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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Monuments at Gettysburg – 31st Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on September 19, 2014

The 31st Pennsylvania Infantry (2nd Pennsylvania Reserve) Monument at Gettysburg is located south of Gettysburg on the eastern edge of the Wheatfield on Ayres Avenue.  It was not dedicated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until 1890 and thus it was not pictured in the 1889 article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The picture of the monument is from Steve Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has additional information about the monument and the 31st Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a picture, and some of the history of the 31st Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.

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The Inquirer article of 11 September 1889 featured a brief description of the Gettysburg action in which the 31st Pennsylvania Infantry participated:

 

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It Was in the Brilliant Raid

William B. Mann‘s regiment, the 31st, and the 2nd Reserve, recruited in Philadelphia, was supplied with flannel shirts and other articles of clothing by the congregations of the different churches, Old Christ Church contributing 4,500.  This regiment reached the front on the 2nd, in a crisis, when the 3rd Corps was falling back before the enemy, and, with a shout and a solid volley crossed the marshy space in front of Little Round Top, cleared the rocky face of the slope beyond, and answered the enemy’s last desperate rally by driving him back into the woods.

On the afternoon of the 3rd the 31st was in McCandless’s brilliant raid, crossed the wheat field, through the woods and up over the steep acclivity on the opposite side, drove the enemy into confusion, captured 6000 stand of arms and 300 prisoners.  The regiment lost 40 of its 147 men.  It was led by Captain Smith.

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The 31st Pennsylvania Infantry was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George A. Woodward.

George A. Woodward was born at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the son of a former Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  He was admitted to the bar and practiced in Milwaukee, Wiconsin, before returning to Pennsylvania at Philadelphia where he resided when he began his service with the 31st Pennsylvania Infantry, initially as a Captain in Company A, on 27 May 1861.  On 2 April 1862, he was appointed Major of the regiment, and on 20 February 1863 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, the position in which he served at Gettysburg.  On 30 June 1862, he was wounded at Charles City Crossroads and by 24 August 1863 he was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.  After the Civil War, he left the volunteer service and joined the Regular Army where he served in the west in Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Utah.

George A. Woodward died on 22 September 1916.  In his later years in Philadelphia he was a publisher of military books.  He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Further information about his life and career can be found at the Arlington National Cemetery Website of Michael Robert Patterson and at Woodward’s Findagrave Memorial.

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Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The plaque for the 31st Pennsylvania Infantryis pictured below.  By clicking on the plaque it should enlarge so the names can be more clearly read.  If a name does not appear, it could be that the soldier did serve in the 31st Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.

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The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Rev. James A. Stokes – African American with the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry?

Posted By on September 17, 2014

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In searching post-Civil War newspapers for information about reunions, encampments and obituaries of veterans of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, a surprising story was found in the Harrisburg Patriot of 1 February 1905:

In Pastor’s Honor.

Aa [sic] testimonial will be tendered to Rev. James A. Stokes by his daughter, Mrs. Clara Smith, on Friday evening, 10 February, at his home, 239 Cranberry Avenue, the occasion being the commemoration of his 64th birthday.  He will be at home to his friends from 5 to 11 on that day.  Mr. Stokes was born in Warren County, Kentucky, 10 February 1841, escaped from slavery in 1861, joined the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry at Free Springs, Kentucky, came to Harrisburg in 1864, re-enlisted in the Forty-fifth Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops [45th U.S.C.T.], returned to Harrisburg in 1865.

Did this brief article mean that Rev. Stokes “met the cavalry” at or around Free Springs, Kentucky, who then provided him a way north to Harrisburg?  Or did it mean that he “joined the ranks” of the cavalry, serving in some capacity with them until 1864, then going north with other members who were discharged because their term of service had ended?

Rev. James A. Stokes record in the Civil War is documented in his pension application files and his his military records.

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The Pension Index Card (shown above from Fold3) notes that a person named James Stocks applied for an invalid pension on 31 March 1888, which he received based on his service only in the 45th United States Colored Troops, Company D, as a Private.  This same James Stocks died on 31 December 1923 in Harrisburg.  There was no widow’s application.

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The Pennsylvania Death Certificate (above from Ancestry.com) confirms that James Stokes and James Stocks were the same person, that he was “colored,” that he was born on 1 February 1841, and that he died in Harrisburg on 31 December 1923 of carcinoma of the stomach.  The informant was Clara Stocks, possibly the same person identified in the news article (above) as Mrs. Clara Smith.

