I first came across his name nearly twenty years ago. . . .
It was in the late '90s and I was back at home during one of my summer breaks from college. One day, I decided to take the short, eight-mile-drive from Orwigsburg to the Free Public Library in Pottsville to see what else I could discover about the life and services of General James Nagle. I already knew much about him--or at least I thought I did. General James Nagle--the house and sign painter and wallpaper hanger who in 1840 raised a volunteer militia company which he subsequently led in the Mexican-American War; General James Nagle--who, during the Civil War, organized and commanded no fewer than four regiments of volunteer infantry--including the 48th Pennsylvania--and who led a brigade at such fierce and fiery battles of 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. General James Nagle--who survived the horrors of war only to die of heart disease at age 44 in 1866 and whose remains lie buried in Pottsville Presbyterian Cemetery.
Yes, this part of Nagle's story I knew well; all the dates, the regiments, the orders of battle, and so on. So I went to Pottsville that day to see if I could find out more about this man--his family, perhaps, his home life. . . who he was as a person.
Pulling up a chair in front of one of those massive microfilm reader machines,I began scanning through the records of the 1850 Census. After searching through page after page--after page--I at last found what I was looking for, in the records for Pottsville's Northwest Ward, page 322, the entry for James Nagle and his family. I studied the entries, beginning at "Head of Household" at the top and then reading down the list of those who resided in the household, There was James Nagle, of course, age 28, a painter, with real estate valued at a decent and respectable $1,800; his wife, Elizabeth Nagle, age 29, and then their three children, Emma Nagle--their first born--age 7--five-year-old George Washington Nagle, and one-year-old James Winfield Nagle. But then, to my great surprise, I came across the next name, the next entry in the Nagle family household: Emerguildo Marquiz, age 11, born in Mexico. My curiosity was certainly piqued, and I sat there in silence wondering 'just who in the world was this Emerguildo?'
Knowing that Nagle had served in the Mexican-American War three years earlier, in 1847, as the commander of a company of Pennsylvania volunteers during General Winfield Scott's campaign from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, I naturally assumed that Nagle had essentially adopted this young child and returned with him to Pottsville where he raised him as one of the family. Naturally, though, I wanted to find out for certain. . .and this led me on a many years' long journey to discover more about this Mexican-born boy named Emerguildo.
|1850 Census Records for James Nagle and Family|
(Joseph Kaercher, also residing in the home, was the younger brother of Elizabeth)
And so I searched. . .
. . .and searched. . .
. . .and searched through all the records, coming up empty most of the time.
The thought crossed my mind that perhaps Emerguildo later served in the Civil War but I knew for a fact that I had never before come across his name while studying any of the rosters for the 48th Pennsylvania. But maybe he served in one of Nagle's other regiments.
Nagle's first command in the Civil War was the 6th Pennsylvania Infantry, a three-month regiment, which, from April to late July 1861 was assigned to General George Thomas's Brigade in General Robert Patterson's army in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
And there, in the ranks of the Llewellyn Rifles, which became Company G, 6th Pennsylvania, I saw it. . .not Emerguildo Marquiz, but an entry instead for an "M. Emrigeuldo." This had to be the same guy, I thought. Convinced now that he had served in the Civil War my next step was to contact the National Archives in Washington and request copies of his service records. Several weeks later, and hopeful that I had included enough possible variations of spellings for his name, a copy of Emerguildo's file arrived at my door. The records did much more than simply confirm that he did, indeed, serve as a private in the 6th Pennsylvania, for along with his service files for the 6th were those for when he served as a bugler in the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry. That was the first I discovered that Emerguildo had also served in the cavalry, and as a company bugler no less. Also in his service records was a letter written by James Nagle--I recognized his handwriting immediately. The letter was dated December 22, 1862, and by then Nagle was a a Brigadier General. "I have the honor to make application to have Emerguildo Marquis, Bugler in Captain White's Company 3rd PA Cavalry, detailed as bugler and orderly, for these Hd. Qrs.," the letter began. "He is a Mexican Boy that I brought along from Mexico. He was with me in the three months service, after that he enlisted in the Cavalry, and he is now desirous of joining me in some capacity, and I only have three mounted orderlies, and need a bugler at Head Quarters to sound the General Calls."
