Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Charles & William Issermoyer
William & Charles Issermoyer
Charles Issermoyer and his younger brother, William Issermoyer, were mustered into Company D, One Hundred fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiment on October 7, 1862 under the surname, 'Isemoyer'. The 153rd PVI was a nine month company raised in Northampton County although the Issermoyer brothers were from Lehigh County. Charles entered with the rank of Corporal and William as a Private. The regiment proceeded to Washington D.C. and was then ordered to duty with the Eleventh Corps, the First Brigade, First Division.
On the 9th of December, upon the eve of the Battle of Fredericksburg, the brigade was ordered forward and reached Stafford Court House after an exhausting march. The unit did not participate in the fighting at Fredericksburg. It was later ordered to Potomac Creek Bridge where it settled into winter-quarters. On February 21, 1863 Corporal Charles Issermoyer was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
It was not until early May of 1863 that the 153rd would be engaged in battle. At that time, the regiment was on the Chancellorsville battle-ground. The 153rd was positioned on the extreme right of the Union line when the Rebel forces attacked. General Lee determined that the right flank of the Union line was weak and, splitting his forces into two groups against a superior force, he had General Jackson charge the right flank.
The One Hundred and Fifty-third was the first unit to be struck. With the steadiness of veterans, the regiment returned fire with deadly effect. The enemy was then coming in on both flanks and it would be certain destruction to stand longer and accordingly the unit was ordered to retire. Broken and disorganized by this overwhelming blow by the enemy, the brigade retired rapidly. The Union forces were able to regroup and the battle continued for on the next day (May 3,1863). The loss for the One Hundred Fifty-third was nineteen men killed, three officers, and fifty-three men wounded and thirty-three taken prisoner.
One of those taken prisoner, on May 3rd, was Sergeant Charles Issermoyer. He was transported to Richmond, Virginia and imprisoned in Libby Prison in that city where he remained until exchanged. This prison was primarily used for Union officers but enlisted men would come to Libby Prison and then be transferred elsewhere or would be exchanged.
From the Richmond Enquirer, 5/12/1862, p. 1, c. 6
PRISONERS OF WAR. – Up to yesterday morning there were in the Government prisons, in this city, the following captives: Prisoners of war, 918; disloyal citizens, 196; Confederate soldiers, 22; deserter from the Federals, 10; negroes, 16 – Total, 1,157. Of the foregoing, 860 privates were paroled and sent down the river last night, by the steamer Northampton, to Newport News, to be exchanged for an equivalent number of our men in the hands of the enemy. The departing Yankees were under the charge of Major Warner and Lieut. Turner, of the Confederate States Army, and did not appear sorry to go.
It is believed that Sergeant Charles Issermoyer was among those exchanged on May 12, 1863. Is it not odd that a Union soldier that enlisted in Northampton County was transported to Newport News to be exchanged on a steamer named 'Northampton'?
The Eleventh Corps, to which the 153rd was attached, arrived at Emmittsburg on the 30th of June. At eight o'clock on the following morning, it was put in motion towards Gettysburg, moving at a rapid rate to the sound of the enemy's guns. The Corps engaged the enemy which was already in heavy force, advancing on all sides. It was losing fearfully and had no hope of gaining any advantage, when Colonel Von Gilsa, unwilling to sacrifice his men needlessly ordered them back. In this brief engagement, the 153 rd regiment lost one officer, and thirty-two men killed, eight officers, and ninety-three men wounded, and eighty-two missing and prisoners. The Corps was soon after ordered to retreat through the town, and take position on Cemetery Hill.
On July 2nd at about four in the afternoon, a perfect storm of shot and shell was poured upon the Eleventh Corps, inflicting merciless slaughter. Shot and shell were poured into them from the artillery crowning the hill, along with showers of bullets from the well poised muskets of the Confederate infantry. The Corps was pushed by the Rebels to the point that they were compelled to retire on their first line of defenses, but even then the enemy followed, while the more daring were already within the Union lines and were now resolutely advancing toward the Union pieces.
The foremost one had already reached a piece, when, throwing himself over the muzzle of the cannon, he called out the the by standing gunners: "I take command of this gun." 'Du sollst sic haben,'* was the curt reply of the sturdy German, who, at that very moment, was in the act of firing. A second later, and the soul of the daring rebel had "taken its flight." With a desperate persistence, the enemy struggled for the mastery; but in vain. His bravest had already fallen. The Union lines were being rapidly reinforced, and seeing no hope of holding ground, the Confederate troops sullenly retired.
Among those captured and taken prisoner was Pvt. William Issermoyer. He was captured on July 1st, the first day of battle. However, he had returned to his company prior to it being mustered out of service.
The battle of Gettysburg ended the hard fighting for the 153rd regiment. Although it's term of enlistment had expired, and it had asked for its release; their request was denied and the regiment continued to move with the Corps in pursuit of the rebel forces. Finally on the 14th, orders for the discharge of the regiment were received, it moved by Frederick City and Baltimore, to Harrisburg, where on July 24, 1863, the regiment was mustered out of service.
On taking leave of the regiment, upon its departure from his brigade, Colonel Von Gilsa said: "I am an old soldier, but never did I know soldiers, who, with greater alacrity and more good will, endeavored to fulfill their duties. In the battle of Chancellorsville you, like veterans, stood your ground against fearful odds, and, although surrounded on three sides, you did not retreat until by me commanded to do so. In the three days battle at Gettysburg, your behavior put many an old soldier to the blush, and you are justly entitled to a great share of the glory which my brigade has won for itself, by repulsing the two dreaded Tiger Brigades of Jackson. In the name of your comrades of the First Brigade, and myself, I now bid you farewell."
