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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Update on Hiram Groff – Captured at Gettysburg, Then Parolled

Posted By on April 28, 2016

On 4 November 2014, a post entitled “The Groff Brothers?  Hiram, Valentine and William,” was presented here.  Some questions were asked in that post and readers were asked to submit additional information about the men named Groff.  Note:  A prior post also discussed “Israel M. Groff and Sons – All Civil War Veterans?

The following information was received from Gary Martino, the great-great grandson of Hiram Groff, who served in the 26th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863) and whose name appears on the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg:

Hiram was with the 26th PVM Emergency Regiment and taken prisoner near Gettysburg on June 27th.  His Regiment actually opened the battle of Gettysburg during a scouting patrol where they ran into Lee’s forces.  They were forced into retreat, some being killed and some, like Hiram, were captured.

I took a photo of the framed documents attached.  They were in our family bible and were professionally mounted and framed so I could not photocopy the original.  Included are Hiram’s parole of honor (signed July 2nd 1863), honorable discharge from the GAR and a photo of him at about 50 years of age with my GG Grandmother Sarah.  They are both buried at Middletown PA cemetery.  He was obviously paroled because every Confederate troop was needed on the line and they couldn’t spare men to guard prisoners, luckily for my Hiram.  Not sure if Jubal Early actually signed it or not, maybe you can tell me?  Probably just by order of….

Also would like to connect to anyone else related to Hiram since they are my bloodline.

The three attached photographs are presented below:

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Hiram and Sarah Groff

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Parole by Order of Jubal Early

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Grand Army of the Republic Certificate

The document from the Simon Cameron Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Middletown, Dauphin County, is a certificate given to Hiram Groff by that Post which verifies some personal information such as his age and place of birth, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and his military service and dates of service.

As previously mentioned, Hiram Groff does have connections to Millersburg (he joined the local militia there which went to Gettysburg in late June 1863), and Mifflin Township (where he is found in the draft registration records of 1863, working as a saddler).

GroffHiramF-USCWDraftReg-001a

However, his name does not appear on the Millersburg Soldier Monument.  Also, he was not included in the 1967 Elizabethville Sesquicentennial List of Civil War veterans, but possibly should be included in the 2017 list being prepared for the Bicentennial – if he lived in 1863 in the Southern part of Mifflin Township which was more closely associated with Elizabethville than Berrysburg.

Two Tragic Veteran Deaths of 1924

Posted By on April 27, 2016

Many veterans died tragic deaths.  These two men, having lived nearly 60 years after the close of the Civil War, died in 1924, one as a result of an accident and one as a result of suicide.

From the Harrisburg Evening News, 20 May 1924:

EveningNews-1924-05-20-001

Gas from an open house to which he had gone for the purpose of preparing it for occupancy, caused the death of James M. Gibson, of Sunbury, a Civil War veteran.

From the Harrisburg Evening News, 22 March 1924:

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INVALID, CIVIL WAR VETERAN, KILLS HIMSELF

LEWISTOWN, 22 March 1924 — James Maden, 82 year-old veteran of the Civil War, an invalid for years, committed suicide late last night at his home here.

Maden guided his wheel chair to a bureau where he kept an old revolver, a relic he had picked up during the war.  His daughter, Mrs. Beattie Chesney, saw him get out the revolver and she ran screaming to the street.  As neighbors came rushing in response to her calls, the old man fire.  The shot caused instant death.

He had been suffering from melancholia for months because of rapidly failing health. Maden lost a leg during the Gettysburg battle.

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News clippings from Newspapers.com.

Heister Clymer – White Supremacist Candidate for Governor, 1866

Posted By on April 26, 2016

ClymerHeister-portrait-001

Hiester Clymer (1827- 12 June 1884), a member of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, was a State Senator who was opposed to Lincoln and his prosecution of the Civil War.  In 1866 he ran for Governor and strongly espoused white supremacist policies.

His opponent was Union General John W. Geary.

According to Heister Clymer’s Wikipedia biography, his “camp produced some of the most virulently graphic racist posters and pamphlets of the decade.”  One of those posters is pictured below.

Clymer lost the election which was held in October 1866.

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A typical poster, as found on Wikipedia and available from the prints collection at the Library of Congress:

ClymerHeister-platform-001

THE TWO PLATFORMS

Every RADICAL in Congress VOTED for NEGRO SUFFRAGE.  Every RADICAL in the Pennsylvania Senate VOTED for NEGRO SUFFRAGE.  STEVENS, FORNEY & CAMERON are for NEGRO SUFFRAGE: they are all Candidates for the UNITED STATES SENATE. NO RADICAL NEWSPAPER OPPOSED NEGRO SUFFRAGE.

