(1842 - 1864)
Home State: Pennsylvania
Branch of Service: Infantry
An 18 year old oil borer in McKean County, he enlisted there on 3 May 1861 and mustered into service as Private, Company I, 13th Pennsylvania Reserves on 30 May in Harrisburg. He was promoted to Corporal by October 1861 and to Sergeant, date not given.
On the Campaign
He was in action near Turner's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September and wrote a friend at home:
... It looked like a task to storm the mountain for it was very steep and more than one mile to the top of it. In we went. Company I was reserve awhile & the Rebels shelled us, wounding 3 of our men, 2 of which died that night. My right hand man was one to fall. Soon after this we were deployed & 3 with me were posted behind a rock wall. W Brewer & L Bard & Hero Bloom [Blom] were with me. The Rebels were behind a fence and rocks. Bard was wounded and Brewer helped him away & soon Bloom was shot by my side. He died that night. Northrop fell a few yards to the left. Maxson fell dead within a few feet of him.Two days later, on the evening of the 16th, he and the Bucktails were at Antietam:
Well it was close work. I only got my face and eyes full of bark for there was a tree just on the rock. That's all of this ...
...Just as we emerged from a belt of woods into a plowed field, the Rebels fired across the field. We moved forward double quick & lie down behind a little knoll & commenced firing at the Rebels ... It was soon dark. We kept firing so fast they could not stand it. My gun [a Sharps breechloader] was so hot I was afraid to load it but kept stuffing it and firing at the flash of their guns. We charged & drove them out of the woods ... Col. McNeil was killed and Lt Ellison [Allison] also. I fired 70 times & was well satisfied to stop for the night.
The rest of the War
He was captured at Fredericksburg, VA on 13 December 1862 and held at Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. He was exchanged and returned to duty and was in combat again at Gettysburg in July 1863. He was furloughed for illness and treated at the Chestnut Street Army hospital in Philadelphia, but was discharged for disability on 13 October 1863.
After the War
He returned home but suffered from severe depression, possibly from post-traumatic stress, and twice attempted suicide. He shot himself to death on the third attempt in August 1864, just 21 years old.
References & notes
Service from the Bucktails,1 and the Card File.2 Details and the quote above, from a letter home to a friend, are in Dennis Brandt's Pathway to Hell: A Tragedy of the American Civil War (2008). His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his picture, from an 1861 Harrisburg photograph posted by Mr. Brandt.
12/09/1842; Hinsdale, NY
08/04/1864 Roulette, PA; burial in John Lyman Cemetery, Roulette, PA
1 Thomson, O. R. Howard, and William H. Rauch, History of the "Bucktails", Kane Rifle Regiment of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps (13th Pennsylvania Reserves, 42nd of the Line), Philadelphia: Electric Printing Co., 1906, pg. 417 [AotW citation 22977]
2 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Adjutant-General, Pennsylvania Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866, Published <2005, first accessed 01 July 2005, <http://www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us/archive.asp?view=ArchiveIndexes&ArchiveID=17> [AotW citation 22978]