Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

John Eisenhower – Adds Memorial Plate to Own Tombstone

Posted By on January 23, 2015


An article that appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph on 19 June 1914 described Civil War veteran John Eisenhower placing a plaque on his grave marker in the Enola Cemetery,Cumberland County, Pennsylvania so that the correct facts about his military service would be known:

Puts Plate on His Tombstone Telling Where He Fought

Civil War Veteran Wants to be Sure That the Facts Are There and That They’re Right

Conducting his own memorial service, John Eisenhower, a veteran of the Civil War, will next Tuesday put a brass plate suitably inscribed on the tombstone under which he expects to lie someday in the Enola Cemetery.

“I want to put it up now so when I die I’ll know its there,” Sergeant Eisenhower today explained.  Sergeant Eisenhower is 71 years old, but still hearty.  The brass plate that he will fasten on his tombstone is built to last a couple of hundred years, at least, it is said.

It is twelve inches long, six wide and on its surface are engraved the names of the battles in which the sergeant participated:  Kenesaw Mountain, Utoy Creek, Buzzards Roost, New Hope Church, Siege of Atlanta, Peach Tree Creek, Resaca, Neildon Station, and Battle of Jonseboro.  Above this list of Civil War engagements are the words:  “Private, Company C, 177th Pennsylvania Volunteers [177th Pennsylvania Infantry].”  This was the company in which Mr. Eisenhower first enlisted.  It lasted nine months, and shortly afterward, at Kenesaw Mountain, he was promoted from Private to Sergeant for bravery.  He had entered the enemy’s lines and stolen ammunition.  So the Captain made him a Sergeant.

The memorial plate will be fastened on the tombstone which now stands over the grave of his wife, who died a year ago.  Sergeant Eisenhower and Samuel A. Greene, who made the plate, will fasten it to the stone.  Those present during the fitting exercises will be his children and grandchildren.  They are William Edward Eisenhower, Samuel Eisenhower, Morris J. Eisenhower, Daisey Eisenhower, Dorothy Eisenhower and Charles Eisenhower, and Mrs. Katherine Keiser, all of this city.

Unfortunately, the article noted stated that Eisenhower served only in the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry instead of the 33rd United States Infantry – which is what is clearly shown on the picture of the plaque that accompanied the article.

The photograph on the Findagrave Memorial for John Eisenhower (above) does not show the plaque.  The photograph’s date of 26 September 2011 is an indication that although the plate was “built to last a couple of hundred years,” it didn’t last one hundred.  In a brief life sketch of John Eisenhower, the Findagrave Memorial stated:

As his life was drawing to a close, he scheduled and delivered his own memorial service because he wanted to document his war experiences properly. The newspaper article describing the upcoming event, however, got it wrong by saying he served with the 177th Pennsylvania Volunteers [177th Pennsylvania Infantry ] and then implied that regiment had been on the Atlanta Campaign. The 177th had ceased to exist a year before the Atlanta Campaign began.

The Findagrave Memorial also stated that John Eisenhower served in the 15th United States Infantry, but that was a result of a consolidation of regiments.

No mention is made of the brass memorial plate.

A search of the Pension Index Cards available at Fold3 produced the following result:


John Eisenhower did indeed serve in the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C.  That service, along with his service in the 33rd United States Infantry and the 15th United States Infantry was included on his pension application, which was made on 23 July 1888.  He received the pension and collected it until his death, which occurred at Harrisburg, 8 March 1925.  The card notes that John’s records can also be found under the “alias” John Isenhower.

The 177th Pennsylvania Infantry was a drafted regiment that did not participate in any major actions.

In checking the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index File available from the Pennsylvania Archives, the card for the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry was found under another spelling his name, “John Eisenhour.”:


The 177th Pennsylvania Infantry was a drafted regiment that did not participate in any major actions, but in his service with the United States Infantry, he did participate in the battles which are noted on the plaque.

