Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Schuylkill Banks – Reclaiming a Civil War-Era Dump

Posted By on December 17, 2014


In October 2014, Philadelphia residents and visitors were treated to the opening of a new section of the Schuylkill River Trail – a “boardwalk” in the river running from Walnut Street to South Street and extending the ambitious trail further south and bringing it closer to completion. The “boardwalk” is actually a bridge with a scored concrete surface to resemble wood.

The planned trail will eventually make it possible to hike or bike nearly the full length of the river, from north of Pottsville to the point where the Schuylkill River meets the Delaware River at Philadelphia at Fort Mifflin.


The above map shows a canal-era Pennsylvania in the period before the Civil War.  The red triangle in the center represents the area of study of the Civil War Research Project.  The river to the left, outlined in yellow, is the Susquehanna, and the river to the right, outlined in yellow, is the Schuylkill.  The importance of these two rivers to the major cities along them – Baltimore and Philadelphia – can be readily seen as products and commerce moved along the rivers and canals to get to the port cities.  With the coming of the railroad era, beginning just before the Civil War, these established cities continued to maintain their position of importance by becoming railroad centers as well.


A slightly older section of the trail (Center City) opened in 2004 and connects with the Boardwalk section just opened.  These two sections were particularly challenging to planners and re-claimers because it was along this portion of the trail that old factories were located.  The Civil War-era and post-Civil War-era factories chose this spot because it was accessible to rail and water transportation.  Unfortunately, they used the river as a sewer and the land around the factories as a dump.   Historical markers along the southern part of the Center City portion describe what had to be done to get trees to take root along the river bank.  And, the moving of the trail on a “boardwalk” into the river was done so as not to disrupt or re-locate the freight railway that runs along the river bank edge.  Note: Rail cars can be seen in the photo at the top of this post.  The entire Philadelphia section of the trail wont be completed until the year 2013.


“Schuylkill Banks” is name of the entire trail or “Heritage Area” of the river as shown on the above marker.  The northern part of the area is pictured below, enlarged from the above map:


Click on map to enlarge.


Just to the west of Pottsville is Tremont, Schuylkill County, one of the points in the Civil War Research Project‘s triangular area of study. The Appalachian Trail runs along Peter’s Mountain as it gets closer to the Susquehanna River where it crosses that river at Clarks Ferry, another point in the triangle.  Another recognizable place is Schuylkill Haven (on the river).

For further information about Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, see the web site.

Some additional pictures of the “boardwalk” section of the trail are shown below.








The overhead structure in the last photo is the new South Street, the southern end of the “boardwalk” trail section.

More Information on William C. Armor

Posted By on December 16, 2014


William C. Armor (1842-1911)

The obituary of William C. Armor (1842-1911) has been located in the Harrisburg Patriot of 14 August 1911.  The portrait above was included with the obituary and was attributed to the photographer “Roshon.”  Previously on this blog, a post entitled William C. ArmorHistorian and Bookseller was presented.  This post adds the text of the Patriot obituary and provides three photographs of the Armor Book Store and Curiosity Shop that appeared in the Patriot on 31 August 1911.



Was a Civil War Veteran, Later a Bibliophile of Much Popularity


Was of Scotch-Irish descent, With Prominent Colonial Forebears

After a short illness Major William Crawford Armor, Civil War veteran, antiquarian, and book merchant at 6 North Court Street, died Saturday at his home, 128 State Street.

Death was due to heart failure that followed poor health of more than a year.  Mr. Armor, however, did not complain of being ill until Saturday, when he took to his bed.  He was aged 69 years and is survived by his widow and one son, Dr. Russell Armor, of Crafton, and one daughter, Miss Helen Armor.

The funeral services will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock from his late residence, and will be conducted by the Rev. John D. Fox, pastor of the Grace Methodist Church, of which he was a member.

Scotch-Irish Descent

Mr. Armor was born 19 September 1842, at Laughlinstown, Westmoreland County, and was of Scotch-Irish descent.  He was the second of a family of seven sons, four of whom were volunteer soldiers in the Civil War.  His great grandfather, James Armor, was a lieutenant in the Revolution.

His great great grandfather, Robert Armor, of Scotch descent, came to this country from the North of Ireland prior to 1710.  In 1734 he took up a tract of 200 acres of land at the head of Pequa Creek, Lancaster County, and was a farmer during his life.

Major William Armor received a common school education, and taught at the age of sixteen years taught school in his native town.  He entered a preparatory school in Cumberland County, with a view to entering college.  He later changed his mind, however, and went to the iron moulding trade, at which he worked when the war broke out.

He was proud of his war record and talked of it with satisfaction.  Some time ago he went to Savannah, where he met many of the officers of the Confederate Army, among them being General Gordon, whom he knew in war times.

