Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The 48th/150th: Back To The Front & Some Faces of the 48th. . .

150 years ago, and after a six-week's stay at Annapolis, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania received orders to break camp and take up the line of march toward Washington. With winter gone a new campaign had dawned and the regiment, composed now of a solid core of hard-fighting veterans and hundreds of green recruits, was heading back to the front. The 48th marched away from Annapolis on April 23, 1864, and, by the following night, had arrived within six miles of the nation's capital; falling out of ranks, the regiment encamped that night along the Bladensburg Road. The march was resumed at 9:00 o'clock next morning--Monday, April 25--and a few hours later, the 48th was parading through the city, down Fourteenth Street and past Willard's Hotel, on what was a "very hot day." Marching past Willard's the soldiers' heads turned and looking up, they could not help but notice a "number of distinguished men" standing on the balcony. Ambrose Burnside, their beloved corps commander was there, as was President Abraham Lincoln, who had ventured out that morning to review the 9th Corps as it marched through the city. "All day long tramped the men of the Ninth Corps," wrote regimental historian Oliver Bosbyshell, "their splendid bearing calling forth enthusiastic cheers from the thousands of people gathered to witness the pageant."
Having been reviewed by the Commander-in-Chief, the 48th Pennsylvania marched across the Long Bridge and once more entered the enemy soil of Virginia. Spending the night and the next day near Alexandria, the regiment resumed the march on April 27, covering some twelve miles before breaking ranks and camping at Fairfax Court House. Fourteen more miles were covered the following day--April 28--and on April 29, the regiment arrived at Bristoe's Station. There they were mustered for pay and, there, they would remain until "the fateful Fourth of May, the commencement of Grant's great campaign," as Bosbyshell noted. That great campaign--from the Wilderness, through Spotsylvania, to the North Anna and Cold Harbor, and south to Petersburg--would prove to be especially deadly to the 48th Pennsylvania. Spending a few last quiet days at Bristoe Station, the men had no way of knowing that within the next seven weeks, some 300 of them would be dead or wounded.

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Photographs From Annapolis
During the 48th's stay at Annapolis in March-April 1864, many of the soldiers--particularly the new recruits--took the time to get their photographs taken.
The following are six CDV images from my personal collection of 48th Pennsylvania soldiers taken by various photographers in Annapolis in the spring of 1864. . . .
Private George Betz--Company A
Betz enlisted in August 1862 at the age of 18; a few weeks later, he was wounded at Antietam. Betz returned to the regiment and had this image taken while at Annapolis. . . .

John Cochran--Company A
There were two John Cochran's in the ranks of Company A and I am not sure which of the two Cochran's is depicted here.

Lewis Smith--Company A
Smith was 18 years old when he enlisted on February 10, 1864. He stood 5'4" in height, had a Light Complexion, Gray Eyes, and Light Hair. By occupation, he was a "Laborer" who resided in Berks County.

Simon Snyder--Company A
Private Snyder had been with the regiment from the start, enlisting in September 1861. At the time of his enlistment, he was 20 years old, stood 5'8", with Dark Hair, Dark Eyes, and a Dark Complexion. He was a "Yeoman" by occupation.

Charles Abel T. St. Clair--Company A
Private St. Clair stood just 4'11" in height but this did not deter him from joining the 48th Pennsylvania in late February 1864 at the age of 19. Like many soldiers in Company A, he was a laborer from the Port Clinton/Tamaqua area.

Unidentified Soldier--48th Pennsylvania


These photographs allow us to see the real face of the American Civil War. . .young kids, proud and confident. And to illustrate the cost of war--and especially the price paid by the regiment during the Overland Campaign--within a matter of weeks after these pictures were taken three of these soldiers were dead: George Betz, mortally wounded at Petersburg, June 17, 1864; Simon Snyder, died June 16, 1864, of wounds received in action; and Charles A.T. St. Clair, killed May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania. The fate of the Unidentified soldier is, of course, unknown, but it must be noted that one of the John Cochran's listed on the roster of Company A was killed at Cold Harbor. Was it the same John Cochran pictured above? 

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