In 1910, Charles Issermoyer was living at 139 North Lumber Street in the 4th ward in Allentown, Pennsylvania with his second wife, Sarah. He was 67 years of age and his wife was 54 years of age. They had been married five years. Charles Issermoyer was born in Pennsylvania, but both of his parents were born in Germany. He was a shoemaker and owned his own shop. In the house with them was Martin A. Johnson, 24; Annie Johnson, 21; and Milton R. Johnson, their son who was less than one month of age. Martin was born in Denmark but came to the U. S. as a child in 1890. He and Annie had been married one year. He was employed as a Ribbon Weaver in a silk mill. He is listed as a son-in-law and Annie as a daughter. Sarah gave birth to three children and only one was living in 1910, so it can be presumed that this was Sarah's daughter by a previous marriage.
Charles and William were the sons of Lewis Issermoyer, born 22 Feb 1798, died 8 Oct 1861, and Hannah Issermoyer, born 16 Oct 1808, died 13 March 1866.
Charles Issermoyer was born on June 26, 1843 and died on April 20, 1911, at age 68 years, 8 months and 26 days. His first wife and the mother of his children was Eliza A., who died on 19 July 1903. Charles and Eliza had at least three children. Two died in infancy: Laura A., born 10 July 1869, died 12 Feb 1872 and Lillie E., born 14 March 1872 and died 18 Feb 1873. Charles, Eliza, Laura and Lillie as well as Charles' parents, Lewis and Hannah are buried in the family plot in Union and West End Cemetery. It is believed that the third child was a boy.
* "You should not have!"
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Seasons Greetings #2
Limited Edition Print
"Divine Guidance "
It was heart-breaking news, even for a man of war. General Thomas Jefferson “Stonewall” Jackson received the hard tidings at his headquarters near Fredericksburg, Virginia early on the morning of March 17, 1863. Just the day before, the general’s headquarters had been relocated from a winter campsite he had occupied for several months at nearby Moss Neck Plantation. At the time, the owner of Moss Neck, Richard Corbin, was serving elsewhere in the Confederate cavalry. Left at home on the plantation was his wife, Roberta, and the couple’s five year-old daughter, Jane Wellford Corbin - who was known affectionately as “Janie.”
General Jackson and Janie became friends. Jackson had an infant daughter back home that he had not yet seen, and he found little Jane irresistibly delightful. “She was very pretty and bright,” an officer would recall, “with a sweet and happy face and fair, flaxen curls.” She came regularly to visit the famous commander at headquarters, and Jackson would interrupt his duties to play with her. “She would play there for hours,” an observer would recollect, “sitting on the floor with a pair of scissors cutting paper and entertaining him with her childish prattle.” Jackson normally kept the warm, affectionate side of his personality to himself, and was known to fellow officers and troops as formal and reserved. Officers and soldiers who held such a view of the general were stunned to find him upon occasion that winter sitting on his headquarters floor, laughing and playing with joyful little Janie.
When Jackson moved his headquarters to nearby Hamilton’s Crossing in preparation for a spring offensive, he left Moss Neck with concern for little Janie. She had contracted scarlet fever, but reports from the Corbin home seemed hopeful, and the general expressed his wishes for a speedy recovery. A day after establishing his new headquarters, however, Jackson received the awful news: his little friend Janie had suddenly died.
Stonewall Jackson - the great and mighty warrior whose hammer-like blows had driven the enemy from so many fields of fire - wept aloud. Then he unashamedly knelt and took his burdens to the Lord in prayer. Such was his way. Within a few months, it would also be time for Stonewall Jackson to “cross over the river….”
Friday, December 22, 2006
Seasons Greetings #1
Limited Edition Print
It was a side of mighty “Stonewall” Jackson known only to a few. For a fleeting time in 1863, Jackson’s inner heart was revealed to all who were in his presence. In the winter of 1862-63, Jackson made his headquarters at Moss Neck Plantation on Virginia’s Rappahannock River. The plantation was owned by Richard and Roberta Corbin, who had a young daughter named Janie, known for her friendly, delightful personality. While visiting with Janie’s parents, Jackson and the child developed an endearing friendship — encouraged, perhaps, by the fact that Jackson had a newly-born daughter he had not yet seen or by the barren conditions of Jackson’s own childhood.
Jackson oversaw the writing of battle reports, took the lead in promoting religious activity inside his corps, and became almost an adopted father to five-year-old Corbin. The child visited Jackson’s office daily. In the attention he gave her was the love and yearning he felt for the infant daughter he had not yet seen.
Jackson willingly put aside his duties whenever Janie appeared at his headquarters. He laughed and played with the child —much to the surprise of officers and troops who knew only the formal, professional demeanor of “Stonewall” Jackson. Little Janie’s visit became the daily routine that brightened the famous warrior’s days. In March, when the looming spring campaign drew Jackson and his troops away from Moss Neck, he paid a farewell call on his five-year-old friend, only to learn that she was stricken with scarlet fever. He was reassured by her mother, who cited the doctor’s predictions for a rapid recovery.
The story of Jackson’s tender, cheerful moments with delightful little Janie Corbin would remain as enduring evidence of “Stonewall” Jackson, the man.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Hooker aligned himself with the 'Radical Republicans', who were among President Lincoln's fiercest critics, and he shared their hatred of the South. "May God have mercy on Robert E. Lee," he once vowed, "for I shall have none." Gen. Hooker's character often came into question. He allowed so many "camp followers" to set up shop near his headquarters that for ages to come prostitutes would be known as "hookers."
