town were very muddy. Of course the command was aroused early, and all could guess the momentous events to come, by the unusual activity among the staff offices, who could be seen galloping here and there, conveying orders. The Forty-eighth was soon formed, and marching still further to the left, halted in line below the railroad. Whilst waiting at this point, General Thomas Francis Meagher rode by. Who can forget his magnificent appearance! Dressed in a faultlessly fitting suit of dark green cloth, black shoulder knots, in the center of which were embroidered silver stars, and his yellow silk sash crossed over his breast, denoting a general field officer of the day—superbly mounted on a deep bay horse, he made up a picture of unusual grace and majesty. One can well understand how, later in the day, his Irish brigade fought with the tenacity of tigers, inspired by the magnificent presence of its intrepid leader.
It was not long before the work of carnage began—opened by battery after battery sending terrible missiles hurtling through the air, until the vast amphitheatre reverberated with the sound of three hundred rebel cannon and as many Union guns. Above the din the sharp rattle of musketry soon arose, adding to the terrible work of death.
The regiment moved to the back of the town toward Marye’s Heights, and for a time remained stretched out in a street running perpendicular to the river. Whilst lying the grape, canister and shells of the enemy wounded several men in the ranks. Captain Gilmour of H, Sgt. Nies, of G, and others were slightly wounded, one man of Company A was killed. At this point the novel experience of seeing a ball or shell coming from the rebel artillery was vouchsafed. The ball could be distinctly seen in the air, and the ground immediately on the left of the regiment was frequently struck; the shots would roll over and over, in the most awkward manner.
General Nagle and staff were standing under cover of a brick stable, not far from the right of the Forty-eighth. A solid shot struck the building penetrating both walls—coming out just above the heads of the General and staff—throwing the brick bats amongst them, and covering the party with dust and dirt. It was a narrow call, but little time was permitted to ponder over it—the order to advance being given. This was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The Forty-eighth marched by the flank toward the right a short distance until some obstruction had been passed when the command, ‘Left face, double quick time,’ came, and running over the clear space down into a hollow, and up a slight rise in the ground, the regiment became hotly engaged with the enemy. This movement was made under a terrible storm of deadly missiles. The command was in full view of the rebels and within easy range. As one of the regiment puts it in his diary, “the advance to the front over a clean ground with death staring us in the face as grim as ever any troops met it.” . . .
The regiment remained on the front line until 7 o’clock in the evening—expending sixty rounds of ammunition per man, to great purpose—for the batteries immediately in its front were at times completely silenced by the marksmanship of the men. Lt. Col. Pleasants passed along the line, directing that the ten best marksman of each company should elevate the sights of their pieces and pick off the men manning the guns. The effect of this action was soon made apparent by the decreasing fire of the artillery.
The regiment was relieved by the Twelfth Rhode Island, Colonel Brown. . . .The command passed off the hill by the left flank, and retired under cover of deep railroad cut—returning to the same street and occupying the same places utilized the night before. Fresh ammunition was distributed and the men literally worn out soon fell asleep despite the angry tempest of lead still raining in the front. The loss was sixty killed, wounded and missing.  

The 48th/150th: Fredericksburg Casualties

48th Pennsylvania Casualties at Fredericksburg

Private James Williams, Co. A
Corporal Reuben Robinson, Co. B
Private Michael Divine, Co. B
Private John Williams, Co. B
Private William Hill, Co. B
Sergeant Henry Williamson, Co. D
Private Thomas Kinney, Co. D


Company A: Joseph B. Carter, William F. Heiser
Company B: Sergeant Nelson W. Major, William Brown, Clement Betzler, Carey Heaton, Philip Carling, Lieutenant John S. Wood
Company C: Corporal Henry Weiser, Samuel Harrison, Charles Walker, Andrew Scott, Michael McLaughlin, John Murray
Company D: Corporal John H. Derr, H.C. Burkholder

