Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Bressler Pension Files

Posted By on August 26, 2012

The Civil War Research Project has just received the complete pension application files for two Civil War veterans of the Bressler family:  Adam Bressler and Daniel Bressler.  The papers, as obtained from the National Archives, were given to the Society by a descendant who done extensive research on the Bressler family and its Civil War service.

Adam Bressler was previously not included in the Civil War Veterans’ List for the Lykens Valley area, and will be added at the next list update.  His case is an example of how a veteran can go unacknowledged and get “lost” over time – because no one locally has publicly documented his service.  Finding these “lost” veterans has been a priority of the Civil War Research Project and has resulted in the “finding” and documenting the service of more than 2300 area veterans.  Initially, it was assumed that the number of those who served from the area was only about 350.

Adam Bressler served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Corporal from his enrollment as a draftee on 17 September 1862 through his promotion to Sergeant on 28 November 1862 and his eventual discharge on 1 August 1863.  He returned home to Jefferson Township, Dauphin County, with a bad case of “Camp Fever” which resulted in his death on 26 August 1863.  A wife, Sarah [Hoover] Bressler, and a young daughter, Salome Amelia Bressler, survived him.  The pension application file documents Sarah’s attempts to get financial support for herself and her daughter, which she received, but not without a great deal of documentation.  The file includes:  (1) documentation of Sarah’s marriage to Adam; (2) documentation of Salome’s birth and baptism; (3) documentation of Adam’s service, including a statement from his commanding officer, Capt. John A. Ettinger, telling of the honest and faithfulness of Adam in the days after Gettysburg when the regiment was pursuing Gen. Robert E. Lee; (4) Adam’s discharge papers;  (5) sworn testimony of neighbors, friends and family; (6) a statement from the doctor who attended Adam in his final days of life; and (7) documentation of the date and place of Sarah’s death.

The Pension Index Card, show above indicates that the pension was first applied for in 1865.  By itself, the card gives minimal information.  The reference number for the application file is needed to obtain the actual file at the National Archives – which today can be obtained by mail for what some consider an outrageously high fee.  The file can also be obtained at the National Archives in Washington by appearing in person and requesting it, and the per-page photocopy fees at the National Archives are standard and are comparable to those at most research facilities.  Personal flatbed scanners are also permitted.  The richness of information that can be obtained from these files makes their contribution to the Civil War Research Project a most valuable addition to the project resources.  Since the project’s commencement, about 100 additional pension files have been submitted by family members.

The pension application file of Daniel Bressler‘s widow, Mary [Sweigart] Bresser, also shows that Daniel died at home of “fever” contracted during the Civil War and while he was serving in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F.

The file contains the following: (1) several affidavits from neighbors and friends; (2) documentation of Mary’s marriage to Daniel’ (3) the names and birth dates of their children; (4) the dates of military service; (5) Daniel’s discharge papers;(6) a statement from the physician who attended Daniel in his last days attesting to “typhoid fever” as the cause of death; and (7) and date of Mary’s death.

The difficulty with which war widow women had to prove that their husband’s died as a result of something that was war-related is evidenced in both these files.  There are come common items found in the files, not the least of which is the fact that both soldiers were named Bressler, both served in the same regiment, and both died of essentially the same thing – and at home in the same geographic area.  The fact that they were brothers was not previously known by the Civil War Research Project until the pension files were obtained and the files were discussed with the family member who researched both men and provided the copies.  A third brother, Henry Bressler, supposedly died in 1862, perhaps of the same fever.  No Civil War record has yet been located for him.

Finally, a clue as to why Adam Bressler was not previously included in this research project.  Sarah [Hoover] Bressler may have left the Lykens Valley area soon after her husband’s death.  When her death was reported to the Pension Bureau, it was reported from Collegeville, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, an area very close to Philadelphia.

Readers who have obtained pension application files on veterans who have a connection to this project are urged to contribute those files to the Civil War Research Project.  The interconnections, not readily available from one set of files, become more easily apparent when the files of many veterans can be examined easily in one place and at the same time.  There is much more in the files than pension application papers.  For a complete listing of the types of items that have been digitized, see the project description, though not all files have the same information.

Pension Index Cards shown here were obtained from Ancestry.com.





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