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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Monuments at Gettysburg – 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Posted By on May 21, 2015

The 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument at Gettysburg is located southeast of the town of Gettysburg on Highland Avenue.

A picture of the monument as shown above can be seen on Stephen Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS Coordinates, additional photographs, and some of the history of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.

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The program of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry at the monument dedication exercises was described in the Philadelphia Inquirer article of 11 September 1889, along with a brief history of the regiment in the Gettysburg Campaign:

Down at Deardorf Farm.

The 16th Cavalry, from interior western counties, was in Gregg’s Brigade at Gettysburg on the extreme right of the Union Army guarding the approaches in that quarter.  On the 5th it was put in motion in pursuit of the enemy and captured many prisoners.  It was under command of Captain John K. Robison in the Gettysburg Campaign.  Beginning with a severe battle at Brandy Station, the marched northward 13 May 1863, and after passing Aldie on the 18th the regiment was in advance of General Pleasanton’s Corps and constantly engaged.  On the 19th the regiment’s ammunition was exhausted. It was led to the attack, dismounted and drove the enemy from well-protected positions, losing one killed and ten wounded. In the fights of the following few days the enemy was driven into the Blue ridge.  The 16th monument is on the line occupied on the 3rd on “Deardorf Farm,” at the junction of the roads, about 200 yards from the farm buildings.

The programme of the 16th Cavalry at 1:30 o’clock P.M. will include:  Prayer, Lieutenant Norman Ball; “The Absent,” W. A. McDowell; sketch of regiment, T. D. Garman.  Evening — “Campfire,” President J. L. Gregg; “Our Regiment,” Adjutant Company; “Camp Life,” Captain Charles H. Miller, Assistant Adjutant General.

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John K. Robison

Captain John K. Robison commanded the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Gettysburg.

Robison, age 33, was from Juniata County, Pennsylvania, when he became Captain of Company F of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry. It was not until the 7 August 1863 that he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the Regiment.  Months before his discharge, which occurred on 11 August 1865, he was breveted Brigadier General.

During the war, John Kincaid Robison was wounded three times:  (1) at Auburn, 14 October 1863; at Hawes Shop, 28 May 1864; and at Farmville, 7 April 1865.

He died on 20 June 1917 and is buried at Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, Mifflintown, Juniata County, Pennsylvania.  More information about him can be found at his Findagrave Memorial.

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Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The plaque for the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry is pictured below.  By clicking on the plaque it should enlarge so the names can be more clearly read.  If a name does not appear, it could be that the soldier did serve in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.

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The Yeager Family in the Civil War (Part 3)

Posted By on May 20, 2015

In 1912, the Hon. James Martin Yeager wrote and published A Brief History of the Yeager, Buffington, Creighton, Jacobs, Lemon, Hoffman and Woodside Families and Their Collateral Kindred of Pennsylvania.  Yeager was formerly the President of Drew Seminary for Young Women of Carmel, New York as well as a former Member of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania and a Marshal of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  On pages 82-85, he presented a list of Pennsylvania soldiers he identified with the Yeager surname who had fought in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865.  In addition to the names of the soldiers, he named the regiment and company in which they fought.  Sixty-three veterans were thus identified.  A free download of Yeager’s book can be obtained at the Internet Archive.

There is much information still to be discovered about each of the veterans.  Readers of this blog are urged to add information to what is provided below – particularly genealogical information about each of the men, including the names of their parents and their decent from the earliest Yeager’s who arrived in Pennsylvania.  Additional stories about the Civil War service of these veterans is also sought, particularly if readers have access to the pension application files and military records from the National Archives.  Pictures are especially welcome!  Comments can be added to this post or sent by e-mail.

This post continues a multi-part series on these Pennsylvanians with the Yeager surname who served in the Civil War.