Ironically, the purpose of John Eisenhower holding the ceremony and placing the plate was so that future generations would be clear as to his military services.  So, what then happened to the brass memorial plate that was supposed to last 200 years?


The picture of the plaque is from Chronicling America, the on-line newspapers available through the Library Congress.


Theodore Chester – Merchant, Hotelman and G.A.R. Commander

Posted By on January 22, 2015



Theodore Chester (1846-1914) served in the Civil War in the 136th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private from 16 August 1862 through his honorable discharge on 29 May 1863.  He enrolled and was mustered in at Harrisburg claiming to be 21 years old, when in fact he was only 16.

His obituary appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph on 2 February 1914:

Carbuncle on Hand Kills Prominent Sunbury Man

Special to the Telegraph

Sunbury, Pennsylvania – 2 February 1914 — Suffering from a carbuncle on his right hand, which infected his system, Theodore Chester, 69 years old, a prominent Civil War veteran, merchant, hotelman, and commander for years of Lieutenant William A. Bruner Post No. 335, as well as marshal of the Memorial Day Parade here each year, and also a prominent Knights Templar and Royal Arch Mason, was operated upon Friday morning at 10:32 o’clock, that night he died.  He is survived by his widow and seven children.

On 30 July 1890, Theodore Chester applied for a Civil War pension  Following his death, his widow, Louisa [Wolf] Chester applied on 6 February 1914.

He is buried in St. Luke’s Cemetery, Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania:


The news clipping is from Chronicling America, available through the on-line resources of the Library of Congress.


Monuments at Gettysburg – 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on January 21, 2015


The 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located north of the Wheatfield at the entrance to the John Weichert farm.  It was dedicated in 1888 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The drawing of the monument pictured above is from a Philadelphia Inquirer article of 11 September 1889.

A picture of the monument can be seen on Stephen Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS Coordinates, additional photographs, and some of the history of the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry, can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.


The Philadelphia Inquirer of 11 September 1889 reported some background of the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry as well as information on the festivities of the day:

Marching and Fighting Without Food.

The 93rd, on the evening of 1 July 1863, had reached Manchester, Maryland, on its northward march when the news of the fight at Gettysburg was heard and at once took the lead of its corps in the march onward.  At 9 next morning as they crossed the state line they could hear the booming of cannon.  Footsore, hot and dusty they sang “Pennsylvania Again” as they marched, and at 2 P.M. reached Rock Creek by the Baltimore Pike just in rear of the line of battle at the cemetery.  At 3 o’clock, Major John J. Nevin in command, led the regiment to the support of Sedgwick, who got in position just as the Union troops, beaten on the Emmitsburg Pike, were coming back in disorder, followed by the exultant enemy.  Orders were given to lie down, and had this been heeded, the whole rebel line could have been captured, but the impatience got the better of the men.  Their shots warned the enemy.  The whole brigade then advanced and drove the rebels in tumult, the 93rd capturing twenty-five prisoners.  They spent the night in removing the wounded who strewed the fields.   During the cannonade of the 3rd, the men hugged the rocks and the trees.  They marched 39 miles, fought three hours and passed the sleepless night of the 2nd without food.  On the 5th the 93rd performed the onerous duty of taking the artillery across the mountains.

Their programme will include prayer by Comrade George A. Guensey, of Canton, Pennsylvania; address by Colonel C. W. Echman, delivering monument to State Commission; reply of General Gobin, accepting monument; historical address by Rev. J. S. Lane, of Cornwall, late chaplain of the regiment; with music at intervals by the Perseverance Band of 1861.  The State Monument was erected in 1883.

The regiment has another monument on Battlefield Avenue which was erected by the survivors.  It stands near where the 6th Corps’ headquarters were established during the Battle of Gettysburg.