Enlisting in Company B, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers [28th Pennsylvania Infantry], he rose to the command of his company.  He was wounded at Antietam and Chancellorsville, and was then appointed aide-de-camp to Major General John W. Geary, and was breveted major for gallant and meritorious conduct in the campaign of the Carolinas.

During a period of six years as Executive Clerk under Governor Geary he wrote the Lives of the Governors of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Armor was a member of the Loyal Legion, Robert Burns Lodge of Masons, and of the Scotch-Irish Society of America.  He was the only surviving charter member of the Post No. 58, G.A.R., a charter member of the Dauphin County Historical Society and for a number of years was its secretary.  He was also secretary and treasurer of the Harrisburg Underwriters Association.

His Law Studies

He was also registered and studied law with Attorneys General Benjamin Harris Brewster and F. Carrol Brester; passed the full examination, but never applied for admission to the bar.  He afterward spent six years in the wholesale glass business in Pittsburgh, and then went to McKean County and became engaged in the production of oil.

He again removed to Harrisburg eight years after being in the oil business as served two years as an assistant in the State Library and for one year was Librarian of the Harrisburg Public Library.

Although rustic in appearances, his book shop on Court Street was known to practically all book lovers throughout the city, and many from distant towns came here to look up some ancient book or publication.  Mr. Armor himself was a book lover.

The three photographs that appeared in the Patriot article of 31 August 1911, follow:





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

Monuments at Gettysburg – 75th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on December 15, 2014


The 75th Pennsylvania Infantry first Monument at Gettysburg is located southeast of the town of Gettysburg in the cemetery.  It was dedicated in 1876 by the survivors of the regiment   A second monument is located on Howard Avenue and was dedicated in 1888 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The drawing of the monument (above) was available in the Philadelphia Inquirer article describing the regimental histories and ceremonies that took place in 1889.  For a picture of the monument, see Steven Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 75th Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the first monument, its GPS coordinates, a photograph, and some of the history of the 75th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.  There is also a picture of the other monument with similar information.


On 11 September 1889, the Philadelphia Inquirer included the following information on the 75th Pennsylvania Infantry in its article on the monument dedications:

Where the 75th  Held Fast.

The 75th was composed almost exclusively of Philadelphia Germans, most of which had fought in Europe. It was organized in August 1881 art Camp Worth, West Philadelphia, electing Colonel Henry Bohlen; Lieutenant Colonel Francis Mahler; Major Alvin VonMatzdorff.  Brigadier General Henry Bohlen was killed at Freeman’s Ford.  The regiment reached Gettysburg by the Taneytown Road, 1 July, under Colonel Mahler, and lost on the Carlisle Road twenty-six men and two officers killed, six officers and ninety four men wounded.  It fell back to Cemetery Hill, where it held on throughout the conflict.  Colonel Mahler was wounded in the leg and fell under his dead horse.  Lieutenant William J. Sill was also shot in the leg.  In 1864 the regiment was re-mustered as veterans.

The 75th had already dedicated its two monuments in the National Cemetery and on Howard Avenue.  The exercises of the 75th will be limited to a visit to the monuments and an  address delivered in the German language by Hermann Nachtigals.


Francis Mahler (1826-1863)

Francis Mahler, following his escape and sentencing to death, fled from Germany after participating in the Revolutions of 1848.  He settled in Philadelphia in a community of German expatriates and, when the Civil War erupted, he offered his military services to the Union.

Colonel Mahler was in command of the 75th Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg.  As shown by his Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (below) from the Pennsylvania Archives, he joined the regiment on 27 August 1861 as Lieutenant Colonel.

His personal information included an age of 34, a height of 5 foot 11 inches, brown hair, a fair complexion and brown eyes.   By profession, he was an engineer.

On 30 July 1862, he was promoted to Colonel, the rank he held at the time of the battle.  On the first day, 1 July 1863, he was mortally wounded, succumbing to his wounds three days later on 4 July.


Colonel Mahler is buried at Mount Peace Cemetery in Philadelphia.  For further information about Francis Mahler, see his FindagraveMemorial.  On Fold3, the complete widow’s pension application file is now available (37 pages).



Augustus Ledig took over command of the regiment after Colonel Mahler was taken from the field.  Major Ledig had joined the regiment on 6 September 1861 as Captain of Company E and was later promoted to Major on 30 July 1862.

At the time of his enrollment, he was 43 years old, stood 5 foot 9 inches, had auburn hair, a healthy complexion, and blue eyes.  He was a machinist and resided in Philadelphia.

His Findagrave Memorial has not been found.


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 75th 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 75th Pennsylvania Infantry , but was not part of the regiment during its days in Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.