Gen. Hooker's plan to flank Gen. Lee's forces called for a three pronged movement. The main force would move up along the Rappahannock River, cross at well-known fords, and concentrate on Lee's left flank at a crossroads known as Chancellorsville. Chancellorsville consisted of a large brick tavern named Chancellorsville which dominated the intersection of the Orange Turnpike with the Orange Plank, Ely's Ford, and River roads. "This is splendid," exulted one of Hooker's corps commanders, "Hurrah for Old Joe." A second force would cross the river at Fredericksburg in a demonstration designed to divert Lee's attention from the main attack. Meanwhile a third Federal force would cross the river below Fredericksburg to envelop and crush Lee's Army when it was forced to retreat. Hooker had 130,000 troops; Lee could marshal about 60,000.
Hooker's main force reached Chancellorsville virtually unopposed. He proclaimed that "The Rebel army is now legitimate property of the Arny of the Potomac," The other Federal forces, however, were not so fortunate as they were not familiar with the topography and lacked adequate maps and therefore proceeded cautiously. Inexplicably, Gen. Hooker halted his advance on April 30th.
Lee learned that Hooker's right flank lay unprotected. Lee employed a bold plan that defied traditional military doctrine; he divided his army in the presence of a vastly superior force. He moved 15,000 troops to his front on a feint that kept Hooker's attention focused away from the exposed right flank. He then dispatched Gen. 'Stonewall' Jackson with approximately 30,000 troops to attack the exposed flank. As the Federal soldiers were settling down around their campfires for supper, Jackson's rebel force charged out of the woods.
Suddenly, a bugle rang out in the afternoon shadows. Bugles everywhere echoed the notes up and down the line. As waves of sweat-soaked soldiers rolled forward, the high defiance of the Rebel Yell pierced the gloomy woods. Jackson's Corps erupted from the trees and sent the astonished Unionists reeling. "Along the road it was pandemonium," recalled a Massachusetts soldier, "and on the side of the road it was chaos." Most of Howard's men fought bravely, drawing three additional battle lines across Jackson's path. But the over matched Federals occupied an untenable position. The screaming gray legions overwhelmed each Union stand and eventually drove the Eleventh Corps completely from the field. The Rebel charge was a sledgehammer blow that put thousands of Federal troops into a chaotic retreat. Jackson's surprise attack had shattered Hooker's army and his strategy beyond repair. Fighting would continue for another day, with even greater Union losses. Lee lost thirteen thousand troops, while inflicting about eighteen thousand casualties on the enemy.
The battle of Chancellorsville was Robert E. Lee's greatest triumph. But it was also very costly in that General Thomas Jonathan Jackson was severely wounded by one of his own pickets by mistake in the dark of night. Jackson died on May 10, 1863 if complications of his wound. "I know not how to replace him," Lee lamented.
The Daily Dispatch: May 5, 1863.
A glorious Confederate victory.
In the language of Gen. Lee's gratifying dispatch, of the 3rd of May, to President Davis, "We have again to thank Almighty God for a great victory." This grand and important triumph was achieved on Saturday. Gen Lee says in the beginning of his dispatch. "Yesterday Gen. Jackson penetrated to the rear of the enemy; and drove him to within one mile of Chancellorsville. This morning the battle was renewed." He (the enemy) was dislodged from all his positions around Chancellorsville and driven back towards the Rappahannock, over which he is now retreating." Many prisoners were captured. Gen. Lee states that the enemy's loss was heavy, and as he was in the act of retreating, it is to be hoped was still further to be increased. Our loss is killed and wounded, of course, must be considerable in such an engagement, but was much less than that of the enemy. The whole country will be distressed to learn that Gen. Jackson is seriously wounded. The prayers of every one in the South will go up to Heaven for his recovery, and his restoration to the country and the cause, in the field of battle.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Civil War - Third Year
That is not to say that duty in Northern Virginia during the winter months had been pleasant. They were kept busy building and maintaining roads and bridges. It had been a bitter cold winter with more rain and snow than usual. But in winter quarters, there was safety from combat if not from disease and the boredom of winter quarters.
Also, the knowledge that the 128th Pennsylvania Regiment would be home soon, their nine month tour expiring on May 14, 1863, gave the Lehigh County citizens something to look forward to. Extensive plans were being made for a celebration of the return of the popular veterans of the Battle of Antietam. But this was not to be. Looming on the horizon was the ambitious campaign of General Hooker to flank the Confederate left by moving across the Rapidan River at Chancellorsville.
Just a mere twelve days before the 128th was scheduled to be discharged, the men found themselves locked in battle with the famed troops of General "Stonewall" Jackson. And to make matters worse for the folks at home the regiment that received the initial thrust of Jackson's troops was the 153rd Pennsylvania of Northampton County, all alone on the extreme right flank of the 11th Corps.
This "bad luck" regiment in which many Lehigh Countians served (Companies D & G), was smashed by an overwhelming and powerful force. On dropping back to protect the flank, now fully exposed, the men of the 128th were caught in a confusing night maneuver which found them within the lines of the enemy. About thirty men from Lehigh County were taken prisoner including Captain Huber of Company G.
Confederate General Thomas Jefferson "Stonewall" Jackson was shot and severely wounded by one of his own pickets when he ventured beyond the Confederate lines. Initially, his left arm was amputated in an effort to save him, but he would die several days later from pneumonia and complications from his wound.
