Union and West End Cemetery

The Union and West End Cemetery is located in center city Allentown. The main entrance is on 10th Street at 10th and Chew Streets. The cemetery is mantained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Ten board members (also volunteers) serve the cemetery association and manage the finances, make application for grants, solicit donations and participate in the maintenance of the cemetery.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Sergeant Charles A. Pfeiffer

Charles Pfeiffer was a member of the Allentown Infantry Militia unit (Captain Yeager's Company) that became one of the early companies that went to the defense of Washington and all the members of this company became known as "First Defenders."

Charles is buried in the Union and West End Cemetery. Charles Pfeiffer was born on April 4, 1846 and died on February 20, 1890. His tombstone does not acknowledge his military service.

Take note that Charles was born April 4, 1846; the Civil War began on April 12, 1861. On April 18, 1861, the Allen Infantry was on its way to Harrisburg from whence it would travel to Washington and into history as "First Defenders". Yes, Charles had turned fifteen just two weeks prior to going off to war.

Captain Yeager's company (Allentown Infantry) was assigned to the 25th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment and became company G in that regiment. All those that served with this company had enlisted for ninety-days and were sent home at the end of their ninety-day enlistment. Many soldiers that served in ninety-day units, either immediately or after a period of time, enlisted in volunteer companies to serve for longer periods of time. Some did not. Charles Pfeiffer was one of those that enlisted with a three-year company after a period of about one year at home.

Union and West End Cemetery

Charles' wife is also buried in the family plot; Mary A. Pfeiffer, born December 21, 1847, died April 29, 1924.

Charles' father, Henry, born July 12, 1803, died April 12, 1878 and his mother, Caroline Sellers Pfeiffer, born November 7, 1810, died June 16, 1885, are also buried in the family plot.

Others in the family plot include Hattie T. P. Peiffer, born June 15, 1848, died November 9, 1911 (likely the sister of Charles). Henry Sellers (no legible dates, 11 years old in 1860) and Susannah Sellers, daughter of Henry and Susannah Sellers, again no dates. It is presumed that the elder Susannah was another sister to Charles. It is not known where she is buried.

Photographs of Charles' tombstone in the family plot are shown below:

As noted above, Charles A. Pfeiffer enlisted with company G of the 128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment at Allentown on August 12, 1862. Due to his previous service with the "First Defenders", he was given the rank of sergeant. He served with the 128th regiment a little more than one month before going into the Battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg, Maryland. Charles deserted during or immediately after the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862. At this time, Charles was sixteen years, five months and 13 days old.

The Allentown Democrat of December 3, 1862, carried the following article:

ARRESTED - - Charles Pfeiffer, a deserter from Captain Huber's Company, 128th Regiment absent since the Battle of Antietam, was last week arrested and taken to Harrisburg, whence he will be forwarded to the regiment.

Allentown Democrat, March 4, 1863

Arrested. Charles Pfeiffer and Willoughby Leopold of this borough were arrested at Bethlehem on Saturday evening last as deserters from the U.S. service and brought to this place and committed to jail. The first named belongs to the 128th regiment and latter to the 2nd cavalry. They will be taken on to Harrisburg and handed over to military authorities. They were arrested by Sgt. Keiper, recruiting officer here.

There is no indication that Sgt. Charles A. Pfeiffer ever returned to his unit or any other military unit. The final disposition of Charles A. Pfeiffer with respect to his military service has not been ascertained.

The 1860 census shows the Pfeiffer family living in the 5th Ward in the Borough of Allentown. Henry, Caroline, Charles, 15; Henry, 11; George, 6. There is no mention of a Hattie or Susannah.

In 1870, Charles is living with his family in Philadelphia's 10 Ward, 28 Dist. He is now 25 and his wife, Mary is also 25. They have two children, Elizabeth (6) and Annetta (2). Living with them is Maria Marriner who is 71 years of age. Charles is shown as a laborer.

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