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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Pvt. Franklin Sylvester Ritter

Franklin S. Ritter was the son of Jacob and Hannah Ritter. They lived comfortably in the 3rd Ward of the Boro of Allentown. Jacob apparently owned a soap and candle manufacturing company and in 1860 listed his occupation as Master soap & candle manufacturer.

Jacob had a son in the business with him, Lewis, who was 25. Lewis was married to Rachel, 24 and they had a 2 month old child. Also in the household in 1860 was an apprentice named Alfred Dech who was just 12 years of age.

Jacob and Hannah had another son, Franklin, who was listed as 16 and a daughter, Matilda, who was 20. It is believed that Franklin may have been 18 at the time of the 1860 census.

In August, 1862, Franklin Ritter enlisted with Company G of the 128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The 128th was a nine-month regiment and Franklin may have volunteered to avoid the draft which would have required three years service.

The 128th PVI regiment left Harrisburg for Washington D. C. on August 16. On September 6 the regiment moved to Frederick, Maryland and just thirty-three days after leaving Allentown the men of the 128th found themselves in the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, the bloodiest day in the Civil War.

David Mattern of Allentown, in a letter to his father described the battle in this manner: "Captain Andrews of our regiment was killed. George Keck and Frank Bloss of Company D were killed. William Sowden, Mahlon Biery, Aaron Frederick, E. Blose, Allen Blank, and I was wounded. ...I received a slight would on the left side of the head while we were behind the fence. But I fired several rounds before I left the field.

In a letter two weeks later he further describes his wounding. "When we came out of the cornfield Captain Andrews told us to form a line behind a fence. Then we received orders to lay down... It pushed off my cap when the bullet struck me. But I loaded and fired again. By this time my hair and face were all full of blood. When someone told me to get out of the ranks I took my cap and gun and a foot behind us was a gutter or ditch... I jumped over this gutter and had a notion to fire off my gun when two of our company came and tied a rag around my head".

And william Reichard's description gives an indication of how confusion is the order of the day when one is in a battle. "Frank Ritter fell in the beginning, he was hit in head right under right eye... We fought in a woods into a cornfield... I can't describe it to you the way the balls and shells whistled around us, but we drove them back. I never knew that such a continual roar of Musketry and Artillery could be fired off. If one has never been in a battle he can never rightly imagine how it is..."

As noted above, Franklin Sylvester Ritter fell on the battlefield at Sharpsburg, Maryland. His family, being well-off could afford to have his body brought home. Many who fell at Antietam were buried on the battlefield were they fell.

Franklin Ritter
20 June 1841 - 17 September 1862
Son of Jacob & Hannah Ritter

There is nothing on Franklin's headstone to acknowledge his service to his country. Nor is there a plaque to commemorate his having given his life to save the Union. A small United States flag flies proudly next to his headstone as is the case with all Civil War Veterans in the Union and West End Cemetery.

Jacob Ritter, Franklin's father, was born 30 January 1804 and he died 19 July 1891. Hannah Ritter was born 2 August 1805 and died 13 August 1883. The three are buried together in a family plot in the Union portion of the Union and West End Cemetery.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Embalming The Dead

Allentown Democrat - September 10, 1862

The embalmment of those of our brave volunteers who have died in service of their country has lately been a source of great consolation to sorrowing relatives, and is extensively practiced. Those who are engaged in the pursuit grade their charges according to the rank of the deceased varying from $15 to $100. The body of a private soldier is embalmed for $15 and sent home in a handsome coffin for $15 more. The process is simply to make an incision in any one of the arteries and to input therein a liquid invented by a Dr. Susquect, of Paris, which is secret to the operation.
September 10, 1862

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Allentown Democrat, September 24, 1862

Allentown Democrat - Battle of Antietam

Private George Keck of Co. D, 128th PVI was killed at the Battle of Antietam, Sharpsburg, Maryland on 17 September 1862. William Sowden, also of Co. D, 128th sustained a leg wound. Charles Peiffer of Co. G was also wounded in the leg.
Company D. 128th; George S. Keck, killed; Aaron Frederick, wounded leg; Mahlon Biery W. wounded hand; William Sowden, wounded leg.
Co. G, 128th; Franklin Ritter, killed; William Haas, wounded leg; Charles Peiffer, wounded, leg; Frank Keck, wounded leg; D.O. Pritchard wounded; Henry Stout, wounded.
Cpl. Hammersly, William Sowden, Charles Peiffer and Frank Keck were brought to this place on Thursday evening, in charge of Lt. D. Miller. They are all doing well.
None of the killed belonging to this county have as yet been brought home, but we understand that as soon as access can be had to the battlefield the remains of Keck and Ritter will be brought hither for interment, which will probably be during the week.
September 24, 1862

Friday, October 27, 2006


Corporal Charles S. Reinsmith

Charles S. Reinsmith was the son of Joseph and Mary Reinsmith. Joseph and Mary lived in the 3rd Ward in the borough of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Charles was the second of five children of Joseph and Mary.

Joseph was born on 18 December 1805 in Pennsylvania. His wife, Mary, was born on 28 July 1814. In 1860, Joseph was employed as a butcher.

There children were:

Henry - In 1860 Henry was a coach maker at age 24
Charles S - Charles was 22 years of age in 1860, but was not living in the Reinsmith household
Alfred - Alfred was 20 years old in 1860 and was employed as an apprentice shoe maker
Daniel - Daniel was 19 in 1860 and was also an apprentice shoe maker
Solomon - Sol was only 16 in 1860 and still in school.

Unable to locate Charles in the 1860 census; he was not in the home of his parents. However, he was believed to be living in Indianapolis, Indiana shortly after the 1860 census was taken.

Following the second battle at Bull Run, the Confederate Army began a northward movement across the Potomac River and into Maryland. Pennsylvania lay directly in fornt of the Rebel Army's line of march, unprotected and vulnerable.

