logoReminiscences of Schuylkill Haven

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Reminiscences of Schuylkill Haven in the Civil War.


Read before the Historical Society by ISAAC PAXSON, November 24th, 1909



This history of some of the events that transpired in Schuylkill Haven during the Civil war of our country, will I think, clearly show that its citizens took quite an active part in that momentous portion of its history. It is mainly derived from a diary which I have kept for over a half century, and which included that period of time. On that account it is somewhat personal and the pronouns I had to be used, oftener than would be seemly in an ordinary description, without its being thought egotistical.

Upon April 13th, 1861 the citizens of Schuylkill Haven were startled by tile news that the Secessionists of the Southern States had besieged and were firing upon Fort Sumpter. The following day, April 14th, which was Sunday, I was at the P. & R. depot in the evening, and found there a very large and excited crowd, who were awaiting the arrival of the evening passenger train in order to hear the news. The telegraph was then comparatively in its infancy, and very little news could be heard through that source. The news brought was, that Major Anderson still held the fort, and that he had silenced the batteries of the Secessionists on Sullivan Island and that five hundred of them had been killed; which would have been very encouraging had it been true; but it proved to be the first of the many fakes in regard to the war, which were received afterward from time to time, until its close.

This event and others that followed soon afterward, aroused the war spirit of the community; and on April 20th following, a flag was raised upon the P. & R. car shops at the Mine Hill Crossing by the hands working there, and in the afternoon of that day two of the shop hands, John K. Wertz and Jacob Strauser, and a number of other citizens who had enlisted under the call of President Lincoln for 75,000 volunteers for three months service, started in a train for Washington, and there was quite a large crowd at the depot when they started, to whom addresses were made by Dr. D. W. Bland, and Rev. L.B. Beckley.

On May 4th, 1861, a number of citizens of the of the town amongst which was the writer, assembled in the Armory, which was located in a large room in the second story of the building at the South end of the P. & R. railroad bridge, and decided to form a military company. They had been meeting there for some time for the purpose of drilling in military tactics, under the leadership of Wallace Guss, but as yet had not enrolled a regular company. At this time they were enrolled, and an election being held D. B. Holmes was elected as Captain, Wallace Guss, First Lieutenant, and Jared Berger, as Second Lieutenant.

This company never entered the service as a company, but a number of its members enlisted in other companies and took an active part the war. The Captain, D. B. Holmes, a tall soldierly looking man, was appointed Captain of a company of colored Soldiers, and served to the end of the war, taking an active part in the Siege of Petersburg, VA. After the mine which the miners of the 48th Regiment of Schuylkil1 County Volunteers had made under the fortifications of that place, had been exploded, and the large breach, since called the Crater, was made, it was said that he marched his company into the fort in a very bold and determined manner, but as they were not properly sustained, they as well as the others had to march quickly out again. Captain Holmes, who was for several years a neighbor of the writer, and a very close friend, informed rite that his colored soldiers were very much attached to him and would obey him very promptly if he would ask them to do anything for him, and as an instance he related an incident that occurred at the close of the war. It became necessary for him to take his company across a ferry in Virginia, and the man in charge being a southern man refused to permit them to cross, declaring that he was not going to ferry a lot of ------- niggers across the stream. The Captain spoke to several of his men by name and told them to pitch that fellow into the water. It was no sooner said than done, and when he swam to shore he was ready to take them over, though they were niggers. Wallace Guss, who was elected as First Lieutenant, was engaged in the banking business in Tamaqua after the war, became a Major in the National Guard of the State, and to the end of his life, took a very active part in military affairs.

On May 22nd. 1861, the body of George Schreck, one of the three months Volunteers was brought to Schuylkill Haven from Washington, where he had died. He was the first of the soldiers from Schuylkill Haven who laid down their life in the Union cause. He was buried in the Union Cemetery, and the funeral was largely attended. At a meeting of citizens, a committee was appointed to draw up resolutions of condolence to be sent to the family. He was a young unmarried man, a son of Peter Schreck, a carpenter at the P. & R. car shop. His brother, B. F. Schreck, has for many years been one of the leading foremen in the large P. & R. Car Shop at Reading.

On May 25th 1861, a flag was raised at the home of Michael Bassler, who lived on the highest point on St. John's Street, which caused the flag to be readily seen from most all points of the town. Addresses were made upon this occasion by Rev. L. B. Bechley, and Rev. Best, and the band after playing several patriotic airs, played the Dead March, in honor of Col. Elmer Elsworth, whose tragic death had but recently occurred at the Marshall House in Alexandria, Va. On June 27, 1861, a pole 115 feet in height, surmounted with an eagle and a wooden cannon pointing south, was raised on the railroad, at a point directly opposite the Car Shops, by the hands who were working there, assisted by the railroad hands working around the Mine Hill Crossing. On July 4th, following at 8 a. m., a large flag was hoisted to the top of this pole, in the presence of a crowd of railroad and shop men, as well as other citizens. Patriotic addresses were made by Rev. P. Willard, Wallace Guss, and John W. Koons, and the Declaration of Independence was read by Dr. D. W. Bland. At that time Dr. Bland resided in Schuylkill Haven, but for many years after the war, in which he took a part, he lived and practiced his profession in Pottsville. On July 13th a flag was raised upon the Car Shops at the Navigation Landing, and appropriate addresses made by Rev. G. H. Latimer and W. H. Field.

On July 22nd the news of the defeat of our army at Manassas Junction, Va., was received, and caused a feeling of depression, as owing to the optimistic view that every one had taken of the situation, nothing of the kind was anticipated. On July 25, 1861, a number of the three month volunteers, whose time had expired, came home in the evening passenger train. The neat day as a salute was being fired from an old cannon, it exploded, severely injuring David McKinney about the eyes. It was at first thought that he would lose his sight, but in time he completely recovered and was none the worst for the accident.