GEARY said in a Speech at Harrisburg, 11th of August 1866 – “THERE CAN BE NO POSSIBLE OBJECTION TO NEGRO SUFFRAGE.”

CLYMER‘S Platform is for the White Man.

GEARY‘S Platform is for the Negro.

READ THE PLATFORMS

CONGRESS says, THE NEGRO MUST BE ALLOWED TO VOTE, OR THE STATES BE PUNISHED

(POST THIS UP.)

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Prior to his nomination by the Democratic Party, Clymer held county delegate conventions for soldiers who “signed on” as supporters of his white supremacist, racist policies.  The purpose of these conventions was to select delegates who would nominate and support Clymer in the state convention.  One such convention was held in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, on 25 July 1866:

ClymerHeister-SoldierConvention-001

DAUPHIN COUNTY CLYMER AND JOHNSON SOLDIERS’ CONVENTION

The undersigned honorably discharged Union soldiers, believing that we battled in the late war for the Union of these States, and had successfully maintained it, view with alarm the persistent efforts of radical men who seem determined, practically, to destroy the Union we went forth to save. They would have the community believe that Union soldiers are willing to give up in the hour of victory the great object to which their sacrifices and toll and blood were given.  This persistent misrepresentation must be rebuked.  We again fall into line until the Union of these States is completely restored. Therefore, we unite in requesting all the honorably discharged officers, soldiers and seamen of Dauphin County who favor the wise and constitutional policy of President Johnson, who oppose the doctrine of negro equality and suffrage, and desire the election of the Hon. Heister Clymer, to meet in Mass Convention at Harrisburg on the evening of 25 day of July 1866, for the purpose of electing fourteen delegates of Union Soldiers, which is to assemble in this city on Wednesday, 1 August 1866….

Then followed a long list of Dauphin County signers, and their Civil War regiment and rank, all of whom supposedly signed the petition because they were supporters of Clymer’s racist and white supremacist policies.

In future posts describing this election, the names of the veterans from the Lykens Valley area who signed the Clymer petition will be revealed.

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A typical statement of principles coming out of one these Clymer Soldiers’ Conventions was reported in the Harrisburg Patriot, 4 June 1866:

The “Boys in Blue” for Johnson and Clymer!!

JOHNSON AND RESTORATION!!

THE UNION AND CONSTITUTIONAL!!

We, as honorably discharged soldiers who participated in the recent sanguinary was, and have now returned home to find the Government struggling against a traitorous fanaticism, which aims a death-blow at the restoration of the Union and which treats the Constitution as an unclean thing, and daily offers amendments, looking to the entire destruction of Constitutional freedom, having met in Convention to form ourselves into an organization which will have for its object the defense of the principles for which we dared the perils of the field and for the triumph of which three hundred thousand of our comrades died, are desirous to announce the creed which we will support at the next October election, and the candidate under whose chieftainship we intend to be found at the polls, Therefore, be it

1. Resolved, The object of the war, now so happily ended, was declared bu the resolutions of Congress of July 1861, to be the defense and maintenance of the supremacy of the Constitution and the preservation of the Union with the dignity, rights of the several states unimpaired.  That with that object in view, we in common with our gallant brethren, entered the army and aided in carrying the Old Flag, with not a single star obscured and not a stripe erased, over many glorious battle-fields, until victory crowned the contest and rebellion succumbed to the arms of the Union, and not a traitor for was, to be found, resisting the Government of the Constitution of our Fathers.  The Constitution thus has been maintained, and the Union must now be unconditionally restored, and we hereby pledge ourselves as soldiers to sustain President Johnson in his wise, humane and patriotic policy.  We denounce as revolutionary and wicked the schemes and legislation of the radicals, headed by Stevens and Sumner, who refuse the admission of loyal representative, elected by the eleven Southern States and the plan of reconstruction reported by the irresponsible cabal of fifteen, which violates the cardinal doctrines of a republican representative government.  We adhere to the faith of our Father, that taxation without representation is tyranny.

