Friday, April 22, 2011

April 30, 1861 Warren's First Casualty

Warren County has the distinction of being the home of New Jersey's first officer killed in action during the Civil War.  However, Captain Joseph Henry, of Oxford Furnace, was not Warren County's first war-related casualty.  Peter Oberly, of Oxford Furnace, died on April 30, 1861.

On April 29, Captain Edward Campbell, of Belvidere, and his Warren Guards, left Belvidere by train for Trenton to answer the New Jersey's call for soldiers to serve in federal service for three months.  Campbell's company of fifty men, three officers and four sergeants was recruited in Belvidere and surrounding hamlets.  Although Campbell's company was the first unit formed in Warren County and the first to go to Trenton, the ranks of New Jersey's four three months militia regiments were already filled when the Warren Guards arrived.

This fact was not known to Peter Oberly.  Oberly was one of Oxford's "town drunks."  In the patriotic zeal to "Save the Union," Oberly volunteered his services to Campbell's Warren Guards, but he was rejected because of his alcoholism.  The site of the huge crowd of people cheering the Warren Guards as they marched to the train in Belvidere gave Oberly reason to go on a drinking binge.  On April 30, Oberly died in Oxford Furnace of delirium tremors. 

[On February 21, 2012, Andy Drysdale, curator at Shippen Manor in Oxford, found a different last name for Peter in the Oxford Township book of Births, Marriages & Deaths, 1848-1872.  On April 30, 1861, the township book lists Peter Obinger, a copper, as dying of "intemperance." Oberly was the name listed in the Belvidere newspapers.]

Some Warren County men did enlist in the New Jersey Militia before the ranks were filled:
First NJ Militia Regiment: 1st Sgt. Monroe H. King of G Company, Charles Sargent of F Company and John Charles of G Company, all of Phillipsburg;  and John N. Dickinson of I Company, of Johnsonburg.

Second NJ Militia Regiment: Charles W. Butts and Abram Depue of H Company, both of Belvidere; John Ogden of A Company, of Phillipsburg; and Joseph W. Johnston, John T. Langstaff, Jacob T. Thomson, and James Vannatta, all of Washington, in H Company.

Third NJ Militia Regiment: Ensign Martin Wyckoff of H Company, of Asbury; 1st Sgt. Charles Lanning, Jr. of D Company, of Washington; James McKeever of A Company, of Oxford Township [now White Township]; Edward Cobb and William C. Cobb of B Company, of Oxford Furnace;  Jerome B. Bogart, Lewis T. Brant, and James E. Moon, all of Phillipsburg and in E Company; and Peter S. Mutchler of A Company, of Phillipsburg.  [McKeever would be wounded in the leg during a rear guard action after the First Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, VA.]

Fourth NJ Militia Regiment: Charles G. Clendening of F Company, of Phillipsburg; and John Force, Jr. of K Company, of Washington. 

Other Warren County men enlisted in three-months militia units in other states:
First Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Captain Charles A. Heckman, of Phillipsburg; George W. Brooks of A Company and James Hulshizer of D Company, both of Stewartsville; William H. Hagerman of E Company, of Hope; James Ballentine of H Company, Edward B. Galligan of D Company, John Moore of H Company, Jacob Rustay of C Company, and John Wolfram of C Company, all from Phillipsburg; and Andrew A. Neal and Thomas A. H. Knox, of Belvidere.
Fifth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Hiram France, of Blairstown. [France would lose an arm from a wound at First Battle of Bull Run.]
Seventh Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Daniel Moyers of D Company, of Phillipsburg.
Eighth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Thomas Jefferson Mutchler, of Phillipsburg.
Ninth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Antoine Lieberman, Godfrey Lutz and Francis J. Mildenberger, all of Phillipsburg and in G Company.
Sixteenth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: John Beers of H Company, of Phillipsburg.
Eighth New York Volunteer Infantry: William Stevenson of G Company, of Phillipsburg.
Eleventh New York Volunteer Infantry [Ellsworth's 1st NY Fire Zouaves]: Lieutenant William Mathews of K Company, of Belvidere.
Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Joseph D. Vanns, of Washington.

Copyright: 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

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