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




Henry Kemble – Farmer of Northumberland County

Posted By on December 14, 2014


Henry “Harry” Kemble, the son of Adam Kembel and Lydia [Zartman] Kemble, was a farmer in Jackson Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War, he served two enlistments, the first of which was from 16 August 1862 in the 136th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private, until he received a discharge on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability on 29 May 1863, and the second of which was from 17 March 1865 through 29 August 1865 where he served in the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry, 2nd Company C, also as a Private.  His surname is also found in the records as Kembel, Kimble, and Kimbel.


Henry Kembel applied for a pension on 15 July 1882 based on his service in the two aforementioned regiments.  He received the pension, which he collected until his death on 5 January 1922 at Herndon, Northumberland County.  No widow applied after his death and in researching him in other records, it appears that he may have never been married.


The death certificate (above, as found on Ancestry.com) confirms that he was never married and gives the names of his parents Adam Kemble and Lydia Kemble.  It also confirms his burial place as the Zartman Cemetery.

The text of Henry’s obituary, which appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot, 7 January 1922, follows here:


Herndon, 6 January 1922 — Harry Kemble, a Civil War veteran and the oldest resident of Jackson Township, died at his home near here today, aged 82 years.  He was a member of the I.O.O.F. for some fifty years.  He is survived by one sister, Mrs. Mary K. Baum, of town.  Funeral services will be held next Monday with burial at Zartman’s Church.

The obituary clipping, pictured at the top of this post, is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Cards for Henry Kemble (from the Pennsylvania Archives) are pictured below:



Information not previously stated that was found on the Veterans’ Cards includes a physical description of Henry Kemble:  He was 5 foot, 6.5 inches in height, had dark hair, a fair complexion, and hazel eyes.  He was born in Northumberland County and was a farmer.  For his first enlistment, he enrolled at Shamokin, Northumberland County.  At the time of his second enlistment, he resided in Jackson Township, Northumberland County.  For both enrollments, he was mustered into service at Harrisburg.

From other sources it is known that Henry’s brother was Isaac Kembel (1839-1909), who was also a Civil War veteran.  Several pictures of Isaac have been located, but no picture has been seen of Henry.  There are also some clues that the Kembel’s were associated with the Langsdorf’s, e.g., a Langsdorf was the informant for Henry’s death certificate and several members of that family were living in Adam Kembel‘s household in 1880.

More information is needed on Henry Kemble, particularly of his war record, and any family stories about him.  Did he participate in any G.A.R. activities?  Can anyone add a picture of his grave marker… or a picture of him?  Comments can be added to this post or sent by e-mail.


Obituary of Peter A. Campbell of Millersburg

Posted By on December 13, 2014


The death of Peter A. Campbell was noted in the Harrisburg Patriot on 8 July 1919:


Millersburg, 7 July 1919 — Peter A. Campbell, the oldest native-born resident of this place, and one of the Government’s pony mail riders between here and Sunbury years ago, died at his home here last evening, aged 85 years.

Mr. Campbell was in the hardware business for many years, and up until about a year ago attended to this business.  Since that time his son Lawrence has assisted him.

He was a Captain in the Civil War, belonging to the 127th Pennsylvania Volunteers [127th Pennsylvania Infantry] and took part in the battle of Gettysburg.  He was a prominent member of the G.A.R. and the Knights of the Golden Eagle and both orders will attend the funeral and have charge of the services at the grave.  The funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon at 3 o’clock with the Rev. J. H. Barnes, pastor of the Methodist Church, officiating.  Burial will be made in the Oak Hill Cemetery.

Mr. Campbell is survived by four children:   Lawrence Campbell; Frank Campbell; William Campbell; and Mary Campbell, all of Millersburg.

Peter Campbell‘s second enlistment was in the Emergency Service of 1863, when he enrolled at Millersburg in the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry Militia, Company K, as a 1st Lieutenant.


It was part of this second service that Peter Campbell took part in the Battle of Gettysburg.  In recognition of that service, his name appears on the Pennsylvania Memorial table for the Emergency Force of 1863, Company K:


There is no mention on the Veterans’ Card or on the Gettysburg plaque that he served as a Captain in this regiment, but it is possible that at some point he received a promotion.

Peter Campbell‘s first enlistment took place at Harrisburg on 2 August 1862, Company F, of the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, as a Corporal.  At the time he declared his age as 32 and his occupation as machinist.  His residence was Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


The Pension Index Card (shown below from Ancestry.com) gives his pension application date as 26 February 1896.  He received the pension, which he collected until his death in July 1919, whereupon his widow, Emma J. Campbell, applied and collected until her death. Peter reported no Civil War-related disabilities in 1890 at the time of the census.


For his service, Peter A. Campbell is recognized on the Millersburg Civil War Soldier Monument:


In addition to the occupations of pony mail rider, machinist, and hardware store proprietor, various censuses report that he was also a boatman, a lumberman, and a window sash maker.