The prisoners had all been paroled and returned to Harrisburg by May 19th and the two Lehigh County companies were mustered out with the rest of the regiment. A reception for the two companies of the 128th PVI was held on Thursday, May 21st in Allentown.
Company D of the 128th left Lehigh County with 84 men and returned with 75 - 2 were killed in battle, 2 died, 2 were discharged and 3 deserted. The 2 killed in battle were: Franklin Bloss and George Keck. Sylvester Burgen and Lew Frankenfield died; Edward Bloss and Theodore Seigfried were discharged and James Albright, Victor Faringer and James A. Jackson deserted.
Company G of the 128th left Lehigh County with 100 men and returned with 84 - 4 were killed in battle, 5 died, 3 discharged and 4 deserted. Henry Weller, Henry Lucenbill, Meno Miller and Franklin S. Ritter were killed in combat. Willoughby Knauss, Andrew Flata, L.W.O. Gorantio, Tilghman Jacoby and William Mertz died. J. Berkenmeyer, Hugh O. Davis and Franklin J. Keck were discharged and Charles A. Pfeiffer, Thomas J. Raynes, John P. Weaver and Joseph Barriss deserted. Barriss returned voluntarily and was transferred to the 145th PVI.
George Keck and Franklin S. Ritter are buried in the Union and West End Cemetery.
Local newspaper articles carried word of the deaths of Sgt. Charles Heil of the 176th and Henry Huff and Corporal J. Franklin Weiss of the 54th. There is no indication that Heil or Huff were returned home for burial. Corporal J. Franklin S. Weiss, Co. K of the 54th Pennsylvania Regiment was returned to Allentown and is buried in the Union section of the Union and West End Cemetery. The mood in Allentown was somber.
On June 16 the Confederate forces of General Robert E. Lee, began to cross the Potomac into Maryland on their way to Pennsylvania. The scene at Harrisburg was perfect panic. People began fleeing the city with their valuables piled high on wagons. State Officials drafted a directive which provided for all able bodied men between the ages of 18 to 60 to be accepted for Militia duty. In all, five militia companies were raised in Lehigh County. The emergency militia units, however, did not see action at Gettysburg.
After the discovery on June 30 that Gettysburg was occupied by a division of Federal cavalry, the Confederates on July 1 sent the divisions of Major General Henry Heth and Major General William Pender of Hill's Corps, down the Chambersburg Road to drive Gen. Buford away and occupy Gettysburg. The battle began at 5:30 a.m., when shots were exchanged over Marsh Creek. In the face of Buford's resistance, Heth pushed on cautiously until he reached a point about two miles west of Gettysburg. Here he deployed two brigades in line, and pressed ahead; it was nearly 10 a.m. Federal General John F. Reynolds, commanding I Corps, arrived on the field at this point, and determined to engage Herb. He ordered I Corps and Major General Oliver 0. Howard's XI Corps to march to Gettysburg. Soon after 10.30 a.m., I Corps arrived and engaged Heth along McPherson's Ridge. By 11.30 a.m., Heth had been defeated and forced to withdraw to Herr Ridge. Early in the action, Reynolds was killed, and field command devolved upon Howard. A lull now settled over the field as both sides brought up reinforcements. Howard left one division in reserve on Cemetery Hill. His strategy was simple: delay the Confederates long enough to enable the rest of the Federal army to concentrate. Lee arrived on the field after noon. He had initially hoped to avoid a general engagement since the strength of the enemy was unknown, and the terrain in the Gettysburg area unfamiliar. But, soon after noon, Rodes's division of Ewell's Corps arrived on Oak Hill and attacked the right of I Corps. At 2 p.m. Heth's division joined the attack on I Corps. At 3 p.m., the battle spread north of the town when Jubal Early's division of Ewell's Corps attacked down the Harrisburg Road and crushed the flank of XI Corps. At about the same time, west of Gettysburg, Pender's division relieved Heth and assaulted I Corps' position along Seminary Ridge. By 4 p.m., both Federal corps were in retreat through Gettysburg to Cemetery Hill. Federal losses numbered slightly over 9,000, including some 3,000 captured, compared with Confederate losses of about 6,500. The day's action had resulted in a Confederate victory, but Federal forces held onto the high ground south of Gettysburg, where their position was soon strengthened by reinforcements.
Next day, July 2, 1863, the success of his army in the fighting on July 1 encouraged Lee to renew the battle on July 2. An early morning reconnaissance of the Federal left revealed that their line did not extend as far south as Little Round Top. Lee directed Longstreet to take two divisions of I Corps and march south until they reached the flank of the Federal forces. They would attack from this point, supported by a division of A.P. Hill's corps - a total force of nearly 20,000 men. While Longstreet carried out the main offensive, Ewell was ordered to conduct a demonstration against the Federal right. However, he was given discretion to mount a full-scale attack should the opportunity present itself. The Federal army was well prepared for Lee's offensive. Six of its seven corps had arrived on the battlefield, and VI Corps was making a thirty-six-mile forced march to reach it. Meade had deployed his army in a fish-hook-shaped formation, with the right on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill, the center along Cemetery Ridge, and the left on Little Round Top. The left of the Federal line was held by Major General Daniel Sickles's III Corps. Sickles was dissatisfied with his assigned position and in the early afternoon, without orders, he advanced his line nearly half a mile west in order to take advantage of the high open ground around a nearby peach orchard. Soon after Sickles took up this new position, Longstreet attacked. Third Corps was hard pressed and Meade sent V Corps and part of 11 Corps to reinforce Sickles in the Peach Orchard. But, after furious fighting, Longstreet's forces broke through, causing Sickles's entire line to collapse. The Confederates pursued to the base of Little Round Top, but Federal reinforcements, including elements of VI Corps, checked their advance. Farther north, elements of a division of the Confederate III Corps advanced to the slopes of Cemetery Ridge before they too were forced to retire. On the Federal right, Ewell did not attack until evening, after Longstreet's onslaught had subsided. The effort to storm Cemetery Hill was ultimately unsuccessful. Ewell's attacks were also repulsed at Culp's Hill, although a foothold was gained near the base of the hill. The second day's fighting had cost each army some 9,000 casualties. Lee's forces had again gained ground, but had failed to dislodge the Federal army from its strong position.
