Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 1861: Jail-Break of Andrew Hiram Ackerman

At dusk on October 10, 1861, three men broke out of the Northampton County Jail, in Easton, PA.  Two of the men were career thieves, Stephen Gross and a man only identified as Bowen. The third man was a Belvidere soldier,  Andrew Hiram Ackerman, who would die a hero's death at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.  Gross and Bowen were awaiting trial for a robbery committed in Bethlehem.  Ackerman was awaiting trial for stealing $40 on September 3, 1861 from his uncle, William H. Hutchinson, a magistrate in Mount Bethel.

Ackerman, 25, had joined the Warren Guards in Belvidere on April 18, 1861 as a private.  In early May, he was elected Lieutenant of the Belvidere Company of Zouaves.  On May 20, 1861, he left the Belvidere Zouaves to enlist for Federal Service in Company I, 2nd NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a private. 

The regiment was camped in Newark, NJ for training.  On September 3, while on leave from the 2nd NJ, Ackerman stole $40 from his uncle and returned to camp.  Hutchinson pursued Ackerman to Newark, where Ackerman was arrested.  Ackerman was sent to Warren County Jail in Belvidere, where authorities were leaning toward sending the soldier back to his regiment.  On the insistence of Hutchinson, his nephew was extradited to Northampton County.

Ackerman wanted to return to his regiment.  On October 10, Ackerman, Gross and Bowen cut the iron bars of their jail cell window and lowered themselves into the jail yard.  The men scaled the jail yard wall and "left for parts unknown."  Ackerman returned to his regiment and went off to war.

In June 1862, Ackerman was commissioned 1st Lieutenant of Company A, 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  On March 6, 1863, Lt. Ackerman was transferred to Company C, replacing Captain John Willis, who was disabled from wounds.  On March 29, 1863, Ackerman was promoted to Captain.  Captain Ackerman was with his men in the peach/apple orchard of the Smith Farm  at Gettysburg when the Confederates attacked on July 2, 1863. 

Colonel Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace and Belvidere, was wounded as he shouted, "Fire!"  Ackerman and Adjutant John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace, learned that McAllister and senior Captains Luther Martin and Dorastus Logan were wounded.  Ackerman would have been next in line to command the regiment, but Ackerman was killed instantly after hearing the adjutant's report.  Ackerman was treated to a hero's burial, but had he survived the war, he probably would have been arrested to face Northampton County charges.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 1861: Charles Heckman, Joseph Henry & The 9th NJ Regiment

In October 1861, the 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment was created.  Major Charles Heckman, of Phillipsburg, resigned from the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in September 1861 on the promise he would be the lieutenant colonel of the "Jersey 9th" under the command of Colonel Joseph W. Allen, of Bordentown. 

Heckman had served in the Mexican War of 1846-1848 as a lieutenant of Company H in the 1st US Voltigeurs.  He had participated in battles at National Bridge, Contreras, Cherubusco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec, and Mexico City.  After the Mexican War, Heckman became a conductor on the newly created New Jersey Central Railroad.  In April 1861, Heckman raised a company of volunteers for the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

In Oxford Furnace, Lieutenant Joseph Henry, late of the Kansas Regiment, decided not to enlist in a New York regiment.  Instead, Henry decided to recruit a company of men for the "Jersey 9th."  Whether it was a coincidence or a deliberate action, Henry's company of men was designated Company H. 

Joseph Henry was the son of William Henry, manager of the Oxford Furnace.  He was the brother-in-law of Colonel Charles Scranton.  Henry had been an aide to Congressman G. W. Scranton (Penna. 12th District) in Washington, D.C.   He attended Abraham Lincoln's inauguration on 4 March 1861 as a friend of the new President.  In March 1861, when the nation was on the verge of civil war, Henry enlisted in General James Lane's Kansas Regiment.  In June 1861, Henry was honorably discharged from the Kansas Regiment by President Lincoln and Secretary of War Cameron.  After the Federal defeat at Manassas , VA on 21 July 1861, Henry planned to enlist in a New York regiment.  After he was commissioned captain of Company H, 9th NJ Volunteer Infantry, Henry was appointed by President Lincoln to be US Consul to the Balearic Islands, but Henry turned down the appointment to remain commanding officer of Company H.  [Henry would become the first NJ officer killed in battle on 8 February 1862 at Roanoke Island, North Carolina.]