Nagle's request was granted and Emerguildo became a member of General Nagle's staff. I was struck by the fact that Emerguildo was a bugler. For me, this was most interesting, for the Nagle family was very much musically-inclined. In his younger days, James Nagle was a fifer; his brother Daniel was the drummer of the militia company James had organized and led off to Mexico, and his brothers Levi and Abraham were both musicians who would serve in the regimental band of the 48th Pennsylvania! Music must then have been an important part of the Nagle family upbringing and household.
I was thrilled with what I had discovered and especially that Emerguildo, whom Nagle had "brought along from Mexico" had served on the general's staff! I was still hoping to find out more, however, but for a long while the trail on Emerguildo went cold.
And it remained cold for some time.
|Civil War Service "Index Card" for Emerguildo "Marqueese," 3rd PA Cavalry|
(Courtesy of Pennsylvania State Archives)
It was now April 2007...and nearly ten years had already passed since I first came across that name, Emerguildo Marquiz. I was working at Antietam at that time and a very special visitor arrived to meet me at the Visitor Center: Mr. John Nagle, from North Carolina, a great-great grandson of General James Nagle. John and I had been in contact via mail and email for years prior to this, but this was the first time we had ever met. He brought along with him a number of old documents: letters, diaries, et cetera, all related in some way to James Nagle and I was quite simply blown away.
Included in the collection of paper items he had with him was Emerguildo's original discharge certificate. As I discovered, Emerguildo was discharged from the service on August 24, 1864, upon the expiration of his three-year term in the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry. The document also stated that Emerguildo has been born in Mexico, that he was twenty-six years of age, stood 5'1" in height, had a dark complexion, black eyes, and black hair. His occupation? Painter.
A painter, just like General James Nagle.
John had also brought along a handwritten account of James Nagle's service in Mexico, penned by the general's youngest daughter Kate, which at last answered the question about just where Emerguildo came from and how he ended up in Pottsville with the Nagle family.
"It was a long sad time for folks at home," wrote Kate, "but great rejoicing when word came that the war was over and the Army was waiting for orders to move; and greater was the joy when a telegram came saying Come to Philadelphia with the children to meet us. . . . A number of the wives of the Soldiers went to Philadelphia to meet their husbands. When they met them, they saw three persons who were not Soldiers, but little Mexican boys about 9 or 10 years of age. They were very small, dark skin, no shoes. . . .They learned to love the Soldiers, and when they broke Camp the little boys followed them (stole their way, so to speak). When they were discovered the Army was miles out of the City of Mexico. They would not go back. They were little orphans, and the Officers took charge of them and landed them at home in Pottsville. Captain [James] Nagle, Lieut. Simon Nagle, and Lieut. Frank B. Kaercher, each took a little Mexican boy to their homes. The one Captain Nagle cared for was, by name, Emerigildo Marquis, known as 'Marium.' He was treated as one of the family. He was sent to school, sent to learn a trade, Jeweler. He was away from home to work, but never forgot the family; he came home very often over the week ends. He lived to be about 45, grew up with the family. He loved Father & Mother Nagle, and the Children all loved him. He died at the Nagle home, about the year 1877."
I could hardly believe what I was reading. It felt like the end of long, long journey to be reading these words, written by General Nagle's own daughter about Emerguildo and confirming what I had initially assumed way back when I first came across Emerguildo's name: that Nagle must have brought him back from Mexico and raised him in Pottsville as one of his own; and now I knew that he must have also taught him music and the painter's trade. For me, it felt like quite the "discovery;" that I at last knew his story. Little did I know that just a few days later, I was to make yet another remarkable discovery about Emerguildo Marquiz.
