Sunday, June 26, 2016

How discovery of tiny ID badge led to story of Gettysburg hero

In 1986, relic hunter Richard Clem found this postage stamp-sized, silver 
identification badge for 44th New York  Sergeant Consider H. Willett.
Longtime relic hunter Richard Clem of Hagerstown, Md., has discovered many amazing Civil War artifacts while scouring fields with his brother, Don, in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Here is the story of one of Clem's favorite finds:


By Richard Clem

Richard Clem
Countless acts of great courage during the Battle of Gettysburg never made the pages of history. However, a daring rescue of 97 enemy soldiers, led by Sergeant C. H. Willett of the 44th New York, has been recorded. In November 1986, 123 years after this heroic, life-saving deed, it was the author’s good fortune to discover with a metal detector Willett’s personal identification badge 40 miles south of Gettysburg. Hopefully, the following account will bring recognition to this gallant performance on Little Round Top by this Civil War soldier, now resting in Chicago’s beautiful Oak Woods Cemetery. (1)

The day after Thanksgiving, Nov.  28, 1986, dawned cold and cloudy as my brother Don and I continued our search with metal detectors in a large Civil War campsite near Lappans Crossroads, near Hagerstown, Md. Relics found the previous week were evidence regiments of the III and V Corps, Army of the Potomac, occupied this area in July 1863 during the Confederates' retreat from Gettysburg. During the Civil War, this intersection in Washington County (Md.) was known as Jones Crossroads. By noon, the fur lining of my army parka and hood were more than welcome as a northern wind increased. Perhaps because of the dampness of the ground, the detectors seemed to be working better than normal as pockets were filled with buttons, bullets, knapsack hooks and other Civil War-related artifacts. (2)

Late afternoon on the edge of the campsite, my trusty machine picked up a "positive" signal. From experience, I knew the sharp, clear sound indicated the object was close to the surface. To get a more accurate reading, the ground was leveled off with my insulated boot when a small piece of shiny metal appeared. Picking up the thin piece of metal about the size of a postage stamp, I noticed it was bent in the shape of a triangle. Because of its brightness, it first resembled a piece of folded aluminum, perhaps part of a soft drink can. Fortunately, as the mere junk was about to be discarded, the sun broke through the heavy cloud cover and I noticed something engraved on the inside of the folded metal: "Co. E.” And then it struck me: Could this be a Civil War identification badge?

Now it started to make sense why the small artifact buried for more than a century was still so bright; it was not aluminum as originally thought, but rather solid silver! During the War Between the States, there were no official army dog tags. Purchased by soldiers, these small keepsakes were more of a symbol of patriotism, but also proved invaluable in identifying a dead warrior or marking what would be just another unknown grave. (3)

Wearing an early-war Zouave jacket,
Consider Willett had this image
taken about the time of
his enlistment in October 1862.
(Image courtesy Elizabeth
"Dixie" Welch)
Immediately, I headed toward Don, who was searching just up the ridge, unfolding the thin silver as I walked. Taking full advantage of the evening sun coming over our shoulders, we could read the clear-cut inscription: "Sergt. C. H. Willett, Co. E, 44th Regt., N. Y. S. Vol.”

How did the ID tag get bent? Maybe the attachment hook on the back broke and Willett simply bent and tossed it away. Or it could have been damaged during battle. One thing to be grateful for -- the delicate silver didn’t snap or break when flattened. (4)

Who was Sergeant Willett? What was his full name? Did he survive the war? Where was he buried? Finding answers to these questions became an obsession resulting in  years of research. First, a trip to the library at the Visitors Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park produced a regimental history on the 44th New York Volunteers. Of course, there were some ideas what the "C" in Willett’s first name stood for – names such as Charles, Calvin, Carl or even Clayton surfaced. What a surprise when the regimental was opened and the one name never considered jumped from the page ... “Consider.” Like it or not, there it was in black and white – Sergeant Consider Heath Willett. The origin of that name remains a mystery. (5)



Consider Heath Willett was born Dec. 12, 1840, near Syracuse, Onondaga County, N.Y.  He was the only son of William and Tryphosa Jackson Willett, having dark hair and grey eyes. On Aug. 14, 1862, after graduating from Albany Normal School and with civil war exploding, he enlisted in Company E, 44th Regiment of  the New York Volunteers. (6)