H.C. Burkholder, Co. D

Company E: Robert Hughes, Edward Murphy, John Sunderland, Corporal Michael Sandy, Corporal Samuel Clemens

Company F: David Griffiths, Evan Thomas, William Fulton

David Griffiths

Company G: Sergeant James C. Nies, Daniel Donne, John Tobin

Daniel Donne

Company H: Captain Joseph A. Gilmour, Corporal Alba C. Thompson, Valentine Kinswell

Joseph A. Gilmour

Company I: Sergeant Francis D. Koch, Corporal James Miller, Wilson Kerns, Edward F. Shappelle, Jacob Gongloff, Charles E. Weaver, Anthony Beltz, Joseph Gilbert, Elias Faust

Francis D. Koch [Ronn Palm Collection]

Company K: John Currey, Thomas Currey, Frank Simon, Michael Delaney


George Airgood, Co. A

The 48th/150th: Fredericksburg. . .Reports & Soldier Accounts

Sergeant Joseph Gould, Co. F:
"On the 11th of December a heavy artillery duel took place, and the troops on our side of the [Rappahannock] river were moving towards the bank ready to cross. Our brigade did not take any part in the movement until the 12th, when we crossed the river on a pontoon bridge opposite the city, and lay in the streets all that day and night. The shells from the enemy were exploding all around us while occupying this position, and quite a number of the regiment were disabled. On the 13th our brigade, now consisting of the 48th Pennsylvania, 2nd Maryland, 6th and 9th New Hampshire and 7th Rhode Island, was ordered to the assault at 2 p.m. Prior to this we had been in an exposed position, the right wing lying up one street northward and the left wing on another street eastward. Directly in front of the right wing was a large brick barn, behind which [division commander] Gen. Sturgis and staff were standing, until a solid shot came flying clean through the walls, scattering the bricks and debris in all directions, and with is scattered the general and his staff."
Sergeant William J. Wells, Co. F:
"Just prior to this incident, while General Sturgis was seated upon a camp stool and leaning against the barn, General Ferrero, commanding the 2nd Brigade of his division, came in from the front, much excited, and told Sturgis that his brigade was all cut up, and demanded to know why in the hell he did not send them reenforcements. Sturgis replied: 'Oh, I guess not, General, keep cool; take a little of this,' lifting the canteen to his lips. While so engaged, the shot came through the barn, just over his head, but he never lowered it until he had finished his drink; then, handing the canteen to Ferrero, he rose, went to the corner of the barn, looked over the field, and then said to Col. [Joshua] Sigfried [commanding the 48th], who was standing near, 'Now is your time, Colonel. Go in.'"

'Attention! Right face! Forward, march!' and the 48th moved quickly to the right, until the barn was uncovered, when the Colonel commanded: 'By the left flank; march,' and the regiment swung into line, rapidly marching to the front, then to the right, then again to the front, when we halted, the right companies finding themselves for a short time lying flat on their faces behind a frame house and a long pale fence, while grape and canister played a tattoo through the same. We had been carried too far to the right and could not advance farther to the front from that position. Up again, then to the left until the house was cleared, then by the front; forward, with a rush, into shelter under the brow of a slight elevation, when our advanced was impeded by a mass of men, many deep, seeking similar shelter. Here we stayed doing sharpshooting, picking off the officers and gunners from the batteries upon the heights until nightfall, when we were withdrawn under the cover of darkness."