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According to his death certificate, Alfred G. Yeager was born on 5 June 1834 and died on 20 February 1908, but according to his Findagrave Memorial, he was born on 20 February 1838.  Considering that he said he was 29 years old when he enrolled in the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1862, it is more likely that the death certificate has the correct information.  On 10 August 1862, Alfred was mustered into service in Harrisburg as a Private in Company B, 129th Pennsylvania Infantry and served until his discharge on 18 May 1863.  He also met the Emergency of 1863 by joining the 39th Pennsylvania Infantry Militia in July 1863, Company I, serving as a Sergeant, until the conclusion of the emergency on 2 August 1863.  His enrollment in the 129th took place in Pottsville.  He was a carpenter and was married to Rebecca Boyer; both are buried at the Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.  On 4 March 1890, Alfred applied for pension benefits, which he received until his death in 1908 whereupon his widow applied, receiving the benefits until her death in 1913.  A guardian applied on behalf of minor children in late 1913.

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Eli Yeager was born about 1835.  On 10 August 1862, he was mustered into the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company B, as a Private and served until he was wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on 13 December 1862.  He was recovering from his wounds at the time the company was mustered out of service and therefore was not present at muster out.  Eli’s pension records are found under the name of Elias Yerger.  He applied for a pension on 29 March 1888, which he received and collected until his death.  No widow pension has been located and his place of burial has not yet been determined.

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Solomon Yeager was born about 1837 and died on 17 February 1913 in Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  He was mustered into service as a Private on 14 August 1862 at Harrisburg in the 131st Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, and was honorably discharged on 23 May 1863.   He applied for a pension on 9 June 1891, which he received and collected until his death in 1913.  His widow, Louisiana Yeager, applied for benefits on 24 February 1913, which she received until her death.  Information was not available as to where Solomon Yeager is buried.

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Augustus L. Yeager, also known as August L. Yeager, was born 8 September 1821 and died 15 February 1887.  He is buried at Cressona Cemetery, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War he served in the 205th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Sergeant.  After the war he applied for a pension on 15 May 1871, which he received and collected until his death.  His widow, Mary Yeager, applied on 29 June 1887, and collected benefits until her death.  At this time, the Findagrave Memorial for him contains very little information and needs to be updated with at least his Civil War veteran status noted.

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Pennsylvania Veterans’ Index Cards are from the Pennsylvania Archives.

Monuments at Gettysburg – 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Posted By on May 19, 2015

The 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument at Gettysburg is located south of the town of Gettysburg on Pleasonton Avenue north of the Pennsylvania Memorial.

A picture of the monument as shown above can be seen on Stephen Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS Coordinates, additional photographs, and some of the history of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.

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The 11 September 1889 Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry was “not engaged” at Gettysburg but was “on the ground.”

The 8th Many Hazards.

The 8th Cavalry was mustered at Nicetown and organized with Ernest G. Chorman, Colonel; Albert J. Enos, Major.  The 8th was not engaged at Gettysburg, though on the ground. It was the 8th, under Major Keenan, which charged the rebels at Chanecllorsville and held them at by “at all hazards,” as the orders were, until the Union batteries could be placed in position.  The 8th was congratulated for many equally hazardous feat and was mustered out of service at Richmond, August 1865.

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One of the commanders of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Gettysburg was Captain William A. Corrie.

Corrie was born about 1824 and at the time of the Civil War was living in Philadelphia, where he was mustered into service as Captain of Company F of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  On 11 March 1864, he was promoted to the rank of Major and transferred to headquarters.  On 30 December 1864, he was again promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment.  Although he was commissioned Colonel on 1 July 1865, he was not mustered in at that rank and was discharged with his regiment on 3 August 1864.

William A. Corrie applied for a pension on 29 August 1872.  He died on 8 December 1896 and is buried at Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia,  His widow, Mary A Corrie, applied for benefits on 6 February 1897, which she did not receive.

Pictures of Currie’s grave at Woodlands Cemetery can be seen at his Findagrave Memorial.

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Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The plaque for the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry is pictured below.  By clicking on the plaque it should enlarge so the names can be more clearly read.  If a name does not appear, it could be that the soldier did serve in the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.

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The Suicide of Ben Urich – Veteran of the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on May 18, 2015

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Benjamin Urich (1844-1903)

The following story is from the Harrisburg Patriot of 22 June 1903. It describes the suicide of Civil War veteran Benjamin Urich who served in the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company D, as a Private.