On September 4, 1862, Governor Curtin put out a call fo rthe immdediate formation of companies and regiments throughtout the Commonwealth. On the 10th of September the Confederate Army, under General Robert E. Lee, had moved his army into Maryland.

The 5th Pennsylvania Volunteers, an emergency Militia unit, was formed in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Companies C, E, G and H were recruited in Lehigh County on September 13, 1862. Companies A. B. D, F and I were raised in Northampton County on the same date.

Pennsylvanians from across the state reported promptly to the State Capital. On September 14th, the Army of the Potomac met the advancing enemy at South Mountain. Then, a fierce battle ensued on September 17th, at Sharpsburg, Maryland, known as the Battle of Antietam.
The details of this battle are covered elsewhere, but it was a battle that would go down in history as the bloodiest day of the Civil War.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Militia units concentrated at Hagertown and Chamberburg numbering 15,000. Ten thousand more were posted near Greencastle and Chambersburg. But the Confederate Army was defeated at Antietam and retreated back across the Potomac into Virginaia.

The emergency having passed, the militia units, including the 5th Militia from Lehigh and Northampton Counties was mustered out and disbanded on September 24th. The unit served the Union for a period of only twelve days. It never saw battle, but was close enough to the battlefield to witness the sounds of war.

Among the volunteers of the 5th Pennsylvania was Solomon Reinsmith, just 17 years of age. Oddly enough there was a Charles Reinsmith also attached to the 5th Militia, but this Charles Reinsmith was not Solomon's brother, also named Charles. Charles S. Reinsmith was living in Indiana at that time.

Supposedly, another, unusual and unexpected volunteer to answer the call was Sergeant Amandes A. Wagner, who served in Company E, raised in Lehigh County. Sgt. Mandes A. Wagner was in actuality, Amanda Wagner, the wife of a Union Soldier, Samuel Wagner who served with Co. B of the 153rd PVI and later with Co. C of the 46th PVI. Company E was raised in Allentown. At least, this is the story of Samuel and Amanda's ancestors. However, I could not locate these individuals living in Lehigh County in 1860. I was able to locate a man named Amandes Wagner, age 39 who was a clerk, born in Pennsylvania. His wife's name was Anna and she was 37 years of age. They had a son, Francis, aged 6. Also in the household was a woman, age 33 who listed her occupation as "Lady". So, it may have been the Amandes described above that served, and it doubtful that Amanda Wagner ever entered the war in any capacity. It is an interesting story that probably never happened. But, in any event, Company E of the 5th Pennsylvania Militia never came under fire.

The 33rd Indiana Infantry Regiment was organized at Indianapolis on September 16, 1861. Charles S. Reinsmith joined Company I of the 33rd Indiana Infantry on September 23, 1861 and marched of to Kentucky.

The 33rd Regiment, Indiana Infantry -

Organized at Indianapolis and mustered in September 16, 1861. Moved to Louisville, Ky., September 28, thence to Camp Dick Robinson, Ky., and duty there till October 13. Attached to Thomas' Command, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1861. 1st Brigade, Army of the Ohio, to December, 1861. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Ohio, to February, 1862. 27th Brigade, 7th Division, Army of the Ohio, to October, 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of Kentucky, Dept. of Ohio, to February, 1863. Coburn's Brigade, Baird's Division, Army of Kentucky, Dept. of the Cumberland, to June, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to October, 1863. Coburn's Brigade, Post of Murfreesboro, Tenn., Dept. of the Cumberland, to January, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 11th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 20th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to July, 1865.

SERVICE.-Moved to Camp Wild Cat, Ky., October 13, 1861. Action at Camp Wild Cat, Rockcastle Hills, October 21. At Crab Orchard, Ky., November 15, 1861, to January 3, 1862. Operations about Mill Springs, Somerset, Ky., December 1-13, 1861. At Lexington, Ky., January 3 to April 11, 1862. Cumberland Gap Campaign March 28-June 18. Occupation of Cumberland Gap June 18 to September 17. Retreat to the Ohio River September 17-October 3. Duty at Covington, Lexington, Nicholasville and Danville, Ky., till January 26, 1863. Moved to Louisville, Ky., thence to Nashville, Tenn., January 26-February 7. Moved to Franklin February 21. Action at Franklin March 4. Battle of Thompson's Station March 4-5. Most of Regiment captured by Van Dorn's forces nearly 18,000 strong. Exchanged May 5, 1863. Brentwood March 25 (Detachment). Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign June 23-July 7. Duty at Guy's Gap and Munfreesboro till September 5. At Manchester, Estill Springs, Cowan, Dechard, Tracy City, Christiana City and along Nashville & Chattanooga R. R. till April, 1864. Regiment re-enlisted at Christiana City, January, 1864. On Veteran Furlough February and March. Atlanta Campaign May 1-September 8. Demonstrations on Rocky faced Ridge May 8-11. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Cassville May 19. Advance on Dallas May 22-25. New Hope Church May 25. Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Pine Hill, June 11-14. Lost Mountain June 15-17. Gilgal or Golgotha Church June 15. Muddy Creek June 17. Noyes Creek June 19. Kolb's Farm June 22. Assault of Kenesaw June 27. Riff's Station, Smyrna Camp Ground, July 4. Chattahoochie River July 5-17. Peach Tree Creek July 19-20. Siege of Atanta July 22-August 25. Operations at Chattahoochie River Bridge August 26-September 2. Occupation of Atlanta September 2-November 15. McDonough Road near Atlanta November 6. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Lawtonville, S. C., February 2. Fayetteville, N. C., March 11, Averysboro March 16. Battle of Bentonville March 19-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 10-14. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D. C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20. Grand Review May 24. Ordered to Louisville, Ky., June, and duty there till July 21. Mustered out July 21, 1865.

The 33rd Indiana Regiment lost during service: 4 Officers and 112 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 180 Enlisted men by disease. Total 298.