On Aug. 14,1861, Company C of the 50th Regiment, Capt. Daniel F. Berghart in command, started for Harrisburg. This company served all through the war, and was in many hard fought battles; some of the men were killed in battle, others died from sickness caused by the hardships they had to endure, and a number of them were nearly starved to death in the Andersonville prison pen.

On Aug. 1, 1862, a meeting in regard to the war was held in St. Paul's church on Dock St. Sch. Haven, at which patriotic addresses were made by Hon. James H. Campbell who was the member of Congress from this district, and by two of Pottsville's patriotic lawyers, John Barman and Lin Bartholomew. On Aug. 8, 1862, a train of soldiers started for the seat of war, from Pottsville, Minersville and Sch. Haven. The following day a lot of new recruits from Sch. Haven also started with some soldiers from Ashland. Before leaving the citizens gave them a dinner upon a long table alongside of Wm. B. Levan's store on St. John Street.

In the early part of September 1862, Gen. Lee detached Stuart's cavalry of 1500 men to cross the State line and carry the war into the North. In doing so, they advanced as far as Chambersburg, at which place they destroyed a large amount of army supplies, paroled 275 sick and wounded soldiers that they found in the Hospital there, and burned the railroad machine shop and several trains of loaded cars, destroyed 5,000 muskets and a large amount of army clothing, and then returned to Virginia to join Lee's army. The news of this raid stirred up the citizens of Sch. Haven, and as the war seemed to be getting pretty near home, they thought it was time to be doing something more than simply reading in the newspapers what was going on in the South. Therefore on Sept. 6, 1862, a meeting of the citizens of the town was called to meet at Koon's Hotel on the Southwest corner of Main and St. John Street to arrange for carrying out the advise in Gov. Andrew G. Curtain's proclamation, in which lie advised all citizens of a proper age to meet and form companies, to be drilled in the manual of arms so that they might be prepared to defend the State in a case of emergency.

In order to carry out this request of the Governor, on Sept., 9, at 4 p.m. seventy persons enrolled themselves into a company, and were drilled in army movements for two hours on St. John Street, by Captains Henry Hesser and Charles Leader, both of whom had considerable experience; in military tactics. On Sept. 12, this company was again drilled at the same place and at the same hour in the afternoon, and in the evening of that day, met at the Hotel, and a company was enrolled for service. Lewis Huntzinger was elected as Captain, and Joshua Heiser as First Lieutenant. These officers were changed later by electing Charles Leader as Captain, as he seemed to be more suitable to command, because he had served as a soldier in the war with Mexico. Lewis Huntzinger was then elected First Lieutenant, and Joshua Heiser Second Lieutenant. The writer's brother, Jonathan Paxson was a member of this company, and I find noted in my diary that it contained about 100 men, and that on Sept., 16, 1862, they, with companies from Pottsville Minersville, and Tremont, left Sch. Haven in six cars for Harrisburg, and that there was a large crowd present at the depot to see them start. The services of this company did not seem to be needed as they arrived home about daylight of the morning of Sept. 26, and after parading through the town and awakening its sleepy citizens, it was disbanded.

Stuart's raid, gave the people of the State a great scare, but it was soon over, and things soon settled down to their normal condition. But in the following June, 1863, General Lee's army of one hundred thousand men entered the Southeastern part of the State, and in their march destroyed, turnpike and railroad bridges cut telegraph wires, and levied contributions on the country through which they passed, for the support of their army. It was said, however, that General Lee had given orders to them not to destroy or damage private property, and it was pretty generally obeyed. Their Cavalry reached the Susquehanna river at Wrightsville, opposite Columbia, and destroyed the long bridge connecting the two places.

This was the situation in Pennsylvania when on the night of June 3oth, 1863, a meeting of the citizens of Sch. Haven convened at Koons' Hotel and addresses were made by P. C. Detweiler, Wallace Guss and a stranger who had come from Marietta, Pa. To urge the importance of their doing something for the defense of the State, as he said that Lee's army was heading this way, and that probably one of their objects in doing so was that they might cripple our navy's supply of coal. At this meeting resolutions were adopted calling for the organization of a company for the defense of the State who would serve three months, or during the emergency. There was a large attendance at this meeting, as on account of the invasion of the State, the bells in town had been rung as an alarm during the day which caused much excitement. Following the speeches quite a number of those present were enrolled as members of a company, the writer being one of the number.

The following day State Senator W. F. Randall, who was a graduate of the West Point Military Academy, with a few followers, marched through the streets of the town with a drum and fife, soliciting recruits for the company, and as nearly all business had been stopped in view of the danger, a full company of men was soon enrolled ready to join Gen. Church's division, whose headquarters were at Harrisburg. On July 1, this company paraded through the streets of the town a while in the evening, and in the following evening July 2, they met at the hotel for the purpose of electing their officers, and Wm. F. Randall was elected Captain, John W. Coho , First Lieutenant, and Henry T. Hein, Second Lieutenant. On the evening of July 3rd the company assembled at the hotel and were addressed by Charles Pitman and Benj. Heywood, the one being an ex-Congressman from this district, and the other the proprietor of a large Rolling Mill at Palo Alto. Gideon Bast, one of the large coal operators and a citizen of Sch. Haven, having presented the company one hundred dollars, it was decided that they should be called the Bast Guards, in his honor. This sum with additional funds contributed by others who could not see their way clear to enter active service was later distributed by F. C. Zulich the superintendent of the canal, who acted as Treasurer, giving each man five dollars.