Sergeant Gould:

"It has been truly said that only those who participated in the contest know much and how little they heard. We remember how the smoke, the woods, and the inequalities of the ground limited our vision when we had the leisure to look about us, and how every faculty was absorbed in our work; how the deafening noise made it impossible to hear orders; what ghastly sights we saw, as men fell near us, and how peacefully they sank to rest when a bullet reached a vital spot. [Sergeant August] Farrow and [Private David] Griffiths of Company F stood in the ranks to deliver their fire, though repeatedly commanded to lie down, until Griffiths was shot through the left lung and carried to the rear. Wounded men shrieked and others lay quiet; the singing and whistling of the balls from the muskets was incessant; and we knew very little of what was going on a hundred yards to the right or left. Participants in real fighting know how limited and confused are their recollections of the work, after it has become hot. All efforts to dislodge the enemy were unsuccessful, and the losses very heavy. Night put an end to the contest, and, having exhausted our ammunition, we were relieved by the 12th Rhode Island regiment and marched back to town. Cannon and musketry fire ceased their roar, and in a few moments the silence of death succeeded the stormy fury of the ten hours' battle. We were soon fast asleep in the streets of the town, tired out."

Brigadier General James Nagle, Commanding 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Corps:

"From 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers was held in reserve. It was the ordered to the front. The men marched under a most galling fire like true veterans. The whole of my brigade remained in the front until after sixty rounds of ammunition had been expended, and until they were relieved by other troops. . . ."

Colonel Joshua K. Sigfried, Commanding the 48th Pennsylvania, to the Miners' Journal, 12/16/1862:

"We bivouacked in the street on the right of the city the preceding night; towards noon on the 13th marched toward the left and to the support of the 2nd Brigade of same Division. At one o'clock P.M., received orders from General Nagle to march to the open field in the rear of the city, when my regiment was kept in reserve (while the rest of our brigade marched forward) until half-past two o'clock, when General Sturgis ordered me to forward my command to assist in repelling a charge the enemy was about making on our line. We started and went at double-quick (a distance of half a mile) under a most terrific fire of shell, grape and cannister from the enemy's batteries. Arriving at the hill (about four hundred yards from the enemy's breastworks), I was requested by Colonel Clark, of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, to relieve his regiment; their ammunition was nearly expended; I did so; when we remained on the crest of the hill until our ammunition was exhausted (sixty rounds per man), when Colonel Brown, of the 12th Rhode Island Volunteers, relieved us. At dusk the hill became crowded, and seeing other regiments still coming up, Colonel Clark and myself concluded best to return to the city for ammunition, and give room for fresh troops to get under the shelter of the hill."Too much praise cannot be given to all the soldiers (and the following officers who were in the battle, viz: Lieut-Colonel Pleasants, Major J. Wren, Adjutant D.D. McGinnes, Captains U.A. Bast, G.W. Gowen, Winlack, Hoskings, O.C. Bosbyshell, J.A. Gilmour, John R. Porter, Isaac Brennan, and Lieutenants H. Boyer, Eveland, John Wood, Humes, Chas. Loeser, Jr., Bohannan, Fisher, James, Williams, Jackson, Pollock, A. Bowen, Schuck, Douty, and Stitzer), for their gallantry during the entire engagement. Their line was steady and unbroken while advancing under the most murderous shelling of the enemy, and their fire deliberate, well-aimed and effective.
"I deeply sympathize with the families and friends of those who have fallen, but it is a source of great gratification to know that they fell while gallantly defending a just and holy cause."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The 48th/150th: "The Eleventh of December. . .was an eventful day."

Captain Oliver Bosbyshell describes the regiment's activities, 150 years ago this very day, December 11, 1862:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Bombardment of Fredericksburg, 12/11/1862

           The eleventh of December, 1862, was an eventful day. The men of the regiment were aroused at 4 a.m. by order of the Colonel. Blankets, with shelter tents enclosed, were rolled to be carried across the shoulder as a sash. Three days’ rations were placed in haversacks and knapsacks, and all unnecessary baggage was left in camp, in charge of the sick. The regiment started at 8 o’clock, with the brigade, to participate in the assault on Fredericksburg. The artillery stationed on the many eminences overlooking the town, opened early and kept up an almost incessant cannonade all day long. The Forty-eighth was drawn up in line of battle on the summit of a hill, about a half-mile east of the Lacy House—in the neighborhood of the Phillip’s House—awaiting the completion of the pontoon bridge. The laying of this bridge was a very difficult task—the rebel infantry stationed along the edge of the south bank of the river, kept up a rattling fire upon the sappers and miners engaged therein. The latter gallantly returned the fire, and continued with their work. Some thus engaged were killed, and quite a number wounded. Then the rebel sharpshooters, with which the houses along the river abounded, turned their attention to our cannoneers, who were making it uncomfortable for the rebel infantry along the river bank.