Charles S. Reinsmith, was killed on the 9th of December 1861 at Crab Orchard, Kentucky.

Charles' father, Joseph died on the 11th of October 1877. His mother, Mary, died on 25 July 1899. They are buried next to their son in the family plot in the Union portion of the Union and West End Cemetery.

Also buried in the family plot is Joseph and Mary's youngest son, Solomon G. Reinsmith. Solomon was born on 14 September 1843 and died on 14 April 1913. His wife, Mary J., was born 10 March 1850 and died on 8 January 1896. They had two sons, Robert, born in January, 1883 and Clarence, who was born in April, 1887. Annia E. Reinsmith, who was born on 28 November 1873 and died 17 December 1900 is also in the family plot. She is believed to be a daughter-in-law.

Joseph and Mary Reinsmith's son Henry appeared in the 1900 census in Allentown. Henry was now 63 years of age and his wife, Anna was 43. They had a son, Harry, born February 1894, he was six years old. Henry was shown as a cabinet maker and his wife was a dress maker.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Captain Thomas Yeager - 'First Defenders'

Captain Thomas Yeager, a young Allentown merchant had organized the Allen Infantry Militia unit in 1859. The Allen Infantry was one of three militia units that existed in Allentown at the outbreak of the War Between the States. Following the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, Captain Yeager went to Harrisburg to offer his units services to Governor Curtin. Upon receiving the governor's approval, he returned to Allentown and began recruiting to bring his unit to full strength. The unit departed for Harrisburg on the afternoon of April 17.

Crowds by the thousands gathered to witness the departure of these companies from their hometowns. While surviving letters and diaries from these men overwhelmingly cite patriotic love of country as the primary reason behind their enlistment, they also suggest that these men envisioned none of what war was really about. James Schaadt of the Allen Infantry, for example, wrote that when leaving Allentown, most men “regarded the journey as a pleasant change from daily occupations, a picnic and agreeable visit to the Capital.” They quickly discovered, however, that war was no picnic.

Upon arriving at Harrisburg, the company joined four other companies from Reading, Lewiston and Pottsville. These five companies were the first volunteer units to arrive in Maryland to set up a defensive perimeter to protect the Nations Capital.

The Allen Infantry under Captain Yeager was given the designation Company G and assigned to the 25th Pennsylvania Regiment.

"First Defenders" being stoned in Baltimore, Maryland

With but a few exceptions, the volunteer militiamen made this journey unarmed as they were ordered to leave behind their weapons in their respective armories, and promised modern guns upon their arrival in Washington. Because no continuous rail line linked Harrisburg to Washington, it was necessary for the men to detrain in Baltimore, march two miles through the city to Camden Station, and board the railcars of another line. Unknown to most of the Pennsylvanians, however, the people of Baltimore were largely sympathetic to the Confederacy, and when word arrived that northern volunteer troops were on their way, a mob began forming around the depot, determined to prevent these men from marching through their city.

Around 1p.m. on the afternoon of April 18, the train cars carrying the volunteers came to a halt in Baltimore. The crowd, which numbered around 2,500—five times the size of the unarmed Pennsylvanians—greeted the arriving soldiers with insults and threats. When the five companies reached Camden Station, events took a turn for the worse. Here, many in the mob threw bricks, stones, and pieces of lumber, while others, yielding clubs, ran towards the Pennsylvanians. Many of the projectiles hit their mark. Some members of the Allen Infantry suffered broken bones, and a few others were knocked unconscious.

Ultimately, the members of the five companies boarded the train cars and nursed their wounded comrades. Around 7:00 p.m. on the evening of April 18, the volunteers finally arrived in Washington, where they were assigned quarters in the halls and chambers of the United States Capitol Building. Early the next day, a very much gratified and relieved President Lincoln met and shook hands with all 475 men and thanked them for their service and prompt arrival.

The First Defenders" as these companies would later be termed, spent the majority of their three-month term of service in guard and garrison duty in and around the nation’s capital.

The men of the Allen Infantry returned home in good health on July 24, 1861. Bands played, bells rung, the men paraded through town and a banquet was held at the Eagle Hotel in their honor. Captain Yeager was honored as one of the first men in the country to realize that the Nations Capital needed to be protected to avoid possible capture and occupation by Confederate forces. Many of the men that served in Militia units for a period of ninty-days reenlisted in various 3-year volunteer infantry companies. Others did not, seeking the relative comforts of home over the depravities of the battle field.

In November, Yeager reenlisted as a Major in the 53rd Regiment. The regiment was involved in various manuvers in and around Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia. The regiment took a prominent part in the engagement at Fair Oaks on the 1st of June 1862, where, though surprised and thrown into temporary confusion, it rallied and in a short time forced the enemy from its line. Its conduct on this occasion was such as to elicit the commendation of the Generals commanding. It suffered a severe loss in the death of Major Yeager, who was killed in the early part of the action while gallantly leading his men. The regiment lost ninety-six men in killed, wounded, and missing.

Major Yeager became the first Civil War Hero of Lehigh County. On the day prior to his death, President Lincoln had commissioned him a Brig. General. He was 38 years old and left behind a widow and four children. Through the efforts of William H. Blumer Yeager's battlefield grave was located and his body was returned to Allentown. Hundreds attended his funeral service on June 24, 1862. The body was buried the next day in Union Cemetery.

Mrs. Sobina Yeager and their four children; Susan I., Stephen H., Ellen, and Minerva, continued to live in the family house on North Sixth Street near Chew Street.