On the morning of July 4th 1863, the company were assembled in Main Street front of Washington Hotel, to await the arrival of the train that was to take them to Reading, a crowd being present to see them start. Before starting, Capt. Randall was presented with a sword from the citizens in a neat speech by John W. Koons. The sword was received in his behalf by Judge F. B. Walker. A flag was at the same time presented to the company, by Rev. P. Willard, of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, who spoke for the donors, the ladies of Sch. Haven. It was received in behalf of the company by Captain W. A. Field, who was a member of the company, and who made a very feeling address in reply to Rev. Willard. After these presentations, the company was marched for a considerable distance up Main Street, and then back again to the P. & R. depot, and after bidding good bye to friends we boarded the train bound for Reading.

After the company had been seated in the cars and before starting, a telegram that had just been received was handed in and read, which stated that the Army of the Potomac (whose movements had been concealed from the public for a few days) had been fighting Lee's army at Gettysburg, and that the latter had peen defeated with heavy loss and was in retreat with our army pursuing. Upon the receipt of this news, three cheers were given with a hearty good will, and as this cheering news changed the aspect of affair, and as we had Jonnie Martz and some other jovial fellows in the company with us our ride to Reading was a pleasant one. Upon our arrival at the Franklin Street Depot in Reading, we were formed in line and marched to the Fair grounds which was at that time near the Berks County Prison, at the foot of Mount Penn, at which place we found a number of other companies encamped. After taking our dinner in the Fair ground building we strolled around the camping ground until 2 p.m. when we were formed in line, and holding up our hands we were mustered into the service of the State for 90 days; or during the emergency. In doing this, the mustering officer, a prominent citizen of Schuylkill County, came near giving us a longer service, for instead of saying 90 days he said 90 months, but as hands dropped, and objections were raised, he quickly corrected it. After being sworn into the service we were marched southward along the Turnpike for the distance of about a mile to our camping grounds, but as we had not yet received our teats, and it was raining, we were marched back to the Fair ground building, where we were enable to keep dry, and where we bunked for the night. During the afternoon a dispatch was posted up in Reading from Gen. Meade to Gen. Halleck at Washington, telling him of his victory at Gettysburg, and in confirmation of this news two cars of prisoners arrived at the Franklin Street Depot in charge of Capt. Jones' company of Auburn. Our camp at the Fair ground was called Camp Hiester.

On July 5th, it was warm and showery, and as discipline was not very strict, the members of the company were permitted to wander around at will. My tent mates were Wm. A. Field, Wm. F. Moody, Morgan Saylor and our Orderly Sergeant, Harry J. Stager. As it was Sunday we all, with the exception of the latter, walked to Reading in order to go to church, and hear whatever news there was from the seat of war. After hearing the news, which was very cheering, we went to St. Peters M. E. Church, and heard a very good sermon on the topics of the day by Rev. Meredith. After the dismissal, Mr. Moody who was well acquainted with the preacher, introduced the party to him, and he received us very cordially and invited us to go home with him to dinner. We thanked him but declined, as we had plenty of bean soup and hard tack at our camp. Mr. Moody requested him to come to our camp in the afternoon and preach, with which request he complied. The night of July 5th was again spent in bunking in the large building in the Fair ground, and having received our blankets we were quite comfortable and had a refreshing sleep. On the morning of July 6th, we were marched to Camp Muhlenberg on the Turnpike, about one and a half miles south of Reading, where several thousand soldiers were encamped in the fields on both sides of the roads, and in one of these fields we erected our tents, and commenced to live in true the soldier style, as Company I., 39th Regiment, P. V. We had no particular duties to perform the first day, but attended a dress parade at six p.m. and in the evening a party of us gathered around Capt. Randall's tent and had music and singing until it was time to retire to our tents for the night, our beds being our blankets spread upon the broad bosom of mother earth, where we slept soundly until morning.

The forenoon of July 7 was hot and foggy, and I with several others took a walk to a woods back of our encampment where there was a fine spring of cold water, and a house near by where some of the head officers were quartered. In the afternoon we were marched to Reading where we were given our rifles and accouterments and were then marched back again to the camp, fully equipped as soldiers. At six p.m. there was a dress parade, and when drawn up in line which extended a long ways, each Company received an account of the surrender of Vicksburg, read their respective Captains, and there was great cheering along the whole line. In the evening I made out a roll book for the use of Orderly Stager.

In the morning of July 8th it was raining pretty hard, and during the day 1 walked to Reading and visited at my uncle, L. B. Paxson's, and had dinner there, and from there went to Boas' hat store on Penn St., and purchased a gum cap to cover my head and neck in rainy weather, thinking it would be rather inconvenient to carry an umbrella when marching. I had previously purchased a gum blanket, and 1 found them all very serviceable, as there were a great many heavy rains during the time we were out. At six p.m. our regiment left the camping ground and marched to the upper depot at Reading, where we found an engine attached to a lot of freight cars waiting to take us to Harrisburg. After boarding the train we had an all night ride which was not a very comfortable one, though the writer having walked around a good bit of the day was tired and managed to sleep the most of the way by spreading a blanket down on the floor of the car in which he was riding and lying on it. Being a natural sleepy head, the noise that the boys around me made during the night did not effect me any. We arrived safely at Harrisburg just as it was getting daylight. At that place two of the men of the Regiment were caught between the cars as they were being shifted to a siding. One of the men was Ben Wade, the old Pottsville constable, but the other was unknown to the writer. After changing there to another train, we were taken to Carlisle, arriving there about 7 a.m. July 9th. The weather was pleasant and we had to lie here for another train until 2 p.m., and thus had ample time to look around the town. At that hour we boarded a train bound for Shippensburg, arriving there about 4 p.m. and the Regiment was marched to a clover field upon a hill a short distance from the town and opposite Gen. Church's headquarters. In this field an encampment was laid out and we pitched our tents, and had a much pleasanter rest during the night than we had the previous night in moving freight cars.