Warren County men who enlisted in Captain Henry's Company H were: Jacob Aumick, John Lewis Aumick, William Aumick, Peter B. Beam, Timothy Callahan, Edward Clayton, Nelson Cramer (company baker), John Dickey (wagoner), Jason Garis, Lycidious Hamilton, Lieutenant Joseph B. Lawrence, Corporal John E. "Father" Matthews, Jacob Meyer, and John B. VanNorman, of Belvidere; Sergeant Austin E, Armstrong and Jacob Hadley, of Hope; John F. Butler, and Lieutenant James Stewart, Jr., of Greenwich Township; George F. Ribble, Corporal Daniel W. Shoemaker, and Jacob S. VanGordon, of Pahaquarry Township; Abraham Van Gordon and William Van Gordon, of Hardwick Township; Joseph R. Wilgus, of Blairstown; Wesley Comer, of Oxford Township; Ammadee DeForest, of Hackettstown; Marcus M. Fiske, Isaac W. Haggerty, Corporal Charles P. Levers, Edward Levers, John Levers, and Corporal Robert Phillips, of Phillipsburg; Henry Pittenger (wagoner), Corporal George W. Taylor and John P. Taylor, of Hazen (White Township); and from unidentified municipalities: John Brown, Harvey Cook, John E. Cook, Elisha Cooley, Corporal John W. Creveling, William D. Forgus, Spencer A. Hagerman, John Hirt, Marshall Howell, Andrew D. Staples, and Joseph Warner.

Warren County men who enlisted in other companies of the "Jersey 9th" were: Company A - Peter Hermes, of Phillipsburg; Company C - Joseph B. Cline, of Washington, and Jerome B. Cunningham, of Hope; Company D - John M. Clayton, of Belvidere; Company E - George Cooper, of Belvidere; Morris Breslin and Isaac June, of Mountain Lake; Company I - Reuben Seagraves, of Phillipsburg; and Company K - Henry Cook and Charles Hinton, of Belvidere, and Captain J. Madison Drake, of Trenton [later of Belvidere].

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 1861: Letter From Gideon Angle, 11th PA Cavalry

By October 1861, Lt. Charles Butts, of Belvidere, and the men of "The NJ Company" (Company I) of the 11th PA Volunteer Cavalry were stationed in Virginia at Camp Palmer.  Butts had recruited Company I in Belvidere, Hope and Blairstown in August and September.

One of the men who joined Butts' company was Gideon C. Angle, a book seller from Belvidere.  In May 1861, Angle was the sole agent in Warren County, NJ selling a 500-page book entitled The Teachings of Patriots and Statesmen, or The Founders of the Republic on Slavery.  The book sold for $1.00.  the book was a compilation of reports and speeches on the issue of slavery made by such statesmen as President John Quincy Adams,  Silas Wright, Thomas H. Benton, President James Buchanan, Daniel Webster, Henry clay, John C. Calhoun, Sam Houston, Lewis Cass, and Robert Toombs.  The book contained a history of the Ordinance of 1787 [predating the Constitution, the ordinance regulated the creation of new states within the Northwest Territories], the debates in Congress between 1790 and 1850, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Congressional debates of 1831 to 1836, and Clay's Compromise of 1850. 

Warren Journal publisher/editor John Simerson, a Democrat, wrote of the book, "This is a work which every man needs, who wishes to be fully posted upon slavery agitation, from the formation of this government to the present time."