Captain Consider Willett in image
taken on leave from army 
in late 1863 or 1864.
(Richard Clem collection)
The 44th New York was a unique outfit, having been organized to avenge the death of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the Union’s first martyr. Ellsworth, greatly admired and respected in the North, was shot and killed in Alexandria, Va., after removing a Confederate flag from the roof of the Marshall House. On Oct. 21, 1861, 1,061 members of the 44th New York marched off to war. Following the Confederacy's surrender, only 184 veterans returned to the Empire State.

Unlike most Civil War regiments recruited from local communities and surrounding areas, members of this unit were handpicked by the state. These soldiers were required to meet certain standards: “Good moral character, 5 feet 8 inches in height and not exceeding 30-years-of-age.” The state armed the elite group with the finest military equipment available.

Early in the war, the 44th was issued blue-and-red Zouave uniforms. When the regiment left to join the Army of the Potomac, however, the Zouave uniforms were packed away in exchanged for the standard New York State shell jackets and frock coats. By the end of 1862, the state uniforms were in such ragged condition, the old Zouave threads were pulled from trunks and put back on. (7)

Enlisted as a 1st Sergeant, Willett caught up with his regiment camped in the field following the Battle of Antietam, just southwest of Sharpsburg, Md. At this time -- October 1862 -- the 44th New York was attached to the V Corps, Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George B. McClellan. In the coming winter and spring of 1863, the sergeant from Onondaga County would become well acquainted with warfare during bloody engagements at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. But the ultimate test of the man would come by mid-summer at a small crossroads town in Pennsylvania.

During the first three days of July 1863, the most famous battle of the Civil War was fought on a 25- square mile tract of land surrounding Gettysburg, Pa. The aftermath of the first day’s fighting north and west of town left a landscape covered with bloated forms of blue and gray; two vigilant, defiant armies were in position to continue the bloodletting struggle. (8)

Defended by a force of seasoned veterans, the Union Army of the Potomac’s extreme left flank rested on a rocky knoll called Little Round Top. This was Colonel Strong Vincent’s Brigade of the V Corps, combining regiments of the 20th Maine, 83rd Pennsylvania, 44th New York and 16th Michigan. Around 4:30 p.m. on July 2, only 10 minutes after Vincent had deployed his Federal troops, Confederate infantry of Major General John Bell Hood’s division – Law’s Brigade – launched a furious assault against Little Round Top’s steep, western face. The notorious Rebel yell filled hot, humid air as Southern forces, mostly Texas and Alabama troops, stormed the rugged heights. The boys in blue were mostly concealed behind a natural barrier of enormous boulders. In a matter of minutes, gray granite turned crimson red -- stained with the life-giving substance of the wounded, dead and dying. Vicious, brutal fighting for Little Round Top cost General Hood an arm; Colonel Vincent paid the ultimate price: his life. (9)

Monument (left) dedicated to 44th New York Infantry on Little Round Top. Willett helped
save the lives of 97 Confederates here on July 2, 1863.  (Richard Clem)
Union breastworks on Little Round Top. Big Round Top looms in the background.
(Timothy O'Sullivan/Library of Congress)
Another view of Union breastworks on Little Round Top. 44th New York soldiers helped defend
this area on July 2, 1863. (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress)
Colonel William C. Oates, commanding the 15th Alabama, remembered his regiment taking extreme losses against the 20th Maine on the south slope of Little Round Top: “My dead and wounded were nearly as great in number as those still on duty. The blood stood in puddles in some places on the rocks; the ground was soaked with the blood of as brave men as ever fell on the red field of battle.” One Union soldier who fought during the bloodbath wrote years later, “I pray God that I may never witness such a scene again.” (10)