The morning of July l0th proved to be clear and very hot, and it was also very hot during the day. At Shippensburg we found the end of our car riding, as from that point the Cumberland Valley, so far as railroads were concerned, was a complete ruin. Everywhere that we went we found the tracks torn up. The sills had been placed in piles at short distances apart, and after the rails had been placed upon these piles they were set on fire, and the heat twisted the rails and rendered them unfit for further use. Pretty early in the forenoon our tents were struck, and we commenced our march down the valley passing through the main street of Chambersburg, with band playing patriotic tunes, colors flying, and with guns on our shoulders. With our baynots glistening in the sun, no doubt the citizens lining the sidewalks as we passed, thought we looked like soldiers. At least we tried to make them think so. In taking the route that we did we were following Lee's army down the valley but were not very close to them; and not anxious to get very much closer.

Towards evening, after having rested at three different places during the march, we reached a woods upon an elevation about two miles outside of Chambersburg, where a part of Lee's army had been encamped a short time before. They had not left the place in a very clean condition, as we found a number of old shoes, blankets, etc. lying around. They appeared to have left in a hurry and so did not have time to spare to clean up much. But we had to clean up and make the best of it, and had a good night's rest. In the evening a deserter from the rebel camp was brought into our lines, who I have no doubt was glad to get into such a decent hooking crowd. The following day was spent in these woods in drilling, cleaning up our accouterments, washing our clothes etc. After supper the regiment received marching orders, and was marched to another woods about three and a half miles distant from Chambersburg.

The writer did not accompany the regiment upon this march, and hereby hangs a tale, or perhaps two tales, as a further relation may show. The writer and seven others were detailed to go with the Quartermaster of the regiment, to act as a guard to the baggage wagons which were still at Chambersburg and were to be taken to the new camping ground. The writer, upon learning this was congratulating himself as to what a nice easy tithe he was going to have in riding in the baggage wagons while the other poor fellows had to walk, when the Quartermaster who had the hides of two steers which had been killed in the afternoon, to sell and had to provide some way to get them there, asked Isaac Ebert and the writer to carry them to the tan yard at Chambersburg, and as we had plenty of time to get there before the wagons would start we agreed try do it, hoping to be amply rewarded. So getting a rail from a nearby fence, we hung the two hides, tails and all over it and proceeded on our march, each putting an end of the rail upon our shoulders. As it was a hot night, and as the longer we went the heavier the hides appeared to get we were forced to stop frequently and rest: but we finally got to the tan yard, where we found the Quartermaster waiting for us. By this time it was so late that the owner of the tannery had gone to bed, but we aroused him and told him what we wanted and he came down, weighed the hides, and gave the Quartermaster his pay. After this we were taken to a near by saloon by the Quartermaster and treated with a glass of porter for cur reward, and which proved to be so beneficial to the writer after his strenuous march, that it has not been needful to take any beverage of that nature since that time. After these proceedings I and the other guards mounted the wagons, which arrived at our new camping grounds at 11 p. m., and after helping to unload one of the wagons, and to cut some growing oats in a nearby field for the horses, we were discharged from further duty for the day.

On the morning of July 12th, whilst a prayer meeting was being held by some of the soldiers under a large tree, marching orders were given, which put an end to the meeting. All tents were quickly taken down and everything was ready to march, when the orders were countermanded; and we had to erect our tents again. I could never imagine why the orders were given at that particular time unless it was for the purpose of teaching us that it was necessary for soldiers to watch as well as pray. On July 14th we left this camping ground about 8 a. m. and were marched through a hilly country and over a rough road, and had to ford some of the small streams, as the bridges had been torn up a short time before by Lee's soldiers as they were on their retreat from Gettysburg.

On this march the whole of Gen.. Church's division was being moved southward, and was reviewed by him and his staff from the veranda of a comfortable looking residence, a short distance from the road that we were marching over. It was an exceedingly hot day, and we were being pushed along pretty rapidly, and as the soldiers saw no cause for being in such a hurry they made some rather ugly remarks against the officers, and some of them were heard by the writer to say that if the officers had been marching with us instead of sitting in a shady place looking on, we would probably be marching somewhat slower and taking rests oftener. On account of the extreme heat water in the canteens was soon exhausted, and wherever there was a pump along the road there was a crowd waiting to get a drink of water. As the line kept moving on, those waiting for a drink would lose their places and the road was full of stragglers, some of them walking alone, and others lying down along a fence or some shady spot taking a rest. The writer on account of the extreme and drinking so much water, was not in very good condition to keep up with the others, and Capt. Randall seeing this; came to me and taking my musket he handed me his sword saying that it would lighten my load some; so from being a high private, I became a Captain on sight, something in the same style that President Taft was made a Freemason.

After marching over a very round about road for 18 or 20 miles, which had been rendered necessary in order to avoid crossing the larger streams, where the bridges had been destroyed, we finally arrived at our new camping ground, which was situated upon a hill at the bottom of which there was a very fine stream of water, where we could bathe and refresh ourselves after the long hot march. And it was not long before the stream was full of soldiers. This ground was one and a ball miles north of Greencastle, and it was getting dark when we arrived there. Whilst at this camping ground our fellow member of the Historical Society, Dr. Edward Heiser, was called upon to exhibit his skill in curing a very valuable black horse from a New York Battery that had become useless on account of being paralyzed, and which the Col. of our regiment seemed to have taken pity on. He urged the Doctor not to let him die, who said he wouldn't, and was as good as his word, for after using his remedy the horse was as good as ever. At the same place two sorrel horses which had been captured from the rebels, and which had probably teen taken from some farmer along their line of march, became sick, and he was again called on. After they were cured he and Jonnie Martz used them for driving around for forage. As Lee's army had passed through that part of the country a short time before, they probably had a different task, but as Colonel Martz, as he was generally called, was along, no doubt they got all that there was to be had, as he was not the kind of man that would be backward in asking. To confirm this idea it is only necessary to say that after the war was over, in which he served. faithfully, he moved to Philada. Where he engaged in business, in which he accumulated a fortune, and was for several years a prominent leader in politics in that city. He died comparatively young, and the writer attended the funeral in Sch. Haven, where his body was brought for burial. and at which many citizens were present to pay their last respects.