On October 17, 1861, Angle wrote to Simerson from Camp Palmer, "Friend Simerson: Having been solicited by many of my friends to write them and give them some idea of camp life, I shall comply with a short epistle.  Since leaving Belvidere (a place in which I have always delighted to live, and with whose townsmen I have been so long associated, some of whom I shall always hold dear to memory for their kindness bestowed on me when leaving for the war), I have had the pleasure of seeing many things that were entirely new to me, and have gone through many things that I have never been accustomed to, and have learned some things that I never knew before, and trust that they shall be a lesson for me through life.

"To give an idea of what would be most interesting to those who read this letter, I will commence at Camp Harlan, two miles northwest of Washington city.  We arrived at this place on Sunday, the 15th of September.  While there, I had the pleasure of visiting some of the most important places in the city and district.  Having heard much said of the Patent Office, my curiosity led me to see it, and through the kindness of my friend, Dr. Wilson (who is a clerk in the department, and by the way was my school teacher in the village of Paulina when I was at the age of nine years), was conducted through the office and had pointed out many relics of antiquity, the most important of them were Washington's camp equipage and the same uniform that he wore during the revolution, the original Declaration of Independence, and many other things of less note. In passing through, we met with H. D. Swayze, Esq. and Mr. Henry Hartung.  These gentlemen are also clerks in the department, and by an invitation went with them through the Capitol, and on the part of the dome that is finished, although it was a cloudy day, we had a beautiful view for many miles in any direction, and no person can imagine the magnificence of it without actual experience.

"It being dinner time, they took us to Mount Pleasant Hotel (their boarding place), corner of Delaware Avenue and A Street, conducted by Moses Foster, formerly of Bridgeville, had an excellent dinner and relished it more than any I have taken in a long time.  To say the least of Mr. F., he is a whole-souled man, ever ready and willing to accommodate his customers.  Don't forget to stop with him when you come to Washington.  His place is about twenty-five yards from the Capitol.  The Smithsonian Institute, the Hospital, the Soldier's Home, and other places of the kind, are of much interest to the visitor.  The Soldier's Home is on an elevation about three miles north of the city.  I visited this institution on Friday, October 4th, and gathered some information concerning it.  I was informed by one of the inmates that it was erected in James Polk's administration. There is a main entrance with right and left wings, making in length 350 feet and 60 feet wide, four story high, with an observatory on the center of the main building; the material is solid marble; the grounds surrounding are handsomely laid out and beautifully decorated with all the choicest flowers; over the door of the main entrance of this building is a solid marble plank on which is engraved this motto, 'A grateful country to her defenders.'  Much more can be said concerning this institution which would be interesting to those who have never visited it, but time and space will not permit me to describe it all in full, but shall leave it until another time.

"Just four weeks have elapsed when the order came for us to march; we did so by striking our tents on Monday morning, the 14th, marched across the Long Bridge, on the Potomac, to a distance of five miles into Virginia; we arrived at our place of destination about noon, pitched our tents, and remained till next morning, when orders cames to march; we struck our tents, packed wagons, saddled horses, mounted and remained on the ground to ascertain the next camping place; finally General Palmer came and soon found us a place, which is in an adjoining field of about 40 acres, our regiment taking up the whole ground. After pitching tents and getting all things to rights, an exploring party headed by Captain Cornog, of Company A, discovered a line of telegraph under ground; with some difficulty I procured a small piece, part of which I send to you for those who would like to examine it.  I am told the same party found under ground a keg of powder.  This is truly a land of wonders.

"Before closing, I wish to say a word in regard to our officers.  Our Colonel is the well-known General Harlan, of Philadelphia.  I am told by a nephew of his, (who is a Lieutenant in the regiment), that he was five years in the English service and twenty years since a General-in-Chief of the Persian Army.  It is evident from his deportment that he is a true soldier.  Hon. S. Wetherill, of Bethlehem, is one of our Majors.  I had the pleasure of conversing with him one cold morning about 5 o'clock; from my short acquaintance I pronounce him a true gentleman and a superior officer; he is affable and kind, just what inferior soldiers want.  As I am not acquainted, I can speak of no other officers save those of Company I, the one to which I belong.  Hon. Daniel Herr, of Columbia, Pa., who was four years Colonel of the Pennsylvania volunteers, and two years a member of the Legislature, is our Captain; his words of command are clear and distinct; in this respect he has few superiors; he is beloved and respected by his men, especially by your humble servant.  Our 1st and 2nd Lieutenants, Kensinger and Butts, are good, whole-souled fellows, and it gives me pleasure to speak in their praise. They have robbed themselves of money and clothes to befriend their men, and will do all in their power in having justice dealt to them.  At some future time (if spared to do so), I will give you further information concerning our men and their movements.  Very respectfully yours, Gideon C. Angle."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 1, 1861: Letter from Aaron Watson Smith, 7th NJ Infantry