Commanding the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg was Major John I. Nevin, sometimes referred to John J. Nevin or John G. Nevin in the military records.  Nevin first enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company G of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry on 11 July 1861.  He was taken prisoner on 29 February 1862 and after his release, he returned to the regiment and was promoted to Captain of Independent Battery H of the Pennsylvania Light Artillery.  Just three months before the Battle of Gettysburg, he joined the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry headquarters as a Major.  While still with the regiment, he was wounded on 5 May 1864 at the Wilderness, which resulted in his discharge on 27 October 1864.

Of the few records available for John I. Nevin, the 1880 Census for Sewickley, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, gives his occupation as editor and his wife’s name as Ella.  His first enlistment in 1861 was from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which he gave as his residence, and his first “muster in” was at White Sweet Springs, the same general location.  Note:  “Sewickley” is an Indian word for “sweet water.”  Despite the fact that his wounds at the Wilderness were most likely the cause of his discharge, there is no record that he applied for a pension.

According to his Pension Index Card, John I. Nevin died on 5 January 1884 at Sewickley.  For some unknown reason, his widow, Eleanor H. Nevin, did not apply for benefits until 17 September 1930.


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 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry is 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 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.


Fire Destroys Hoffman’s Civil War Museum in Lykens, 1912

Posted By on January 20, 2015


On 12 November 1912 a massive fire consumed several factories and homes in Lykens Borough, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.  One of the destroyed homes was owned by Michael M. Hoffman, a Civil War veteran who had the distinction of serving in a First Defender’s infantry regiment, a emergency state militia regiment, and a cavalry regiment – a service which lasted throughout most of the war.  His father, Michael Hoffman Sr., who died in 1890, had also served in the Civil War as a First Defender.  There was no loss of life in the fire, but tragically, one of the largest private collections of Civil War mementos and relics was consumed by the flames.




Upper End Town Hard Hit by Flames – Three Residences and Three Factories are Destroyed – Many Out of Employment – Persons Hurt Rushing to Fire


Veteran of Civil War Sees Relic Collection of Lifetime Swept Away – Town in Darkness to Prevent Injury from Live Wires – Water Pressure Unsatisfactory – Origin of Blaze Unknown

Special Dispatch to the Patriot.

Lykens, Pennsylvania, 12 November 1912 – Two big factories were destroyed, another damaged and three dwellings wiped out by a fire which swept the northern end of this borough this evening.  Many buildings were endangered nearby and for a time it seemed as though the entire town was imperiled by the flames.

Scores of persons are thrown out of employment by the disaster, which has caused a monetary loss, it is estimated of $100,000.  The town is in total darkness, the electric current being turned off until the stray ends of dangling wired are protected.  Many residents are suffering from small hurts received in rush of upwards of 5,000 persons to witness the blaze.  Lykens fire fighters, aided by those from Williamstown, put up a great battle against the flames and except for their work, it is certain that the fire would have devastated a still greater portion of the town.

Buildings Destroyed.

These buildings were destroyed:  Residence of Michael M. Hoffman.  Residence of his son, William E. Hoffman.  Residence of Goodheart Nau.  Factory of Fisher Hosiery Company.  Sheesly Brush Factory.  In addition, the overall factory of John W. Reiff was badly damaged.

Aside from the fact that it started in the hosiery mill, nothing is known of the origin of the fire.  It spread rapidly, the combustible materials of the hosiery mill making fuel for the flames.  As soon as the fire broke through the walls, big sparks took to curving through the air settling on the nearby residences, all of which were frame structures.

A Long Fight.

Firemen, upon their arrival centered their attack on the bigger buildings and then on protecting the houses nearby.  They were no match for the flames, however, which jumped across streets and alleyways.  The water pressure was unsatisfactory and interfered.  It was more than an hour’s fight before the fire was got under control.  Meanwhile, live electric wires were dangling in the street at the feet of thousands of spectators.  The flames brought big crowds from Wiconisco, Williamstown, this place and nearby communities.  It is said that in the rush to get there, many persons were thrown and trampled upon and injured.  None is injured seriously.  Because of the danger of live wires, the electric company turned off the current, leaving the town unlighted, except for the glare from the burning buildings.