            As the artillerymen began to fall, Burnside ordered the town shelled. The batteries responded with a will, roar succeeded roar in rapid succession, pouring into the doomed town a terrible shower of deadly missiles. The cannonading at this time was terrific, rendered a thousand-fold more deafening by the reverberations arising from the peculiar formation of the country. The deep bluffs overhanging the river giving back a hollow sound, like the rolling and crashing of thunder!

            Noon came. The regiment still lay idly in line. The pontoon had not yet been laid. At 3 p.m. it was the writer’s good fortune to accompany Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants nearer the town, where opportunity was afforded for a better look at the condition of things. Adjutant McGinness kindly loaned his horse. Pausing in our route, at General Sumner’s headquarters, there was spread below the once beautiful town of Fredericksburg, now in flames, and from all appearances doomed to soon become a mass of ruins. Whilst gazing on the destruction, Colonel Frick and Major Anthony, of the 129th Pennsylvania, came up, and proposed going to the river’s edge, which was lined with Union batteries, in order to obtain a still better view. Down we galloped, and very soon we became interested spectators of a most glorious scene. We were directly over the spot where, all day long, the sappers and miners had been endeavoring to build a pontoon bridge. This was almost immediately beneath the bluff on which the Lacy House stood. The engineers were supported by the 7th Michigan Regiment, and just as we reached the scene, a part of this gallant regiment took two of the pontoon boats, and paddling them across the river, drove the rebels from the banks an sent them running through the town. This was done in the face of their sharpshooters. The Michigan boys were a determined set of men and not to be dismayed. Soon the entire regiment got across, using the boats for that purpose, and although the rebels rallied and far outnumbered them, the 7th stood to their work, beating the foe back in grand style. The artillery came to their aid and poured into the town a destructive fire of grape and canister. This was enough, and when we rode away from the river the brave Michigan men held the town. Having both banks of the river the bridges were completed speedily.

Whilst on this inspecting tour with Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants, the regiment had received orders to return to camp, which it did. As preparations were under way to occupy the old quarters for the night, orders to ‘fall in’ were given. Back again it marched, expecting to cross the river. Another halt, and another order to return, took the regiment to the old camp, where it remained for the night, with orders to be ready to move in thirty minutes after notice. A sufficient number of troops had been sent across the river to hold the town during the night.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"A Loyal Patriot and A Veteran Soldier," Whose "Brain Has Been Affected For Some Time:" The Sad Case of Private Charles Lindenmuth, Co. I, 48th Pennsylvania

Eighteen-Year-Old Charles Lindenmuth
Co. I, 48th Pennsylvania
(Hoptak Collection)

For far too many Civil War soldiers, the war never truly ended. Charles Lindenmuth, who had been wounded and who fell severely ill during his short time in uniform, suffered from anxiety, frequent headaches, and depression during the post-war years. Repeatedly denied a pension and falling into poverty, Lindenmuth sought escape through suicide . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Charles Lindenmuth was born in 1846 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and was thus only fifteen years old when the Civil War broke out in April 1861,which was far too young to fight. Yet the war dragged on--month after month, and year after year until, on February 22, 1864, and now of legal fighting age, Lindenmuth very proudly made his way to one of the recruiting offices in Pottsville and enlisted as a private, Company I, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. Many of the 48th's veterans--those who survived the storms at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and out west in Kentucky and Tennessee--were home on a thirty-day furlough, a special incentive they received for re-enlisting to serve another three-year term of service. These seasoned veterans would now be joined by rookie soldiers like Lindenmuth; too young to answer the call in 1861, but now more than willing to serve. Lindenmuth was eighteen years of age in February 1864, stood 5'3 1/2" in height, had a "Fair" Complexion, Hazel eyes, and Brown hair. He listed his occupation as Moulder.