On the third day, July 3, 1863, Lee's confidence was unshaken by the events of July 2. That night, he ordered Longstreet, who had been reinforced by Major General George Pickett's division, to renew his assault on the Federal left. Simultaneously, Ewell, who had also been reinforced, was to storm Culp's Hill. Stuart's cavalry, which had rejoined the army late that day, was ordered to march well east of Gettysburg, and attempt to penetrate to the Federal rear where they might disrupt communications and distract Meade. Meanwhile, Meade had determined to hold his position and await Lee's attack. However, at Culp's Hill he authorized XII Corps to drive Ewell's forces out of the captured Federal trenches at daylight. The Federal effort opened with a concentrated artillery bombardment which precipitated a tremendous musketry battle. With Ewell already engaged, Lee rode to Longstreet's headquarters to observe his preparations for the attack on the Federal left. Longstreet misunderstood his orders and was planning instead a movement to turn the Federal left. With the hope of a coordinated attack now lost, Lee was forced to modify his plans. He determined to shift his main attack to the Federal center on Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet was placed in command of the effort. The plan was first to subject the Federal position to bombardment by nearly 140 cannon, then to send Pickett, Pettigrew and half of Trimble's divisions (formerly Heth's and Pender's) - nearly 12,000 men - forward to smash the Federal center. While Longstreet made his preparations during the morning, Ewell's forces were defeated in their counterattacks on Culp's Hill, and withdrew around 11:00 a.m. At l:00 p.m., Longstreet opened the great bombardment of the Federal line. The Federal army replied with approximately 80 cannon and a giant duel ensued which lasted for nearly two hours. After the bombardment subsided, the infantry went forward. This has subsequently been known throughout history as "Pickett's Charge." Federal artillery, followed by musketry, cut their formations to pieces and inflicted devastating losses. A small Confederate force effected one small penetration of the Federal line, but was overwhelmed. The attack ended in disaster, with nearly 5,600 Confederate casualties. Meanwhile, three miles east of Gettysburg, Stuart's cavalry was engaged by Federal cavalry under Brigadier General David Gregg. The cavalry clash was indecisive, but Stuart was neutralized and posed no threat to the Federal rear. The battle was effectively over. Federal losses numbered approximately 23,000, while estimates of Confederate losses range between 20,000 and 28,000.
The Battle of Gettysburg; three days of hellish fighting that ended with General Lee escaping back across the Potomac. Only two Lehigh units were engaged at Gettysburg. The Lehigh companies were attached to the 46th PVI and the 147th PVI. The 46th was lightly engaged but the 147th was in the thick of things. The 153rd from Northampton County, which contained many lehigh County men, also saw considerable action at Gettysburg.
The Lehigh Valley took little notice of the Battle of Gettysburg, but was relieved that Lee had once again retreated to Virginia. Also, very little notice was taken of the dedication of the first National Cemetery at Gettysburg or of President Lincoln's speech (November 19, 1863).
After Gettysburg, General Lee moved his Confederate forces south of the Rapidan River where they built entrenchments to prevent further pursuit by the Federal Army. There were a few minor clashes as each probed at the other seeking a weakness in the defenses. For the most part, nothing disturbed the existence of the two armies, each positioned on one side or the other of the Rapidan River.
South of Virginia, Things were heating up in Tennessee.
Battle of Chattanooga
The Battle of Chattanooga took place in November 1863. It resulted from the defeat of the Union's Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Ohioan William Rosecrans, at the Battle of Chickamauga. Following Chickamauga, the Army of the Cumberland regrouped at Chattanooga. Confederate forces seized the heights, including Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, surrounding the city. Southern artillery prevented supply trains or reinforcements from reaching Rosecrans's army, while it also prohibited the Northerners from retreating. The Northern soldiers were in a dire situation. They had to surrender, starve, or attack a larger, well-fortified force. This set the stage for the Battle of Chattanooga.
Union military officials immediately dispatched reinforcements to the Army of the Cumberland, including twenty thousand men from Virginia under Joseph Hooker in October and an additional sixteen thousand men under Ohioan William T. Sherman from Mississippi. General George Thomas, the man most responsible for saving the Army of the Cumberland at Chickamauga, replaced Rosecrans, although Ohioan Ulysses S. Grant assumed overall command of Hooker's, Thomas's, and Sherman's men in October.
Upon arriving to take command of the Union forces, Grant immediately set about opening a safe supply line. He succeeded in doing so on October 28. For the next three weeks, Grant plotted his next move. It came on November 23, following the arrival of Sherman's troops to bolster the Union force. On that day, Grant ordered General Thomas to attack Confederate soldiers at Orchard Knob. The union soldiers drove the Southerners from the field. The next day, under the cover of fog, General Hooker attacked the Confederate stronghold of Lookout Mountain, securing the vast majority of the mountain for the Northerners.
