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Capt. Jacob F. Hoffman – Merchant

Posted By on November 26, 2013


Capt. Jacob F. Hoffman was the brother of Medal of Honor recipient Thomas W. Hoffman.  He was born in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on 25 December 1841, and was one of six Hoffman brothers who served in the Civil War.  For a time, he was a merchant in Pillow and Berrysburg in Dauphin County.  As the above Veterans’ Index Card from the Pennsylvania Archives shows, on 18 June 1863, at the age of 21, he enrolled in the 26th Pennsylvania Militia [26th Pennsylvania Infantry, Emergency of 1863], company K, at Millersburg, and served honorably through his discharge on 30 July 1863.  For his service at Gettysburg, he is recognized on the Pennsylvania Memorial.


The following biographical sketch of Capt. Hoffman was found in the Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County Pennsylvania, published in 1911 by the J. L. Floyd Company of Chicago, page 77-78:

Captain Jacob F. Hoffman, now living retired at Herndon, Northumberland County, a native of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and a member of a family long established in that section.  His great-great grandfather settled in Berks County in what was then the Province of Pennsylvania, early in the eighteenth century, and his great-grandfather John Nicholas Hoffman, was at the Battle of Brandywine  during the Revolutionary War where he picked up a spent case shot.  The Hoffmans have been patriotic citizens, members of the family having served in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.  At the close of the latter, five sons of Amos Hoffman were still in the service, while another, Henry, had done his part as a soldier.

Jacob Hoffman, son of John Nicholas Hoffman, was the grandfather of Capt. Jacob F. Hoffman.  He was born in the Lykens Valley in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and was a substantial farmer and an influential man in his community, serving as member of the State Legislature from 1822 to 1824.  His wife, who was a Ferree, was of French descent. They had children as follows:  Jacob Hoffman who lives at Harrisburg, now (1910) nearly ninety years old; Amos Hoffman; Hannah Hoffman, who married John Rumberger; Sarah Hoffman, who married Michael Forney; and Mrs. Abraham Hess.

Amos Hoffman, son of Jacob, was born in May 1809 in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, was a lifelong farmer, and died at Girardville, Schuylkill County, about 1899, in his eighty-ninth year.  He is buried at Berrysburg, Dauphin County.  He married Amanda Harper, and they were the parents of ten children:  Henry Hoffman, who served in the Civil War as a Private in the 8th Illinois Cavalry; Thomas W. Hoffman, who became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Civil War; Capt. Jacob F. Hoffman; Edwin A. Hoffman, who served as a Sergeant in the Civil War; John H. Hoffman, who was a Drummer in the Civil War, though but fifteen years old at the time; George M. Hoffman; Charles H. Hoffman; Joseph W. Hoffman; Henrietta Hoffman, wife of William Williard; and Adaline Hoffman, wife of Charles Koser.

Jacob F. Hoffman was born 25 December 1841, in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and there received his elementary education in the public schools, later attending Berrysburg Seminary several terms.  For one term he taught school.  He then engaged in the general merchandise business at Pillow, Dauphin County, and afterwards at Berrysburg, where he enlisted for service in the Civil War, joining the 26th Regiment of Pennsylvania Militia [26th Pennsylvania Infantry, Emergency of 1863], which was among the first troops in the field in the emergency just before the battle of Gettysburg.  This command met White’s Cavalry and defeated them, then fell back to Fort Washington at Bridgeport, where they were held during the battle with other troops.  After the battle, they followed Lee as far south as Greencastle.  They were regularly sworn into the Federal service, uniformed and paid by the Federal government, and the regiment has a monument at Gettysburg.  The Company to which Capt. Hoffman belonged was mustered out at Harrisburg in the latter part of July 1863.

