Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

The Henry Keiser Diary – Furlough, Marriage, Return to the Front

Posted By on February 7, 2014

According to the history of the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry, the following was undertaken by the regiment during the winter months of 1863-1864:

The command went into camp near the confluence of the Aestham with the Rappahannock, and with the exception of the movement to Mine Run, and in support of the cavalry in the reconnaissance to Robertson’s River, it remained in quarters here during the winter, a considerable number of the regiment re-enlisting, in the meantime, as veteran volunteers.

During these winter months, Henry Keiser of Gratz Borough and Lykens, maintained his diary as he had done throughout his service in the regiment and would continue to do so through the remaining time in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry.


Sarah “Sallie” [Workman] Keiser (1841-1920)

Those members who re-enlisted received furloughs – including Henry Keiser who returned to the Lykens Valley.  During this time he continued to keep his diary, with one notable lengthy exception – during his “honeymoon.”  After that interlude from 9 March (the day of his marriage to “Miss Sallie”) to 26 March 1864, the diary resumes with the difficulties Henry Keiser encountered in returning to the regiment.  Miss Sallie Workman became Mrs. Henry Keiser and is thereafter referred to in the diary as “my wife.”

861.  Monday, February 1, 1864.  Rained some last night.  Wrote a letter to father and one to Elizabeth.  Cloudy all day.

862.  Tuesday, February 2, 1864.  A little rain last night.  Jonathan Shollenberger received a box of eatables from home this evening.  Was cloudy all day and at 9 p.m. had a heavy thunder storm.

863.  Wednesday, February 3, 1864.  Clear but cold this morning.  Our opossum got away for us last night.  Wrote a letter to S. B. Coles.  Had Dress parade at 5 p.m.

864.  Thursday, February 4, 1864.  Cold last night.  W. D. Ferree was court martialed.  His sentence is not made known yet.  Jon. Betz, Elias Smith and W. H. Bueck, of our company re-enlisted today.  Received a letter from Cousin Lucy.  Cloudy all day.

865.  Friday, February 5, 1864.  Cold last night.  T. C. Romella was detailed for picket this morning.  Wrote a letter to Cousin Lucy.  John Beard, George Bear, Jonathan Shollenberger and myself re-enlisted today.  John Gloss was Court Martialed.  Cloudy today.

866.  Saturday, February 6, 1864.  Lieutenant Fessig left for home on a ten days furlough.  We received orders to march at eight this morning, but the orders were countermanded.  I was detailed for camp guard at 9 a.m. and got the first relief.  Heard heavy cannonading in the direction of the Rapidan this afternoon.  Lewis Fretz re-enlisted.  John Bird was Court Martialed.  Rained some today.

867.  Sunday, February 7, 1864.  Rained a little last night.  I was on duty from twelve to three last night and relieved at 9 a.m.  Heard cannonading again.  The sergeants tried to have the company re-enlist, but did not succeed.  Cold and cloudy all day.

868.  Monday, February 8, 1864.  Cold last night.  This morning eleven more of our company re-enlisted.  The day was fine.

869.  Tuesday, February 9, 1864.  It was very cold last night.  J. Jerone Miller and Edwin Mayer re-enlisted today.  Had Dress Parade at 5 this evening.  The day was fine.

860.  Wednesday, February 10, 1864.  Again cold last night.  Drawed a pair of socks.  Henry Romberger and A. Dreibelbis re-enlisted today.  Evan Geary, Wash O’Brien, James Zabick, Joel Bird, John Gloss, John McCarty, Nathan Herb, David Machamer, and three new recruits are the only ones of our company who have not re-enlisted so far. Wrote a letter to father telling him that I had re-enlisted.  Had Dress Parade at 5 p.m.

871.  Thursday, February 11, 1864.  Was very cold last night and has been cold all day.  Received a Philadelphia Daily News from father.  Private O’Donnell of Company A, 49th PA [49th Pennsylvania Infantry], George W. Chandler of Company I, 5th Wisconsin, had their heads shaved and drummed out of camp, marching by our brigade and dishonorably discharged.  General Pleasanton and staff, Col. Upton and Staff and Col. Maeher[?] being present.

872.  Friday, February 12, 1864.  Was very cold last night.  Col. Upton inspected the camp, four ladies accompanying him, three in wagons and one on a horse.

873.  Saturday, February 13, 1864.  Had regimental Inspection at 11 a.m. by Lieutenant Owens of Upton’s Staff.  Received a letter from Miss Sallie and three papers from father.  Dress Parade at 5 p.m.  Day was fine.

