Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Soldiers’ Monument of Schuylkill County – Transfer to the Borough of Pottsville

Posted By on September 15, 2011

This post is a continuation of the history of the Soldiers’ Monument of Schuylkill County as reported in newspapers of the time and later by Joseph H. Zerbey in his History of Pottsville and Schuylkill County Pennsylvania.

Thronged to capacity was Academy of Music, on Tuesday night 9 November 1897, when the property of the Monument Park Association was formally turned over to the keeping of the Pottsville Borough Council.  This was done at a mass meeting which tested the capacity of the building.

Prof. Frederick Gerhard’s full orchestra was present and discoursed selections while people were assembling, just prior to the opening of the program, and, also during the ceremonies.

Following a few tense moments of silence, during which the orchestra impressively rendered the “reveille”, President Snyder, as head of the Borough Council, called upon the Rev. Dr. A. R. Bartholomew, father of Mrs. U. H. Nuss, pastor of Trinity Reformed Church, who made the invocation which was replete with patriotic fervor.

Then Col. Henry Royer, president of the Pottsville Monument Association, was introduced who, in a ringing speech, formally turned over the title to the monument property, in Garfield Square, to President Snyder, as the representative head of the Borough of Pottsville.

In his eloquent and patriotic address, Col. Royer referred to the precipitation of the Civil War by the firing on Fort Sumter and its capitulation on 13 April 1861; Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers, on 15 April; and the response of the First Defenders; represented by five companies, two of which, the National Light Infantry, and the Washington Artillerists, were from Pottsville.  He called attention to the fact that the Battalion of Pennsylvania Militia, the first troops to reach the nationa capital, in its defense, arived there on 18 April.  It was Co. Royer’s proud statement that, within a week, 20 more companies, from the great Commonwealth, had responded.  He said that Pennsylvania could have furnished 70,000 of the 75,000 men, asked of the entire nation by the President, had the emergency demanded it.

In speaking about the part in which Schuylkill COunty paid in furnishing men to put down the Army of the rebellion, the orator stated that, of the 530 men, who constituted the Battalion of the First Defenders, Pottsville furnished nearly half.

Showing the rare patriotism, evidenced by the people of this county, Col. Royer went on to say that, after sending two full regiments, there was organized a third regiment for service covering a three-year period.  A fourth followed until 13,000 men had been furnished.  They gave service, in the Regular Army and Navy, scattered among 102 regiments, organized from every state in Union, from Maine to California.

Col. Royer was greeted, at the finish of his address, by prolonged applause that shook the house.  Then Capt. D. C. Henning, solicitor of the municipal body, in a dignified manner, formally accepted the monument and park on behalf of the Borough of Pottsville, promising its perpetual care.

The exercises ended with the Benediction, pronounced by the Rev. Dr. John Huse Eastman, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.  The orchestra closed the program with the “Trumpet Call” and “Taps.”



In 1951, an additional plaque was added to the Soldiers’ Monument, to honor African American, Nicholas Biddle:

The First Defenders and Nicholas Biddle of Pottsville.  First man to shed blood in the Civil War, 18 April 1861.  Erected by the Citizens of Pottsville, 18 April 1951.

The following information is from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission:

Pottsville, Schuylkill County, resident Nicholas Biddle (circa 1796-1876) was immortalized by a carte de visite for being “the first man wounded in the Great American Rebellion, Baltimore, April 18,1861.” This type of “visiting card”–mounted with a small photographic portrait–was popular from the 1860s through the 1880s. The rare carte de visite was acquired in 2008 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the collections of The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Museum curators believe this card was produced upon a suggestion by Pottsville newspaper publisher Benjamin Bannan (1807-1875), who proposed that copies be sold during Biddle’s appearance at the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia in 1864. The fair raised money to purchase necessities and medical supplies for Union soldiers. [The State Museum of Pennsylvania].


A Swindle in Bricks

POTTSVILLE, Sept 27 – Schuylkill county dupes have actually been buying bricks with the promise that their names shall be carved thereon and shown in the face of the First Defenders’ monument, to be unveiled at Pottsville on Thursday.  Yet the monument, already completed, has no brick exterior.


City to Repair Sword on Military Monument


The City of Pottsville’s Garfield Square Committee will spend $3,200 to replace a sword on the square’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

“It will be done this summer, but I don’t have an exact date,” City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar said last week.

A.R.T. Research Enterprises Inc., Lancaster, will be doing the work, Palamar said.

Complete story…


This completes the history of the Soldiers’ Monument of Schuylkill County.  Any readers who would like to contribute anecdotes or other information about the monument are welcome to do so!


One Response to “Soldiers’ Monument of Schuylkill County – Transfer to the Borough of Pottsville”

  1. Wonderful series! Thanks very much for sharing the story of this tribute to the Schuylkill County’s Union heroes.

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up. Patience is a virtue; there is no need to re-submit your comment.