Although the Northerners had enjoyed some initial success, Confederate forces still held Missionary Ridge. Grant ordered his men to attack this position on November 25. General Sherman was to attack the right flank, while Hooker attacked the left. Unfortunately for the Northern troops, Hooker's men faced difficulty crossing Chickamauga Creek and did not launch their attack at the planned time. This left Sherman's men facing the Confederate troops alone. Grant ordered General Thomas, who commanded soldiers in the front of the Confederate army, to attack rifle pits at the foot of the ridge. Grant hoped that this attack would divert some of the Confederates attacking Sherman's force and give Hooker time to make his assault. Thomas men easily captured the Confederate position and then launched an all out assault against the center of Missionary Ridge. Although Grant had not ordered the charge, Thomas's Army of the Cumberland succeeded in driving the Southerners from the ridge, thus bringing the Battle of Chattanooga to a close and securing virtually all of Tennessee for the Union, at least for the time being.
In March, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant met with President Lincoln who placed him in charge of all Union Armies. He was the overall commander of all Federal forces in the field.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
City of Allentown Lends a Hand
The City of Allentown made it a great day for the Union and West End Cemetery. A crew from the City Parks Department paid a visit to the cemetery and took down one of the trees in the cemetery that had been emarked as dangerous. A portion of it broke off and fell earlier this year knocking down one the the cemetery's light post. The city agreed to take it down for us when time permitted.
It was really great to see the city trucks and equipment in the cemetery assisting the cemetery perform tasks that the cemetery is not equipped to handle.
A big Thank You to Francis Dougherty and John Fasolka of the City of Allentown.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Volunteer Recognition -12/6/2006
Donald W. Leitzel
Bailey Elizabeth Clark
Charles S. Canning
Brian Engler, Jr.
Brian Engler, Sr.
Arturo Merced, Jr.
The Honorable Jennifer Mann
City of Allentown, Bureau of Parks
St. John's U.C.C.
Bruce DeLong, Sr
Lehigh County Historical Society
Sara Nelson Thayer
Echo's of the 1860's
The Allentown Band
City of Allentown, Bureau of Recycling
William Allen Naval JROTC
Chapter 190, Military Order of the Purple Heart
Donald V. Johnson
The Century Fund
The Sylvia Perkin Trust
Harry C. Trexler Trust
Allentown Community Corrections Center
Tracy Jacobson, Director
Northampton Area Community College, Sigma Pi Omega
David M. Howells, Sr.
Bruce Weida, Esq.
Jordan-Martin Lodge No. 673, F&AM
Thomas C. Helm
Friday, December 15, 2006
Allen Infantry - First Defenders
The men of the Allen Infantry were assigned, belatedly, to the Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company G. A link to the official roster for the unit can be found below:
Recruited at Allentown
Mustered in on April 18, 1861, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Allen Infantry of the First Defenders
View the roster for the:
The men of Company G, Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment were mustered out on 26 July 1861, and returned to Allentown to a city-wide celebration..
By the State of Pennsylvania
Act of the Legislature
dated May 26, 1891
Thursday, December 14, 2006
John A. Romig
Every soldier that served in the Civil War, even if only for a short time, had his personal and unique story to tell about his experiences. Even those that ran away from the needs of the nation, the deserters; they had their stories as well.
Most any able bodied man could find a way to evade the call to serve by payment of money or by subterfuge. And in doing so, could reap the benefits of an inflated economy without suffering personal discomfort or fear of being found by any authorities while in hiding. Lehigh County had its share of deserters and evaders.
The most notorius deserter from Lehigh County was one John A. Romig, a member of the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. His escapades were written about in the Allentown Democrat every time he was seen or captured. John was apprehended in the county on at least five different occasions; taken to the county jail and then to Harrisgburg only to break out and return home again.
With unbelievable effrontery, the infamous deserter requested a pension after the war on the basis of his service in the Allen Infantry and the fact that he was a "First Defebnder". He did not receive the pension, but it would appear that his former duty with the Allen Infantry may have saved him from severe punishment during the war. Men with lesser offenses were hung or shot for desertion.
Allentown Democrat - ESCAPE
Phillip Storch, arrested last week as a deserter from Capt. Newhard's Company has, like John A. Romig, since re-escaped from the guard house at Camp Curtin. Romig will be shot upon re-arrest, so says the Adjutant Gerneral.
Allentown Democrat - RE-ARRESSTED
John Romig, who was arrested in this place some weeks since as a deserter from Capt. Newhard's Company, 54th Pennsylvania regiment and subsequently made his escape from the guard house at Camp Curtin, was re-arrested at his residence here on Wednesday night last and kept in irons in our county jail up to Tuesday when he was again taken to Harrisburg where he is to await his time for trial by Court Martial. This last was his fourth repetition of the offense.
Allentown Democrat - ARREST AND ESCAPE
John Romig of this place, a segar maker by trade, and originally a member of Capt. E. R. Newhard's Company, 54th regiment, but a deserter from service for the fifth time, was arrested in this place on Thursday by order of Adj. Hangen, and committed to jail to await transportation to Harrisburg. Same evening as he was being taken out of jail for conveyance to the depot, in charge of a person appointed to take him to Harrisburg, he managed as he was about getting into the coach to dart out of the grasp of his custodian and make his escape. John had better keep away from here if he wants to avoid several years government servitude at the rip-rap or Tortugas.