Turning to the military records, it was quickly discovered that there was no James Stokes in the 45th U.S.Colored Troops.   There was however, a James Stout found in Company D of that regiment.  James Stout was mustered into service on 18 July 1864 at Harrisburg and then went to Camp William Penn in Philadelphia for his basic training.  The Military Index Cards which reverence the muster rolls of this regiment were located on Fold3 for August, October, December, of 1864 and for February, April, June, and August of 1865.  The final card, shown below, is the reference to the muster our record.

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The card referencing the muster out roll gives the date and place of his discharge:  Brownsville, Texas, 4 November 1865.  James Stout (or James Stocks or James Stokes as he was later called), was owed $100 on discharge.  At this point, he supposedly returned to Harrisburg.

The military records also give the information that James was 5 foot 3 inches tall, was 23 years old at the time of enlistment, had black complexion, black hair, and black eyes, was born in Woodburn, Kentucky, and was by occupation a laborer.

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The signature on the enlistment papers (above, from Fold3) is evidence that during the Civil War, James could not sign his name.  His “mark” of “X” was witnessed by two person.  His voluntary enlistment was credited to Lewis Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania – the 14th Congressional District.

The records between the end of the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century are still being researched.  The Harrisburg city directories show an evolution in his employment from laborer to porter to express agent.  He has been located in the early 20th century censuses of Harrisburg – first as a teamster, with his own team, and finally into retirement by the 1920 census.  The African American newspaper, State Journal, reported him ordained as a deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1884, and many articles have been located in the Harrisburg Patriot where he is referenced as “Rev. James A. Stokes.”  Most of the 20th century Harrisburg city directories refer to him as “Rev.”

There is evidence that James A. Stokes was married to Annie M. Henderson, and at least two children have been confirmed from that union:  Clara Stokes, who married a Smith, was born some time around 1872; and Frank Theophilus Stokes, born about 1884,who married Grace Moston.

Turning now to the question of whether there is any documented evidence that James A. Stokes served in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, no record has been seen which places anyone of the name James A. Stokes (or similar name) in that regiment, though it is possible that he followed the cavalry in some unofficial capacity, doing necessary work, but this is only speculation.

The Kentucky place names previously given were Woodburn and Warren County.  Warren County, Kentucky is located south of Louisville, near the border of Tennessee, and on the road to Nashville.  The county seat is Bowling Green.  Woodburn, Kentucky, is a small community about 5 miles  south of Bowling Green.  From the map provided by John W. Rowell in Yankee Cavalrymen (pages 16-17) of the “territory traveled by the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry,” it can be seen that the Louisville and Nashville Railroad passed through this area.  By following in reverse the route taken by the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, the railroad connections go from Louisville, north to Jeffersonville, Indiana; from there to Indianapolis; then through Ohio to Pittsburgh; and finally to Harrisburg – if James A. Stout took that route.  If he followed the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry through the war years he would have spent a great deal of time in the states of the Confederacy, moving through enemy territory, always with the chance of being captured.  In that it is clear from his enrollment papers that he was in Harrisburg as early as March 1864, it is more likely that he arrived there via the northern route (railroads described above) and that he did not stay with the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry as it headed into the deep south.

Therefore, in further researching the pre-1864 life of James A. Stokes, it is essential to understand the geography and history of Woodburn and Warren County, Kentucky.  Perhaps in some of the documents of that area, he can be located.  And, having an understanding of the movements of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry and some of the skirmishes and battles that took place there, might give some insight into how James A. Stokes met up with this regiment and what could have happened as a result.

Much research still needs to be done on this Civil War veteran.  But, what is very clear is that an interesting story is emerging from delving further into the “In Pastor’s Honor” article that appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot, 1 February 1905.

Comments are invited.

 

Henry Keiser and the Whiskey Ration

Posted By on September 15, 2014

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“Too Much Whiskey”

The print of a political cartoon shown here is from Harper’s Weekly, June 1862, and is available at the Library of Congress.  How much whiskey was “too much whiskey?”  Was there a “whiskey ration” during the Civil War?  The following quotes are from another blog:

For additional relief from the meager and unappetizing meals, whiskey was at the top of many lists.  I sympathize.  Just reading about Civil War rations makes me want to go out a [sic] buy a bottle….