Later that same week after meeting with John Nagle at Antietam, I took a trip up to Schuylkill County to visit my family and to gather some photographs of gravestones in Pottsville's Presbyterian Cemetery for a walking tour brochure I was just then putting together. As I wandered around the graveyard, I came across the grave sites of Daniel and Mary Nagle, General James Nagle's parents, who are buried next to two of the general's sisters, Eleanor and Elizabeth. Two of the four of these Nagle family headstones were knocked over, and a third was severely leaning. So I went home, waited for my dad to come home from work, and my sister from her classes at Lehigh University, and then, with my mom as well, we all grabbed some pry bars and shovels and headed up to the cemetery to do some repair work. We reset the stone that was leaning, lifted up and reset the two that had fallen down. But then I noticed it... at the foot of the grave of Nagle's sister's was a stone that was sunken deep into the ground. My sister started to remove the dirt and grass that was covering the stone, and soon it struck us all.
There inscribed upon the stone and underneath years of dirt and grass was the name "Emerguildo Marquis."
I had to sit down for a moment to process all of this. . .
In one week, in a just a few days, rather, his story was at last told and his grave "found." It's funny how some things work out this way.
As I then learned, Emerguildo passed away in 1880 at the much-too-young age of 42. He was buried along with the rest of the Nagle family, another testimonial to the fact that he was, indeed, considered a member of the family.
Of his Civil War service, Emerguildo was justly proud. In July 1862, while encamped at Harrison's Landing with the 3rd PA Cavalry, Emerguildo was shocked to read of his own death in an issue of Pottsville's Mining Record newspaper, and was infuriated, it seems, that the article had referred to him as a "servant" of company commander, Captain J. Claude White. He was determined to set the record straight in both respects, by writing to the editors of the Record's rival newspaper, the Miners' Journal:
"Harrison's Landing, Va, July 22d, 1862,
Editors Miners' Journal: I wish to state, that having read a copy of the Mining Record this evening, I was greatly surprised at seeing the statement of my death, and that I am a servant to Captain White. Both these statements are utterly false. I did not enlist to be a servant, except to the country of my adoption. I wish also to state, that servants generally do not go so close to the mouth of cannon as to incur the risk of being killed by balls from rebel guns. I would state, also, that the gallant Colonel Nagle never brought me to this country to be a slave, sooner than be which, I would go home again to my native country, and assist my brave countrymen to drive the French invaders from the soil.
The truth is, that Daniel Wehry, of Donaldson, a private in our Company, was killed by a solid shot, and that the Captain's horse was killed in the same shot.
alias The Young Mexican Bugler, of Co. L, 3d Penna. Cavalry"
The pictures below show me and my family helping to set the stones at the graves of the Nagle family in the Presbyterian Cemetery. including Emerquildo's.
The "Before" Picture. . .
(See the one at bottom right, buried in the ground?)
The Stone of Emerguildo Marquis
(Buried deep into the ground)
(The tall white monument in the background is the final resting place of General James Nagle)
And now, here we are, in November 2016. . .All of this was nearly a decade ago--reading that account of Emerguildo, locating his grave site. Of course, I wrote about all of this back then when it occurred; for me, personally, it was such an amazing story. I thought then that it had all been told. But still, in the back of my mind, there was another piece of this puzzle missing.
I could not help but think about what Emerguildo looked like. I naturally wondered if any photographs of Emerguildo existed and I had asked John Nagle on several occasions if he had ever seen any or if any even exist. He indicated that, yes, he believed there was a photograph. . . somewhere. He had seen it before, he was certain.
He would first have to look and see if he could find it. . .
And then, amazingly, about two weeks ago and out of the proverbial blue. . .I received a message from John:
He had found a picture of Emerguildo!
|The Soldier on the right is Emerguildo Marquiz; the young man on the left is General James Nagle's son, James Winfield Nagle, who was born in 1849. This photograph was likely taken between August 1861 and August 1864. Emerguildo is rather short (5'1") and appears to be holding gloves in his right hand. (Courtesy of John Nagle)|
After all these years. . .nearly twenty of them!...at last a photograph of Emerguildo, at last a chance to finally see what this Mexican-American Civil War soldier looked like.
For someone who has spent over 25 years studying the Civil War, and especially General Nagle, the 48th Pennsylvania, and especially its soldiers, there is nothing quite like a moment like this.
To Mr. John Nagle. . .thank you!