Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Our Regiment Suffered Very Severely In This Fight:" The 48th Pennsylvania's Casualties at Spotsylvania

The date May 12 was one that surely resonated with the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania, those who survived the war and its tremendous bloodletting, for it was on that date--in 1864--at Spotsylvania, where the regiment suffered some of its highest loss in the entirety of the war. Twenty-six men of the regiment were killed; ninety-nine wounded, and at least eleven missing in action, for a total casualty count of 128, sustained on this date--May 12--149 years ago. Next to Second Bull Run, where the 48th lost 152 men, the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864, witnessed the heaviest loss sustained by the regiment in any one day of combat during the war.

Regimental historian Joseph Gould summarized some of the action and speaks of the death of Private Lewis Woods, of Company F:

Our position was on the top of a hill, in front of us was an open field and swamp, through which ran a small creek, and, beyond, another hill, where the rebels had erected a strong line of rifle-pits. On our left was a thick wood extending beyond the swamp to the line of the enemy. As the fog rose, a regiment of rebels was discovered occupying a pit formed by the banks of the creek. The left of the brigade was thrown forward into the woods, cutting off their retreat, except by the open field up the hill in front of our works, which, if attempted, would be certain destruction. A desperate effort was made to drive us out of our position, but it was steadily maintained under a destructive fire of musketry and artillery. During the attempt the regiment captured two hundred prisoners of Gordon’s division. Along in the afternoon the troops made another assault on the rebel line. The regiment charged forward to the swamp, but discovered it was unsupported. It moved then by the left flank into the woods under a galling fire; and, later, reached its former position. . . .
Our regiment suffered very severely in this fight, and the writer paid a visit to the field hospital to look after some friends, and , while there, came across some of his own company, one, named Lewis Woods, a great, big, noble-hearted fellow, from the northern part of the State, who now lay in a cow stable with his brains oozing from a ghastly bullet hole in his head. As I took the gallant fellow’s hand and asked him if he recognized me, his only reply was a smile, and my mind went back to the trip on the steamer from Newport News to Baltimore, when, as he lay asleep on the deck, in a moment of boyish deviltry, I clipped one-half his mustache completely off. What I would have given at that moment if I had never been guilty of this mischievous act! I had heard of people being shot to pieces, but never saw it until at this hospital. Just outside the fence surrounding the house a battery of artillery was stationed, and one of the artillerymen lay there torn from limb to limb, and the sight was a sickening one to those passing by.

Sergeant William Auman--who would go on to serve under Teddy Roosevelt some thirty-five years later at San Juan Hill--further spoke of the action and discussed the death of Lieutenant Henry Clay Jackson, a one time teacher from St. Clair:

On the 12th, we had a hard fight on the ground we now occupy. Our regiment was in the thickest of the fight and lost heavily. Lieut. Henry Jackson was killed beside me. He was struck in the neck by a rifle ball. I helped to carry him out. He died while we were carrying him to the hospital. When he was struck he fell against me. I asked him where he was hit; he whispered, “I don’t know,” and then his head fell to one side, and I saw that he was dying. He never spoke again. The loss in the regiment was one hundred and thirty-seven killed, wounded, and missing.
We drove the enemy a mile, when we met the 13th Georgia Regiment. We completely annihilated that regiment, taking many prisoners and killing and wounding nearly all the rest. We then charged on the rebel works, but not being supported by the regiment on our right, and being exposed to a terrible cross fire from the lines of rifle pits and a battery, and were compelled to retire to the left into a wood. Here the left of the regiment was run close to the enemy’s earthworks, and a number of our men were shot. We fell back, formed line, and took position on the same ground we were on before we charged. Here we put up breastworks and have been fighting ever since. While I am writing, the bullets are whistling over my head, but as long as we do not expose ourselves, we are quite safe.”

A full listing of the 48th's casualties sustained 149 years ago on that bloody Thursday at Spotsylvania follows:

Killed/Mortally Wounded

Louis M. Robinhold, Company A
Isaac Otto, Company A
John J. Huntzinger, Company A
Charles A. T. St. Clair, Company A
Charles Abel T. St. Clair, Killed in Action
Sgt. William Kissinger, Company B, (Died 5/24)
Cpl. David J. Davis, Company B
Matthew Hume, Company B

Frederick Knittle, Company B
Laurentus C. Moyer, Company B
Daniel Wary, Company B
John Deitz, Company B
Michael Mohan, Company C, (Died 5/20)
Cpl. John Powell, Company F(Died 5/26)
Israel Manning, Company F
John Morrissey, Company F
Lewis Woods, Company F
Richard Williams, Company F
Andrew Wessman, Company F
Lieutenant Henry C. Jackson, Company G
Lt. Henry C. Jackson (standing, right), Killed in Action

