Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sept. 25, 1861: Letter from G.W. Hahn, of the 47th PA Infantry

On September 25, 1861, George Washington Hahn, of Washington, serving in Company E, 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and his comrades, David Huber and F. J. Scott, wrote a letter to the editor of the Easton Daily Evening Express.  They wrote the letter in Camp Kalorama, near Washington, D.C.

Hahn and friends wrote, "Most likely you have already published the letter from the headquarters of the company, but it may also be interesting to some of your readers to hear from the boys.

"We left Harrisburg at 1-1/2 p.m. on Friday last, and after a ride of about twenty-four hours in those delightful cattle cars, we came in sight of the Capitol of the U.S. with colors flying and the band playing and everyone in the best of spirits.  After waiting a few minutes, we were provided with an excellent dinner of bread, beef and coffee, and then proceeded to Camp Kalorama, near Georgetown Heights and about three miles from Washington.  We have one of the best camps in the Union; plenty of shade trees, water and food at present; we have had no 'Hardees' [hardtack] yet in this camp, but no doubt we will have them in abundance by and by.  But we can cook them in so many different ways, they are better than beef.  We soak them over night, fry them for breakfast, stew them for dinner, and warm them over for supper.  Who wouldn't be a soldier and get such good living free gratis?

"We are all happy boys.  The way we pass our time in the evening is as follows: first, after supper, we have a good Union song, then we read, write, crack jokes and sing again. We are 'gay and happy' and always shall be while the stars and stripes float over us.

"We have one of the best regiments we have yet seen, and no doubt in a few months, it will be the crack regiment of the army.  We have a noble Colonel and an excellent Band, and the company officers throughout are well drilled for their positions.  Our boys are well and contented; satisfied with their clothing, satisfied with their rations, and more than all satisfied with their officers, from Captain to the 8th Corporal.  Our boys will stand by the Captain till the last man falls.  We had the pleasure this morning of meeting an old Eastonian, Major Baldy. He looks well and hearty and says he is ready for action.  His men are in the rifle pits every night and think nothing of facing the enemy.

"This morning we took a French pass [an unauthorized leave] and visited Georgetown Heights; we stood on top of the reservoir and from there had a fine view of the Federal forts and forces on the other side of the Potomac.  It looks impossible for an enemy to enter Washington, so strongly fortified is every hill and the camps connect for miles along the river.  We saw General McClellan and Professor [Thadeus] Lowe taking a view of the Confederate army from the balloon. The rebels are now only four miles from here.  But we are afraid we have taken too much of your room.  You may expect to hear from us again soon.  Yours, etc., George W. Hahn, David Huber, F. J. Scott."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, September 24, 2011

1861 Innovations: "Movable Tent Church" & the Push for Modern Rations


The volunteer soldiers spent much of the early weeks and months of the war in camps training.  Soldiers had to find ways to pass the time away from home.  In late May, a group of New York volunteer soldiers sat in the U.S. Senate chambers to hold a mock Congress. A Washington correspondent for the Providence Journal wrote there was a motion on the floor to send a message to President Abraham Lincoln requesting he send a gallon of his best brandy to the senate chambers.  A disagreement over whether it should be brandy or old rye ensued, and when "disorderly" persons in the gallery tried to interject, they were ordered out of the room for "behaving in a manner not consistent with the dignity of the Senate."

Many local chaplains wrote of the large number of soldiers attending church services while in camp.  Some churches in neighboring Northampton County, PA created "The Union Tabernacle" or "Movable Tent Church," which could be transported to larger encampments and be set up to handle a large number of soldiers. 

The August 16, 1861 issue of The Belvidere Intelligencer reported, "The superintendent of the above [Union Tabernacle] is Reverend Edwin M. Long, who announces that it will be open for religious services at Williamsburg [now Mount Bethel], Northampton County, on Sunday, the 25th of August instant.  The tent, when the sides are extended, will accommodate 3,000 persons.  No charge for admittance - simply taking up collections, and placing boxes at the entrance of the Tent to receive free offerings.  Several speakers will be in attendance."


