Civil War Blog

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Josiah D. Lehman of Tremont – Died of Wounds Received at Spotsylvania, 1864

Posted By on September 19, 2016


Battle of Spotsylvania Court House by Thure deThulstrup. (Library of Congress)

Josiah D. Lehman was born about 1840 in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  Just prior to enlistment in the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, as a Private, he was living in Tremont, Schuylkill County, and working as a boatman.


The record card at the Pennsylvania Archives (pictured above), shows that he was about 21 years old, that he stood 5 foot six inches tall, had black hair, a dark complexion, and blue eyes at his enlistment on 14 August 1861 at Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County.  On 9 September 1861 he was mustered into service in Harrisburg.  He re-enlisted on 1 January 1864 at Blaine’s Crossroads, Tennessee, and participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House where he was wounded on 12 May 1864 and died of those wounds on 8 June 1864 as this record states.  There is confusion as to the death date, because a burial record states that he was interred on 27 May 1864 at Alexandria, Virginia.


The grave marker (above) identifies the burial site of Josiah D. Lehman at the Alexandria National Cemetery, Alexandria.  The number on the stone is #1947, which is in conflict with the number on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (above) which says his burial site is #1945.


The Report of Interment (shown above), available from Ancestry.com, notes the date of death as 8 June 1864 but also states that the information was taken from an “old card.”

The Findagrave Memorial gives his date of death as 8 Jun 1864.

No Pension Index Card has been located for Josiah D. Lehman.  This normally would indicate that he was not married at the time of his death.    He also has not yet been located in the censuses of 1850 and 1860, and nothing is known about his parents.

According to Wikipedia, the following action took place on 12 May 1864, when Josiah D. Lehman was fatally wounded:

[Gen. Ulysses S. Grant] ordered the 15,000 men of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock‘s corps to assault the Mule Shoe. Hancock was initially successful, but the Confederate leadership rallied and repulsed his incursion. Attacks by Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright on the western edge of the Mule Shoe, which became known as the “Bloody Angle”, involved almost 24 hours of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, some of the most intense of the Civil War. Supporting attacks by Warren and by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside were unsuccessful.

Additional information is sought about Josiah D. Lehman, including his ancestry, and any stories about his service in the war.  Please add comments to this blog post or send the information via e-mail.


Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Election of 1866 – The Defeat of a White Supremacist

Posted By on September 16, 2016

The Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Election of 1866 pitted a Union General and war hero, John W. Geary, against a avowed racist and white supremacist, Heister Clymer.  Geary headed the Republican or Union ticket and Clymer headed the Democratic or Copperhead ticket.

Unlike the Presidential Election of 1860, official vote totals by townships and boroughs were available and published courtesy of the Harrisburg Telegraph, 12 October 1866.  Therefore it is possible to analyze where specific groups of residents supported which candidate and draw some conclusions about the attitude of that group of residents toward one of the primary issues in the campaign – whether African Americans should be permitted to vote and be full citizens of the United States.  That question was hotly debated nationwide concurrent with the 1866 election.

It must be stated that although the 13th Amendment had been ratified on 6 December 1865, granting freedom from and prohibiting involuntary servitude, the 14th Amendment which granted citizenship and equal protection would not be ratified until 9 July 1868, and the 15th Amendment which granted suffrage, was only in seminal thought; it was not to receive ratification until 3 February 1870.

Until the 1866 election in Pennsylvania, it was not a major issue whether suffrage should be granted to African Americans.  In fact, the Constitution of Pennsylvania granted the vote to white males, as did the Constitutions of several other states including New Jersey.  [Source:  “A Dark Era Ahead,” Harrisburg Patriot, 27 October 1866].

With the Civil War over, and with the question of what to do with the millions of Freedmen in the South, the question of full rights, including voting, was suddenly thrust into the midst of Pennsylvania’s Gubernatorial Election of 1866.  As a result, a white supremacist, Heister Clymer, secured the Democratic nomination and led one of the most divisive and fear mongering campaigns in the history of the state. [Source:  “A Few Pertinent Questions,” Harrisburg Telegraph, 29 October 1866].

The Republican nominee, Gen. John W. Geary, a strong supporter of the Union, did not make the rights of the Freedmen a central issue in his campaign.  Instead, he focused on what to do with the “rebels” and “traitors” and to what degree they should be forgiven and allowed to return to public office.  [Source:  “Ex-Rebels Drumming in Harrisburg for Clymer Votes,” Harrisburg Telegraph, 3 October 1866].  Just a few days before the election Geary had declared that the election did not involve voting rights for the Negro.  It was not until after the election that Geary pivoted by stating the following:

“That when our forefathers declared man capable of self-government they rejected the heresy of human slavery and pledged EQUAL POLITICAL RIGHTS TO ALL their successors.”  [“A Dark Era Ahead, Harrisburg Patriot, 17 October 1866].

When the votes were finally tallied for the October 1866 election, Geary won a narrow victory, securing the Governorship by a mere 17,135 votes out of nearly 600,000 votes cast.

Some caveats in reviewing the vote totals:  (1) Only men of legal age could vote and in most places in the state, only white men;  (2) Voting was not done by secret ballot as is done today, but by open, public expression of support for a candidate;  (3) Voting was usually done in meetings held sometimes in not-so-accessible locations.

StatewideResults-001The table above shows that the totals for Dauphin County were not significantly different than the statewide totals.  The county carried for Geary.

UpperEndResults-001In breaking down the county results by the communities and townships in the Upper End, some surprises are noted.  One of the strongholds for Geary, and therefore opposed to the white-supremacist views of Clymer, was Gratz Borough and Lykens Township, voting more than two to one for the Republican.  Uniontown, Mifflin Township, and Berrysburg, had similar results in voting for Geary.  Likewise, Wiconisco Township, which included Lykens Borough, Wiconisco Borough, and the not-yet-split-off Williamstown and Williams Township, also gave Geary a two-to-one victory.

Millersburg and Upper Paxton Township also delivered for Geary, although with not as great a margin of victory.

However, Washington Township, which at the time included Elizabethville, voted three-to-two in favor of the white supremacist Clymer, and the adjacent Jackson Township and Jefferson Township did about the same.

In Halifax Township and Halifax Borough, only two votes gave Clymer a victory out of nearly 400 cast.  In the smaller Reed Township, along the Susquehanna River, Clymer won polling 51 votes out of 89 cast.

There does not appear to be any correlation between how the various geographical entities voted and its 1860 population of African Americans. For example, Gratz Borough, which had the second largest African American population in 1860, voted two-to-one for Geary, while Jackson Township, which had only one more African American than Gratz, voted about three-to-two for Clymer.

So, what of Harrisburg [not shown on the table above], which had the largest population of African Americans in Dauphin County during the Civil War?  In the six wards, the voting was close in every one, with Geary winning only two.

SelectedCounties-001If totals from selected counties of the state are looked at, Philadelphia, which had more than 100,000 voters and the state’s largest African American population, went for Geary, but only by a few percentage points.  Adams County, where the Battle of Gettysburg took place, had a small but influential African American population, went for Clymer, but only by a little more than 200 votes. York County, also the site of Civil War action, went significantly for Clymer.

The counties bordering Dauphin, such as Schuylkill and Northumberland went for Clymer, while  Snyder and Perry on the west shore of the Susquehanna River, went for Geary.  Juniata went for Clymer.

Without a further understanding of the actual population make-up of each county and how the experience of African Americans differed in each community within the county, generalizations must be made cautiously, though it is possible to speculate as to the reasons a particular community voted the way it did.   With the knowledge that the African American experience in Gratz Borough differed in that the Crabb family, which was one of the earliest families to settle there and which made up the entirety of the African American population in 1860, and that it had been part of the community for more than 40 years, including supplying several soldiers to the war effort and intermarrying with some of the earliest white families, it may have been natural for the voters there to reject the racial fear mongering which was part of Clymer’s campaign.  Whereas, Elizabethville, which had only one, small African American family which suddenly appeared in the Census of 1860, that although that family supplied one soldier to the war effort, the town’s experience with African Americans was not rooted in its historical memory and therefore it was easier to “buy into” the belief that the town would be “overrun” if Geary were elected.

It was some time after the Civil War that a large stretch of the Upper End of Dauphin County became all white.  Determining when and why that happened should be a major effort of post-war population research.  The one certain thing about the Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Election of 1866 is that the northernmost strip of townships of Dauphin County plus the area south and east of Short Mountain went solidly for Geary and rejected the white supremacist campaign of Clymer.

Constructive thoughts are welcome!


William Lesher – “This Man in War Four Years”

Posted By on September 15, 2016

In the 1890 Census for Mable, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, a William Leasure was named for his service in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Private, with the added comment, “This man in war four years.”  The dates given for his service were, 18 April 1861 through 16 April 1864.  However, in searching the records of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, no man was found by that exact name and it was also clear that the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry did not organize as April of 1861.  So, who was this William Leasure?


The closest person found in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, was a William Loeser [sounds like Leasure, sort of], who enrolled in the regiment on 29 August 1861 at Pottsville and was mustered into service at the same place on 19 September 1861.  He claimed to be 28 years old, had light hair, a sandy complexion, and dark eyes, and stood 5 foot and 8 3/4 inches tall.  He gave his residence as Orwigsburg, which is located in Schuylkill County, and gave his occupation as teamster.  His discharge date was 30 September 1864.


Did this William Loeser receive a pension for service in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry?  In the Fold3 records, the closest name found was William Lesher.  This William Lesher also had service in the 25th Pennsylvania Infantry, Companies B and K, and the 58th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H.


For the service in the 25th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company B and H, a Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card  (show above from the Pennsylvania Archives) was found for William Lesher, who was 28 years old when he was mustered into service on 18 April 1861 at Harrisburg,  He served the three months and then was discharged on 26 July 1861.


Finally, a card was found for William Loeser, who served in the 58th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Private.  He was 30 years old when he enrolled and was mustered into service on 8 December 1864.  His discharge date, as given on the card, was 18 December 1865.

Thus, for the three enrollments, the starting date was 18 April 1861 and the concluding date was 18 December 1865, all of four years and then some!

But was this the same person who appears in the 1890 Census?

William Lesher was found in the Orwigsburg Census for 1860.  His occupation was day laborer.

In 1870, William Loeser was living in Foster Township, Schuylkill County, with his wife Sarah and one year old son Frank.  He was working as an outside laborer.

In 1880, William Leashure, was living in Barry Township, Schuylkill County, with his wife Sarah and two children.  He was working as a laborer.

In 1890, William Leasure was living in Mable and reported his Civil War service in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry.

In 1900, William Lesher was living in Barry Township, as a widower, and was working as a day laborer.

And, in 1904, William Lesher appears in the death records of St. John’s (Kimmel’s) Church in Deep Creek Valley, Schuylkill County.  The date of death was 28 December 1904 and the birth date, from the record was 7 July 1834.  Another record was found indicating that he was buried in Christ’s United Lutheran Church Cemetery, Ashland.

Clearly, this is the same person.

The statement, “This man in war four years,” is therefore true, but the records show that different variations of the surname have made it appear that there were three different persons in the three different regiments, when actually it is the same person.


Sarah Klinger – Civil War Widow Bludgeoned to Death in 1906 (Part 1)

Posted By on September 14, 2016


Through the pages of newspapers of the time, this horrendous murder story will be told.  Sarah Ann [Reed] Klinger, a widow of a Civil War veteran and a pensioner, was brutally murdered in her home near Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, on 21 November 1906.

Jacob Klinger was born on 3 April 1843 in Lower Mahantongo Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War, he served in the 172nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company D, as a Private, from 27 October 1862 through 1 August 1863.  Jacob Klinger died in early 1899. He had been collecting a pension, which, after his death, Sarah applied for and was receiving at the time of her murder.  The Pension Index Card from Ancestry.com is shown above.

Today’s post gives the initial reports of the murder, speculates on the motive, and resolves into charges levied against Henry Snyder, a boarder in Mrs. Klinger home.

From the Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 22 November 1906 and the Pittsburgh Press, 22 November 1906:


Old Shamokin Woman Was Killed by Robbers

By Telegraph

SHAMOKIN, Pennsylvania, 22 November 1906 — Mrs. Sarah Klinger, a widow, sixty years old, was murdered in her home early today.  The assassin battered her head with a club after which he robbed here of a small sum of money and disappeared.  Parties are searching the surrounding country.

From the Indiana Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania), 22 November 1906:


Robber Beat Her to Death and Took Her Money

Shamokin, Pennsylvania, 22 November 1906  — Mrs. Sarah Klinger, a widow, aged about 60 years, was murdered in her home early today.

The assassin battered her head with a club after which he robber her of a small sum of money and disappeared.

Searching parties are bunting for the murderer.

From the Allentown Leader (Allentown, Pennsylvania), 22 November 1906:


Shamokin, 22 November 1906 — Mrs. Sarah Klinger, 60 years old, was brutally murdered by some unknown person early this morning at her home.  The assassin battered her head with a club and secured a small sum of money.

From the Lima News (Ohio), 22 November 1906:


By the Associated Press.

Shamokin, Pennsylvania, 22 November 1906 — With her head horribly battered by a club and her throat black and blue, Mrs. Sarah Klinger, aged 60 years, the widow of a Civil War veteran, was found dead in her home here today.  The woman lived alone and there is not the slightest doubt in the minds of the police that she had been murdered.  The authorities have no clue to the murderer.