Early in December, 1866, a notice appeared in an Allentown newspaper of a meeting of the First Soldier's National Union to consider application for admission to the Grand Army of the Republic, the national organization of Union Veterans. The result of the meeting was the organization of Yeager Post, No. 13 of the Grand Army of the Republic, on December 10, 1866.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Civil War - Second Year

In July of 1862 the Allentown Democrat printed an advertisement asking for recruits for the Lehigh Infantry. "It has been a proud boast that or soldiers were all willing volunteers who entered the service with a full appreciation of the holiness of the cause and a determination to stand by the flag while a shred of it was left. The state of feeling is too noble to be willingly yielded for the endorsed service of conscripts. The national atmosphere should remain as pure as it was the day Sumter fell..."

Forty dollars advance pay and seventy-five dollar bounty at expiration of service was offered to enlistees for Companies D and G of the 128th Pennsylvania Volunteers. This was a nine-month regiment as authorized by President Lincoln and his call for 300,000 additional troops.

However, after Lincoln's call for additional troops, the response was so feeble that Congress passed the first draft act in American history. The highly patriotic call for volunteers made in July 1862 would be the zenith in Lehigh County's effort to support the Civil War. With the introduction of the draft, the sentiment began to change, or maybe the latent feelings were just now beginning to surface.

Perhaps the turning point came with the Battle of Fair Oaks, when Major Thomas Yeager fell dead on June 1, 1862. He was the first Allentonian killed in battle. He was a home town hero. No other personage came forth that could instill a pride in the local populace.

Art by © Don Troiani

There had not been much in the way of action for the Lehigh County units in the first year but by the spring of 1862 much had transpired on the fields of battle. The Battle of Malvern Hill created casualty lists which were in all of the local papers. Although Lehigh County participants escaped this battle, none the less, Lehigh County units were not to escape for long.

The draft was instituted and although a failure, bringing in only 65,000 new men, the draft did stimulated enlistments in both 3-year and nine-month regiments allowing the army to meet its goal of 600,000.

Art by © Don Troiani

Confederate General Jackson's first thrust at General Pope's Army of Virginia occured at Cedar Mountain, Virginia on August 8, 1862. One of the units defending that front was the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, with Lehigh men in Company C. On the very day that the newly organized 128th PVI was leaving Allentown, a personal letter from Lt. Col. James L. Selfridge of Bethlehem, who served with the 46th regiment wrote:..."Out of 67 men of Company C in the fight, but fifteen are left."

The Northern forces which had been scattered upon the Rappahannock, the Shenandoah, and in West Virginia, were concentrated, and organized into three corps. The Confederate divisions of Ewell, and Stonewall Jackson, followed by that of Hill, a force twenty-five thousand strong, had already arrived upon the Rapidan, and had commenced crossing, driving back Yankee cavalry. On the 8th of August, the Union forces were ordered forward towards Cedar Mountain, consisting of seven thousand men. Jackson had taken position with his artillery on Cedar Mountain, at an elevation of two hundred feet above the surrounding plain, but had kept his infantry masked under the shadow of the forests. Four guns had been advanced, father to the front, and lower down the side of the mountain. At 5 o'clock P.M., the Union forces, in two columns, advanced to the attack. The position of the 46th fell opposite the enemy's advanced pieces, and upon these the men charged with desperate valor. But, before reaching them, they had to pass an open field, now covered with shocks of full ripened wheat. Here they were fearfully exposed, and the enemy's artillery, and his strong lines of infantry concealed from view, poured in a merciless storm of shot and shell. Three times was the regiment led to the charge across that fatal plain, when Colonel Knipe fell severely wounded, and the regiment was withdrawn. "Had victory been possible," says Greely, "they would have won it...The best blood of the Union was pured out like water. General Crawford's Brigade came out of the fight a mere skeleton." The loss in the 46th was thirty killed, thirty-four severely wounded, and six taken prisoner.

The 128th PVI left Harrisburg for Washington on August 17, 1862. Less than three weeks later, with only rudimentary training in drill and formations, the unit arrived, on the evening of September 16th, at Antietam Creek. It was placed in support of General Hooker's 1st Corps. The 46th PVI was also in support of General Hooker but held, initially, in reserve. At early dawn on the 17th of September, 1862, the battle began.

The Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on Sept. 17, 1862, was the bloodiest day in American history. Eleven hours of the most savage fighting that has ever occurred on U.S. soil resulted in more than 23,000 casualties, including more than 3,500 dead. Most of the carnage took place in a relatively small area located between the Hagerstown Pike, a small church and a small wooded area to the west; a cornfield to the north and east; and a long, sunken road to the south.The genesis of the battle was Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's decision to capitalize on the momentum gained from his recent victory over the Army of the Potomac at Second Manassas (also known as Second Bull Run) by invading Union territory. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis hoped that a successful invasion of the North would accomplish several objectives.
First, invading the North might bring Maryland, or at least more Marylanders, to the side of the Confederacy.
Second, Lee's Army of Northern Virginia could gain needed supplies in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Third, by crossing the Potomac River, Lee could threaten Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, thereby relieving pressure on Confederate territory, including the capital, Richmond.
Fourth, Lee and Davis believed that a Confederate victory in the North could persuade Britain and France to formally recognize and, perhaps, provide assistance to the Confederacy.

Lee's army reached Sharpsburg first and established a defensive position running north to south on high ground east of the town of Sharpsburg and west of Antietam Creek. The Confederate forces also occupied land near a small Dunker Church adjacent to a 40-acre cornfield whose stalks were as tall as a soldier.

About 6 a.m. on Sept. 17, Union forces led by Gen. Joseph Hooker emerged from the north woods to attack Confederate forces along the Hagerstown Pike. Confederate forces rushed into the cornfield to meet the attackers, and all hell broke loose. For the next several hours, both sides poured troops into the cornfield and the area near the Dunker Church. Gen. Hooker later wrote of the action in the cornfield that "every stalk of corn ... in the greater part of the field was cut as closely as with a knife ... and the slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in their ranks a few minutes before." "It was never my fortune," Hooker recalled, "to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield."