There was a push to modernize the soldiers' rations.  Attached to an August 1861 U.S. Senate bill aimed at improving the organization of the military establishment was the call for an increase and improvement of the army rations.  The Easton Daily Evening Express stated, "The allowance of bread is increased by 4 ounces; fresh beef is ordered instead of salt [beef]; and potatoes are to be served three times a week, whenever they can be obtained.  This will be good news to soldiers! Our volunteers did not get even a sight at a potato until they got on 'Old Virginia' soil -- and almost forgot how a potato looked.  Their principal dish was 'hardees' and bacon -- 'hardees fired' --'hardees soaked in coffee' and 'hardees plain' -- 'hardees' for breakfast, "hardees" for dinner, and "hardees' for supper, and "hardees" all the time.   Some of the 'hardees' served up to the 9th (Penna.) Regt. had the brand on them of '1845.'  Potatoes and fresh beef are always relished and give the men spirit for any duty that may be required of them.  The people are inclined to look to it sharply that those who go out from among us to fight the battles of the Union shall at least be supplied with wholesome provisions."  [For those who have not eaten them, "hardees" refers to hardtack.] 

Whether the bill passed into law or not, fresh beef was not a dish served up to most soldiers in the field.  It was more practical to serve bacon and salt pork.  Most soldiers refused to eat salted beef.  If hardtack crackers were stored properly, they were a good source of nourishment and easy to carry in the haversacks, but many times the boxes of hardtack were left out in rain and the contents went moldy or were infested with weevils.  Many times, soldiers formed foraging parties to gather what food they could find in southern farms and towns. 

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 5, 1861: Rumors of Jeff Davis's Death Spread

With recruiting underway for three-years troops, northern newspapers began to spread the rumor of Confederate President Jefferson Davis' death.  Some people hoped this could mean a swift end to the war.

The September 6, 1861 issue of The Easton Daily Evening Express stated, "The little boys on the streets hurrah after this style just now: 'Hurrah! Jeff Davis is dead!'."

The Easton Daily Evening Express printed the following dispatch in the September 6 issue, "THE DEATH OF JEFF DAVIS RE-AFFIRMED.  Louisville, Sept. 5. A gentleman just from Richmond, who passed through this city this morning, says that on Saturday evening the serious illness of Jeff Davis was freely canvassed on the streets, and little hope was entertained of his recovery.  The probable changes which would ensue on his death were freely mentioned.  On the gentleman's arrival at Nashville, he learned that the rebel Congress, which had adjourned at midnight on Saturday, has been called together by Alexander H. Stevens, the serious illness of Davis being the ostensible cause.  My informant considers the flags at half-mast, as reported, indicative of his death.  Positive assurances are said to have been received this morning by a prominent Secessionist and ex-Mayor of this city, of the death of Jeff Davis."

History shows the reports of President Davis' death were very much premature.  Davis survived illness and the war.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 1861: Warren County Men Join the 8th NJ Infantry

In August and September 1861, the majority of the Musconetcong Rifles Company enlisted in the 8th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment - making up a large part of Company H.  More than 100 men reportedly enlisted in the 8th NJ from the Musconetcong Rifles. The following list is of the early members of the group to join the regiment. 

Company H: from Asbury and South Asbury - Moses Benward, Samuel Berry, William Berry, John M. Britton, John W. DeHart, George Garrison, John H. Gustus, Sylvester Heath, William Heath, Edward Hicks, Elias Hoffman, Captain George Hoffman, Morris Hoffman, Andrew J. Hoppock, John R. Howard, Robert W. Johnson, Valentine H. Lockwood, Lieutenant Frederick Longer [Lunger], Henry B. Longer, Amos Lunger, William R. Lunger, James McClary, William McClary, William McCrea, Edward Miller, Henry L. Miller, Robert S. Millham, Charles O'Hara, Andrew Palardy, William Petty, Alexander Philips, Thomas Kennedy Riddle, Edwin H. Sheldon, Michael Silverstone, Martin V. Smith, Joseph Thomas, Christopher Vanacker, William P. Weller, and Ervin Wilson; William J. Donelly and Jonas W. Longenheuer [Longenour], of Musconetcong; John B. Stewart, of Greenwich Township; Isaac S. Thatcher, of Still Valley; William Transue, of Hackettstown; Jacob S. Unangst, of Finesville; Alexander Cook and Philip Cook, of New Village; Joseph Scott Drake, John Carling, and Lawrence Cravat, of Andersontown; William Bowlby and Henry H. Musselman, of Washington; Lewis T. Brant, Edward L. Hight, Ervin James Lake, and Calvin W. Rugg, of Phillipsburg; and John Edenger and William S. Steinmetz.