From the Harrisburg Daily Independent, 22 November 1906 and from the Mount Carmel Item, 23 November 1906:


Head Was Horribly Battered With a Heavy Club

By Associated Press

Shamokin, Pennsylvania, 22 November 1906 — With her head horribly battered by a club and with her throat black and blue, Mrs. Sarah Klinger, aged sixty years, the widow of a Civil War veteran, was found dead in her home here today.  The woman lived alone and there is not the slightest doubt in the minds of the the police that she had been murdered. The marks on her throat plainly show that an attempt had first been made to choke her to death,  The authorities have no clue to the murderer and are not yet able to decide whether the woman was killed by robbers or whether her life was taken to accomplish some other purpose.

From the Mount Carmel Item (Pennsylvania), 22 November 1906:


Terrible Crime Committed in Shamokin Last Night — Suspect Lodged in Jail

Lying in a pool of her own blood, with her head crushed by a blow dealt evidently by some powerful person, Mrs. Sarah Klinger, an aged Shamokin woman, was found dead in her home late last evening, and another foul murder has been added to the already long list on the record of this blood stained and blood cursed county.

The murder was discovered by Harry Fisher, who called in neighbors and notified them of the crime.  At present, Fisher is lodged in jail, charged with the crime, and the chair of circumstantial evidence against him is particularly strong.

Mrs. Klinger was a pensioner, and yesterday received her pension, amounting to $26.00.  It is this money that is supposed to have invited the dreadful crime of murder.

Fisher was recently thrown out of a house for failure to pay his rent.  Her and his wife were taken by Mrs. Klinger, a kind-hearted old soul.

According to Fisher’s story, he and his wife left the Klinger house about ten o’clock yesterday morning, and did not return until about 5:00 in the evening, when he discovered the dead and horribly mutilated body lying at the bottom of the stairs, the scull crushed in as though it had been an egg shell.

Some persons doubt the murder story, and claim that death as accidental.  But the post-mortem examination by Coroner Dreher showed every indication of crime.  The inquest is now in progress.

Fisher, who is in jail, tells several conflicting stories, and the Coroner has advised that he be held until a complete examination has been held.

From the Mount Carmel Item, 23 November 1906:


Coroner’s Jury at Shamokin Says He Killed Mrs. Klinger on Wednesday

Henry Fisher, of Shamokin, is accused of the atrocious murder of Mrs. Sarah Klinger, who as was told in this paper last evening, was found dead in her home Wednesday evening, with her head crushed into a shapeless mass.

The accusation is made by the coroner’s jury which met at noon today, the verdict reached being as follows:  “The Mrs. Sarah Klinger came to her death before the noon hour on Wednesday, November 21st, by a murderous assault and choking at the hands of Henry Fisher, now in custody.”

This crime is one of the worst in the history of Northumberland County.  The man who struck down the aged woman, choked her into insensibility, and then killed her with a blow on the head which clove her scull was befriended by her when in trouble, was taken into her home when others evicted him for non-payment of rent, and then for a paltry sum of money he slew his benefactress and branded himself with the mark of Cain.

The only new evidence brought forth at the inquest was of a very damaging nature against the accused man.  A shirt, stained with the blood of the murdered woman, was found in an outhouse by the authorities, and the garment was identified as belonging to Fisher.

At this time the evidence against Fisher seems conclusive and the prospects are that the one hundred and twelfth murder committed in this county will find the perpetrator properly punished.

From the Pittston Gazette (Pennsylvania), 23 November 1906:

Woman Found Slain in Her Home

Shamokin, Pennsylvania, 23 November 1906 — With her head horribly battered by a club and with her throat black and blue, Mrs. Sarah Klinger, aged sixty years, the widow of a Civil War veteran, was found dead in her home here.  Henry Fisher was arrested charged with the murder of Mrs. Klinger.  Fisher and his wife were recently ejected from a house because they could not pay their rent, and Mrs. Klinger gave them shelter.  When taken into custody Fisher is alleged to have told several conflicting stories.  He insists that he is innocent.

From the Wilkes-Barre Times (Pennsylvania), 23 November 1906:


Motive For Crime Was $36 Pension Money.

SHAMOKIN, Pennsylvania, 23 November 1906 — Mrs. Sarah Klinger was found dead at her Water Street home yesterday.  Her head had been crushed in with a blunt instrument.  Henry Fisher and wife were arrested on suspicion of knowing something about the murder.  Mrs. Fisher was later released.

