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Civil War Blog

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Four Who Died at Antietam

Posted By on May 30, 2012

 

In the post yesterday, the makeup of the Ninth Army Corps at the Battle of Antietam was discussed with Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, in command.  It was the Ninth Army Corps that was pressing on the left side of the Army of the Potomac and it saw a great deal of action at and around the “Burnside Bridge.”  In the First Brigade of the First Division of the Ninth Army Corps was the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.  Two companies of the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry were heavily composed of men from the Lykens Valley area.  Company A and Company C were recruited at Pottsville from Dauphin County and Schuylkill County.  Because of the ease of access to Pottsville from the northern parts of Dauphin County, many men from the Lykens Valley area went there to enlist and were assigned to these companies.  The commanding officer of the First Brigade was Col. Benjamin C. Christ of Minersville, Schuylkill County.

Four men from the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, were killed in action at the Battle of Antietam.  What little we know about them is told below:

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Jeremiah K. “Jere” Helms (1846-1862)

Jeremiah K. Helms, often found as Jere K. Helms in the records, was born 8 June 1846 in Myerstown, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.  He was the son of Peter Helms, a tailor and Lucy Ann [Heichbold] Helms.  He took up the craft of his father.  In 1861, he was too young to serve as an infantryman but he was able to enlist as a musician in Company C, 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.  According to information on the Schuylkill Haven web site:

At the Battle of Antietam, on 17 September 1862, Helms was performing  his duty when the soldier next to him was killed.  Jeremiah laid down his drum, seized the musket and entered the ranks.  A minie ball found it’s mark in his head and he died a few days later from the wound.  Helms was one of six brothers, two of whom were also in battle at Antietam.   They visited him in the field hospital prior to his death.

Two members of the company, Pvt. John Doudle and 1st Sgt. William H. Menning, wrote letters home and indicated that he was one of the deaths in the battle.

Fortunately for the family, his body was returned to Myerstown where he is buried in Old Union Cemetery.

In 1867, a G.A.R. Post was established in Schuylkill Haven through efforts of his brother, Capt. James K. Helms, who was also at the Battle of Antietam.  As one of the first posts in Pennsylvania, it was given the low number of “26” and was named after the fallen drummer boy, Jere K. Helms.  A plaque in Schuylkill Haven also bears the name of Jeremiah Helms as one of the honored war dead of that community.

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Augustus Berger (1836-1862)

Augustus Berger was born about 1836.  Not much is known of his family background or early history, but it is possible that he was an immigrant from Germany.  Just before the Civil War, Augustus was living in a boarding house in Schuylkill Haven while working as a boatman on the Schuylkill Canal.  He joined the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private and was killed at the Battle of Antietam.  There is no specific record of how he fell but two members of the company Pvt. John Doudle and 1st Sgt. William H. Menning, wrote letters home and indicated that he was one of the deaths in the battle.  It is possible that he is buried at Antietam National Cemetery in Maryland but a specific, marked grave site has not been located.  No one applied for a survivor pension.  Augustus Berger is honored on the Schuylkill Haven Memorial as one of the borough’s fallen heroes:

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Daniel McGlenn (1836-1862)

Daniel McGlenn (sometimes found as McGlen and McGlann), a possible immigrant from Ireland, was working as a paddler when he enrolled in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private.  At the time of his enlistment, he stated that he was 25 years old and was from Beaver Meadows, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.  Not much else is known about him other than that he was killed in the Battle of Antietam.  There is no specific record of how he fell but two members of the company Pvt. John Doudle and 1st Sgt. William H. Menning, wrote letters home and indicated that he was one of the deaths in the battle.  Daniel McGlenn is buried at the Antietam National Cemetery and his grave is supposedly marked with a government stone.

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Richard Fohl (1839-1862)

Richard Fohl (sometimes found as Fahl and Folts), age 22 at enrollment in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, was a miner from Beaver Meadows, Carbon County.  It’s possible that he was an immigrant because he has not been located in pre-war U.S. censuses.  Like some of his comrades who also fell at Antietam, nothing much is known of the actual circumstances of his death.  Two members of the company Pvt. John Doudle and 1st Sgt. William H. Menning, wrote letters home and indicated that he was one of the deaths in the battle.  Richard is buried at Antietam National Cemetery at site number 3285.

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No photographs are know to exist for any of the above-named men who died at Antietam.  A photograph of James K. Helms, brother of Jere K. Helms, in his military uniform is posted on the Schuylkill Haven Civil War web site.  The full memorial plaque for the Schuylkill Haven soldiers who fell in the war is shown below:

Additional information is sought on any of the men who served in either Company A or Company C of the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry.


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