Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

John Orth – German Immigrant in the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on March 3, 2013


In 1910, John Orth, an immigrant from Germany, was living in the household of his son, Jacob A. Orth, in Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.  At that time, John, a widower, was living on his Civil War pension, which was referred to in the census as “own income.”  The son was a bookkeeper and the household included a grandson and two granddaughters.  When John Orth died in 1916, he was buried in Long’s Cemetery in Halifax, Dauphin County, near where he had spent most of his life (grave marker shown above).  Not much is known about the early years of John Orth – except that he must have been very young when he arrived in America.


At the time of John Orth‘s enrollment in Company B of the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, he was 25 years old, he gave his occupation as “farmer,” and his residence as Dauphin County.  The enrollment and muster into service took place at Harrisburg on 8 August 1862.  He served at the rank of Private.  The Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Card (shown above) is from the Pennsylvania Archives.

Most of the 127th Regiment came from Dauphin County, the remainder from Adams, Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties. At Harrisburg… the regiment was mustered into the U.S. service for nine months. Company A was detailed to act as provost guard at Harrisburg and never served with the regiment in the field. On 17 August, nine companies [including Company B of which John Orth was a part], consisting of 869 men, left for Washington and were soon assigned to guard Chain Bridge on the Potomac. The regiment was then ordered to Fredericksburg, where it arrived on 9 December 1862. [On] 10 December [it] became a part of the 3d Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Corps, which was the first brigade to cross the river after the pontoons were laid, the crossing being made in the face of the enemy’s sharpshooters, thus clearing the way for the rest of the army. The regiment joined with Owen’s Brigade in a desperate attack on Marye’s Heights, but like others it was unsuccessful, 257 of the regiment being killed or wounded. (from The Union Army)

Available records indicate that on 13 December 1862, John Orth was wounded at Fredericksburg.  At this time, it has not been determined how long it took him to recover or when he returned to his company.

[After John Orth received his wounds at Fredericksburg] the 127th then went into camp at Falmouth.  In the Chancellorsville campaign of the following spring it was with Gen. Gibbon’s Division, which made another assault on the same heights, and this time succeeded. At Harrisburg, May 8 and 29, the 127th was mustered out, having lost 52 by death from wounds and disease. (from The Union Army).

The records of John Orth show that he was discharged with his company on 29 May 1863.  The only clue thus far found that the wounds he received were not that serious is from the 1890 Veterans’ Census.  When given the opportunity to state whether he had any war-related disabilities, no answer was given.

After the Civil War John returned to Dauphin County and to farming in the Halifax area.  Census and other records show that his wife’s name was Sarah, and that he had at least four children:  Anna M. Orth, born about 1868; William H. Orth, born about 1870; Kathryn J. “Katie” Orth, born about 1871; and Jacob A. Orth, born about 1874, with whom he was living at the time of the 1910 Census.


The Pension Index Card (above) is from Ancestry.com and is additional confirmation that John Orth applied for and received a pension.  Additional information about the wounds John received at Fredericksburg is most likely in the pension application files which are available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  If any descendants or other researchers have obtained these files, copies would be appreciated by the Civil War Research Project.

More information is sought on John Orth and can be added to this post as comments of sent by e-mail to the Civil War Research Project.  However, care must be taken to insure that the information is about the John Orth who was a farmer from Halifax who served as a Private in the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company B.  As with many other men who served in the Civil War, there was another of the same name – a John F. Orth, who was Quartermaster at Headquarters of the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry.  This other John F. Orth was an officer, and was born about the same time and died about the same time as John Orth, the immigrant and farmer.


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.