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Desertions in Company H, 210th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on January 9, 2013

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An unusual number of desertions – thirty-three in all – occurred in Company H of the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry. Most of these desertions took place in Harrisburg or in Camp Curtin before the company left for the front, with a only small number occurring during the regiment’s service in the field.

According to the history of this regiment, it was “rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, and was mustered into the U. S. service from 25 August to 24 September 1864, for one year.”  The various companies were formed from recruits from the “counties of Dauphin, Columbia, Schuylkill, Potter, Mifflin, Bradford, Franklin and Centre.”  Its officers were Colonel William Sergeant, Lieutenant Colonel Edward L. Witman,  Major Henry E. Munson, Major James H. Graves, and Major Solomon B. Bowerman.

From the Union Army, Volume 1:

Colonel Sergeant was formerly a captain in the 12th U. S. Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel Witman was a Captain in the 46th Pennsylvania Infantry, and a large proportion of both officers and men had been in the service before. As soon as it was organized it left for the front and joined the army of the Potomac before Petersburg, where it was assigned to the 3d Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Corps. It was active for the first time at Hatcher’s Run in October, meeting with slight loss. It shared in the Weldon Railroad Expedition in December, suffering much from the intense cold and exposure, which caused many to sicken and die. It behaved with great gallantry in the engagement at Dabney’s Mill, in February 1865, where its losses were considerable. On the opening of the spring campaign it was heavily engaged from 29 March to 1 April, at the Quaker Road, Gravelly Run, the Boydton Road and Five Forks, its loss being 35 killed, 115 wounded and 150 missing. Col. Sergeant was mortally wounded at Five Forks as were Adjutant Schlesinger and Captain Hughes. It followed the enemy during his retreat from Petersburg and was at the front when Lee’s final surrender took place. It then returned to the vicinity of Washington, participated in the Grand Review, and was mustered out at Alexandria on 30 May 1865 when the recruits were transferred to the 51st Pennsylvania Infantry, with which organization they served until their final muster out on 28 July 1865.

The battles in which the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry participated were:

Fought on 8 Dec 1864.

Fought on 12 Dec 1864.

Fought on 6 Jan 1865.

Fought on 6 Feb 1865 at Hatcher’s Run, Virginia.

Fought on 6 Feb 1865 at Dabney’s Mills, Virginia.

Fought on 25 Mar 1865 at Gravelly Run, Virginia.

Fought on 31 Mar 1865 at Gravelly Run, Virginia

Fought on 1 Apr 1865 at Five Forks, Virginia.

Information on the deserters has been compiled from the Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers, the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Cards, and Steve Maczuga’s Pennsylvanians in the Civil War Database.  Additional information is sought on these men.  Many may have enrolled, reported for duty, and then deserted because they were needed back home.  Some may have served in other regiments but failed to properly discharge from the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry.  Others may have deserted because they were disillusioned due to conditions in the camp, the strictness of the officers,  or because of peer pressure from others in their company.  “Thirty-three” seems like a high number of desertions for a company whose normal strength would be at around 100 men.

Here’s what is known about these men, all of whom were mustered into service at the rank of Private:

William Adams, a 22-year old (born about 1842), enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service at Harrisburg on 5 September 1864.  He was reported as deserted on 7 September 1864.

John Anderson, was 22 years old (born about 1842) and was one of two persons with the same name who joined Company H.  He enrolled at Harrisburg, and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 14 September 1864.  He deserted on 17 September 1864.

John Anderson, age 24 (born about 1840), the other one with same name (see above), enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 17 September 1864 and deserted the same day.

William Burns, a 21-year old, enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 16 September 1864.  He was reported as deserted on 25 September 1864.

John Brooks, age 23 (born about 1841), deserted on 17 September 1864, the same day he was mustered in at Camp Curtin.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg.

William Blizzard was 42 years old (born about 1822) when he deserted on 22 September 1864, the day after he had mustered in at Camp Curtin.  His enrollment was a Harrisburg.

James Carl, a 22-year old (born about 1842), deserted on 7 September 1864.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg and it is not clear from the records when he was mustered into service.

Samuel Crawford, age 27 (born about 1837), enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service on 14 September 1864.  He deserted the next day, 15 September 1864 at Camp Curtin.