2. Resolved, That Congress has no right under the Constitution to prescribe the qualifications of electors in the several States, but that the people of the States respectively only have that privilege.  That to Congress belongs the constitutional right for each House to judge of the election returns and qualifications of its own members and when it transcends that boundary and undertakes to force upon any of the States the right of negro suffrage, it violates the essential guarantees of the liberty of the citizen, and its acts only tend to the subversion of reserved rights of the States.

3. Resolved, That we heartily endorse the veto messages of President Johnson and approve of his bold and manly determination to stand between the people and the tyranny of a Congress, which looks only to the prolongation of its own party power, irrespective of the interests of the country.  If President Johnson carries out the good work he has begun, and in the future as in the past, proves himself “the tribune of the people,” (and we do not doubt but that he will do it,) his name will be associated in history with that of the other Andrew of Tennessee and immorality will crown his memory with the plaudits of the good in all future time.

4. Resolved, That as white soldiers we cannot support any party which favors negro suffrage and negro equality – that refuses to admit new territories while the word white remains in the declaration of qualification of voters – which sympathizes with negro interests in preference to the cause of the poor of our own color – which wastes all its time in providing for the freedmen and cannot be induced to equalize our bounties, and believing that John W. Geary, the Radical candidate for Governor, is a follower of Thad Stevens, and is fully committed to the cause of the Disunionists in Congress, and is the enemy of the conciliatory policy of the President, we cannot and will not support him at the polls.  We call upon our fellow soldiers everywhere to remember that the party that Geary is a candidate of has repeatedly declared in Congress, through its press and on the stump, that the was could not have been ended but for the bravery and assistance of the blacks, giving to the negro the credit which alone was merited by our white soldiers.

5. Resolved, That we believe that Hon. HIESTER CLYMER, the Democratic Candidate for Government, holds the same sentiments in relation to Federal and State affairs, that we do; that he supports the administration of the President in the great leading measures which have characterized it; that he is a gentleman of unsullied private character and approved statesmanship, and during the whole period of the war, as proved by his Senatorial record, was the firm friend of the soldier in the field, voting for an increase of pay and protection of his family in his absence, and while demagogues and loyal, stay-at-home patriots only talked, he acted by contributing his own means to the support of our interests.

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

Obituary of Henry Lichtley – Claimed To Be One of First Trained at Camp Curtin

Posted By on April 25, 2016

The obituary of Henry Lichtley appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph, 31 March 1924:

Telegraph-1924-03-31-001

ONE OF FIRST MEN AT CAMP CURTIN DIES AT AGE OF 85

One of the first soldiers to be trained in the Union camp at Camp Curtin, this city [Harrisburg], during the Civil War, died last Friday in the Pottstown Hospital from complications caused by old age.  He was in his eighty-fifth year.

The veteran, Henry Lichtley, enlisted in Company B, 50th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry [50th Pennsylvania Infantry], and was enrolled 3 September 1861, to serve during the war.  The company was organized at Reading, from where it was sent to Harrisburg and went into Camp Curtin.  From Harrisburg they were sent to Washington and later to Annapolis, Maryland.

After Mr. Lichtley had been at Annapolis a few days he and his comrades were sent by boat to South Carolina and while on the ocean they encountered a storm which lasted for two days and a half during which the vessel they were in shipped nine and a half feet of water, and lightning struck a mast.  Lichtley was thrown down a hatchway by the force of the lightning shock, sustaining a bad leg injury.

He figured in the first engagement his regiment took part in, however, at Fort Royal, South Carolina, where he was under fire three days and three nights.  Disabilities suffered then were responsible for his discharge on 30 November 1861, after less than two months service.

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News clipping from Newspapers.com.

Marks Hornet – African American Soldier from Elizabethville

Posted By on April 22, 2016

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In the 1860 Census of Washington Township, (Post Office Elizabethville), Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, there appears a family identified in the “Color” column as “m” for Mulatto.  The head of the family was Marks Hornet, a 38 year-old laborer.  He indicated to the census that he was born in Pennsylvania, that did not own any real property, that the value of his personal estate was $50, and that he could not read or write.  In his household was Matilda Marks, age 26, presumably his wife, and Irena Marks [or possibly Frances Marks?], a 6 month old child, presumably his daughter.  Their neighbors were the Thomas J. Ferree family and the Joseph K. Wagner family on one side – and the Solomon Rudisill family and the William Snyder family on the other side.  Catharine Bechtel, a 73 year old blind spinster was also a neighbor; she was enumerated in the Rudisill household.  A portion of that census page, from Ancestry.com, is shown below.