While all this carnage was going on in the northern and central sectors of the field, more than 4,000 Union troops under Gen. Ambrose Burnside, instead of fording the shallow creek at safer locations, repeatedly attempted to force their way across the lower bridge of the Antietam against about 500 Georgia troops situated on the opposing hillside. The results were needless Union casualties and the loss of precious time, which allowed Confederate forces under Gen. A.P. Hill to arrive in the nick of time from Harpers Ferry to successfully hold off the final attack of Union forces late in the day after Burnside finally had made it across the bridge.

By about 5 or 6 p.m., the fighting stopped. The next day, instead of renewing the fight, "the armies lay face to face all day, like sated lions," Mr. Foote wrote, "and between them, there on the slopes of Sharpsburg ridge and in the valley of the Antietam, the dead began to fester in the heat and the cries of the wounded faded to a mewling."

As Confederate forces withdrew toward Virginia, someone asked Gen. John Bell Hood, whose troops were in the thick of things in the cornfield and near the Dunker Church, "Where is your division?" Hood responded, "Dead on the field." In all, there nearly 4,000 men lay dead on the field, and about 3,000 more died later from wounds suffered at Antietam. Lee lost one-fourth of his army that day. "The troops that Lee lost," Mr. Foote wrote, "were the best that he had — the best he could ever hope to have in the long war that lay ahead."

At Antietam. the 128th lost 34 killed and eighty five wounded; about 25% of the regiment. The 46th, which only joined the fight late in the day, lost six killed and three severely wounded.

From the 128th, Franklin Bloss of Washington Township and George Keck of Allentown (Company D) were killed. In Company G, Franklin Ritter of Allentown, Henry Luckenbill of North Whitehall and Henry Weller of Heidelberg were also killed. By September 24 a full account of the battle of Antietam with a list of casualties for the 128th PVI was carried in the local newspapers.

Meanwhile while efforts to raise troops through the draft continued, Company H of the 147th PVI was organized on the 10th of October for 3-year service.

Then, on October 22 the 47th Regiment went into battle on the Pocotaligo River in South Carolina losing 20 men killed and 35 men wounded, all from Lehigh County.

Art by © Don Troiani

1862 came to a close, but the war would continue and men would come forth to serve either as patriots, opportunist or reluctant draftees.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Private John Lanahan

Private John Lanahan enrolled with Company I of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in Lehigh County. The company and regiment were mustered into the service of the Union on October 31, 1861.

46th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry

Organized at Harrisburg October 31, 1861. Ordered to join Banks November, 1861. Attached to Gordon's Brigade, Banks' Division, to March, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Banks' 5th Corps, and Dept. of the Shenandoah to June, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Virginia, to September, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1863, and Army of the Cumberland to April, 1864. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps Army of the Cumberland, to July, 1865.

SERVICE.-Guard and outpost duty on the Upper Potomac till February, 1862.

The 46th PVI served well beyond February of 1862, but John Lanahan, who joined the unit in October, 1861 and went with the unit from Harrisburg to the Upper Potomac River deserted the unit at some point prior to December, 1861. He apparently deserted between early November 1861 and early December, 1862. He was subsequently captured and returned to his unit where he was hanged on December 23, 1861 for the offense of desertion. John Lanahan apparently was buried in the field.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Major Arnold C. Lewis

Arnold Colt Lewis was born on 12 August 1827. At age nineteen, Arnold C. Lewis was a second Lt. with the Wyoming Artillery. It is believed that this refers to an artillery unit in Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. The Wyoming Artillery and 2nd Lt. Arnold Lewis, participated in the Mexican War. The Mexican War began with a Mexican attack on American troops along the Southern border of Texas on April 25, 1846. Fighting ended when U.S. General Winfield Scott occupied Mexico City on September 14, 1847; a few months later a peace treaty was signed (February 2, 1848) at Guadalupe Hildalgo. In addition to recognizing the U.S. annexation of Texas, defeated Mexico ceded California and New Mexico (including all of present-day states of the Southwest) to the United States.

The above is a brief capsulized version of the Mexican War. In reality, it is much more complicated. President Polk believing in the concept of "Manifest Destiny" sought to acquire the lands to the west and may have taken action to precipitate a war with Mexico.

After serving in the Mexican War, Arnold Colt Lewis was among the first to again here the call and shortly after the outbreak of the "War Between the States," he enlisted for a three-year term of service on August 17, 1861 and was assigned to the forty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment.

Rendezvousing at Camp Curtin, in Harrisburg, the regiment was organized on the 1st of September, 1861, and Captain Lewis was promoted to the rank of Major in the newly formed regiment. Shortly thereafter, the 46th regiment removed to a location just outside Darnestown, Maryland along the Potomac River.

Darnestown, Maryland was settled in the 1750's. Darnestown Road was an old Indian Trail and William Darne of Virginia married Elizabeth Gassaway and they established an Inn and a tavern at the intersection of the Darnestown and Sneca Roads. The area was named Darnestown in 1812 in their honor. By the 1820's the town was the host to a wheelwright, gristmill, a blacksmith, a physician, a post office and a variety of other businesses.

In 1861, the Union Army realized that Darnestown was the natural place from which Washington D.C. could be defended. There were 18,000 troops quartered in Darnestown, Maryland. When the army left, most of the fences had become firewood, and not a single cow, hen or hog remained. Maryland remained in the Union during the War Between the States, but many Darnestown residents fought for the Confederacy.

On 22 September 1861, Major Lewis, while attempting to enforce discipline in a case of insubordination, was shot and instantly killed by a private of company I, who afterwards suffered the extreme penalty of the law for his offense. Captain J. A. Matthews, of company A, was promoted to Major to replace Major Lewis.

Major Lewis, upon his death, left a pregnant wife; his son would be born a short time later. Major Lewis was married to Amanda M. Rohn Lewis. The son, born after Major Lewis' death (March 2, 1862), would be named Arnold Rohn Lewis. Amanda remarried after Arnold's death and was buried, upon her death on March 31, 1915, as Amanda Martin. She had a daughter by the second marriage, Jennie Martin, born about 1867.

