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Federal (USV)


Franklin Holsinger


(1836 - 1916)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 8th Pennsylvania Reserves

Before Antietam

He had gone to Kansas at age 19 in 1855, but returned to Pennsylvania about 1860. He was a 24 year old teacher in Bedford County when he enlisted there on 23 April 1861 and mustered into Federal service as Private, Company F, 8th Pennsylvania Reserves on 29 July 1861 at Camp Wilkins in Washington, DC.

On the Campaign

He was with his Company in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862 and later remembered:

The influence of a courageous man is most helpful in battle. Thus at Antietam, when surprised by the Sixth Georgia [North Carolina - map] Regiment, lying immediately behind the fence at the celebrated cornfield, allowing our regiment to approach within thirty feet, and then pouring in a volley that decimated our ranks fully one-half; the regiment was demoralized. I was worse - I was stampeded. I did not expect to stop this side of the Pennsylvania line.

I met a tall, thin young soldier, very boyish in manner, but cool as a cucumber . . . who yelled: "Rally, boys, rally! Die like men; don't run like dogs!" Instantly all fear vanished. "Why can I not stand and take what this boy can?" I commenced loading and firing, and from this [time] on I was as comfortable as I had been in more pleasant places.

The rest of the War

He was promoted to Sergeant, date not given, and was discharged 11 February 1864 to accept a commission dated 7 March 1864 as Captain, Company I, 19th Regiment US Colored Troops.

[A]t Bermuda Hundreds [VA], November 28th [1864], being in charge of the picket-line, we were attacked, which we repulsed and were rejoiced, yet the firing is maintained. I am struck in the left forearm, though not disabled; soon I am struck in the right shoulder by an explosive bullet, which is imbedded in my shoulder-strap. We still maintain a spiteful fire. About [noon] I am struck again in my right forearm, which is broken and the main artery cut; soon we improvise a tourniquet by using a canteen-strap, and with a bayonet the same is twisted until blood ceases to flow.

To retire is impossible, and for nine weary hours, or until late in the night, I remain on the line. I am alone with my thoughts; I think of home, of the seriousness of my condition; I see myself a cripple for life - perchance I may not recover; and all the time shells are shrieking and minie bullets whistling over and about me. The tongue becomes parched, there is no water to quench it; you cry, "Water! water!" and pray for night, that you can be carried off the field and to the hospital, and there the surgeons' care ...
He was honored by brevet to Major on 13 March 1865, and mustered out with his Company on 15 January 1867.

After the War

He went to Kansas in about 1870 and by 1880 was farming in Shawnee, Wyandotte County, KS, raising vegetables there to at least 1910. By 1883 he was also school director for the County and local bank president. He received a veteran's pension beginning in 1903 for his old right forearm wound.

References & notes

His service from Bates1 and his Card File, and from Wilmer.2 The quotes above from How does one feel under fire?, a paper he read to the Kansas Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) in May 1898. Personal details from family genealogists, the US Census of 1860-1910, and his obituary. His gravesite is on Findagrave. Thanks to Andy Cardinal for the nudge to look into Holsinger.

He married Mary Frances Long (1848-1931) near Hagerstown, MD in November 1867 and they had 7 children.


04/03/1836; Woodbury, PA


06/02/1916; Rosedale, KS; burial in Forest Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, MO


1   Bates, Samuel Penniman, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg: State of Pennsylvania, 1868-1871  [AotW citation 25396]

2   Wilmer, L. Allison, and J.H. Jarrett, George H. Vernon, State Commissioners, History and Roster of Maryland Volunteers, War of 1861-5, Baltimore: Press of Guggenheimer, Weil & Co., 1898, Vol. 2, pg. 227  [AotW citation 25397]