HornetMarks-Census1860-001a

Click on document to enlarge.

The exact location of the Hornet household in Washington Township can be determined through county tax records by finding the Thomas J. Ferree property and the Solomon Rudisill property, both of which were owner occupied.  The Pennsylvania Archives also has maps for 1858 and for 1862.

HornetMarks-Map1858-002

The cut shown above from the 1858 map identifies the location of three of the Hornet neighbors: Solomon Rudisill, Joseph Wagner, and J. T. Free, or Thomas J. Ferree.  Berry Mountain is shown running across the bottom of the map and the Lykens Valley Railroad runs horizontally across the center of the map.  The road along which the properties seem to be located is the current Route 225, which by heading south and west, arrives in Halifax Borough.  The road which runs from the left center of the map, slightly north and east, is the current Route 209, which if followed east, goes through Loyalton (then Oak Dale) and Lykens Borough.  From the 1858 map, it appears that the the Hornet family lived at or very near the location where the 1858 Elizabethville Railroad Station was built.  It could also be that the Hornet family was renting from Joseph Wagner, who on the map is noted as “J. Wagner Travelers Rest.”  Could it be that Marks Hornet was a laborer for the railroad?

HornetMarks-Map1862-002

The cut shown above from the 1862 map identifies the location of three of Hornet’s 1860 neighbors:  Solomon Rudisill, Mrs. Bechtel (presumably the Spinster Catharine Bechtel), and Thomas Ferree.  Again, the location of the neighbors seems to suggest that Hornet Marks lived in the location of the railroad station in 1860.

Hornet Marks has not yet been located in the 1863 Draft Registration.  He would have been required to register because of his age.  He would not have been excluded or excused because of his race.

Hornet Marks has been located in the 24th United States Colored Troops records for Company C.  He enlisted as a Private at Chambersburg, Franklin County, on 16 February 1865.  The regimental documents note that he was a “substitute” for Jacob Kauffman of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and was credited to the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.  Elizabethville and Washington Township were part of the 14th Congressional District, so at the time of his enrollment in the Colored Troops, he (and his family) were living in a different part of Pennsylvania.

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A “Muster and Descriptive Roll” Index Card, shown above from Fold3, confirms Hornet’s service in the 24th United States Colored Troops. He gave his age as 34 (he was probably closer to 38) and his occupation as laborer.  He had black eyes, black hair, a yellow complexion, and he stood 5 foot, 6 inches tall.  Another card (not shown) gave his birth place as Virginia.  The available records also show that he served honorably and was discharged at Richmond, Virginia, on 1 October 1865.

A brief history of the 24th United States Colored Troops notes that the regiment was trained at Camp William Penn in Philadelphia up to May 1865, then moved to Camp Casey near Washington, D.C., where it was stationed until 1 June 1865 when it was assigned to guard prisoners at Point Lookout, Maryland, and then re-located to Richmond in September 1865 until its discharge on 1 October 1865.

The regiment saw no military fighting action during the war, but nevertheless, all of its members who received honorable discharges were eligible for pensions – particularly after 1890, when the pension rules were relaxed to allow “old age” to be a legitimate reason for the awarding of a pension.  Since no record has been located that Marks Hornet ever applied for a pension, it could be assumed that he died before 1890, although nothing has yet been located to confirm that.  Also, no widow applied, which could mean that Matilda Hornet died before Marks, or if she survived him, that she re-married and was therefore ineligible because she had means of support.

Current efforts to find Irena Marks or her parents in censuses after 1860 have also come up blank.

For his service in the 24th United States Colored Troops, Marks Hornet is named on the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  However, he is not named on any Civil War memorial in the Lykens Valley area and his name has not been included in any local community’s list of Civil War veterans.  Because he lived and worked in Elizabethville/Washington Township in 1860, as documented by the U.S. Census, he should be included in the list of Elizabethville area Civil War veterans and he should be recognized in the Bicentennial Celebration in 2017.

Additional information is sought on Marks Hornet and any possible descendants.  Please submit comments to this blog post or send to the Project via e-mail.

Note:  There are possible connections with other African Americans from the Lykens Valley area who also served in the same regiment, including John Peter Crabb, an African American who was born in Gratz and who later became Commander of the Colored G.A.R. Post in Harrisburg (Stevens Post No. 520).

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The photo card pictured at the top of this post is from the Library of Congress.  It shows the flag of the regiment including its motto, “Let soldiers in war be citizens in peace.”