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BEN URICH DIED BY HIS OWN HAND

Familiar Character Cut His Throat at Daylight Yesterday

TORE WOUND WITH HIS HAND

Man Who Held Police Record for Arrests and Known to Thousands About the City

Ben Urich, a character familiar to men, women, and children in this city for a generation, committed suicide at daylight yesterday morning by cutting his throat with a razor.  The man was despondent and when his wife took the blood-stained razor from him, he tore the sinews from the gaping wound in his hands.  He died in the Harrisburg Hospital an hour later.

Ben Urich was a rag-man and made a fair living when he worked. His habits were not good, however, and he was a frequent occupant of the dock in the Police station charged with drunkenness and disorder, although his conduct was mostly of the nonsensical type, highly diverting to the children and amusing to the grown folks.  It is said that he has been arrested more than any man in Harrisburg, the dockets at the Police station showing that he had been before Mayors over one hundred times.  Probably not more than one-tenth of these times did he ever pay a fine, preferring to spend his time in prison.

Ben Was Despondent

It was said that Ben was despondent when he killed himself yesterday.  He had been pretty steady of late, not having been arrested for at least a month and it was when he threatened to kill his aged wife after one of his periods of inebriety.  When he went home on Saturday evening he was very morose and his wife noticed that he was wakeful during the night.  Yesterday morning at daylight he stole down stairs to the kitchen. His wife followed him at once, but not in time to keep him from slashing his throat with a razor.  He had cut himself once when she wrested the razor from him, but the frenzied man put his fingers into the wound and tore it wider.

The screams of the wife aroused the family, who ran to the kitchen, where they found Ben lying in a poo of blood.  He was taken to the hospital in the ambulance, but died without having said a word about his cause for suicide.

Fought in the War

Ben was a Private in Company D, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers [127th Pennsylvania Infantry] in the Civil War and was in several engagements. He bore the scars of wounds and was a good story-teller about the war, having a fund of anecdotes about fights in Virginia.  When the Spanish War broke out, he wanted to enlist, but was turned down because of his age.

At his home Ben had a number of wartime pictures and battle scenes and his pleasure was to relate incidents of the engagements, for which he had a very good memory.

Ben was a quiet, orderly citizen when sober, but after he had drunk considerable liquor he was apt to cut up all kinds of capers.  He would walk quietly along the streets and some hurrying citizen would be surprised to see Ben bounced down on his knees and lift his hands in supplication. When youngsters were about he would flap his arms in imitation of a rooster  and emit sounds like a boastful chanticleer or else would play donkey and smoke his pipe with the bowl in his mouth.  Another famous trick of Ben’s was to play Indian.  He would go along a crowded street and suddenly yell like a Comanche and seize hats from the heads of people who stopped to see what he was doing.  In the days of the old horse car line Ben delighted to jump on the platform and yell at the horses, which usually led to the summary ejection from the car.

Frequently Arrested

The dead man was a figure on the docket at the Police station away back in the early eighties when he was generally arrested about once a month for drunkenness and capers on the streets, but many times policemen only chased him home, tiring of arresting him. Within the past few years, Ben was profuse in promises to be good, but he frequently broke out and after these periods he became despondent.  At these time he threatened to kill himself and others and was once or twice arrested on the charges that he was trying to kill his wife, who refused to leave him even when he went on the warpath.

Ben was known to hundreds of people here and elsewhere and his antics caused laughter for many who will regret his terrible method of self-destruction.

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The above Pension Index Card from Fold3 shows that not only did Ben Urich serve in the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, but he also served in the 1st Pennsylvania Provisional Cavalry, the 2nd U.S. Infantry, and the 20th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  It also show that his widow was able to apply and collect a pension for his war service.

Was William P. Crabb an African-American?

Posted By on May 15, 2015

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The William P. Crabb who joined the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on 15 August 1864, did so at Harrisburg, claiming to be 25 years old (born in Adams County), was of dark complexion, residing in Frailey Township, Schuylkill County, and was employed as a miller.

Prior to the above enlistment, a William P. Crabb, age 21 and occupation laborer, enrolled in the 5th U.S. Cavalry, Company E, in 1861 (born in Adams Co., and of sallow complexion), but was discharged for disability, 1 July 1862, at Camp Cliffbourne, Washington, D.C.

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According to the death certificate of William Crabb, he was a white male, born 28 April 1843, the son of Henry Crabb and Lydia [Schoffstall] Crabb.