Major Arnold Colt Lewis lies in a family plot in the West End section of the Union and West End Cemetery. Lying next to him is his wife and his son, Arnold, who died as a young man of only 18 years of age.

On Major Lewis' stone is engraved the following:

Maj. Arnold C. Lewis

Born August 12, 1827
Came to his death Sept 22, 1861
near Darnestown, Md. at the
hands of a Soldier of his Regiment
who when being arrested
for disobedient conduct cruelly
and unjustifiably shot him.

Major Lewis' widow was apparently quite distraught about the circumstances of her husbands death to have the stone engraved with the full story of his untimely death. It is noted that the stone over Major Lewis' grave is of a different design than those of the other headstones in the family plot. It may have been marking a grave at a different locale.

It is believed that Major Lewis was transported home from Darnestown upon his death under unfortunate circumstances and buried somewhere in Lehigh County. Exactly where, is not known, but one should bear in mind that Major Lewis was killed in 1861; His grave is in the family plot which is located in the West End portion of the Union and West End Cemetery. The West End Cemetery was not chartered until April 1882. Obviously, his body and his stone had to have been moved from some other place of interment at some point after the West End Cemetery was created. Perhaps he was originally buried in the Union Cemetery and moved at a later date. Records are not available that would confirm this.

Major Lewis' headstone shows signs of having been vandalized or broken at some point. Something, it is not known what, sat on top of the original headstone.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Civil War - First Year

Following Abraham Lincoln's election as President of the United States in 1860 triggered a number of Southern states to secede from the Union, fearing that Lincoln would abolish slavery. The subsequent bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, Charleston, South Carolina, shocked the nation, North and South alike. The South believed an immediate, vigorous, strong and vociferous action would shock the government into granting secession. It underestimated the North's resolve to put down insurrection. The North, on the other hand, incorrectly believed that the South would immediately capitulate under a determined strike from the Federal Army. These were rather simplistic views of how the situation would be resolved.

In the Lehigh Valley the general response was patriotic bombast. The South was in rebellion, a traitorous act which must not be allowed to destroy the "Grand Union." The general belief was that the rebellion would be put down in less than ninety days.

Within two weeks of the firing on Fort Sumter, Captain Thomas Yeager, of the Allentown Militia Company known as the Allen Infantry, went to Harrisburg to offer his units services to Governor Curtin. With the governor's approval, he returned to Allentown and began recruiting for additional members to being the unit to full strength.

On April 18, 1861, the Allen Infantry was on a train headed toward Baltimore and the defense of the capital, with four other companies from other Pennsylvania counties. These five companies were the first volunteer units to respond and would be, from that point forward, known as the "First Defenders." This unit, the Allen Infantry, is the only company from the Lehigh Valley area that earned the right to be called "First Defenders." Other militia companies that responded later have also been referred to in the ensuing years by the name "First Defenders", but this would be an incorrect reference. The Allen Infantry, like the militia units that followed signed on for ninety-days service, bolstering the belief in the North that the war would last no more than ninety-days.

Other militia units from the area, the Jordan Artillerists and the Allen Rifles were mustered into service as Company I of the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Upon joining ranks, they took the new name; Union Rifles. The Catasauqua Rifles were sworn in as Company D of the 9th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Captain Yeaghers' Allentown Infantry, on May 1, 1861 became Company G of the 25th Pennsylvania Volunteers. The Allen Infantry unit after garrison duty along the Potomac River south of Washington D.C., returned home on July 24, 1861, to a tumultuous greeting with much fanfare, paraded, serenaded and dined by the local populace. The other Allentown units returned a few days later and the "First Defenders" were on hand to welcome them.

After the return and discharge from service of these initial 3-month units, subsequent volunteer units were only authorized if they signed on to serve for three years.

Company C of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (PVI) was organized by Arnold C. Lewis, editor and publisher of the Catasauqua Herald. This company of men, mostly from Catasauqua, was mustered into service on August 17, 1861.

Lt. Colonel Tilghman Good of the 1st Regiment, upon completion of his ninety-day commitment immediately raised a Regiment. Four of the companies were raised in Allentown and one in Catasauqua. This Regiment, raised in early August, 1861, became the 47th PVI.

A third regiment, the 54th PVI had a company raised in Allentown. Company K was raised by Edward R. Newhard and was mustered into service in September,1861.

The 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry of the 92nd Regiment had a few Allentonians serving in the ranks in Company A. Samuel H. Schneck, a "First Defender" and a popular Allentonian served with this company in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry which drew attention to this unit. The cavalry was a special branch to be admired and Lehigh County needed its own cavalry unit to identify with, so it adopted the 9th Calvary.

The 104th PVI was raised in Berks County but contained men from Lehigh County in its ranks. However, there were not sufficient Lehigh County men to make up a company, so they were generally disbursed throughout the various companies.

By the end of April 1862, one year after the outset of hostilities, Lehigh County had provided about 800 men to the war effort. Some were men who had also served with 3-month companies and had reenlisted in new companies.

As yet, the county had not been touched by the cold hand of death and suffering. The only major battle fought during the first year of the war was Bull Run and no Pennsylvania regiments were engaged in that battle.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Sexy Bikini Site

I got an e-mail tonight from Benny; it was an invitation to link to his blog with the usual promise of a reciprocal link back to the Union and west End Cemetery blog. Benny's blog is entitled: "Sexy Bikini." I am certain that a lot of guys looking at babes in bikinis are going to jump right on a link to a cemetery. Yea, right!