Positioned to the immediate right of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine were the 83rd Pennsylvania, 44th New York and the 16th Michigan, holding the right flank of the brigade. Scores of Confederates out of ammunition hugged the ground or crawled behind boulders to escape from being accidentally shot in the back by their own men. To prevent needless slaughter, a Federal officer requested volunteers to come forward and remove the battle-weary souls out of harm’s way. Under heavy musket fire, Sergeant Willett was the first to vault the breastworks and start down the hill on the dangerous mission of mercy.  Captain Alfred N. Husted of the 44th described the scene:
Grasping the situation some half-dozen men, led by First Sergeant Willett sprang forward and received the surrender of the ninety Texans who found themselves caught as in a trap. I know that the prisoners numbered at least ninety, for I counted them myself.”
 Another witness, Sergeant E. R. Goodrich of the 44th New York, wrote in his diary:
“Sergt. Willett found a large number of the enemy concealed behind the rocks and a depression in the field, lying prone upon the ground. They were taken by surprise at his appearance among them and he quickly had them in motion and conducted to the rear. From my standpoint I counted 97 prisoners.” (11)
The 97 captured Confederates were led around the large boulders, escorted up and over the summit to security of the east, or back side, of Little Round Top. In an article “Incidents at Gettysburg,” Willett wrote, “Our musketry firing left the dead piled so thick that it was almost impossible to walk over the ground without stepping on the Rebel dead.” Although Willett’s life-saving act was soon forgotten, it would be forever etched in the minds of 97 grateful members of General Hood’s Division. (12)

Captain Willett in an image from
History of the Forty-Fourth Regiment
New York Volunteer Infantry
.
Heavy rain soaked man and beast as the two embattled armies withdrew from the Gettysburg field of battle; one massive sea of humanity, covered with mud and blood, slowly drifted south through southern Pennsylvania and into Maryland. These days of misery and grief found the 44th New York camped near Jones Crossroads in Washington County, where the sergeant’s personalized badge would be discovered 123 years later.

On Aug. 8, 1863, about one month after losing his silver badge,  Consider H. Willett was promoted to captain in command of Company G, 2nd U.S. Colored Troops. During the Civil War, thousands of black soldiers, including former slaves, faithfully served to preserve the Union and liberate their Southern brothers and sisters. (13)

By mid-August, Captain Willett and the 2nd Colored Regiment received orders to report for duty in Florida. Official documents reveal his campaign with the Department of the Gulf continued to magnify an already outstanding military record. However, with sickness and disease producing more casualties than bullets, Captain Willett contracted yellow fever in the swamps of Key West and was admitted to an army hospital at Fort Taylor and placed on a disabled list.

Growing too weak for duty, he was honorably discharged Sept. 12, 1865. By this time, the war was over and so was the military career of Consider Willett. The veteran officer was transported to New York, where he slowly recuperated. In 1866, he was granted an army pension because of physical disability caused by the yellow fever. Knowing he could never perform manual labor, the retired captain studied law at Albany. He graduated from the University of Michigan and was admitted to the New York Bar in April 1866. (14)

On Nov.  5, 1867, Consider Heath Willett married Lois Adelaide Wilder of Ann Arbor, Mich. The newlyweds relocated to Chicago, a city with an exploding population and a great need for qualified lawyers. Here, Lois Willett gave birth to six daughters and two sons – making one wonder just how disabled the captain really was. For several years, Willett served as Cook County attorney and practiced law in Hyde Park, now called the South Side of Chicago. During the Great Chicago Fire, on Oct. 8, 1871, Willett’s law office and library were gutted; however, this man had been held to the fire before. He organized committees to help rebuild the Windy City. (15)



In March 1997, 11 years after finding the Willett ID badge, I received a phone call from Edward H. Lane Jr. of Bedford County, Va. Ed’s father founded the Lane Cedar Chest Co. in 1912. After reading one of my ads placed in a Civil War publication “. . . searching for any information on Consider H. Willett, 44th  N.Y.,” Mr. Lane’s mind drifted to a piece of dining room furniture he had purchased more than 40 years earlier. Pulling the solid cherry buffet from the wall, he was surprised to read marked on the back, “Manufactured by the Consider H. Willett Furniture Company – Louisville, Kentucky.” With Ed’s informative call and the use of a Louisville phone book, I was able to contact Elizabeth "Dixie" Willett Welch and Lois Willett Ross -- granddaughters of Captain Willett -- who lived in Louisville. Elizabeth Welch was the daughter of Consider H. Willett Jr. and Lois Ross (named after her grandmother) was the daughter of William R. Willett, the captain’s older son. (16)

Willett's simple gravestone in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
(Photo: Richard Clem)
Elizabeth recalled going to Chicago as a young girl to visit her aunts. When her Yankee relatives (Captain Willett’s six daughters) discovered their niece came from Kentucky, they jokingly dubbed her "Dixie." The nickname stuck. The Lane connection to Willett’s granddaughters produced images and genealogy of the family that could never have been found in any other source (See notes).