874.  Sunday, February 14, 1864.  Had Brigade Inspection at 10 a.m. and afterwards marched by Col. Upton in Review.  Arrived in camp at noon. Wrote a letter to Miss Sallie.  The day was fine.

875.  Monday, Ferburay 15, 1864.  Our company was mustered for three years today as veterans by Captain A. M. Taylor.  Sergeant John Williams got half a barrel of ale for the Company.  Awe also drew a ration of whiskey from the commissary.  Snowed a little this evening.

876.  Tuesday, February 16, 1864.  Snowed some this morning.  The Lieutenant’s time is up, but he did not come to camp.  Received a letter from Cousin Lucy this evening.  Very cold all day.

877. Wednesday, February 17, 1864.  Very cold last night.  Was detailed for Company guard at 9 a.m. and got the second relief.  Cold and windy all day.

878.  Thursday, February 18 1864.  I was on duty from four until nine this morning when the old guard was relieved.  It was very cold last night.  Lieutenant Fessig returned from home where he had been on a ten day furlough.  Cold all day.

879.  Friday, February 19, 1864.  Very cod last night.  The payrolls came today and that part of the Regiment which did not re-enlist will be paid, before long.  Received the Report of the Auditor General for 1863 and a Daily Telegraph from father.  The day was fine.  Mr. Fible, the Regimental Suttler came to camp.

880.  Saturday, February 20, 1864.  Was detailed for picket at 7 a.m. and got charge of the post on the extreme right and on the south bank of the Rappahannock River.  The day was fine.  Paid by Major Robinson.

881.  Sunday, February 21, 1864.  Not very cold last night.  Stood post one hour during the night.  This morning at five I was relieved by one of Company B with orders to go to camp and get ready to leave for home on a thirty day furlough in the morning. Had Brigade Inspections in camp.

882.  Monday, February 22, 1864.  Our Company (G) and — as companies with arms and other parties who had re-enlisted left camp at day light this morning for Brandy Station and arrived there at 8 a.m. on our way home on a thirty day veteran furlough.  At 11 a.m. we took the cars for Alexander.  After a great many stops we arrived there at 5 .m.  At 7 p.m. we started for Washington by boat arriving there a little before 8 p.m.  We marched about one mile to the “Soldier’s Rest” where we had supper and there laid down to sleep.

883.  Tuesday, February 23, 1864.  Some time during the night a private of Co. K named Barney McMulligan caught a pick pocket in the act of cutting his pocket.  He caught the thief by the arm and gave the alarm.  The thief knocked him down and broke away.  He made for the door, but the guard would not left him out.  The soldiers of whom there were a great many in the “Rest” caught and kicked and pounded him from one end of the building to the other.  They wanted to hang him, but no rope was at hand.  At last the guards rescue him and took him out.  It appears he is a regular pick pocket and had smuggled himself into the “Rest” by dressing himself in artillery clothing.  They say he had a partner and kept calling for him, best? he kept very shady.  Reported, this morning that the fellow died from the treatment he received.

884.  Wednesday, February 24, 1864.  We were paid this morning.  I received two hundred fifteen dollars, twenty cents ($215.20).  We left Washington on the 3 o’clock train for Baltimore  and arrived there at six evening.  We took supper at a hotel and at 9 p.m. took cars for Harrisburg, Pennsyvlania.

885.  Thursday, February 25, 1864.  At two this morning we arrived at Harrisburg. We took up our quarters at the Union Hotel.  After daylight I went to the Park House and there found father, mother, Sisters Susan and Elizabeth, after which I went to see Miss Sallie.

886.  Friday, February 26, 1864.  This forenoon we received our furlough after which the boys struck out in different direction for their homes.  I with my friends and the boys from Lykens and vicinity too the two o’clock train for Millersburg arriving there after three p.m.  Changed cars for Lykens and at five p.m. arrived there glad to see my relatives and friends.

887-895.  No entries.

896.  Monday, March 7, 1864.  After spending a little more than a week with my relatives and friends and of course enjoying myself very much (as the citizens could not do enough to show their kind feelings toward us) I started for Harrisburg this morning with the intention of bringing Miss Sallie home expecting to get married and have a fine time but ======

898.  Wednesday, March 9, 1864.  Miss Sallie did not like the idea of making a big show.  So at 12:30 p.m. Miss Sallie and I were quietly married at the residence of Mr. Israel Ream, Market St., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by the Rev. Gause.  Mr. Levi Ream as grooms man and Miss Grace Williams as Bridesmaid….  After having partaken of a royal dinner we took the 2 o’clock train for Lykens, arriving there at five this evening.