War Relics Destroyed.

One of the most pathetic losses of the conflagration was the destruction of war and other relics gathered by Michael M. Hoffman, during his lifetime.  Hoffman was a veteran of the Civil War and from the battlefield and friends, he had gotten together a priceless collection of souvenirs.  Those he kept in one room, a veritable museum, which was visited by many persons who came to this place.  All the relics are lost.  As a collector, Mr. Hoffman was known in many quarters of the United States.

Destruction of the factories will throw many persons out of employment.  At the hosiery mill, more that 75 persons found employment, while at the other two places equally as many will be temporarily out of work.  Some of the furniture of the dwelling houses was saved.

The scene of the fire was in North Street not far from the Reading Station and on the Wiconisco side of town.

Harry M. Hoffman, 210 North Third Street, is a son of Michael M. Hoffman.  He was informed of the fire last evening and left on an early morning train for Lykens.  He said last night that his father’s loss is partially covered by insurance.


Michael M. Hoffman was born in Germany on 8 July 1840 and at an early age came to the United States with his parents , Michael Hoffman and Catherine Hoffman.  Since he was an immigrant in the mid-19th Century, it is unlikely that he was connected to Johann Peter Hoffman (1709-1797), pioneer settler of the Lykens Valley.


HoffmanMichael-003At the outbreak of the Civil War, Michael Mr. Hoffman answered the call for three months of service at Lykens, by enrolling in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, as a Private, and was mustered into service in Harrisburg on 26 April 1861.  At the time he was 19 years old, was working as a miner, and was living in Lykens.  At the completion of his service on 31 July 1861, he was honorably discharged which his company.  The record above is from the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania Archives.  The record to the left (click on thumbnail to enlarge) was supplied by a family member and is an example of a replacement discharge certificate, the date of issue being 25 February 1913 – slightly more than three months after the fire consumed all of Hoffman’s war records.






Click on photo to enlarge.

HoffmanMichael-004At the Emergency of 1863,  Michael Hoffman, then 21 years old, again enrolled at Lykens in the 26 Pennsylvania Infantry Militia, 15 June 1863, and was mustered into service in Harrisburg in Company D as a Corporal, and was immediately sent to the area around Gettysburg.  He took part in that battle as evidenced by his name appearing on the Pennsylvania Memorial.  At the end of the emergency, 30 July 1863, he was discharged with his company.  At the left, the thumbnail (click to enlarge) shows the replacement discharge certificate he received in 1913 after the original was lost in the fire.





HoffmanMichael-005Michael Hoffman‘s final Civil War service began on 28 February 1865, when he enrolled in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company F, as a Private at Harrisburg, and was mustered into service the same day.  On this third card (above) from the Pennsylvania Archives, a physical description of him is given.  He was 5 foot, 5 inches tall, was 22 years old, had a fair complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair.  He was a miner who resided in Dauphin County.  During his time of service, the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry was consolidated with the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and on 24 July 1865, he was transferred into Company F of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  His discharge came on 11 August 1865.  At the left is a thumbnail (click to enlarge) of the replacement discharge he applied for and received.




Michael M. Hoffman married Elizabeth Catherine Bailey around 1863.  She was the daughter of Hiram Bailey and Elizabeth [Bahr] Bailey and was born in Bailey Run, Dauphin County, on 29 October 1845.  The couple had 14 children.  Elizabeth died on 10 March 1920 in Lykens.

HoffmanMichael-PensionIndex-003 On 21 October 1890, Michael Hoffman applied for a pension, which he received based on his service in the three aforementioned regiments.  The thumbnail of the card at left (click to enlarge) also indicates that he died at Lykens on 21 March 1922.