On July 15 the weather was clear and not so hot, and A. A. Hesser, Charles Kauffman, and I walked to Greencastle, and inspected the town and made some purchases. We had company drill during the day and dress parade in the evening, and before retiring several of us went to the creek to bathe. July 16 was clear and hot, and to while away the time, W. A. Field and I took a walk to a neighboring farm house, and thinking that a change of diet would be a good thing, we asked them for something to eat, but all they could furnish us was some crackers and milk, as that was about the only thing that Lee's soldiers had left for them when passing that way, as they also seemed to want a change of diet. After eating our lunch we went to a large shade tree in the yard, under which there was a fine spring of water and, lying on the grass, we lingered there for some time, as we found it to be a very comfortable place on a hot day. Whilst there we heard loud cheering at the camp ground, caused as we afterward learned by the presence of Gov. Curtin, who made an address to the soldiers.

After our return to camp about three p.m. we were again ordered to prepare for marching, and as it was 90 degrees in the shade, that was quite a serious matter, especially if we had to march any great distance, as with our baggage and accouterments, each one had to carry what would be a respectable load for a mule. In this case however we were pretty lucky, as we marched only a short distance to a very pretty woods with a running stream of water on the opposite side of the road from the ,woods, which proved to be very handy for our morning ablutions. This camp ground was situated about one mile south of Greencastle, and we found that it also had been used as a camping ground by Gen. Lee's soldiers. but was in a much cleaner condition than the woods in which we encamped near Chambersburg. We heard some cannonading during the afternoon towards Williamsport, Md., but as we knew that the whole Confederate army was heading southward, and not likely to return before morning, after Orderly Stagers and I went to a farm house for straw with which to make our bed, we turned in for the night, and slept soundly until morning.

The soldiers while in camp were always eager to hear the news, and on July 17th the news received was quite cheering, as Fort Hudson on the Mississippi had been captured by our forces; Lee's army had crossed the Potomac in their retreat, and in the evening word was received that Fort Sumpter had been recaptured from the enemy, which news was received with a great deal of enthusiasm, and our Colonel James H. Campbell, who was an eloquent speaker, made an address to the camp, and the band played several patriotic airs.

On July 19th there was an inspection of arms at 9 a. m., which had been all right, if we did not have m make so much preparation for it by scouring our muskets, cleaning our clothes, and old shoes etc., as we were expected to be in proper trim. At 11 a. m. a party of us went to meet the 27th Regt., which had just arrived from Hagerstown to join our encampment, and in which were a number of Sch. Haven and Cressona friends, Senator Luther R. Keefer, of Cressona, being one of the number. Stover's Spring, which we had previously visited, seemed to be such a pleasant place, that D. B. Holmes and I went there in the afternoon, where we met John K. Wertz, one of the Car Shop men. who had enlisted for the second time, and belonged to one of the Cavalry regiment. As it was Sunday, we and several other, were invited by the Stover family to spend the afternoon with them, which we accepted, and spent the time very pleasantly in singing and conversation, and having been provided with an excellent supper by Mr. Stover's three interesting daughters, we returned to camp and listened to a Sermon delivered by Rev. Austin, the Chaplain of the 27th Regiment.

The morning of July 20th was clear and warm. The forenoon was spent by me in walking a mile or two down the Hagerstown turnpike, and in the afternoon we had company drill, and a brigade review and dress parade. On July 21st., the 27th Regiment left our camping ground at 1 p. m. During July 22nd I visited a farm in the vicinity of our camp, where a party of men were unloading, grain at the barn, and I had quite an interesting conversation with them. They were hauling their load with a little brown mare that was in very poor condition and had a wound over her eye. Confederate General Jenkins had given her to them in place of their four good farm horses which he had confiscated. He no doubt considered that he was making a fair trade, in consideration of the fact that the little mare had the honor of being a General's riding horse and had smelled the smoke of battle, as well as being wounded. On the evening of July 25th, our company was placed on camp guard, but as a very heavy rain came up pretty soon after being placed on duty, and there being no enemy in sight, we were called in, and retired to our tents until 4 a. m. on the following day, when we were called and told to report at the guard house. Here we remained until 8:30 a. m., when we were placed at our respective places as camp guards, and kept the enemy from invading the camp, until 9 a. m. when we were relieved from duty by the new guard, and voted the officers in charge as very benevolent and sensible fellows, for if they had kept us on guard all night in the heavy rain, it would 'have been neither very pleasant nor healthy.

July 26th, the day we finished our guard duties, was clear and pleasant, and Henry G. Schultz, Solomon Barr, and Wm. Saylor from Sch. Haven visited their friends at the camp. In the afternoon W. A. Field and I visited some of the other Regiments on our camping ground and listened to sermons preached by the Chaplains of the 35th and 45th Regiments. July 27th, was clear and hot with showers, and our company were placed on police duty in the morning until 10 o'clock, when on account of the rain we were relieved, and went to our tents, where remained until noon. It having cleared off after dinner, my tent mate, Mr. Field, and I took a walk down the turnpike for some distance where we purchased some butter at a farm house, and had some blackberry pie and milk. When we returned to camp, another surprise awaited us, as we; found everything packed up ready for marching, but the marching orders were countermanded and so we settled down again and got ready for dress parade. This incident caused comrade Field to remark that there was one thing about soldier life which he did not like and that was, THAT YOU NEVER KNEW BEFOREHAND WHERE YOU WERE GOING, NOR WHEN YOU WERE GOING.

