Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The 48th/150th: Heading West!

After a six weeks' stay at Newport News, Virginia, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of March 25, 1863, received orders "to pack up and leave at once."  Although they did not yet know it, these veteran soldiers from many a campaign in North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia, were now heading to the war's Western Theater and for the next year, would campaign in Kentucky and Tennessee alongside their 9th Corps comrades and under Burnside.

The Steamer John A. Warner which carried the 48th from Newport News to Baltimore

Not wasting any time, the regiment was fully aboard the steamer John A. Warner by 4:30 p.m. and by 7:00 that evening where anchored off Fortress Monroe. At 3:30 a.m. the following morning--March 26, 1863--the John A. Warner cast loose and was soon steaming up the Chesapeake Bay. Even though the 48th shared the overcrowded steamer with the 6th New Hampshire, Oliver Bosbyshell nevertheless remembered that the "weather was delightful, the bay as smooth as a mill pond and the trip to Baltimore thoroughly enjoyed by all hands." Docking at Baltimore, the 48th disembarked from the John A. Warner on March 27 then marched through Baltimore to the station of the North Central Railroad. For those "First Defenders" within the ranks of the 48th, this march through Baltimore must have been odd, since it was there, two years earlier, where they came under attack from an angry mob of Baltimore residents sympathetic with the Confederacy. What a contrast now, as Bosbyshell (who was among the First Defenders) recalled: "The good people of Baltimore viewed with each other in showering kindness on the men; all sorts of eatables and drinkables were provided by them, and the really demoralized condition of a vast number of the men of the regiment before that city was departed from, is entirely 'too numerous to mention.'"

The journey west thus got off to a great and memorable start, and it only got better in the days ahead. "It was much in the nature of an ovation, as crowds greeted the 'boys' at every station, and a plentiful supply of good things was constantly distributed by friends." The trains carried the regiment from Baltimore and across the Pennsylvania countryside--for most of the soldiers of the 48th, this was their first return to their native state since marching off to war a year-and-a-half earlier. Since they were so very close to home, the temptation "to go home for a few days was so strong," noted regimental historian Joseph Gould, "that some few members of the regiment took French leave when passing Harrisburg, and visited their folks at home." The trains stopped at York, Mifflin, Altoona, and Pittsburgh, where coffee and bread was given to the men. At Pittsburgh, "a fine repast was prepared, and greatly enjoyed--especially," noted Bosbyshell, "in having present many of the Smoky City's fine ladies, who, although the hour was 2 o'clock in the morning, lent the charm of their presence to enliven the 'soldier laddies'' hearts."

1874 Lithograph of Pittsburgh by Otto Krebs

Continuing on through Ohio, the 48th enjoyed yet another fine reception in Cincinnati, where, at the Market House, they enjoyed "a most appetizing feast" and "a breakfast all too delightful to dwell upon." Said Bosbyshell: "The ride through Ohio was made on Sunday, March 29. The enthusiastic crowds of girls, boys, women and men that greeted the regiment at every stop, was an experience so charming to the men who had been so long campaigning in a country hostile to them, that it made the trip satisfactory in the extreme."

Leaving the trains, the soldiers of the 48th continued on their most satisfactory trip now by ferry boat The Queen City:  across the Ohio River and into Kentucky, to Covington. From there, it was back onto train cars, those of the Kentucky Central. . .another ride on the rails at last brought the regiment to their destination point: the city of Lexington, where they arrived at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 31.  Upon their arrival, the soldiers received four months' back pay and, as Gould wrote, "the city of Lexington received a coat of red paint, whether it deserved it or not. Some of the members received several days in No. 3 jail, which they fully deserved."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Soldiers of the 48th: Lt. Henry E. Stichter, Company E

Early War Image of Henry E. Stichter, as a Corporal
I had the good fortune several years back to come into possession of this great tintype photograph of Henry E. Stichter, Company D, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. Henry Stichter, a native of Pottsville, was twenty-three years of age when, in September 1861, he was mustered into service as a Corporal in the ranks of Company D, a company recruited almost entirely from Pottsville and commanded, at the outset of war, by Captain Daniel Nagle, brother of the regiment's commander, Colonel James Nagle.

Although from Pottsville, Henry listed Hamburg, in neighbording Berks County, as his place of residence when the war began. According to the regimental muster rolls, he stood 5'8 1/2" in height, had a Dark Complexion, Dark Eyes, and Dark Hair. His occupation was listed as Painter.  Henry was not the only Stichter to appear in the ranks of the 48th. Indeed, in 1861, we also see a Samuel Stichter, age 43, a resident of Berks County. Although I do not know for sure, it is possible that Samuel Stichter was Henry's father and the two served side-by-side in the ranks of Company D. The fate of Samuel Stichter is unclear, since the regimental history lists him only as "Not Present at Muster Out." In February 1864, another Stichter entered the ranks of Company D, twenty-one-year-old Alfred, a cigar maker from Berks County.  Again, I do not know for sure, but there is a good chance that Alfred was a younger brother of Henry's. Enlisting as a private in March 1864, Alfred Stichter survived the war and was mustered out in July 1865.

Henry Stichter rose in the ranks from Corporal to 2nd Lieutenant in September 1863 then, one year later, from 2nd to 1st Lieutenant. He was discharged from the army in October 1864, his three-year term of service having expired and he not electing to re-enlist for another three-year stint. It appears there was a good reason why he chose to go home, for on the day after Christmas, 1864, Henry married Amelia Zweizig, a Hamburg gal, as evidenced by this small, business card-sized Marriage Certificate that I acquired along with Henry's photograph.

I wish I knew more at the present time about Henry Stichter and the other two Stichter's in the ranks of Company D, 48th PA. An 1889 burial record of the Odd Fellow's Cemetery in Pottsville does have Henry Stichter buried within, so it seems he did not enjoy a long post-war life.
It appears a request to the National Archives is in order.