Henry Crabb, the father of William Crabb, was born 13 April 1817, and died 18 February 1856 in Gratz, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and is buried in Gratz Union Cemetery. One row in front of Henry Crabb, Lydia [Schoffstall] Crabb, the mother of William Crabb, is buried.  She was born 26 May 1826 in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, and died on 10 September 1873.  Although she is buried in the Crabb Family Plot, her stone bears the statement that she was the wife of Joseph Witman, who was her second husband.

It has always been assumed that Henry Crabb was the son of Peter Crabb (1787- c 1860), a blacksmith and early settler of GratzPeter Crabb is found in the 1830, 1840 and 1850 Censuses as colored or mulatto.

In 1830, Henry Crabb would have been 13 years old (born in 1817) and would have been the only child of Peter Crabb in the “free colored, age 10-23” range.  In the 1830 Census, only 1 such child is listed in that range, probably Henry Crabb.

In 1840, Henry Crabb would have been 23 years old and would not have been the only child of Peter Crabb in the “free colored, age 10-23” range.  In the 1840 Census, only one such child is listed in that range, but it is not known whether this is Henry or younger brother Benjamin Crabb (who was 16) or Jeremiah Crabb (who was 14).  It is highly probable that two of these young men would have been living and working elsewhere.

1n 1850, Henry Crabb would have been 33 years old.  He has not yet been located in the 1850 Census, but if son William was born in Adams County, then it is possible that he might be found in records there. In the 1850 Census for Lykens Township, Peter Crabb is a blacksmith, and listed as mulatto, as are all members of his family.

In 1850 Census, there is a William Crabb, age 10, living in the household of Nicholas Dutter, a farmer, in Lattimore, Adams County, Pennsylvania.  The “color” column is left blank.

In the 1850 Census for Lykens Township, Edward Crabb, age 18, a mulatto, is living in the household of Samuel Umholtz, and working as a laborer.  It has always been presumed that he was the son of Peter Crabb and younger brother of Henry Crabb (1817-1856).  This is the same Edward Crabb who served in the 36th Pennsylvania Infantry (Emergency of 1863) during the Civil War.  And, it is the same Edward Crabb/Grabb, who in 1880 is black.  Edward is buried in Gratz Union Cemetery in the Crabb family plot.

In the 1860 Census, there is a William Crabb, age 17, living in the household of Samuel Schoffstall, a farmer, in Lykens TownshipSamuel Schoffstall was the brother of Lydia [Schoffstall] Crabb, the mother of William CrabbWilliam Crabb‘s occupation is given as “servant.”  The “color” column (white, black, mulatto) is left blank on the entire census page, so there is no way to determine how he was racially counted in 1860.

To have served in the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry in 1864-1865, he would have had to be white.  At that time, African Americans could only join the U.S. Colored Troops.  His complexion could have been light enough for him to pass for white.  Note:  The Pennsylvania state militia groups had no such restrictions and, as shown above, Edward Crabb, who was black, served in the Emergency Militia of 1863.

No record has been located for a William Crabb (11th Pennsylvania Cavalry) in the 1890 Veterans’ Census for Pennsylvania.

The 1870 marriage record from St. John’s Lutheran Church, Berrysburg, for William Crabb and Sarah Welker, gives the address for both as “Lykens Valley.”

From research at the Gratz Historical Society:

In 1860, after Henry Crabb [the father of William] died, his widow Lydia lived alone.  Her son William lived with Samuel Schoffstall and Sarah Schoffstall….  Lydia [Lydia Ann Schoffstall] continued to live in her small house in Gratz for a number of years until she married Joseph Witman (1833-1898), a Civil War veteran.  Joseph was a tinsmith.

According to Findagrave, William Crabb is buried at Maple Grove Cemetery, Elizabethville, Dauphin County.

No pension application has been located for William Crabb in the Pension Index Cards of Fold3 or Ancestry.com.

The only conclusion that can drawn from this is that the grandfather of William Crabb –  Peter Crabb, one of the founders of Gratz Borough – is definitely named in several censuses as colored or mulatto and William Crabb is definitely descended from that Peter Crabb.  Because William’s mother was white, and he was light-skinned enough to pass, he and his descendants chose to call themselves white thereafter.