Receiving marching orders after morning drill of July 29th., which was clear and warm, we commenced to strike tents and pack up, when it was found that Mr. Field was missing, and I was sent out hastily to hunt him up. Having walked for quite a distance to Mr. Shanks, where we had been a few days before for blackberry pie and milk, and not finding him there as I expected, I hurried as fast as I could travel, back to the camp ground, and found that another fellow had been left besides Mr. Field, as there was neither a tent, nor soldier to be found there. Being a pretty fast walker, and not troubled with any baggage or accoutrements, which my tent mates had very kindly taken care of in my absence, I rejoined the company before they had quite reached Greencastle; and as Mr. Field joined the Company at the latter place, we both escaped being shot as deserters.

We marched through Greencastle and then along a very pleasant road until we came to a woods upon the farm of Alexander K. McClure, who was at that time a State Senator and a very close friend of President Lincoln's. Shortly after arriving at these woods where we encamped, it commenced to rain very heavily, and the woods being on low ground, and near a large creek which was likely to overflow, a party of us took shelter in the Colonel's large barn, where we kept dry and comfortable, and where we remained until the rain was over at six o'clock in the evening. My tent mates and some others engaged our supper at Col. McClure's tenant house and spent the evening there in conversation and singing, and then slept on the floor until morning. The Mansion House, which was a very fine one, and several of the other buildings were later destroyed by the enemy's cavalry in one of their raids. After getting our breakfast at the farm house of Col. McClure on the morning of July 31st, which proved to be very pleasant after the rain of the day before, we joined the other soldiers at the Camp ground, and soon afterward we received marching orders and started on our way to Chambersburg, where we were to wait for transportation to take us home.

As there were no cars at Chambersburg on our arrival there, we strolled around the town during the day, except when we were taking a nap or loafing in the shade, and when eveing came we laid down wherever convenient places were to be found, wondering what was the matter with the officials of the railroad that they were so slow about sending us a train to take us home. It was a fine moonlight night and a number of us went into the yard of the Catholic church, which was also a burial place and spreading our blankets upon the lawn, we slept there until 12 p. m. at which time an engine and train of cars arrived, and after our regiment the 39th, and the 37th, had got on board we started for Harrisburg. We passed through Carlisle at daybreak, arriving at Harrisburg at 7:30 a. m., and were marched to a field lying between the city and Camp Curtain, at which place we, to use the words of the poet pitched our roving tents, one day's march nearer home.

By this time, Aug. 1st had arrived and with it some very hot weather. After we were fairly settled in our new camping ground, W. A. Field. W. F. Moody, Morgan Saylor, A. A. Hesser and I were directed to go to a hotel in Harrisburg and copy the muster roll of the company, which in the arduous campaign that we had passed through, had been badly damaged. After performing this duty we had our supper at the hotel, which was paid for by Capt. Randall. Before being sent there, we handed our guns and accouterments over to Uncle Sam's care, in good condition and were exceedingly glad to get rid of them. On Aug. 2nd. it was clear and very hot, and after breakfast at camp where we were supplied with fresh bread instead of hardtack, we spent the day in various ways, in trying to keep comfortable, until 3 p.m. at which time company was called together and mustered out of service. The morning of Aug. 3rd., was clear, and the day was very hot, and after breakfast in camp we were marched to Camp Curtain, where we delivered up our knapsacks, canteens, blankets etc., and then were marched to the Capitol grounds, where we laid around in the shade all day and part of the evening waiting for our pay. As our soldiers rations had been stopped at 3 p. m. the company went to the Brady House in the evening where they had been provided with an excellent supper by Captain Randall. As Harrisburg was thronged with returning soldiers at the time, who were to be paid off, our turn was not reached until 11 o'clock at night, and many of us were very impatient at the delay, as we were anxious to get home.

Having received our pay we marched to the Depot at midnight, and soon afterward were moving on our road to Sch. Haven. We paused through Lebanon at 5 and Reading at 7:30 a. m., and at about 10 a. m. were back again in Sch. Haven, where we were received very cordially by the citizens, who were expecting us, and had provided a substantial meal for us on a long table, on St. John Street, at tile corner of Main.