The captain’s youngest son, Consider Willett Jr., left Chicago in 1907 to join forces with his older brother, William Willett, already living in Kentucky. There, the brothers went into partnership in the lumber business. Consider Jr. branched out on his own in 1934, opening the Willett Furniture Co. in Louisville. At peak of production, the company employed 230 workers while gaining national prominence as the largest manufacturer of solid maple and cherry furniture in the world. During World War II, the factory built bunk beds for the U.S. Army. Consider H. Willett Jr., the justly proud son of a Civil War veteran, died in Louisville in 1944 at 54. The company continued production for a period, but it was plagued with financial problems and closed its doors for good in 1964. (17)

Captain Consider H. Willett fought his last battle Oct. 12, 1912. He was 72. A simple, small stone marks the grave beside a beautiful lake in Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery. Lois Willett was placed at her husband’s side in Oak Woods in July 1936.



At the Battle of Fredericksburg on Dec. 13, 1862, Consider Willett described the action in a letter to one of his former professors in New York:
“Today I am on my knapsack for a seat, on the brick sidewalks on Main Street, Fredericksburg. The batteries are playing around us, and musketry occasionally throws in its voice to make the din of war complete. The boys of Company E crossed the Rappahannock on Saturday at 3 P.M. We were marched directly through town along or near the railroad.”
The correspondence from Fredericksburg ends revealing the cruel reality of war, but a trust and faith in a higher command:
“As we neared the outskirts of town, a destructive fire poured upon us. Many of the 44th fell wounded and our Color Sergeant was killed. We are having a terrible battle here, but have high hopes in the Ruler of all things that we will ultimately succeed. I remain as true and firm in battle as I hope to be in the battle of life. Yours truly, C. H. Willett.” (18)
Following the War Between the States, this hero of Little Round Top remained as true in life as in battle. And now, through the recovery of a small, silver badge lost more than 150 years ago in Maryland, Captain Willett can finally receive credit he so greatly deserves.


Click here for notes and sources for this story.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A father's loss at Antietam: 'The cloud never fully passed away'

Killed at Antietam, 18-year-old Orlando Bacheler was buried in South Sutton Cemetery
 in Sutton, Mass. His first name is misspelled "Olando" on his gravestone.
Decades after Orlando was killed at Antietam, Jonas and Mary Bacheler were buried next to
their son at South Sutton Cemetery.  
Like this blog on Facebook.

This post is a snapshot of the short life of Private Orlando Bacheler of the 15th Massachusetts. Do you have information that could shed more light on his life, perhaps a newspaper account, letter or photographs? If so, please e-mail me at jbankstx@comcast.net.


Described as "one of the kindest of men," Jonas Bacheler  married late in life, fathering four children with his wife in Sutton, Mass., a small town known for its bountiful orchards.

When the Federal census-taker visited the Bacheler household on July 26, 1860, he listed Jonas as a 56-year-old farmer. The rest of the family consisted of  wife Mary, a 46-year-old daughter of a ship captain, and three children: Emma, 11; Harriet, 8; and Orlando, 16, whose occupation was listed as machinist. Tragedy rocked the Bachelers * in 1848, when toddler Emily died before her second birthday.

Orlando Bacheler, 18, was killed in the
West Woods at Antietam.
(Photo courtesy Susan Harnwell/

15th Massachusetts web site)
Like many young men from south-central Massachusetts, Orlando enlisted in the Union army in 1861, mustering into Company H of the 15th Massachusetts as private on July 12, 1861. Perhaps while the regiment trained in Camp Scott in Worcester, Mass., the Bachelers' eldest child plunked down a couple bucks to have a keepsake image taken as a memento for his parents or a sweetheart. Wearing a new uniform, the slightly-built soldier with the hint of a mustache posed for the image in front of a large U.S. flag backdrop, a superb, patriotic touch by the photographic artist.