Frank Cannon, who was 20 years old (born about 1844) when he enrolled at Harrisburg, was mustered into service on 6 September 1864 and was reported as deserted on 18 September 1864 from Camp Curtin..

John Carden, also found in the records as John Caden, was 18 years old (born about 1846), enrolled at Harrisburg, and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 15 September 1864.  He deserted the same day.

John Doyle, age 24 at enrollment at Harrisburg (born about 1840), was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 6 September 1864 and deserted on 17 September 1864.

John Freilich was born about 1841 (age 23 at enrollment at Harrisburg).  He was mustered into service at Camp Curtin on 6 September 1864 and deserted the same day.

William Galliger, also found as William Gallagher, was a 25-year old who had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 10 September 1864.  He deserted on 11 September 1864.

Michael Higgins was a 24-year old (born about 1840) who had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service at Camp Curtin on 15 September 1864 and deserted on 17 September 1864.

Francis Hair was 25 years old (born about 1839) when he enrolled at Harrisburg.  His muster date was 10 September 1864 at Camp Curtin and he deserted the same day.

Henry Heckman, age 23 (born about 1841), had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service at Camp Curtin on 19 September 1864.  His desertion did not take place until 1 April 1865 – which is the same date as the last recorded battle in which the regiment fought (Five Forks, Virginia).  The records also show that this man used an alias of “Henry Lynch.”

James Jones, a 20-year old (born about 1844), deserted on 17 September 1864.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered in on 13 September 1864 at Camp Curtin.

John Kreitzer was 31 years old (born about 1833) when he enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service at Camp Curtin on 14 September 1864.  He deserted the same day.

Francis Kidwell, who was 22 years old (born about 1842), had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 14 September 1864, after which he deserted the next day, 15 September 1864.

John Misel, a 19-year old when he enrolled at Harrisburg (born about 1845), was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 15 September 1864 and was reported as deserted the same day.

George W. Miller was 23-years old when he deserted on 18 September 1864.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service at Camp Curtin on 6 September 1864.

Bernard Mullen, a 19-year old (born about 1845), was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 16 September 1864 and deserted on 16 September 1864.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg.

William Miller was 30 years old (born about 1834) when he enrolled at Harrisburg.  He was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 17 September 1864 and traveled with his company into the field.  His desertion is recorded as 5 October 1864, before the regiment had taken part in any battles.

John Mockerman, age 26 (born about 1838), enrolled at Harrisburg but his muster date and place was not recorded.  He was considered deserted on 22 September 1864.

James Munson, who was 19 years old (born about 1845) when he enrolled at Harrisburg, was also not recorded as mustered.  He was listed as deserted on 17 September 1864.

James O’Brian was a 35-year old (born about 1829) who enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 6 September 1864.  He deserted on 17 September 1864.

Peter Smith, 23 years old (born about 1841), deserted on 22 September 1864.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered at Camp Curtin on 15 September 1864.

Leonard Sterns, a 27-year old (born about 1837), enrolled at Harrisburg and mustered on 16 September 1864, Camp Curtin.  He didn’t travel too far with the company and regiment as he was reported as deserted on 5 October 1864.

John Weest deserted on 17 September 1864.  He was 19 years old at enrollment (born about 1845) in Harrisburg.  His muster date was 10 September 1864, Camp Curtin.

John Webber, a 23-year old (born about 1841), enrolled at Harrisburg and was mustered into service on 16 September 1864 at Camp Curtin.  He was considered deserted on 19 September 1864.

Charles White, age 22 (born about 1842), was mustered at Camp Curtin on 16 September 1864 and deserted six days later, 22 September 1864.  He had enrolled at Harrisburg.

John Wright, who was born about 1845 (age 19 at enrollment at Harrisburg), was mustered in at Camp Curtin on 15 September 1864 and was reported as deserted on 22 September 1864.

John Williams, a 27-year old (born about 1837), was listed as deserted on 1 April 1865, at Five Forks, Virginia.  Apparently he had followed the regiment and company through its entire campaign.  His records show an enlistment at Harrisburg with a muster date of 15 September 1864 at Harrisburg.

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The flag of the 210th Pennsylvania Infantry (at the top of this post) is from the Capitol Preservation Committee, Harrisburg.

 

 


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