Buying liquor was  illegal unless authorized by a company commander.  Some soldiers still attempted to get it illegally.  General McClellan said, “No one evil agent so much obstructs this army… as the degrading vice of drunkenness.”

It is not the purpose of this blog post to analyze the effect of whiskey on the Civil War or to discuss the so-called whiskey ration which was part of the military for many years (and several wars) prior to 1861.

Henry Keiser, whose diary has been presented here on several prior occasions, mentioned whiskey (and drinking of alcohol) eleven times in the diary.  He was a member of the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company G, for most of the war, and then, after his re-enlistment, his company was merged with Company G of the 95th Pennsylvania Infantry.  It is the purpose of this post to present only the words of Henry Keiser in regard to the whiskey ration and will be up to the reader to judge or carry on further research.

All of the diary entries that mention whiskey are presented below.  Keiser does not state the size of the ration, although it was widely believed to be anywhere from 2 to 4 ounces.  However, on two occasions, a full canteen was issued as the ration.  The number of the entry preceding the date refers to the sequential number of days of service.

2. Wednesday, September 25, 1861. At seven this morning we left Lykens for Pottsville in two teams. We drank at every hotel on our route in “Uncle Sam’s” credit, and all got pretty jolly. I sprained my ankle jumping over a fence while going through Williams Valley. We passed through Tremont and arrived at Pottsville at 4 o’clock this afternoon. Each of us drawed a blanket from the Regimental Quarter-Master Sergeant Jonathan A. Schweers…. [?]

253. Tuesday, June 3, 1862. It rained all last night. Do not feel better today. The regiment returned from picket at 5 o’clock this evening. A ration of whiskey was issued.

258. Sunday, June 8, 1862. The regiment returned from picket at nine this morning. We have about two rations of whiskey per week. I feel pretty well today.

263. Friday, June 13, 1862. Very fine and clear this morning. We now get whiskey morning and evening. Had orders to march but it was countermanded. Received a letter from Sister Mariah.

457. Wednesday, December 24, 1862. We, the guards, got an order from Adjutant Richard, aide to the General, for a canteen full of whiskey, which we got at commissary. We drew our rations at the brigade commissary.

458. Thursday, December 25, 1862. Got another order for whiskey and got a canteen full. Spent a very poor Christmas. The day was fine.

489. Sunday, January 25, 1863. We pitched the General’s tents and fixed up this forenoon and this afternoon the troops returned. Each man of our brigade got a ration of whiskey. They marched past headquarters. This squad received their share. Wrote a letter to Miss Sallie and received one from Brother William, Nicholsville, Kentucky.

631. Tuesday, June 16, 1863. Left Dumphrey’s at four this morning and marched to Acaquin Creek, where we rested from one to three o’clock p.m. when we again started off and marched until 7:30 p.m. when we halted near Halifax Station for the night, having marched about 18 miles since morning. A ration of whiskey was issued to each soldier wanting it, after our hard march, very warm all day.

674. Wednesday, July 29, 1863. It is still cloudy this morning. Some of the boys brought three pigs into camp last night. Had a ration of whiskey issued to each one of us. It rained this evening. Had Dress Parade at 6 p.m.

675. Thursday, July 30, 1863. Had whiskey again this morning. The boys captured a calf last night. Went on guard as Sergeant at 8 a.m. Drawed a pair of pants. Received a letter from cousin Lucy. Had several hard showers this afternoon.

875. Monday, February 15, 1864. Our company was mustered for three years today as veterans by Captain A. M. Taylor. Sergeant John Williams got half a barrel of ale for the Company. Awe also drew a ration of whiskey from the commissary. Snowed a little this evening.

 

 

 

Monuments at Gettysburg – 30th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on September 13, 2014

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The 30th Pennsylvania Infantry (1st Pennsylvania Reserves) Monument at Gettysburg is located south of Gettysburg on Ayres Avenue.  It was not dedicated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until 1890 and thus it was not pictured in the 1889 article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The picture of the monument is from Steve Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has additional information about the monument and the 30th Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a picture, and some of the history of the 30th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.