When the regiment departed Pottsville, Lindenmuth made his way to war, arriving first at the Ninth Corps' rendezvous camp at Annapolis, Maryland. A few weeks later, Lindenmuth got his first taste of combat at the Battle of the Wilderness, on May 5-6. More savage and intense combat followed less than a week later at Spotsylvania where, on May 12, the 48th lost more than 130 men killed or wounded. Among those wounded was Charles Lindenmuth. His pension records indicate that he had sustained a gunshot wound to his "Right Cheek." The wound sidelined Lindenmuth for several months. Recovering, he made his way back to duty with the regiment, then dug in for the siege of Petersburg.

Sometime during the winter of 1864-1865, Lindenmuth fell severely ill, though he remained with the regiment until after Lee's surrender in April 1865. Although the regiment was not mustered out of service until July 17 of that year, Lindenmuth had been discharged by reason of disability on June 27. As is stated in his discharge: "Charles Lindenmuth took a severe cold on [the] picket line, and was unwell for some time, until at length, he lost his speech and has become unfit for duty for the last six months. [Signed] F.D. Koch, Capt., Co. I, 48th Regt. P.V.V.I"

Discharge of Pvt. Chas. Lindenmuth, June 27, 1865

Nineteen-year-old Charles Lindenmuth, a wounded wartime veteran, returned to his native Pottsville and soon married Angeline Fenstermacher, who passed away at a young age in January 1877. Lindenmuth remarried four years later to Priscilla Miller and the couple took up residence at 611 Race Street in Pottsville.  Lindenmuth resumed his work but was aging far too quickly and in November 1893, the forty-seven-year-old veteran applied for a pension, citing naurasthenia--a condition marked by anxiety, general fatigue and weakness, headaches, and depression--the result of his wartime injuries.  The records indicate that he had applied for a pension in 1870 but his application was denied. It was denied again in 1893. Undeterred and in need of assistance, Lindenmuth, in late January 1894, applied once again, this time supplying an affidavit authored by two of his Pottsville neighbors, who wrote that Lindenmuth "became afflicted with rheumatism and nervous disability three years ago and is at present time totally disabled to perform manual labor of any kind owing to being an invalid." At the end of the affidavit, the two elderly neighbors recorded that they based their knowledge "upon the fact being very intimately acquainted with him for a number of years and know for a certainty that his disease was not caused by vicious habits. His character for industry and sobriety has never been questioned."

Still, the War Department was unconvinced that Lindenmuth's debility was war-related and again, he was denied a pension.  With no assistance and unable to work, Lindenmuth fell ever further into depression while he and his wife fell further into poverty.

Unable to endure the pain and anguish any longer, Lindenmuth, on December 15, 1894, attempted suicide at the local G.A.R. post hall. As reported in the local paper, under the heading "A Veteran Attempts Suicide:" "At noon to-day groans were heard from the loft above the Gowen Post, No. 23, G.A.R. of this place. An investigation was made and a man was found lying on the floor steeped in blood. The man was found to be Charles Lindenmuth, a veteran of the late war. He had cut his throat with a common pocket-knife. The cut is likely to end his life. Lindenmuth's brain has been affected for some time. He was a brave soldier and served all through the war."

Somehow, though, Lindenmuth recovered.

Just three days later, A.R. Bartholomew, Pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church, wrote directly to the Pension Commissioner, enclosing the newspaper clipping of Lindenmuth's attempted suicide:
"My Dear Sir: I enclose a clipping which explains itself. This poor fellow is a member of my church, a loyal patriot and a veteran soldier. One year ago he was promised a pension and for some cause, has been denied it. This fact has been preying upon his mind with an almost suicidal death as the result. Will you please examine into his case and tell me the obstruction in the way? . . . .If it is possible, won't you please bring Christmas cheer to a family in destitute circumstances. A pension check will be a God-sent."