Allentown Democrat - INCREASED REWARD
The reward for arresting deserters from the army heretofore $5, has been increased by order of the Secretary of War, to $10.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Allentown Democrat - February 3, 1864
Mr paul Balliet, undertaker in this place, returned home from Key West, Florida, on Thursday whither he had gone to bring home for enterment the remains of deceased soldires of the 47th Pennsylvania, and other regiments. He brought home with him the remains of the following: Corp. James Ritter of Co. I, Orderly Sergeant Charles Molph of Catasauqua; Jesse Remmel, Co. B, Allentown; and Edward S. Scholl, Capt. Mickley's Company, Allentown. Balliet was there for five weeks.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Pvt. Allen J. Wetherhold
According to the 1860 census, George Wetherhold was 59 years of age and ran a boarding house in the 3rd Ward of the Borough of Allentown. In the household was his wife, Elizabeth, then 57; Allen, age 18; Albert, age 16; and Eliza, age 12. Additionally, there was an older daughter named Emma who married William Beck, a machinist, and they were living in the household at the time. There were six boarders in the boarding house in 1860; a factory spinner,age 35; a pedler, age 30; a coach maker, age 28; a cooper, age 27; and a currier, age 35.
When Allen was about 19 years of age, the Civil War began and President Lincoln put out a call for 75,000 troops to defend Washington, D.C. Allen may have already been a member of the Allen Infantry under Captain Yeager, but if not, he joined the group before it left Allentown in route to Harrisburg in April, 1861. The men of the Allen Infantry departed Allentown on April 17, 1861 and arrived in Harrisburg by night fall. They were enrolled at Harrisburg on April 18, 1861 and rushed by rail to defend the Capital. These militia members had enlisted for a period of ninety days. Those in command of raising an army were sure that the war would last no longer than a ninety day period.
The men of the Allen Infantry militia were assigned to Company G. of the Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This group along with four companies from other Pennsylvania counties would be known as "First Defenders", for it was these five original companies from Pennsylvania that were the first to arrive in Washington for the pupose of defending Washingtonand the Capital against attack from Confederate forces positioned just across the Potomac River, in full view of the Capital.
There were ten companies in the 25th PVI regiment and while five companies performed garrison duty at Washington, Company G, D, F, I and K of the 25th regiment were marched to Rockville on the 29th and 30th of June, where they would join Colonel Charles P. Stone, commander of the 7th Brigade, Sanford's 3rd Division, of Patterson's army. They arrived at Sandy Hook, across from Harper's Ferry on July 1, 1861. At this time, Harper's Ferry was occupied by Confederate forces, and considerable skirmishing occurred. To obtain possession of the place, it was arranged to storm it on the morning of the 6th, but just before the movement commenced, orders were received to march rapidly to Williamsport, and thence across the Potomac to Martinsburg. Arriving on the 8th, after a fatiguing march through clouds of dust, under a broiling sun, it went into camp in a little valley outside of town, which in consequence with the feelings of the men, was called Camp Misery.
On July 15th The regiment advanced to Bunker Hill. They then camped at Harper's Ferry from July 17-23, which was now void of any enemy. The men of Company G of the Twenty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were mustered out on 26 July 1861.
Allen J. Wetherhold; it is believed, died at his home in Allentown in 1862. The cause and circumstances of this death are not known.
Allen, his father, his mother, an infant brother, and possibly another infant are buried in the family plot in the Union and West End Cemetery. The tombstone of George and Elizabeth have both been broken and were previously repaired. However, George's stone has separated again as the epoxy failed to hold. The head stone for Allen Wetherhold is unreadable and, at some point, broke off near the base. The top portion of his stone is broke off just above the base and was leaning against the stone of his mother. The portion of the head stone that remains is just barely visible at ground level. There is some damage to that portion of the remaining stone where lawn cutting equipment has knicked it from time to time. I excavated the earth around the stone to determine if it could be repaired and there is hope that something can be done to place the stone back on its base.
The back side of the Wetherhold Head Stones.
George's stone is broken.
Allen's stone is laying against his mothers.
Frontal view of the Wetherhold head stones.
Allen's grave is marked with the flag.
This is the upper portion of Allen's head stone
which was broken off at the base.
It is leaning against the back of his mother's stone.
I excavated the base of Allen's stone to determine
This plaque was placed on Allen's grave to
Allen's grave, commenmorating his involvement in the Civil War as a "First Defender" has a bronze marker, denoting and celebrating his service to his country. Unfortunately, it has been placed to the rear of his grave stone and it rest at the foot of the grave of a Sarah Martin, who died in 1911. The head stones of all members of the Wetherhold family face west, and the bronze plaque should be on the west side of the Allen's headstone, but has been misplaced on the east or back side. Efforts will need to be taken to correct this error.
As noted earlier, Allen's father, George Wetherhold died in 1869. Elizabeth Wetherhold, age 76 in 1880, was living in the household of William Beck and his wife, Emma Wetherhold Beck and their family. Their home was located on Penn Street in the 5th Ward. Elizabeth would die on the 1st day of November, 1881, and would be laid to rest in the Union and West End Cemetery along side her husband, her son, Allen, and the graves of several infants.
Although Allen Wetherhold was only twenty years of age when he died in 1862, there is no reason to believe that he served with any other Civil War units other than the 25th PVI. No records exist that would lead one to believe that he served in the Civil War beyond his ninety days service with the 25th Pennsylvania Volunteers. It is therefore presumed that he died at home in Allentown from a cause unrelated to his service in the Civil War.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy..."
"...The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu."
"...No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory."
"...With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God."
Remember Pearl Harbor!