Company B: Byron A. Hedden and Theodore Hedden, of Washington; Company C: Aaron Henderson, of Oxford Furnace, and John D. Ketcham, of Karrsville; Company D: Henry F. Ward and Captain William Deemer, of Carpentersville (October 1861), and Stephen Vanatta, of Phillipsburg; and Company K: Grantum Peter Oblinger, of Belvidere.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Saturday, September 3, 2011

August-September 1861: Warren County Men Join the 47th PA Infantry Regt.

In August 1861, Colonel Tilghman Good's 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment was created.  In Easton, Company A ["Easton Rifles"] was recruited in Glantz's Saloon and at F. Beck's Saloon on Northampton Street by Captain Richard A. Graeffe; and Company E ["Honor Colors Company"] was recruited at Lafayette Yard's Saloon on Northampton Street by Captain Charles H. Yard. 

In August, the following Warren County, NJ men enlisted in the 47th PA: Bernhard "John" Brahler, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A; John Laudenslager, of Phillipsburg, joined Company F in Catasauqua; Musician William H. Nagle, of Phillipsburg, joined the Regimental Band; John Stem, of Belvidere, joined Company A; Daniel and James Vansyckel, of Hope, joined Company I in Allentown; and Musician William Wilhelm, of Phillipsburg, joined Company E.

In September, more Warren County men joined the 47th: Joseph B. Bower, of Phillipsburg,  age 49, enlisted in Company A;  Lewis Bower, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A following his father; John and Thomas Callahan, of Belvidere, joined Company E; Jacob Cohler, of Phillipsburg, Company A; William A. Force, of Phillipsburg, Company E; George W. Hahn, of Washington, Company E; William Hall, of Danville (Great Meadows), Company A; William H. Jackson, of Belvidere, Company F (in Catasauqua); Amos Jumper, of Belvidere, Company A; Jacob M. Kirkendall, of Belvidere, Company E; George R. Nicholas, of Phillipsburg, Company E; Frederick Sheninger, of Easton/Harmony, Company A; Peter C. Sleath, of Belvidere, Company A;  Andrew Thoman, of Phillipsburg, Company A; and John H. Wilhelm, of Phillipsburg, Company E.  

During the war, other Warren County men enlisted in the 47th PA:
December 1861 John Cohler, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A; January 1862 Jacob Eckert, of Phillipsburg, joined Company A; and Sgt. Francis J. Mildenberger, of Phillipsburg, Company A;  October 1862  Jenkins J. Richards, of Easton, Company E; January 1864  Eli Moser, of Phillipsburg, Company E; George W. Rockafellow, of Belvidere/Tatamy, Company E;  J. Rockafellow, of Belvidere/Tatamy, Company E; William Rockafellow, of Belvidere/Tatamy, Company E; and Jefferson Stem, of Belvidere, Company A; February 1864 John Gross, of Mansfield Township, Company I (in Allentown); Peter Kirkendall, of Belvidere, Company E; Abraham "Peter" Osterstock, of Phillipsburg, Company A; Martin and Oliver Van Billard [also known as  Van Billiard], of Phillipsburg, Company B (in Allentown); and Bernard Zearfoss, of Washington, Company E; May 1864 Jacob, Thomas and Tobias Bower, of Phillipsburg, Company A; February 1865 Uriah Myers, of Phillipsburg, Company F (in Catasauqua); John Nagle, of Phillipsburg, assigned to Company H; John J. Paxton, of Phillipsburg, Company A; and John J. Schofield, of Phillipsburg, assigned to Company H.

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards