Civil War Blog

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The Adventures of Frederick N. Wise

Posted By on October 5, 2011

The obituary of Frederick N. Wise (1825-1901) of Lykens has been located in the Lykens Standard of 12 July 1901.  Wise served in the marine service during the Mexican War and in the 208th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War.  A brief biography was given of him in a prior post on this blog entitled “At Sea:  Sailors, Marines, Merchant Seamen, Blockaders, Revenue Service.”  Excerpts from the extensive death notice are given below.


LYKENS— F. N. Wise of Main street, who was stricken with paralysis last week, died the following Thursday at noon, in the 77th year of his age.  The funeral was held Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock, the Rev. D. E. Mackenzie of Zion Lutheran church, of which deceased was a member for many years, conducting short services at the home of the deceased.  Interment was made on the family burial plot in Odd Fellows’ cemetery….

Those attending the funeral from a distance were W. F. Wise, Tyrone; William Haas and son Charles Haas, Renovo; Mrs. Margaret Woodside, Berrysburg; George Lutz, Mrs. Margaret Umberger, Mrs. Charles Sellers, Harrisburg; Charles Lenker, Williamstown; Mrs. Emma Parks, Mt. Carmel.  The pallbearers were W. G. Neiffer, Ed. L. Bergstresser, John W. Johns, R. Coble, Edgar S. Rettinger, William Seip, George W. Hawk and Daniel A. Miller.

Deceased was for the past sixteen years an assessor in this borough, being elected to the office before the borough was divided into two wards, and residing in that part comprising the West ward, has held the office continuously since the division.  Being a carpenter by occupation, and an old resident, he was a good judge of the value of a property, and required a strict adherence to the laws regarding the making of returns by residents of the district.  His books were always found correct, and accepted by the county commissioners without question.

Frederick N. Wise was born in Millersburg, this county, on the 25th day of August 1825, where he resided with his parents until 15 years of age, when he was bound as an apprentice to his uncle, George Newman of Lewistown., to learn the carpenter trade.  When nearly 21 years of age (June 1846) he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps at the Philadelphia navy yard, then commanded by Major Twigs.  About Dec. 1846 he was appointed a corporal and sent aboard the receiving ship North Carolina, having charge of the Marine Guard.  In February, 1847, he was ordered on board the U.S. brig Perry, of eight guns, then fitting out for sea at Philadelphia.  She set sail the last week of the month under sealed orders, with a bearer of dispatches on board, for the Pacific coast.  When out at sea, the orders were opened, when it was found that they were to go first to Charges, New Grenada, Isthmus of Panama, where the bearer of dispatches was landed.  From thence they sailed to Vera Cruz arriving there about the 24th of March, 1847, and joined the Gulf squadron under the command of Commodore Connor.  After the capture of Vera Cruz and the Castle San Juan d’Ulloa, the North Carolina cruised for about a month in the Gulf of Mexico along the coast of Mexico, after the U.S. Army had left the city of Mexico.  Next they were ordered to Pensacola, Fla., from there to the Island of Maderia, city of Funehall; from thence to the coast of Brazil, and anchoring at Rio de Janiero.

U.S. Brig Perry

While at the port, Mr. Wise was transferred to the brig Perry, in charge of Lieut. Com. Tilton, which made several cruises up the Rio de la Plata, stopping at Monte Video and Buenos Ayres and it was while on these cruises that he was taken sick with a disease which seemed to puzzle the skill of all the surgeons of the squadron, so he was put on shore and placed under the care of the best physicians in the city, and later was put on board the U.S. Frigate Brandywine and taken back to Rio de Janiero, and from that port to the Brooklyn naval hospital on board the U.S. store ship Eric, arriving at New York 24 June 1848.  The surgeons at the naval hospital pronou0nced his disease inflammatory rheumatic gout, which kept him at that institution until 15 October, or three months and twenty-one days.

He was next ordered to the Charleston navy yard, Mass., and joined the U.S. ship Yorktown, a sloop of war.  This ship was ordered to the west coast of Africa, sailing from Boston on 22 November 1848, stopping at the island of Madeira on the way, and arriving at Porto –ya , Island of St. Jago, one of the Cape Verde islands 3 January 1849.  While cruising up and down the coast, he witnessed a battle between the Liberian troops and a tribe of natives at Grand Sesters, the president of Liberia being on board the ship.

In June, 1849, his ship sailed for Cadiz, Spain.  While on a cruise along the coast of Maderia his term of enlistment expired, and on the 25th of August 1850, he sailed from Palmas, of the Canary group. September 6th, at 4:30 a.m., while off the island of Sal, one of the Cape Verde group, the ship struck the rocks and filling with water had to be abandoned, all on board being safely landed on the island by 7 a.m. where they were without food or water for two days.  On the third day, natives inhabiting the other side of the island, and who had heard of their distress, drove a number of cattle to their camp.  Several of these were instantly slaughtered and the flesh roasted on sticks over fired made of moss gathered from the rocks.  The cows were spared for their milk, as no fresh water could be found.  On the fourth day, the whole crew worked their way around and across the island to a small town called Mayo — some by boat, some on foot, and some by asses, which had been loaned by the natives.

On the 24th of September, the U.S. Ship Dale, called at Mayo and took the crew on board, landing them at Porto Praya, and on the 15th of October 1850, they were placed on board the John Adams and sent to Norfolk, Va., arriving at that place on the 29th of November, 1850.  Here Mr. Wise was detained a few days as a witness in a court martial case, after which he went to Washington, to receive his discharge.  While at Portsmouth, he met Lieutenant George E. St. Clair of the brig Perry, who gave him a certificate of his services on the Perry while on duty in the Gulf of Mexico, which was endorsed on his discharge, and entitled him to 160 acres of Government land.  Two hours later he sold the discharge for $100.  He was discharged from the service in December, 1850.

It was while at Norfolk that he became acquainted with the woman whom he afterward married, Harriet Ann Keeter, born in Camden county, North Carolina in May 1826.

During the years 1853-54, Mr. Wise was again afflicted with inflammatory gout, from which he suffered more or less up to the time of his death.

From Portsmouth he went to Fisherville, Jackson Township, where he lived with an uncle for a while, and from Fisherville to Harrisburg, where he worked at the trade of carpenter.  Shortly after locating at Harrisburg he wrote to Miss Keeter to come up to that city, and on the 1st day of July, 1851, they were married.

On the 27th of August, 1864, he enlisted in Company A, 208th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and was entitled to the office of lieutenant, but not wishing to accept the appointment, the office remained vacant until his company arrived at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, where he persuaded the captain’s brother, Jacob F. Hoffman, to take the office.  He, however, after considerable persuasion, accepted the office of sergeant.  His division was transferred to the Ninth Army Corps in front of Petersburg, and was first in the Battle of Fort Steadman and the capture of Petersburg.  His division was also present at the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee.  He was discharged from the service, June 1st, 1865.

After the war he located at Berrysburg, where he resided until 1870, when he moved to this place and was employed by his brother Abel Wise, cabinetmaker and undertaker, located on Market street on the site now occupied by A. F. Collier’s marble yard.  For the past twelve or fifteen years, on account of his old affliction and the infirmities of old age, he was not engaged in any active employment, but was honored by the citizens of his ward with the office of assessor.  He is survived by his wife, and adopted daughter (Mrs. Samuel Wehry), and two grandchildren.


G.A.R. Monument, Lykens, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. “Tablet erected by Heilner Woman’s Relief Corps No. 101 of Lykens, PA, in memory of the men who enlisted from Lykens, Wiconisco and vicinity in the Civil War, 1861-1865; and in honor of Heilner Post No. 232 G.A.R. of Lykens, PA, organized Oct 27, 1881.” Fred N. Wise is named as a member who joined after the organization of the Heilner G.A.R. Post.

I.O.O.F. Cemetery, Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania

The grave marker of Frederick N. Wise has not yet been photographed in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Lykens.  According to information in the cemetery list, the grave is located in Row 14.


A copy of the complete obituary is available from the Civil War Research Project as are other papers and documents pertaining to the life of Frederick N. Wise.  Additional information is sought on the life and career of Frederick N. Wise, including pictures, documents and stories.





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