Oh, yes, I checked out Benny's blog and sure enough there are lots of attractive babes in bikinis. I even checked out some of the comments and believe me, there were lots of suggestive comments. You know, while I can't complain about the number of hits on the Union and West End Cemetery blog (there have been more than I ever anticipated), there have been very few comments about the various subjects posted to the cemetery blog. I guess bikinis are more interesting than a blog about a cemetery, and that's understandable, but an occasional comment would be appreciated. But, realistically, I must admit that there is a difference in bikini blogs and a cemetery blog with the former more likely to elicit comment than the latter.

The link? Well, I could give it to you, but I won't.


Lehigh County

Lehigh County is located in eastern Pennsylvania approximately 15 miles from the Deleware River border with New Jersey. It is a small county comprising only 348 square miles. Originally administered under a political subdivision of Bucks County, it became the western district of Nothampton County when that county was formed in 1753. In 1812 the western district of Northamton became the new county of Lehigh with its county seat located in the borough of Northampton. The borough was renamed Allentown in 1838. Allentown would not receive city status until two years after the Civil War.

The first townships chartered were those in the southern part of the county, those closest to Philadelphia, the port of debarkation for the vast majority of German immigrants after 1710. These were the townships of Milford, Saucon and Macungie. In the mid 1700's the immigrants pushed into the lands north of South Mountain creating the need for further political divisions, hence the founding of Salisbury, Whitehall, Lowhill, Weisenberg, Lynn and Heidelberg. By 1860 the county was divided into four boroughs and fourteen townships with numerous villages springing up at country crossroads.

The majority of Pennsylvania German settlers in Lehigh County would remember their homeland as the "Platz"; that land west of the Rhine from the Moselle Valley on the north to Alsace in the south. By 1790, the date of the first national census, Lehigh County was primarily composed of Pennsylvania German farmers and working on farms averaging 100 acres or less.

By 1840, the population of the county had reached 25,000. Allentown drew residents from the farms while gaining even more new arrivals from Europe. In the decade preceding the Civil War, the villages of Catasauqua, Macungie, and Emaus became boroughs. Additional villages grew to meet the demands of country living by providing general stores and taverns as well as sites for the area church.

But there were people other than the Palatine Germans arriving in the years before the war. In Allentown's First Ward, the proximity of the iron furnaces and rolling mills along the Lehigh River drew Irish Catholic immigrants to its row homes altering the solid ethnic base of Pennsylvania German Lutheran and Reformed Protestantism.

The growth of the iron industry lured Irish and Welsh immigrants to Allentown. Although farming was the principal industry in the years before the war, mineral industries were growing in importance. Iron deposits were discovered in the early 1800's; anthracite coal, zinc oxide and the cement industry brought new and different residents to the area, thus changing the ethnic mix of the county.

When the Union Cemetery was created at 10th and Chew Street in 1854, Allentown was still a borough. The cemetery covered 11 acres of land purchased from Jacob Miller and Jacob Hagenbach at $200 an acre and laid out in lots of one rod square. The lots were sold for $6.00 each. A rod is an area 16 feet by 16 feet and would accommodate ten graves. In some instances, the lot owner would have one central monument erected and then set aside the remainder of the space for individual graves. In these instances, fewer than ten graves could be accommodated. Over time, the price of lots escalated upwards, eventually reaching $200 before the more than 1200 lots were all sold.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Summer Is Over!

When the trees in the cemetery turn bronze and yellow, and the cold winds blow, it is time to acknowledge that summer is over, fall has fell and the grass isn't going to continue to grow much longer. This means that the twice weekly trips to the cemetery will, in a very short time, come to an end. In many respects, this is a welcome relief. It has been a difficult summer trying to stay ahead of the grass and weeds. Yet, all things considered, the few volunteers that were active in the cemetery did a remarkable job of staying on top of things and, for the most part, the cemetery looked halfway decent most of the summer.

I cannot speak for the other directors and volunteers, but in some recesses of my brain, I really hate to see the summer come to an end. Yes, spring will be here again soon enough and then the summer months of endless cutting of grass, but for now, the end of the season is a sad time in many ways. I will miss the hours in the cemetery. The solitude, the quite moments, the sense of being surrounded by history. As one rides a riding mower, cutting grass, passing tombstone after tombstone, one can not help but glance at the names and dates on the stones. This invariably leads to random thoughts about the individual buried there and what is his or her story? The cemetery is filled with the remains of some 20,000 plus individuals, each one with a story to tell. If only the grave could reveal the story of each and every individual; what a wonderful resource that would be on the lives and times of those that came before us.

I will miss this interchange, even if it is all in my head. It will not be easy to get up every morning and not have to decide whether this is a good day to go to the cemetery or not. Ordinarily, this decision is dependent on the weather and whether or not I have a doctor appointment or some other meeting.

The meetings are generally associated with fund-raising efforts on behalf of the cemetery. This year, I have been involved in number of meetings with the Mayor's Office; having met with Fran Docherty, City Manager and Mary Ellen Koval, both associated with the Dept of Community Economic Affairs for the city of Allentown. Fran and Mary Ellen have given their whole-hearted support to the cemetery association. John Fusolta, the Parks Director for the city of Allentown has also pledged his support to the cemetery whenever he has resources that are available and can be directed to help the cemetery association in dealing with deceased trees. The cemetery association wishes to extend our sincere appreciation to the city of Allentown for its support.

Fran Docherty arranged a meeting with the newly installed president of the Lehigh County Military Affairs Counsel, Major Nathan Kline who, along with Beth Blasco, pledged their full support to the Union and West End Cemetery Association, the cemetery in downtown Allentown that is the final resting place of more than 700 Civil War Veterans. The support of the Lehigh County Military Affairs Counsel is a significant feather in the cap of the Union and West End Cemetery Association as the counsel has many important sponsors that could ease the financial burden of the cemetery association, if they choose to do so. The Military Affairs Counsel has agreed to help convince their sponsors to provide financial support to the cemetery association.

Ardath Rodale made a significant contribution to the cemetery in the year 2006, for which we are most grateful. This contribution came at a time when the cemetery association was in desperate need of additional funding. Thank you Ardie!