The motive for the crime was the aged widow had $36 in pension money which she kept in a trunk, and the police found that the money was missing.  A post-mortem examination showed that the woman’s skull had been crushed by a blunt instrument.  Her neck was black and blue, the assassin having also choked her.  She was found in a pool of blood on the first floor.

From the Wilkes-Barre Times (Pennsylvania), 24 November 1906:


Coroner’s Jury Finds Henry Fisher Guilty of Murder

SHAMOKIN, Pennsylvania, 24 November — Henry Fisher, who has been arrested on suspicion of knowing something about the murder of Mrs. Sarah Klinger in her home, where she was choked, also beaten on the head with a heavy instrument, has been declared the assassin by a coroner’s jury.

Blood-stained clothing was found near the scene of the murder, and it is said to have been worn by Fisher at the time Mrs. Klinger was killed.

From the Wilkes-Barre Evening News, 24 November 1906:


SHAMOKIN, Pennsylvania, 24 November 1906 — Henry Fisher was accused by a coroner’s jury as the assassin of Mrs. Sarah Klinger, who was choked and clubbed to death in her home early Thursday morning.  Evidence of a most damaging nature was presented against the accused.

Newspaper articles are from Newspapers.com.




Christian Lauer of Tremont – Died from Wounds at Cold Harbor, 1864

Posted By on September 13, 2016


Battle of Cold Harbor, by Kurz and Alison (Library of Congress).

Christian Lauer, a 34 year old blacksmith and German immigrant from Tremont, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, enrolled in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company B, as a Private, at Pottsville, on 10 June 1864.  At the time he joined the regiment, he left a wife, Sarah Isabella [Harden] Lauer, and four minor children at their home in Tremont.  Unfortunately, he did not return from the war.  On 6 June 1864, at White House, Virginia, during the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was seriously wounded and taken from the field to a hospital, where he contracted typho-malarial fever and died some time between 8 June 1864 and 10 June 1864, with the latter date given as the actual date of death in most of the records.


The Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card, shown above from the Pennsylvania Archives, confirms the information about his enrollment, service and death.  In addition, personal information is included such as his brown hair, dark complexion, grey eyes, and height of 5 foot, 7 1/2 inches.


On 19 July 1864, the widow Sarah Lauer, applied for pension benefits, which the Pension Index Card (above, from Ancestry.com) shows.

In applying for benefits, Sarah Lauer had to show that she was legally married to Christian Lauer.


In order to prove her marriage, she presented a signed statement (above from Fold3), that both she and her husband were from Tremont, and that they got married in Pottsville on 12 September 1852.


The names and birth dates of the surviving minor children were verified in several places in the pension application, one page of which is shown above (from Fold3).  The surviving children were:

  1. Mary Elizabeth Lauer, born 18 May 1854, Tremont.
  2. John Adam Lauer, born 21 May 1856, Tremont.
  3. George C. Lauer, born 31 Aug 1860, Tremont.
  4. Francis C. “Frank” Lauer, born 13 Sep 1862, Tremont.

In the “fog of war,” it is sometimes difficult to make an accurate claim as to how and when a soldier died.  In the case of Christian Lauer, there are several sworn statements that are included in the pension application file.  These statements narrow the time of death to a several day period in June 1864 and also give several causes of death – from fever to gunshot wounds to the effects of an exploding shell.

Click on any document below to enlarge.

lauerchristian-pension-004aFrom Page 4:  “… died of wounds, by an explosion of a Bomb shell from the enemy, on the 10th of June 1864 at the Military Hospital near White House, Virginia….”

lauerchristian-pension-007aFrom Page 7:  “…Died 10 June 1864 at White House, Virginia, of wounds received in action, 6 June 1964….”

lauerchristian-pension-010aFrom Page 10:”Died at White House, 7 or 8 June 1864, wounds….”

lauerchristian-pension-018aFrom Page 18:  “Died near White House, Virginia, 10 June 1864, of wounds.”

lauerchristian-pension-025aFrom Page 25: “… and that he died, 10 June 1864, of wounds received in action….  The Surgeon General reports he died 8 June 1864 of Typhoid fever.”
lauerchristian-pension-035aFrom Page 35:  “… reported died 10 June 1864 at White House, Virginia, of wounds receive in action, 6 June 1864.”

lauerchristian-pension-036aFrom Page 36:  “… is reported to this Office by Surgeon G. A. Wheeler as having died 8 June 1864, at 9th A. C. Hospital, City Point, Virginia, of Typhoid Fever.”

There are 37 pages in the pension application file.  All 37 pages are available on Fold3, or can be obtained from the National Archives.

Any additional information that can be supplied by readers is welcome!  Send via e-mail or add comments to this post.