December 7, 1941
Monday, December 04, 2006
Lt. Colonel Charles W. Abbott
Charles W. Abbott was born in Easton, Pennsylvania on February 18, 1834. About 1854, he married the former Emma E. Kuhns. Sons, William Henry Abbott, was born on September 25, 1855 and Harry C. Abbott in July 1860.
Charles Abbott was a member of the Allen Infantry militia unit which was organized in Allentown by Captain Yeager in 1859. Charles was with the militia unit in April, 1861 when it answered the call for troops to defend the Capital from invasion by rebel forces. The Allen Infantry was assigned to 25th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment as company K. The men of Allen Infantry, along with four other militia units from across the state, would, from that time forward, be known as the 'First Defenders'. The initial militia units that responded to the call for troops were enrolled for only ninety-days. Thus, they were mustered out of service on July 26, 1861, having fulfilled their term of service.
Many of the 'First Defenders' enlisted with three-year regiments that were being formed across the state. On August 21, 1861, Charles W. Abbott enlisted with the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment. This regiment was being raised by Colonel Tilghman H. Good, who had formerly served as Captain of the Allen Rifles, another Allentown militia unit that had members serving in ninety-day companies during the initial months of the war. Because of his service with the Twenty-fifth regiment, Charles Abbott was given the rank of 1st Lieutenant and assigned to the headquarter company of the Forty-seventh. At the time of his enrollment with the Forty-seventh, Charles was twenty-seven years of age, listed his occupation as a carpenter and was a resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania. His enlistment was for three-years.
The detailed history of the campaigns in which the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment was engaged and their movements is detailed elsewhere in this web-log.
On October 22, 1862, following the Battle of Pocotaligo Bridge, Charles Abbott was promoted to the rank of Captain, and placed in charge of Company K, replacing Captain Charles Mickley, who was killed during the battle.
On January 3, 1865, Charles was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel and was second in command of the regiment which was commanded by Colonel J. P. Shindle Gobin. Gobin replaced Colonel Tilghman Good who had been mustered out at the end of his term of service. Gobin was subsequently promoted to brevet Brigadier General on March 13, 1865.
Charles Abbott was mustered out with the regiment on Christmas Day, December 25, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina where the unit had been posted. However, the regiment did not embark for New York until January 3, 1866. Upon arrival in New York, after a stormy voyage, they proceeded by rail to Philadelphia. Finally, on January 9, 1866, the men of the regiment were released from duty at Camp Cadwalder.
The regiment saw service in seven Southern States, participated in the most exhausting campaigns, marched twelve hundred miles and made twelve voyages at sea. Most of the men of the Forty-seventh had re-enlisted at the expiration of their initial three-year term and thus were committed to serve out their terms, which accounts for their unusual length of service.
Charles returned to Allentown, Pennsylvania in Lehigh County after the Civil War. In 1870, he was living in the second ward and again following the trade as a carpenter. In addition to his wife and two sons, there was a Charlotte Mathias, age 64 also living in the household. For additional information for the Abbott family taken from the 1870, 1880 and 1900 census, along with photos of the graves in the family plot, click on the link below:
Charles Abbott died on March 29, 1908 and is buried along with other family members in the Union and West End Cemetery, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Old Allentown Cemetery - Allentown
On Friday and into Saturday, December 1st and 2nd, 2006 the Allentown area experienced a storm with rain and heavy winds. Wind gust up to 45 mile per hour were recorded.
When you are intimately involved with a cemetery with large, old trees, you are always concerned about high winds. Trees do come down, particularly old trees. And even when trees do not come down, large limbs sometimes fall, which could cause damage to the tombstones underneath the trees.
Sunday afternoon turned out to be a very nice day, mild temperatures and sunshine made it a great day to get outside, so I took the opportunity to visit the Union and West End Cemetery to do some historical research and to take photos of some tombstones for the blog.
On my way to the Union and West End Cemetery I passed the "Old Allentown Cemetery" which is located at 10th and Linden, just a few blocks away from the Union and West End Cemetery. This cemetery is the oldest cemetery in center city Allentown. What I observed as I passed the cemetery was a shock to the senses. A large tree situated in the cemetery had been felled by the high winds over the weekend.
As the photographs show, some stones received damage and some were simply toppled off their bases by the falling tree. It appears that only one stone received serious damage. Also, since this is a very old cemetery, it is possible that some of the stones on the ground were on the ground prior to the tree coming down.
Fortunately, unlike the Union and West End Cemetery, which is an independent, non-profit cemetery managed by volunteers, the "Old Allentown Cemetery" is owned by the City of Allentown and on Monday morning, crews will be in the cemetery cleaning up the debris, righting the stones that have fallen and generally putting things in order. Some cemeteries have it better than others.
Needless to say, I proceeded to the Union and West End Cemetery, just a two blocks away with a certain amount of concern and trepidation. Fortunately, the Union and West End Cemetery had been spared any serious damage.
The West End portion of the cemetery contains a large number of very old trees, trees that are over one-hundred years old; perhaps as old as One-hundred and fifty years. These trees line both sides of the roads that traverse the cemetery from east to west and they are huge. Removing deceased trees is one of the largest expenses the cemetery incurs each year. It cost upwards to $2,500 to remove a single tree. As previously mentioned, the cemetery association has a tree removal and replacement plan, but due to limited resources, the association can only remove one or two trees a year. Actually, removing a tree that falls, of its own accord, is cheaper than having a standing tree removed, but no one wants to see a tree come down on its own.
We were lucky this time, but there will be other storms moving through the area this winter, and all we can do is wait and hope.
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