After that, he went to Harrisburg and clerked for Kelker Brothers, and in August 1864, he again entered the service, becoming First Lieutenant of Company A, 208th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry [208th Pennsylvania Infantry], which was sent to the front with other troops, arriving at Bermuda Hundred in September 1864.  It was brigaded with the 200th, 205th, 207th, 209th and 211th Pennsylvania Regiments forming the Light Brigade commanded by Col. Patter of the 12th New Hampshire Regiment, and which for about two months did picket duty between Dutch Gap and Petersburg. In the latter part of November it was transferred to the Army of the Potomac, in which the six regiments mentioned formed the 3rd Division of the 9th Army Corps, commanded by Gen. John F. Hartranft.  The Brigade did reserve duty with the First Division, consisting of the 200th, 208th, and 209th Regiments.  On 25 March 1865, General Gordon made an assault on Fort Steadman and batteries 9, 10, 12, and 13, which he captained.  The first Brigade, Second Division came to the rescue and fought the enemy successfully.  Captain Hoffman was wounded in the right thigh during this engagement.  When the 2nd Brigade came to the relief of the 1st, , both Brigades charged the enemy, which fled across the lines, and all that had bee lost to the 1st Division of the 9th Army Corps was recaptured, but with a loss of 1500 men in dead, wounded and captured, On the Belfield Raid, Capt. Hoffman had charge of the advance guard over the Jerusalem Plank Road, also commanding Company A of the 208th Regiment at Hatcher’s Run and Fort Steadman.  After being wounded he was sent to City Point Hospital and from there home on leave of absence.

Recovering to some extent he re-joined his regiment at Alexandria, Virginia, but was not accepted for duty, and was sent to Armory Square Hospital, at Washington, D.C.  He was mustered out by order of the War Department, 23 June 1865.

Following the Civil War, Capt. Hoffman and his brother Thomas W. Hoffman, embarked in the general merchandise business at Port Trevorton, Snyder County, Pennsylvania, where they carried on a store for thirty years, doing well throughout that period.  from 1896, the Captain followed other avocations.  Meantime, in January 1891, he had taken up his residence at Port Trevorton, where he made his home until his removal to Herndon, Northumberland County, in 1902.  There he has since lived in comparative retirement, though he maintains business relations with the John Winston Publishing House of Philadelphia and the National Silverware Company of the same city, not being content to be entirely without occupation.  He is a much respected resident of the borough, where he is well-known.

Capt. Hoffman’s first wife, Martha Witmer, daughter of Abraham Witmer, of Juniata County, Pennsylvania, died 16 October 1892, after eighteen years of married life, aged forty-one years, ten months, twenty-eight days.  She was the mother of two sons:  Charles H. Hoffman, who is engaged as shipping clerk at Burnham, Pennsylvania, for the Logan Steel and Iron Company; and Edwin S. Hoffman, a machinist employed at the National Gun Works, Washington, D.C.  On 2 January 1905, Captain Hoffman married second Mary Agnes Blasser, daughter of Abraham D. Blasser.

For many years Capt. Hoffman has been an active member of the G.A.R., is at present serving as assistant patriotic instructor, and is chaplain of John C. Arnold Post, No. 407, Port Trevorton.  In religious matters he is identified with the United Brethren Church, of which he has been a member since 1874.  He held the office of class leader for twenty-two years, was Sunday School superintendent for eight years, and is now superintendent of the Union Sunday school at Herndon.  He is also president of the Northumberland County District of the State Sunday School association.  Capt. Hoffman was made a Mason in Lafayette Lodge, F. & A. M. in 1869.


The Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County Pennsylvania is available as a free download from the Internet Archive.  Additional information is sought about Capt. Jacob F. Hoffman, particularly stories of his Civil War service and career after the war.  Especially welcome are any pictures of Capt. Hoffman and any existing obituaries which would have appeared in local newspapers around the time of his death, 9 November 1916.  He is believed to be buried at Herndon, but to date, his grave has not yet been photographed for the Civil War Research Project.


Source:  Northumberland County Biographical Annals, p. 77.


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