After the banquet which had been so kindly provided by tile ladies of the town, Company I was disbanded, all the members returned to their respective homes. To complete the history of the company, I insert the names as they appeared on the muster roll.
Captain-William M. Randall,
First Lieutenant-John W. Coho ,
Second Lieutenant-Henry E. Hein,
First Sergeant-Henry Stager,
Second Sergeant-Joseph C. Kerkeslager,
Third Sergeant-Daniel E. Schreck,
Fourth Sergeant-Alfred G. Yeager,
Fifth Sergeant-Albert A. Hesser,
Corporals-William A. Field, Joshua Martz, Joseph M. Schreck, (I) David B. Holmes, Elijah Emerick, Franklin B. Barr, Joshua Heiser, Henry Raudenbush.
Musicians-Roland Freehafer, Jeremiah S. Kline.
Privates-Henry Auman, John Armstrong, William Achenbach, George W. Bolton, David Berger, Charles Berger, (2) John E. Bubeck, Edward Christ, Wm. Clouse, Matthew Collins, Hugh N. Coxe, John Dickenson, Lewis Grey, William S. Deibert, Peter Deitrich, William H. Delcamp, Charles E. Delcamp, Benjamin Dreher, Isaac De Frehn, Daniel Everett, John Eisenhaur, Richard H. Fidler, John Fritz, Henry Freed, Emanuel Feather, Simeon Greenawald, Jacob A. Geiger, Henry W. Guertler, John Good, Lewis Heisler, Charles Y. Houch, Amos Homan, Thomas Homan, Charles R. Hepler, Jacob Hummel, Henry Hummel, John Hummel, Edward Heiser, Frederick Hess, Sassaman Hendricks, Charles F. Hesser, Robert Irwin, Charles F. Kauffman, Edward Brown, William J. Koch, Isaac Knarr, Frank B. Kantner, Albert W. Kantner, William F. Moody, Samuel G. W. Martz, John B. Martz, Harrison Moyer, Michael Moyer, William Neiheiser, Benjamin Neiman, Isaac Paxson, Charles B. Palsgrove, Henry B. Quinter, Franklin Reed, William L. Reed, Charles Reeger, Isaac Riebsaamen, Albert J. Reed, Daniel Ream, Jacob Schwenk, Albert Strickler, George R. Sheip, Jacob R. Taylor, Adam Snyder, William Shadel, Samuel S. Shultz. Isaac Seyfert, Charles Schultz, Morgan F. Saylor, Augustus Seiger, Christian Spindler, William F. Stitzer, Daniel F. Sullivan, Harrison Simmons, Isaac Stauffer, John F. Saylor, George Utz, Gerhard H. Ulmer, Franklin Wise.

Note-(I) The muster roll in the Adj. General's Dept. at Harrisburg gives this name as Schwalm, and (2) as Boyer. Mr. Paxson and Mr. A. A. Hesser who were both members of the company say the names are correct as given by Mr. Paxson.

Commissioned Officers 3; Non-Commissioned Officers 13, Musicians 2, Total 102.

After the defeat of Lee's army at Gettysburg, and they had left the State; there was less anxiety among the citizens of Sch. Haven, as well as elsewhere, as to the final result of the war, but still they found that it was not ended, and recruits were still needed to fill up the depleted ranks of the Union army, and when on Sept 24th., 1863, a draft was made at the Provost Marshal's Office in Pottsville, to fill Schuylkill County's quota of the last call, it created a good bit of anxiety among those who were interested. The writer was lucky enough to escape in this draft, but three of his brothers were drafted and one of them, Joseph drafted in a previous one, served ten months in Colonel Daniel Nagel's regiment, which was most of the time in the vicinity of Norfolk, Va., and to which place he moved after the war, and is still living there. This regiment, soon after the battle of Gettysburg, as with others moved northward in an endeavor to intercept Lee's army in their retreat.

On Feb. 3 1864 the 50th Pennsylvania regiment under the command of Col. Christ, of Minersville, who had left Schuylkill County in the early days of the war, and whose time of enlistment had now expired, re-enlisted, and were given thirty days furlough, to visit their homes before entering again upon active duty. Company C. of Sch. Haven constituted part of this regiment, and were at the time of re-enlistment, at Knoxville Tenn, under the command of Captain Daniel F. Burkhart, during their furlough they were very cordially treated by the citizens of the town, as they had been in many battles, and rendered very efficient services. Whilst they were at home a number of others enlisted in the company in order to fill up their depleted ranks, and served with them until the close of the war. During this visit to their homes, but one unpleasant feature occurred which was as follows: A man by the name of Augustus Deitzel who kept a small store in Main Street, whose views were unfavorable to the war, had during their absence been making some very indiscreet remarks. The feeling against the South was very acute and bitter, and when told of this on their return, a few of the soldiers went to his store, broke in the windows, and threw a lot of candy and other goods out on the pavement, and soon had a lot of children around gathering them up. Four of the soldier; who were engaged in this raid were arrested and taken to Pottsville, and were locked up for a short time, but when their comrades at that place heard of it they had then released, and getting a team drawn by four white horses, and a band of music, they carried them lack triumphantly to Sch. Haven. As these proceedings were considered to be somewhat disorderly by the authorities, the Invalid Corps from Pottsville, with two small brass cannon were sent to Sch. Haven to keep order, but their services were not needed and in a few days they returned.

Company C. after their re-enlistment, was engaged in a number of battles, and at the battle of Bethesda, its line officers were all either killed or wounded, and the command of the company devolved on First Sergeant Charles E. Brown, who for efficient services had been promoted to that rank from a private. He commanded the company as a Sergeant until Nov., 1864, when a medal having been awarded him for bravery, by Congress, he was, on Dec. 1, 1864 promoted to be the Captain of the company, and they afterward did very efficient service at the siege of Petersburg. When the mine which the 48th., another Schuylkill County regiment, had made under the fortifications at that place was exploded and had made a large opening in the fortifications, since known as the Crater, he marched his company boldly in, but not being properly supported, marched them as boldly out again. The company was also engaged in the battle of Spottsylvania Court House, and in that battle eight or nine of their number were captured and taken as prisoners to Andersonville, where they endured great hardships, and at which place one of them, Peter Dunkel, died. David Raudenbush, still living in Sch. Haven, and an intimate friend of the writer, who was confined there for ten months before being released said that the only food that was given them was one pint of corn meal, which had been ground with the cob, for their daily rations, which they frequently had to eat raw for lack of fuel with which to cook it, and that the water which they had was very impure, causing much sickness. The names of the other captured men were: John Double, D. Harner, Wm. Guertler, Wm. Williams, Geo. Feirstein and Eli Berger.

On Sept. 13, 1864, a meeting of citizens of Sch. Haven who were subject to military duty was held at Koon's Washington Hall at the Corner of Main and St. John Street. This meeting had been called for the purpose of adopting measures to secure men to fill their quota of soldiers, as the government had made another call for men to fill up the depleted ranks of the army. At this meeting money was subscribed for the purpose of paying men bounties who were willing to volunteer as soldiers, and thus the citizens would escape the draft which was causing a great deal of anxiety, as no one knew whom it would strike, as the man who pulled out the names from the box at Pottsville was entirely blind, and though an old citizen of Schuylkill Haven, was unable to show any favors to his friends.