===914.  No entries.

915.  Saturday, March 26, 1864.  Have spent a very pleasant day, visiting friends in the country and around town.  Today our thirty days are up, altogether too short a time.  We will not report in Harrisburg until Monday.

917. Monday, March 28, 1864.  Left for Harrisburg at nine this morning leaving my wife home.  Arrived at Harrisburg at one a.m.  The Harrisburg? Boys have not reported yet.  Loaned D. T. Williams two dollars.

918.  Tuesday, March 29, 1864.  Stayed in Harrisburg all night.  The Harrisburg boys had not reported at 2 p.m. so Joseph Workman, Joshua Workman and R. T. Williams, Edward Puch and myself took a “French” for Lykens.  Loaned D. T. Williams another dollar.

922. Friday, April 1, 1864.  Went to train to go to Harrisburg but heard that the Harrisburg boys had not yet reported so did not go.  Got fifteen dollars from father.

923. Saturday, April 2, 1864.  Left for Harrisburg at 9 a.m. accompanied by my wife.  We all went to the Provost Marshal and reported.  He told us to go to Camp Curtin, but we could not see that point and stayed in the city.  Had the loan of five dollars from Mrs. Smith.  Henry Romberger took the 2 o’clock train for LykensJacob Alvord, J. M. Ferree, Joshua Workman and Joseph Workman started for the front.

924.  Sunday, April 3, 1864.  We reported in camp Veteran this afternoon but in a short time got put out and were running about the city again.

925.  Monday, April 4, 1864.  Lieutenant Fessig and his men from Harrisburg came in this afternoon.  Henry Romberger also returned from home.

926.  Tuesday, April 5, 1864.  Snowed and rained all day long.  Father and sister Mariah came from Lykens this afternoon.  Father game me five dollars.  Took my wife and Mariah to Brants ?Theater.

927. Wednesday, April 6, 1864.  Loaned Abe Dreibelbis five dollars.  John Beard five and W. D. Ferree two dollars.  Some of the boys went home again today.  In Brants’ this evening.

928.  Thursday, April 7, 1864.  Were tos tart for the front at 2 p.m. but we had the order postponed until two tomorrow morning and then again until five tomorrow evening.

929.  Friday, April 8, 1864.  Did not start for the front as expected.   Most of the boys have again gone home to return on Monday.  In Brants’ again this evening.  The day was fine.

930.  Saturday, April 9, 1864.  It is raining and disagreeable this morning.  Sergeant John Williams took a run to Harrisburg today.

931.  Sunday, April 10, 1864.  Went to Sunday School with my wife at 1 p.m. and church in the evening.

932.  Monday, April  1, 1864.  The boys all came back today.  Father also came down.  We are to leave for the front tomorrow morning.

933.  Tuesday, April 12,, 1864.  Took the cars for Baltimore at 7 this morning and arrived there at noon.  Left for Washington at 3 p.m. arriving here and six this evening.  We all went to the “Soldiers Rest” for the night.

934.  Wednesday, April 13, 1864.  Did not leave for the front today, but expect to start tomorrow.  Wrote a letter to my wife.

935.  Thursday, April 14, 1864.  Just as we were ready to start for the front two men from Lehigh County offered us each $250 local bounty, cash, providing we could throw our credit to that county but we could not do it, for want of time and already had given our credit to the 24th Ward Philadelphia.  Part of our company had a little too much benzene last night and how one of the officers of the guard (a lieutenant) wanted to arrest Sergeant Wagner and Edward Pugh, but we loyal[?] Company with arms, and dared the “Invalids” to arrest them, but they did not come.

936.  Friday, April 15, 1864.  The Lieutenant of the “Invalids” was still anxious to arrest Wagner and Pugh, but his Captain being present thought it best to let them go, as the Lieutenant told him we had our arms and he was afraid there might be bloodshed.  The Captain just laughed about it, but the Lieutenant was hot.  To make sure when we left the “Rest” we fixed bayonets and made Wagner and Pugh march between us.  We were taking no chance.  We marched to the wharf where we took a boat for Alexandria.  At noon we took cars for Brandy Station and arrived there at 6 p.m.  From there we marched to camp (4 miles) and arrived here at dark.  Our bunks were all torn up.  It commenced raining, which made it still worse for us.  There are eleven new recruits here for our company one of them being already in the hospital.  Frank Workman, Josiah’s brother, came with us from home.  The Suttler left regiment today.

937.  Saturday, April 16, 1864.  It rained last night and the water ran into our tent, wetting us.  Rained all day.


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.