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The Inquirer article of 11 September 1889 featured a brief description of the Gettysburg action in which the 30th Pennsylvania Infantry participated:

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They Strewed the Field with Rebels

Upon crossing the Maryland line Colonel Talley announced to his men, of the 30th Regiment, 1st Reserves, that they had entered Pennsylvania and soon meet the enemy that threatened their homes and families.  He knew his gallant men would not rest until the invaders were driven from their State.  The caps of the greatly fatigued me flew up in the air, swords were brandished and they shouted forth national songs.  On the 2nd, on the right of Little Round Top, their determined charges drove the enemy back upon his reserves and strewed the field with rebel dead.  Colonel Talley commanded the brilliant movement of the 3rd, driving the enemy in confusion, capturing 100 prisoners and numerous stands of arms.

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Colonel William Cooper Talley was born on 11 December 1831 in Delaware and at the time he enrolled in the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves, he was a newspaper editor in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

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Talley enrolled at Philadelphia on 30 May 1861 and was mustered in as Captain of Company F on 26 July 1861.  He was promoted to Colonel of the regiment on 1 Mar 1863, the position in which he served at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he also was wounded.  Near the end of the war, after serving with other regiments, he became Brevet General, 13 March 1865.  His Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (above) from the Pennsylvania Archives notes that he stood over 6 foot tall, making him one of the more imposing officers of the war.

William C. Talley died on 20 October 1903 at Washington, D.C., where he had worked at the Congressional Record Printing Office for 21 years.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.  More information can be found about him at his Findagrave Memorial.

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Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The plaque for the 30th Pennsylvania Infantry is pictured above.  By clicking on the plaque it should enlarge so the names can be more clearly read.  If a name does not appear, it could be that the soldier did serve in the 30th Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.

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The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Views of the Old Catholic Cemetery at Williamstown

Posted By on September 11, 2014

Two views of the Old Catholic Cemetery at Williamstown have been located.  The pictures have been enhanced for presentation here on this blog.

The first view appeared on page 92 of the Sesquicentennial History of Williamstown and Williams Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, published in 1976 by the Sesquicentennial Commission:

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30th of May at the Old Catholic Cemetery 1907

The picture appears to show a Memorial Day commemoration conducted by veterans of the Civil War.  Possibly the smoke in the background is from a cannon or gun salute at the cemetery.  Some of the men at left may be wearing G.A.R. uniforms, or perhaps uniforms from the Spanish-American War.

The second photograph is of a swimming hole at the same cemetery and is from page 148 of the same volume:

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Old Swimming Hole at Old Catholic Cemetery

It is not clear from the text of the article on the history of the Williamstown Borough Swimming Pool if the above picture was of the town pool or if the Catholics had a separate pool which was located at their cemetery.  Perhaps a reader can clarify this point.  Previously on this blog, a post discussed anti-Catholic behavior in Williamstown and how the G.A.R. Post there received a severe rebuke for supporting the forced Bible reading and prayer that was conducted in the public schools in 1906.  This led to the establishment of the Catholic Schools in Williamstown.  See: Williamstown G.A.R. Post Severely Rebuked for Bigotry.

On the matter of the separate cemeteries, this was the choice of the churches. The Old Catholic Cemetery, which was eventually abandoned, was originally established to meet the burial needs of the parishioners Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church of Williamstown.  Christian churches each had their own cemeteries – by their choice.  Early Catholics in the Williams Valley had to walk about five miles to Lykens to attend church there until 1865 when the first worship services were held in Williamstown.  The Old Catholic Cemetery was established in 1875 after the Summit Branch Railroad gave a grant of two acres to the church to establish its own cemetery.  Unfortunately, the Wiconisco Creek ran through the property and water began seeping into the graves.  A better location was sought.

Two families of two church members, William Budd and Richard Budd, both deceased Civil War veterans, gave the church land for a new cemetery.  At the time of the opening of the new cemetery in 1912, many of the parishioners chose to exhume their dead relatives and re-inter them at the new location.   The story of Richard Budd’s re-interment was presented on this blog in a post entitled Captain Richard Budd, 96th Pennsylvania Infantry.

For a story about the establishment and history of the Roman Catholic Church in Williamstown, see:  Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and Cemetery, Williamstown.

For a story about one of the 19th Century Priests at Williamstown, see: Rev. Hugh A. Loague, Catholc Priest at Williamstown.  Rev. Loague was at Frederick, Maryland, when Lee’s army came through on the way to Gettysburg and when it retreated from the battle.  He also was at the Jesuit school adjacent to St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. (which was across the street from Baptist Alley behind Ford’s Theatre), when John Wilkes Booth made his escape from Ford’s Theatre after assassinating Abraham Lincoln.