To a much lessor extent, Air Products and the Alvin H. Butz Company made contributions and we appreciate their willingness to be of assistance. I personally had hoped that they could have helped more.

The cemetery association is also indebted to the organizations that provide annual grants that are immensely vital to the cemetery associations survival. Grants have been received from the Trexler Trust, the Century Trust, The Dept of Community & Economic Development, and the Sylvia Perkin Charitable Trust.

We also appreciate the individual contributions made by so many individuals in varying amounts. The individual contributions are too numerous to list, but we are very appreciative of all contributions made by concerned and interested individuals.

We would also like to thank Representative Jennifer Mann and her staff for their support and assistance. When the cemetery association needs assistance in its dealings with the various organizations associated with the State of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Mann and her able staff are always available to provide assistance. We also appreciate Jennifer Mann's personal support of the cemetery association and her efforts on our behalf with respect to state funding. Thanks Jennifer!

So, another season comes to a close. We will continue to cut grass, as needed, for a few more weeks, then, the leaves will begin to fall, blanketing the cemetery with dead leaves that need to be removed before winter sets in. The final volunteer Clean-Up is scheduled for Saturday, November 18, 2006. This is the last time that many of us will be in the cemetery until spring. We could use a lot of help. Mark your calendar, Union & west End Cemetery Clean-Up - Saturday, November 18, 2006. We can use all the help we can get. Bring leaf rakes and/or leaf blowers and help put the cemetery in great shape for the winter months. Its the least you can do.



Cemetery Headstones

I promised to display some of the headstones in the Union and West End Cemetery. It would be mind boggling to view one headstone after another ad infinitum so I have chosen to limit the number to ten at any one time. I will display ten additional photographs of headstones at various times in the future.

These photographs were taken randomly. They are not intended to display only the unusual or unique stones, but more of a sampling. It is possible, but not likely, that at some point every stone in the cemetery would have been on display. Below are the first ten:

You most likely noted that the last image shows an impressive monument of an angel taking a child into heaven. You may have also noticed that the angel is headless. This is representative of an act of vandalism. Who would be so cruel as to remove the head of an angel on a monument in a sacred burial ground?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A New Look For The Blog

The Union and West End Cemetery blog has a new look! It was not necessarily by design, however. I was attempting to create some enhancements to the blog and in the process, lost all the changes I had previously made to customize the look of the blog. I could not recover the original changes. So...I began anew. Since I could not remember all the different aspects of the previous changes, I had to guess at what it looked like before I goofed. I came close, but none the less the blog has a new look and feel about it. But, I like it. I eliminated the cemetery logo which had a stark white background and always seemed out of place anyway. I altered some of the color schemes in favor of a more simplified version. I then added a new photograph of yours truly, taken this very evening. As I stated, I like the changes and I hope you do too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Civil War Voices

On the evenings of Friday, October 6th and Saturday, October 7th the Lehigh County Historical Society presented "Voices of the Civil War" in the Union and West End Cemetery. The program was presented by the Lehigh County Historical Society and cosponsored by the County of Lehigh and the Union and West End Cemetery Association.
Although Friday was a bit breezy and cool, it was still a nice evening to be in the cemetery. Saturday's weather was much more agreeable and a good crowd turned out to enjoy the evening in the cemetery listening to the voices of the Civil War. Over all, the event was quite successful and most enjoyable for all that attended.

Winfield C. M. Steckel was born on January 12, 1847. He was but 16 years of age when he enlisted with his older brother to serve his country in the Union Army. He became a drummer boy and he served his country well and true. While in service, he wrote a poem. Winfield died on August 8, 1881. The poem he wrote appears on his tombstone and is shown below:

"If strike we must,
then let it be a fierce and daring blow,
whose shock shall roust bright liberty,
and set each heart aglow."

The widow of Major Thomas Yeagher laments the loss of her husband who fell mortally wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks on June 1, 1862.

Sentinels assigned to guard the President of the United States, stand their post. President Lincoln was a surprise guest of the evening and expounded on Pennsylvania's support in the national election that allowed him to gain the Presidency in 1860. He also commented on the quick and rapid responses of the Pennsylvania state militia units that answered the call to defend the capital in Washington, D.C. These militia units became known as the "First Defenders".

One of the volunteer guides that led groups through the cemetery and explained the setting for each new event. In this instance, she was explaining that while many men attempted to avoid service in the war, Captain William Hecker of Co. G, 176th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, willingly went to war in the service of his country and homeland.

The above images show a reporter (as portrayed by Tom Ruch) telling the story of John Ritter, a Civil War veteran that became a notorious character on Hamilton Street in downtown Allentown. He was a vagabond, a drifter and was addicted to booze. He was known throughout Allentown as "Schnupty"; few knew his real name. He had a propensity to be annoyed and if no one came forward to do the honors, then he would attempt to annoy anyone within sight.

Walter Fetzer's wife relates a tale of having visited her husband in camp. She became the daughter of the regiment to which her husband was assigned although she did not remain long on the battle field.

After leaving Fetzer's grave site, the group would make a brief stop at the grave of William Sowden. William Sowden was the soldier that was saved on the battle field at Antietam when he had received a leg wound and fell in an open field under fire. Ignatz Gresser carried him from the field. Sowden went on to become a congressman from Pennsylvania and was instrumental in getting the Medal of Honor for Ignatz Gresser for his heroic actions.

The above actor is portraying Charles Issermoyer. Charles and his brother served in Co. D of the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Charles, who was a Sergeant and his brother both survived the war. Charles died on 20 April 1911.

The above photograph is the table for the Union and West End Cemetery. Left to right, Charles Canning, President of the cemetery association; his wife, Mary Ann and the cemetery association secretary, Nikki Clark.

Visit the Lehigh County Historical Society web site:
Lehigh County Historical Society

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