On October 1, 1861, Aaron Watson Smith, of Belvidere, wrote to his brother John from Camp Casey.  Private Smith was a member of Company E, 7th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Smith and many other Belvidere area menhad joined Company E of the NJ 7th in August, during the call for three-year volunteers.  In 1861, Smith's brother, Joseph C. Smith, had enlisted in The Anderson Zouaves (62nd NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment), the infamous "Zou-Zous."  Joseph would die in a Washington, DC hospital at age 25 on February 16, 1863 from wounds received during the 2nd Battle of Fredericksburg, VA.  The letter follows as Smith had written it, including the misspellings.  The letter was saved by Fannie Smith, of Belvidere, and now remains in the family with Judy (Johlman) Cheatham, of Belvidere.

Smith wrote, "Dearest Brother, I received your kind and welcome letter to day and was very happy to hear from you But very soorey to hear that you have met with sutch & soriful accident. But I hope it will not turn out to be so bad as what I think it is.  Dearest Brother keep in good hart And as long as I live I will do All that's in my position to help you.  Any thing that I have got home take it and converte it to your own use I give it to you freely.  When I return I think I can do a good deal Better for you.  I was telling Joseph who I left take care of his things And he was very well pleased you take his Clothes and if there is any you want to use, use them in Welcome that is what your Brother Joseph told me to tell you.  John I was very soory to hear that mothers Arm is so Lame it appears to me that all the bad luck must happen after I leave.  If I had been with you that accident never whould happened to you. But it is so and can't be helpt maybey it has All bin for the Best that I an hear.  I forgit weather I told you in my other letter that Joseph's Regiment had left hear one last Thursday to join the Army Along the Potomac. He told me he whould right and tell me ware he was But I have not receaved Any word from him yet.  Although I can see thiose Baggage wagons pass hear Everyday. Every thjing is quiet around hear at present.  little Jersey is All right. The Jersey Troops took possession of Munson Hill one Saturday. it was the hid quarters [headquarters] of the Rebels But now the stars and stripes are planted On the Rebels ground to wave in triumph Again over the oust land of the free and home of the Brave. today We can hear canonading over in Virginia. I don't think we will ever be cauld in to Battle. if I can keep my health and don't git sick I will be all Right. I suppose you hear more about the war in Belvidere that We do hear. don't Believe All the news you see in the daley papers.

Tell Jacob Smith to send me a Bottle of Good Gin as he promist.  he told me the night I was in town that he whould send me anything I rote fur.  now tell him I will take a small Bottle of Gin don't send a very Big Bon of you please.  I now must begin to draw my short letter to a close. I have bin sick since I have bin hear but not to goe in the hospital But I am a Good deal Better so that I am around and got a good Apitite and plenty to Eat. I noe feal Good.  John as soon as I Receave my money I am going to send it home in your care till I return then you shall Receave your REward from me.  tell mother I hope she will Be better.  Until I hear from Sally...[the ink was too faded to read].  tell Georgey and Sally that I am coming home to see them. Direct your lwetters the same as you did. I Remane your Affectionate Brother Aaron W. Smith."

Smith wrote a postscript, "right soon. I like to hear from home. Tell Call that I am very glad to hear that she is taking care of mother while she is sick.  Tell her I will send her a nice Present as soon as I receave my money if she stays home. John, I can't git any stamps hear..."

Copyright 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards