Saturday, June 12, 2021

A "New" Face of the Forty-Eighth: Corporal Henry W. Krater, Company I

Although it does not happen all too often, every now and then, I get to see a "new" face of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. A few weeks ago, was one of those "every now and then" moments. Checking my email, I was happy to see an email from a Great-Great-Great Grandson of Henry W. Krater, a corporal who served for the duration of the conflict in Company I. Krater was a lifelong resident of my small hometown of Orwigsburg. Because of this, and in addition to knowing his name from the regimental rosters, I many-a-time visited his gravesite in St. John's Church Cemetery, just a few blocks away from the house where I grew up. And now, after so many years, I got to see photographs of the man taken during and after the Civil War, to finally put a face to the name. 

Corporal Henry W. Krater
Company I, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry
(Courtesy of Mr. Mike Wynosky)

Born on April 9, 1837, in Orwigsburg, Henry Krater was a son of John Krater and Sarah Deibert Krater. He turned 24 just a few days before the Civil War's opening shots at Fort Sumter and in September 1861, he enlisted, along with a brother, Charles, into the ranks of Company I, 48th Pennsylvania. In height, he stood 5'7"; had a "Light" Complexion, Brown Eyes, and Dark Hair. His occupation was identified as cigar maker. He was married--having wed Catherine Slenker--sometime prior to the outbreak of war, and had, at the time of his enlistment, at least one child, a one-year-old son named Clinton Morris Krater. Another son, born in December 1864, would be given the impressive name of Preston Sherman Burnside Krater, his middle two names were presumably in honor of two of Henry's favorite generals. 

Henry Krater returned home to Orwigsburg following his enlistment and remained there for the rest of his very long life. He and his wife had six more children in the years after the war; their final child, a daughter named Bertha Mae was born in 1881 and lived 95 years, passing away in 1977. 

A member of the Gowen G.A.R. Post, Henry Krater was active in veterans' affairs and would be a regular attendee at the annual reunions held by the survivors of the 48th Pennsylvania. He led a long life and was active, according his obituary, up until the date of his death. On April 11, 1926, Henry was visiting his son, John, at John's home on West Market Street, Orwigsburg. Sometime during the visit, while in the backyard, the aged Civil War veteran suffered a sudden stroke, collapsing to the ground. Borne inside, Henry died at 10:30 a.m. the following day, April 12, 1926--the 65th Anniversary of the Civil War's opening shots at Fort Sumter. Henry Krater was 89. 

A large and impressive funeral was held to honor his life; in attendance were seven Civil War veterans--including two of his former comrades from Company I, 48th PA, Jacob Gongloff and Thomas J. Reed. The Civil War veterans were chauffeured in automobiles. Spanish-American War veterans also attended in good number, and present also was Orwigsburg's Liberty Band. A longtime member of Saint John's Church, Henry W. Krater was laid to rest with full military honors in the church's cemetery on Washington Street, the same cemetery where, coincidentally, lay the remains of the very first soldier of the 48th Pennsylvania to die during the Civil War--William Millet--who died at age 20 in September 1861, and who had been buried 65 already years prior to the internment of Krater. Upon his death, Henry W. Krater left behind seven children, forty grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

My thanks go out to Mr. Mike Wynosky for reaching out to me and for sending along the images of Henry Krater. It is always great to finally put a face to the name.  

Post-War Image of Henry W. Krater
(Courtesy of Mike Wynosky) 


The Grave of Henry W. Krater (left) and his wife, Catherine,
who preceded him in death by eleven years.
St. John's Cemetery, Orwigsburg
(Image from