On July 6, 1864, the body of Lieutenant Joseph Edwards was buried at Schuylkill Haven with military honors. There was a very large attendance at his funeral and a patriotic sermon was preached on the occasion by Rev. Kuntz, of the Lutheran Church, of Pottsville, Pa. He had been very badly wounded in the battle of the Wilderness, from which place he was taken to a hospital at Washington, where he died. Captain James K. Helms, of Schuylkill Haven, was wounded in the same battle, and was taken with Edwards to the same hospital, but he recovered and resumed his duties, and was for many years after the war a justice of the peace is his native town, and died there. His young brother, Jere Helms, was a drummer boy in the 50th Regiment, and in a severe battle, he laid down his drum, and picking up a musket commenced firing on the enemy, when he was instantly killed. It was in his honor, that Jere Helms Post, G. A. R., of Schuylkill Haven, was named. Another brother is Peter Helms, of Pottsville, who served during the war, and is still engaged in doing patriotic duty for his country by acting as assistant Chief Marshal. In the 48th Regiment, which was principally from Schuylkill County, there were a number of other men besides Capt. Helms from Schuylkill Haven, and Rev. L. B. Beckley, of that place was Chaplain of the regiment.

On July 12th. 1864, the Government took charge of the Phila. & Reading Railroad under the plea of military necessity, and sent men to Schuylkill Haven to manage the running of the trains, but after a few days trial, discovered that a military organization, and a railroad organization were two different things, and as railroad matters became somewhat confused, they in a very few days turned the road over again to the original managers.

On July 22nd, 1864, a bounty fund meeting was held where Charles Wiltrout and the writer were appointed as a committee to arrange with the Commissioners, to allow Schuylkill Haven quota of soldiers to he filled with volunteers, which duty we attended to the following day. On September 12th following, another meeting was held and Wm. A. Field and the writer were started out to canvass the town for funds with which to pay bounties to volunteers, and thus avoid a draft on the town. As there were a number of shop and railroad men who were subject to the draft, a letter was sent to G. A. Nicolls, superintendent of the road for a contribution, but no assistance was received from that source. In addition to a considerable fund collected, $450 was borrowed on a note which way signed by several of the interested parties. Early in January, 1865, several meetings were again held for the purpose of collecting bounty money and securing the number of volunteers necessary to fill the quota, and finally on January, 1865, I was given about eight thousand dollars and sent to Harrisburg to secure volunteers. From Reading, I was accompanied by E. Mishler, who was in the bounty business, and knew all its ups and downs. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at Harrisburg, and after depositing my money in Cameron's bank, we went to a hotel and staid over night. The following day we secured two recruits to whom we paid, after they had been sworn into the service, four hundred and fifty dollars each as bounty. On the following day, the 28th, we secured another recruit, but after he had been examined at the Marshal's office, he was rejected on account of disability. We made an effort to secure others, but they were not obtainable, so I returned home. Finally, after several efforts were made to secure volunteers, a club was organized to provide a fund to be used to protect its members in case any of them were drafted. I find entered in my diary of February 21st 1865, that I contributed twenty-five dollars toward that fund, which I suppose is the amount that each one contributed. On March 4, 1865, another, and the last draft was made at Pottsville, and on April 3rd, 1865, word was received at Schuylkill Haven that Richmond had been taken.

The news caused great rejoicing, and on the following day all the bells in town were rung, many women taking their turn in pulling the bell ropes, and the night following the town was every where brilliantly illuminated, and a meeting of citizens was held in which Rev. P. Stein, H. N. Coxe, Wm. A. Field and others made appropriate addresses. On April l0th, 1865, word was received that Lee's army had surrendered, at which time all the bells in town were vigorously rung amidst great rejoicing everywhere that the long war was about ended. In a few days afterward on April 15th, early in the morning, word was received of the assassination of President Lincoln, and the rejoicing was turned into sadness, casting a gloom over the whole town, and in a very short time nearly every public building and private home was draped in black, and flags were draped and run up at half mast.

On April 23rd the writer went to Philadelphia in order to view the remains of tile assassinated President as they lay in state in Independence hall, the same building, upon which a few years before as he was on his way to Washington to assume the Presidency, I had seen him in the early morning of a bright cloudless day, hoist the American flag to the top of its steeple in tile presence of the assembled multitude. In my attempt to view the remains I found some difficulty. Accompanied by two of my brothers, we went to Chestnut Street early in the forenoon, and found that there was already a line formed on that Avenue which extended for several squares eastward toward the Delaware, who were moving two by two very slowly toward the entrance to the hall. We took our place at the end of this line but after several hours waiting, finding that we were not getting to the desired point, on account of so many others breaking in the line ahead of us, we left it, and going up to the ropes surrounding an empty space in front of the Hall, like many others, we dodged under them, and once in the space and joining the line there, we were soon inside the room where the remains lay.

At this date in our Country's history, it is hard to realize, surrounded as we now are with the comforts enjoyed in a beautiful and peaceful land, of the terrible anxiety experienced by those who passed through the four years of the civil war, which caused the desolation of many homes, and in which time, for all except a few favored ones, the comforts, and often the necessities of life were hard to obtain. It is however all passed, and we have the satisfaction of knowing, that the object for which it was fought, freedom from the curse of slavery and a united people in all its parts, has been obtained, and that "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people," has passed through a fiery trial, and not been found wanting.

Additional information on the War between the States available at the following websites:

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War


Sons of Confederate Veterans
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