Saturday, November 25, 2006
Lt. Col. W. W. Hamersley & his sons
William W. Hamersley of Allentown enrolled in this regiment on August 14th and was given the rank of Captain in charge of Company G. A few days later, August 25, 1862, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and became second-in-command of the regiment, assigned to the headquarters section.
As previously posted, the 128th found itself in the thick of things at the Battle of Antietam, Shapsburg, Maryland just slightly more than a month after leaving Harrisburg. On the morning of the 17th of September 1862, the 128th regiment was ordered into the fight and it charged out of the woods and into the cornfield where the rebels lay concealed. Unfortunately, the charge was made on the flank and while Colonel Coasdale was in the act of ordering the company into proper position he was killed instantly. A short time later, Lt. Colonel Hamersley was severely wounded and had to be carried from the field.
The regiment lost a large number of brave men there in Miller's cornfield before it was ordered off the field of battle. In the brief, but bloody fight, the 128th lost thirty-five men killed and eighty-five wounded. Lt. Col. Hamersley's arm was torn and terribly mutilated and he was unable to resume command of the regiment. Subsequently, Major Joseph A. Mathews of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers was promoted to Colonel and placed in charge of the 128th regiment.
On January 31, 1863, Lt. Colonel Hamersley, being permanently disabled by the wounds received at Antietam, resigned his commission. Captain L. Heber Smith was commissioned to succeed him. This ended Lt. Colonel Hamersley's military career and he returned to Allentown and his family.
The One Hundred and Twenty-eighth went on to fight courageously at Chancellorsville, just days before it's nine month enlistment would expire. It suffered heavy losses at Chancellorsville and then on May 19, 1863, was mustered out of service.
Lt. Col. William W. Hamersley died on 24 November 1888. His tombstone indicates that he held the rank of Colonel, which of course, is not entirely correct. A plaque placed at the grave at a later date reflects his correct rank of Lt. Colonel. His wife Elizabeth J. Hamersley preceded him in death, having died on 2 August 1881. They had two sons, Robert, born 1836 and James B. born 14 September 1844, who are buried with them in the family plot in the Union and West End Cemetery. Additionally, a daughter-in-law (Sarah Ann) and a grandchild (Eliza Lewis), the wife and daughter of James B. Hamersley are also buried in the plot.
Robert Hamersley enlisted as a corporal with the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteers on December 2, 1862. The 54th regiment was a three-year company recruited in Northampton, Luzurne and Lehigh counties. At the time that Robert enlisted, he was twenty-six years of age, his complexion was shown as lightand his height was 5' 6 ¾", Eyes and hair were black and his occupation was listed as a butcher. On September 4, 1863, Robert was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.
The regiment was primarily utilized for guard duty on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, in an attempt to prevent rebel forces from destroying the bridges. In May 1863, the regiment was engaged in the Battle of New Market. That summer it also saw action at Piedmont, and Lynchburg and spent the balance of the war in the Shenandoah Valley, Mustering out in July, 1865.
Robert Hamersly resigned his commission on September 4, 1863 and left the regiment prior to its being mustered out. Robert returned to the Lehigh Valley, lived in Easton with his wife and daughter and was a baggage worker on the railroad. He died in 1910. Robert is buried beneath a simple ground level stone that is almost obscured by grass. A lone American flag flies along side his grave to denote his contribution to his country. His wife and child are buried elsewere.
James B. Hamersley's tombstone indicates he was a Captain with the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry (92nd Regiment). Official records show that he entered the service with the 9th cavalry on 29 August 1861 as a Private. He was 18 years of age when he enlisted. It was recorded that he had a light complexion, was 5' 6" tall with hazel eyes and brown hair. He was a laborer before joining the army. The unit moved by rail to Pittsburgh and then by boat to Louisville, Kentucky and served for the duration in Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina, engaging in many minor skirmishes and making numerous raids on the enemy forces. It was also engaged in the Battle of Chicamauga late in the war between the states. Records show that James was promoted to Sergeant on January 1, 1864, at Mossy Creek, Tennessee and was subsequently commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on March 16, 1865. He was mustered out with the company on July 18, 1865 as a 2nd Lieutenant.
James B. Hamersley died in 1912. His wife passed away in 1920. Their daughter had predeceased both of them, having died in December 1881.
The grave of W. W. Hamersley is in the upper left with the flag, next is his wife, Elizabeth, and then James & Sarah's daughter, Eliza Lewis. In the lower portion of the photo, (L - R) Robert's grave is marked by the flag, then the two block type stones are James B. (flag) and his wife, Sarah Ann. To the left of W. W. Hamersley there is a small grave marker with the initials EGH, with no dates or any other identification. Possibly a child that died at birth.
No additional information could be found for William W. Hamersley before or after the Civil War.
Thanks for all this material about the Hammersly / Hamersly / Hammersley / etc family.
I believe Lt. Col. W.W. was a "William":
- The Antietam NB order of battle lists him as "William W. Hammersly" (1)
- The PA Archives' veterans card file has him as "Wm. W. Hammersly" (2)
- There looks to be a pension record for him as "Hamersly, William W." (3)
Bates lists him as "W. W. Hamersly, of Lehigh county" ... other rosters online for the 128th Infantry spell it "Hammersley" ... so there are a number of alternate spellings out there.
I don't have any help on his life either before or after the War, except for a reference I found to a "WILLIAM W. HAMERSLY, ESQ.," who resigned as Justice of the Peace, for the borough of Dillsburg, York County (PA) in March 1842.(4) This may or may not be the same man.
(1) OOB online here: http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/org-cht-12-corps.htm
(2) see card image: http://www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us/Archives/17/37/LoadMedia/3200/00000999.gif
(3) pension roll transcribed here: http://www.pacivilwar.com/pensions/1883lehigh.html
(4) rootsweb: http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/pa/1pa/xmisc/1843laws.txt
Again, thanks, I appreciate your help. Everette
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