The obituary of Michael Hoffman appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot on 22 March 1922:


Michael Hoffman, 83 years old, a veteran of the Civil War, and a resident of Lykens practically all his life, died yesterday afternoon at his home following an attack of pneumonia. He had been ill since Saturday. Mr. Hoffman was a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Grand Army of the Republic. He was married in 1863 to Elizabeth Bailey, of Lykens, and from this union, fourteen children were born of which eight survive. They are as follows: Mrs. Charles Worgh of Tower City; Mrs. Ida Stine, Freeland; Mrs. Charles Scott, Sunbury; Mrs. G. H. Retert, of Hummelstown; John Hoffman of Williamstown; Charles Hoffman, of Lykens; Arthur Hoffman, of Wiconisco; and William Hoffman, of Freeland. Harry Hoffman, of this city, who died recently, was another son. Funeral services will be held Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock from his late home on North Street, Lykens, with the Rev. Charles Jones, of Zion Lutheran Church, Lykens, officiating. Burial will be made in the Odd Fellows’ Cemetery.


Grave Marker of Michael M. Hoffman at Odd Fellows Cemetery, Lykens

The Lykens G.A.R. Monument was erected during the lifetime of Michael M. Hoffman and while he was a member of the Heilner Post.  The cut at the top of the post shows the portion of the plaque containing his name and highest rank of Corporal.



Michael Hoffman Sr., the father of Michael M. Hoffman is also named on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument, as a Private who was not a member of the Heilner Post.


Hoffman Sr. served as a First Defender in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, as a Private.  He enrolled at Lykens, where he was a 42-year old resident and miner on 26 April 1861, and saw honorable service for 3 months until his discharge on 31 July 1861.  His death is believed to have occurred in 1890 just before the census was taken.  The veterans’ enumeration for Lykens Borough is shown below and indicates that his widow Catherine survived him and correctly reported his service in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry.


Click on document to enlarge.

The widow Catharine Hoffman applied for pension benefits on 10 July 1890:


Catherine Hoffman did receive a widow’s pension, which she collected until her death, as is indicated on the Pension Index Card (above, from Ancestry.com).

More information is sought on Michael Hoffman Sr. and Catherine Hoffman.  Specifically, when did they emigrate to the United States and when did they die and where are they buried?  Has anyone seen the widow’s pension application file?


At this time nothing much more is known about the private museum collection of Michael M. Hoffman that was lost in the Great Lykens Fire of 1912.  Further research may provide an answer.  It is possible that other news articles appeared in the Lykens Standard that described Hoffman’s collection, but that paper has not yet been searched, although it is available on microfilm for the early 20th Century.  If any readers of this blog have found any specific descriptions of what was lost in the fire, sharing them here would be greatly appreciated.  It may even be possible that pictures exist.  Add comments to this post or end by e-mail.

News clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

William C. Mills – Naval Veteran of Millersburg

Posted By on January 19, 2015


During the Civil War, William C. Mills saw both infantry service and naval service, but it is for his naval service that he was most remembered.  His name appears on the Millersburg Soldier Monument (plaque shown above) as W. C. Mills.

When William C. Mills died on 21 September 1916, the obituary which appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph described an incident in the naval battle at Hampton Roads, 8 March 1862, in which Mills escaped injury:


Capt. W. C. Mills, Member of Cumberland Crew, Dies

Millersburg, Pennsylvania, 22 September 1916 — Captain William C. Mills, a veteran of the Civil War died suddenly of heart disease yesterday at his home in Lenkerville, aged 77 years.  Mr. Mills came to Lenkerville from Chester County after the war and for many years followed milling.  During the war he was a member of the crew of the warship Cumberland, and was one of the crew who escaped when rammed by the Merrimac in Hampton Roads.  He also witnessed the battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor after the destruction of his ship.  He is survived by two sons, William Mills Jr., of Millersburg, and Harry F. Mills, of Hazleton, and four daughters, Mrs. Annie Noble and Mrs. H. H. Heicher, of Harrisburg; Mrs. William H. Goodwin of West Chester, and Miss Sue Mills at home.

