Posted By Norman Gasbarro on January 23, 2015
An article that appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph on 19 June 1914 described Civil War veteran John Eisenhower placing a plaque on his grave marker in the Enola Cemetery,Cumberland County, Pennsylvania so that the correct facts about his military service would be known:
Puts Plate on His Tombstone Telling Where He Fought
Civil War Veteran Wants to be Sure That the Facts Are There and That They’re Right
Conducting his own memorial service, John Eisenhower, a veteran of the Civil War, will next Tuesday put a brass plate suitably inscribed on the tombstone under which he expects to lie someday in the Enola Cemetery.
“I want to put it up now so when I die I’ll know its there,” Sergeant Eisenhower today explained. Sergeant Eisenhower is 71 years old, but still hearty. The brass plate that he will fasten on his tombstone is built to last a couple of hundred years, at least, it is said.
It is twelve inches long, six wide and on its surface are engraved the names of the battles in which the sergeant participated: Kenesaw Mountain, Utoy Creek, Buzzards Roost, New Hope Church, Siege of Atlanta, Peach Tree Creek, Resaca, Neildon Station, and Battle of Jonseboro. Above this list of Civil War engagements are the words: “Private, Company C, 177th Pennsylvania Volunteers [177th Pennsylvania Infantry].” This was the company in which Mr. Eisenhower first enlisted. It lasted nine months, and shortly afterward, at Kenesaw Mountain, he was promoted from Private to Sergeant for bravery. He had entered the enemy’s lines and stolen ammunition. So the Captain made him a Sergeant.
The memorial plate will be fastened on the tombstone which now stands over the grave of his wife, who died a year ago. Sergeant Eisenhower and Samuel A. Greene, who made the plate, will fasten it to the stone. Those present during the fitting exercises will be his children and grandchildren. They are William Edward Eisenhower, Samuel Eisenhower, Morris J. Eisenhower, Daisey Eisenhower, Dorothy Eisenhower and Charles Eisenhower, and Mrs. Katherine Keiser, all of this city.
Unfortunately, the article noted stated that Eisenhower served only in the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry instead of the 33rd United States Infantry – which is what is clearly shown on the picture of the plaque that accompanied the article.
The photograph on the Findagrave Memorial for John Eisenhower (above) does not show the plaque. The photograph’s date of 26 September 2011 is an indication that although the plate was “built to last a couple of hundred years,” it didn’t last one hundred. In a brief life sketch of John Eisenhower, the Findagrave Memorial stated:
As his life was drawing to a close, he scheduled and delivered his own memorial service because he wanted to document his war experiences properly. The newspaper article describing the upcoming event, however, got it wrong by saying he served with the 177th Pennsylvania Volunteers [177th Pennsylvania Infantry ] and then implied that regiment had been on the Atlanta Campaign. The 177th had ceased to exist a year before the Atlanta Campaign began.
The Findagrave Memorial also stated that John Eisenhower served in the 15th United States Infantry, but that was a result of a consolidation of regiments.
No mention is made of the brass memorial plate.
A search of the Pension Index Cards available at Fold3 produced the following result:
John Eisenhower did indeed serve in the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C. That service, along with his service in the 33rd United States Infantry and the 15th United States Infantry was included on his pension application, which was made on 23 July 1888. He received the pension and collected it until his death, which occurred at Harrisburg, 8 March 1925. The card notes that John’s records can also be found under the “alias” John Isenhower.
The 177th Pennsylvania Infantry was a drafted regiment that did not participate in any major actions.
The 177th Pennsylvania Infantry was a drafted regiment that did not participate in any major actions, but in his service with the United States Infantry, he did participate in the battles which are noted on the plaque.
Ironically, the purpose of John Eisenhower holding the ceremony and placing the plate was so that future generations would be clear as to his military services. So, what then happened to the brass memorial plate that was supposed to last 200 years?
The picture of the plaque is from Chronicling America, the on-line newspapers available through the Library Congress.