At last, Lindenmuth was granted a pension, to date from November 14, 1894. At first, it was $8.00 per month but in the spring of 1896 it was increased to $12.00 a month. Sadly, though, Charles did not have much longer to live. 

The end for Charles Lindenmuth came on December 6, 1896; he was only fifty years old. His remains were laid to rest in Pottsville's Odd Fellows' Cemetery. His widow Priscilla Lindenmuth fought for several more years for an increase in pension and by the time of her death in 1921, she had been receiving $30.00/month.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The 48th/150th: Arriving at Fredericksburg/"Supporting Durell's Battery. . . "

Next Thursday, December 13, 2012, will mark the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Because of this, my next several posts will document the role played by the 48th Pennsylvania in this memorable and important engagement. First, a look at the days leading up to the battle, as authored by Captain Oliver C. Bosbyshell and recorded in his 1895 regimental history, The 48th in the War:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On November 19, 1862, the regiment marched through Falmouth and went into camp “back of the Lacy House directly opposite Fredericksburg. . . .Durell’s Battery was posted in front of the regiment with its guns commanding the streets of Fredericksburg. A visit to the bluffs overlooking the town brought it in full view. The inhabitants were busy—apparently numbers were moving—wagons heavily ladened with household goods were visible, and people were seen hurrying here and there with bundles and packages. Rebel cavalry patrolled the streets, and a heavy line of pickets occupied the southern banks of the river. The regiment remained in this camp until the twenty-ninth of November, resuming drills and dress parades. The life was a monotonous one. ‘Supporting Durell’s Battery,’ was the army way of denoting the duty in this camp. At 6 o’clock on the morning of the twenty-ninth, having been relieved by the Fourth Rhode Island, the regiment moved off and rejoined the brigade—encamping in a heavy pine wood, about a mile back of the river. Here comfortable log huts were built by the men, with genuine chimneys in them, and before this spot was vacated by the troops the handsome forests surrounding the camps were leveled to the ground. On the afternoon of December 1, General Nagle resumed brigade drills—much to the disgust of all hands interested. The most noteworthy event of the second of December was the arrival in camp of Isaac Lippman, the best sutler in the corps, with a full supply of ‘cheeses.’”
Wartime image of the Lacy House, Opposite Fredericksburg

Bosbyshell recorded that December 3-4, 1862, “passed without incident;” but on the afternoon of December 5, there was “a most disagreeable storm of snow, hail and rain, robing the earth in a fleecy garment. The weather was bitter cold, and the fire-places in the log huts were piled with fuel. Some of the enterprising spirits of the regiment arose at 1:30 at night to witness an announced total eclipse of the moon. It was found entirely too cold for much extended observation. Nearly all of the regiment picketed the river bank on the sixth. The weather continued cold, the ground was hard frozen, and there was plenty of ice.”
The View of Fredericksburg from the Lacy House; this is what the soldiers of the 48th would have seen of the city from their campsites.

Regimental inspection was held on December 7 but it was “rather a matter of form—only about a hundred men in line—the picket detail not returning early enough to participate. The day was intensely cold and the ground was still covered with Friday’s snow. On the eighth an order was received from Division Headquarters for the men to build log huts, and to make themselves as comfortable as possible. For this purpose no duty was imposed, other than guard duty for two days. Then commenced a slaughter of the woods, and the erection of log huts of a more pretentious kind than then temporary efforts before essayed.

“On the tenth there was a regimental inspection. The pleasant countenance of General Burnside looking on at the regimental dress parade, is a notable event of the day. A meeting of the company commanders took place at Colonel Sigfried’s tent the same evening, for the purpose of preparing for the anticipated movement against the rebel entrenchments at Fredericksburg. The part expected of the regiment was explained, and the company commanders directed to keep their own counsel.”