A little more than a year later, the teenager was ripped from the Bachelers' lives when he was killed during the 15th Massachusetts' disastrous attack in the West Woods at Antietam. Of the 606 soldiers in the regiment engaged in the battle, 320 were killed or wounded and 24 were missing, a 57 percent loss. "...my company had 62 when we went into battle and when I ordered them back only 9 were left standing," Lieutenant Samuel Fletcher of Orlando's Company H recalled.

Jonas was so crushed by the death of his oldest child on Sept. 17, 1862, that he never fully recovered. "The father went south for the body and returned home with it," a family history noted. "After this he was not quite the same man as before. He was a man of very sympathetic nature and the cloud never fully passed away."

On Jan. 23, 1863, perhaps a little after Jonas returned home with the body of his son, the Southbridge (Mass.) Journal published a poem about Orlando's death. The author is unknown.

THE YOUNG SOLDIER HAS GONE
Composed on the Death of Orlando M. Batcheler *
A Member of the Mass. 15th Regiment who
Fell at the Battle of Antietam.

He has gone! the young soldier has gone to his rest,
Disturb not his last quit sleep;
Tread lightly where rests the cold turf o’er his breast,
Where fond hearts in Anguish oft weep.

Not long did he rest where the Southern pines wave,
Where flowers in rich beauty are dressed,
For near his home they have hallowed a grave,
And have laid his loved form down to rest.

No deep booming cannon can startle him there,
No battle scene fills him with gloom,
No bursting shell harm him as it goes through the air,
For he peacefully sleeps near his home.

Most nobly this soldier boy acted his part,
Not fearing to face the stern foe,
Where the danger grew thick he engaged hand and heart,
Not fearing his courage to show.

But alas when the din of the battle was o’er,
While the forms of the slain were yet warm,
Among those that fell, who fought brave to the last,
They found Orlando’s proud form.

And then, far away the sad message sped,
Til it reached those dear ones in his home,
And there the sad words were in faltering tones read,
Which enshrouded fond hearts in deep gloom.

A father’s proud joy, a mother’s deep love ,
Dear sisters affection so warm,
Were alike chilled at once, while their dear one above
Was freed from the battles fierce storm.

O, happy the thought, although low in the grave,
His loved form does in quiet repose,
Yet we trust his young spirit, our savior could save,
And redeem it from earths chilling woes.

Fond Parents, bereft of your dear only son,
May your hearts know the depth of God’s love;
And sister bereaved, when your life’s work is done,
May you meet your dear brother above.


In death, Jonas and Mary Bacheler were reunited with their son. They are buried next to Orlando and near a massive, old oak in South Sutton Cemetery in Sutton, Mass.

SOURCES

Pearce, Frederick Clifton, Batchelder, Batcheller Geneaology, Press of W.B. Conkey Co., Chicago, 1908

Poem about Bacheler's death accessed from the excellent 15th Massachusetts site by Susan Harnwell.

Samuel Fletcher quote from Chapin Ancestors and Descendants (online), maintained by Deanne Driscoll, via Walking The West Woods blog.

Other spellings of Bacheler appear elsewhere, including Batchelor and Batcheler. I chose the spelling that appears on the gravestones in South Sutton Cemetery.

A close-up of Bacheler's gravestone.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brothers' lives tragically intersect at Battle of Fredericksburg

Historical markers note the Union army's crossing of Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, Va,
      Upper Crossing: Union army engineers built pontoon bridges here on Dec. 11, 1862.
                   Another interactive panorama of Upper Crossing at Fredericksburg.

Like this blog on Facebook.

This post is a snapshot of the lives of Samuel and Moses Little, brothers from New England who served in the Union army. Do you have information that could shed more light on their lives, perhaps a newspaper account, letter or photographs? If so, please e-mail me at jbankstx@comcast.net.


For Samuel Little, the youngest of the six brothers from Newbury, Mass., life was difficult almost from the start. His father was described as an inadequate provider, so the family was "wholly dependent for support upon the industry and energy of a most excellent mother." Poor Mrs. Little died when Samuel was only eight months old, leaving the brothers and presumably their father to rely on the "cold charity of the world."