However, the day before the obituary appeared in the Telegraph, the Harrisburg Patriot printed its obituary with slightly different and additional information:





Millersburg, 21 September 1916 — William C. Mills, aged 74, a retired miller of this place, died this morning at 5:30 o’clock at his home in Lenkerville following a sudden attack of neuralgia of the heart.  He was a Civil War veteran and the last survivor of the Congress, sunk by the Merrimac during the war.

Mr. Mills was born in Chester County, coming to this district shortly after the close of the Civil War.  His wife, who died eight years ago, was Miss Rachel L. Poffenberger.  Surviving are these children:  Mrs. Annie Knoble, Mrs. George Boyer and Mrs. H. H. Heicher of Harrisburg; Mrs. William Goodwin, of West Chester;  William Mills, Harry Mills, and Miss Susan Mills at home.

Mr. Mills served during the war in Company F, Ninth Pennsylvania Infantry (9th Pennsylvania Infantry) and was also in the marine service, taking part in the battle between the Merrimac and ship Congress, being on the latter vessel when sunk by the Merrimac.

Funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock from the home.

The two ships, Congress and Cumberland were both attacked and lost on the first day of the naval Battle of Hampton Roads, but with slightly different results.  Most of the crew of the Cumberland escaped but there were some casualties.  Most of the crew of the Congress perished when the ship exploded and burned to the waterline.


Cumberland Rammed at Battle of Hampton Roads

In 1890, William C. Mills reported two military services:



Click on documents to enlarge.

Mills’ first service was in the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry, from about 19 April 1861 through 27 July 1861.  That service has been confirmed in the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Card File available at the Pennsylvania Archives.  Mills enrolled at West Chester, Chester County, and was mustered into service at Harrisburg.  At the bottom of the 189 document, he indicated no disabilities related to that service.

Mills’ second service was naval service aboard the Pontiac, which according to the information he gave the census taker, was from 17 August 1861 through 17 August 1865, or a period of 4 years.  At the bottom of the form it is stated that he incurred two disabilities from naval service:  (1) catarrh; and (2) wound knee and back, latter part of 1864.  On 7 November 1864, the Pontiac was engaged in fighting off Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, when a shell exploded killing 6 men and wounding 6 others.

The naval service which began for William C. Mills on 17 August 1861 is confirmed in monthly muster records available through Ancestry.com for the entire period he claimed service.  From those records, there is no indication that he was aboard either the Congress or Cumberland in or before March 1862, when the Battle of Hampton Roads took place.  The muster records indicate that he was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard during that time period.  However, the muster roll for October 1864 does have the name of William C. Mills aboard the Pontiac and the November 1864 muster roll has him in Philadelphia, not aboard any ship and not in the naval hospital there.

No record has been seen that indicates that William C. Mills was aboard either the Congress or the Cumberland at the time it was attacked.  Nor has any record been seen that Mills’ wartime injuries occurred while aboard the Pontiac.



William C. Mills applied for a pension on 4 April 1876 and stated in that application his service in the navy and the infantry.  However, his pension records are found in the navy files, Certificate No. 3682.


According to the summary information on the U.S. Naval Pension Index, 1861-1910 (shown above from Ancestry.com), the file for William C. Mills contains 4 fiche cards.  He was approved for and received a pension.  The descriptive information of that database states:  “The information contained in this index can be used to locate the original pension application files located on the microfiche collections… at NARA.”

Additional information is sought on William C. Mills including verification of his naval service.  Pictures, stories and documents are especially welcome.  Comments can be added to this post, or send the information by e-mail.


The Pension Index Card is from Fold3.  The news clipping from the Harrisburg Patriot is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  The news clipping from the Harrisburg Telegraph is from the on-line resources of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America.