James Spencer, Company G, (Died 5/31)
John Armstrong, Company G, (Died 7/1)
William Williams, Company G
Abraham Benscoter, Company H
Joseph Chester, Company H (Died 5/24)
Henry J. Ege, Company I
Henry J. Ege, Killed in Action

John W. Henn, Company K
Company A:

Sgt. Albert C. Huckey, Arm
Cpl. Charles Brandenburg, Knee
Cpl. Jacob Honsberger, Head (slight)
Morgan Leiser, Arm
Benjamin F.C. Dreibelbeis,  Arm (slight)
Charles Hillegas, Back

Company B:
Sgt. Thomas B. Williams, Concussion by Shell
Thomas B. Williams

Gottleib Shauffler, Wrist
David Deitz, Foot
John Brown, Head
Henry Shoppell

Company C:

William Neely, Left Leg
William J. Haines, Side
Murt Brennan
James Coakley

Company D:
 2nd Lieutenant H.E. Stichter, Back (slight)
Henry E. Stichter

Sgt. Henry Rothenberger, Shoulder

Henry E. Rothenberger

Cpl. Edward Lenhart, Arm
James Deitrick, Thigh and Hand (severe)
Botto Otto, Leg, Arm, and Toe
Perry L. Strausser,  Right Hand
George S. Beisel,  Leg
William F. Moyer, Shoulder
John Kohler, Chin
Jonas Miller, Arm
Joseph Zeigler, Shoulder
Patrick Cooligan,  Head (slight)
Andrew Knittle,  Leg
Gustavus H. Miller,  Leg
Henry D. Moyer, Side

Company E:

Sgt. John McElrath, Head
Cpl. William J. Morgan
James McLaughlin, Right Army
George W. Schaeffer
David Williams,  Foot (slightly)
W. Simmons, Arm
G.W. James,  Leg
W.C. James, Arm
James Meighan, Thumb
Robert Penman, Arm
Company F:
Sgt. Richard Hopkins, Hand (slight)
William E. Taylor, Hand
Anthony Carroll, Leg
William S. Wright
James Brennan, Abdomen
Henry Holsey,  Leg
William H. Kohler,  Back
John Eddy, Head
Jno. T. Reese, Arm
John Crawford, Head
A.H. Whitman, Leg

Company G:

Sgt. R.M. Jones, Head (slight)
Cpl. George Farne, Hand

George Farne

Patrick Cunningham
M. Berger, Left Arm
Clay W. Evans, Hand
Patrick Grant, Arm
William Maurer, Shoulder
John Kautter, Hand
Patrick Savage, Arm

Company H:
William Huber, Arm
Benjamin Koller, Arm (slight)
John Klineginna, Eye
Daniel Ohmacht, Arm (slight)

Daniel Ohnmacht

Albert Davis, Thigh
John Stevenson,  Groin
Michael Melarkee, Right Shoulder
Daniel Cooke, Foot
John Cruikshank, Hand
Michael O’Brien
Charles Focht

John Olewine, Hand
Joseph Edwards, Finger
Thomas Palmer, Leg

Company I:

Sgt. Luke Swain, Concussion of Shell, Arms, Legs
Sgt. Jacob Ongstadt, Head (slight)
Cpl. D. Klase, Thigh
Cpl. Wesley Knittle,  Hip
Charles Lindenmuth, Face

Charles Lindenmuth

Francis Boner, Leg
Charles Washington Horn,Both Legs and Hand
M. Dooley, Both Legs
W. Tyson, Concussion, Head
Charles DeLong, Hip

Company K:

Cpl. George Weaver, Breast
David R. Dress
Elias Fenstermaker, Finger
Thomas Fogarty, Finger
Henry Schulze, Body
Franklin Ely, Foot
Simon Hoffman, Foot
Andrew Webber,  Breast

Missing in Action
George Seibert, Company C
Edward Ebert, Company D
John D. Weikel, Company D
William Gottschall, Company E
George Kramer, Company F
Harrison Bright, Company H, Deserted, Returned 6/6/64
Michael Scott, Company H
Lewis Aurand, Company H, Deserted, Returned 6/6/64
James Wentzell, Company H
W.B. Beyerle, Company I
W.B. Shearer, Company I

1 comment:

Steve Taylor said...

what would be the punishment for the two individuals that deserted but returned the following month? any idea? Any info on the other MIA's? Andersonville, Libby or just never herd from again?