Somehow, Little overcame those unfortunate circumstances.

When he was 10, Samuel went to live with, and work for, a farmer, and by the time he was 16, he had learned the house painting trade. When he was only 18, Samuel went into business for himself as a painter in Brookline, Mass., before he moved to Claremont, N.H. There, in 1849, he married a woman named Mary Gould and began a partnership in the house painting business with his older brother, Joseph, until the war broke out in 1861.

On Sept. 27, 1861, Samuel enlisted in the 5th New Hampshire as a private, accepting a meager $10 state bounty, and later was appointed sergeant in Company G. A month earlier, his 38-year-old brother Moses, a shoemaker from West Newbury, Mass., had joined the 19th Massachusetts as a private.

A little more than a year later, the brothers' lives would tragically intersect at a Virginia town that had a close connection to George Washington.

At Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, Samuel, who had been promoted to lieutenant that August for "bravery and meritorious conduct" during the Seven Days' battles, suffered a severe thigh wound near Bloody Lane. Sent home on furlough to Claremont to recuperate, Samuel ignored orders from his doctor and began a trip south on Dec. 8 to re-join the "Fighting Fifth" near Fredericksburg, Va., where a long-expected battle loomed.

View of Upper Crossing, where Moses Little was killed while helping build a pontoon bridge.
Union engineers and soldiers under fire during the building of a pontoon bridge at
 Fredericksburg on Dec. 11, 1862.  It's unclear whether this sketch is of  the Upper Crossing. 
Visit the Mysteries & Conundrums blog for a detailed exploration.
(Alfred Waud/Library of Congress)
Hours before dawn on Dec. 11, 1862, Union engineers began the laborious and dangerous task of building a pontoon bridge across the 250-yard-wide Rappahannock River to facilitate the crossing for thousands of soldiers in the Army of the Potomac. (Pontoon bridges also were constructed downriver at the Middle Crossing and two miles southeast of Fredericksburg.) A thick fog hovered, temporarily obscuring the bridge-builders, and the temperature dipped into the 20s, Across the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg, Confederate soldiers from Florida and Mississippi kept a watchful eye.

Colonel Edward Cross (above)
 tried to talk Samuel Little out
of fighting at Fredericksburg,
according to one account.
"We remained undisturbed until the morning of December when we were ordered to the banks of the Rappahannock opposite Fredericksburg," a 19th Massachusetts soldier recalled. "Here we found a pontoon bridge partially laid, and the engineers doing their best to complete it. Our batteries were posted on the hills in rear of our line, and were vigorously shelling the city, but the rebel sharpshooters were posted in cellars and rifle pits on the other side and would pick off the engineers as fast as they showed themselves at work."

Among the casualties was Moses Little, a married father of two young children, who was shot and killed as he aided the bridge builders. Only a day earlier, his youngest child, Carrie, had turned 2.

It's unknown when the news of his brother's death reached Samuel, who, according to one account, arrived in Fredericksburg an hour before the massive battle began on Dec. 13, 1862. "...Colonel Edward E. Cross and other officers seeing the feeble state Lieut Little was in tried to dissuade him from going into the battle," a history of Claremont noted,  "but he persisted."

After 5th New Hampshire Captain Jacob W. Keller of Claremont was severely wounded during one of the futile charges on Marye's Heights beyond town, Little, still weak from his Antietam wound, took command of his company. In the bloody chaos, Samuel was shot in the left calf and shoulder -- one of 186 casualties among 249 in the regiment. "The Boys look down hearted enough, I tell you," a 5th New Hampshire soldier wrote to his mother in Claremont days after the battle. "I wish they would let us come home now there is so few of us. Lieut. [Samuel B.] Little was all cut up – hit in 3 places."

The bullet that struck Little in the shoulder could not be removed by surgeons, and he died on Christmas Eve at the Lacy House across the river in Falmouth, Va. **

Hundreds gathered in the Claremont town hall for a funeral service for Samuel, whose remains had been returned home, undoubtedly a great comfort to his wife, Mary. Shortly after the war began, that same hall was packed with enthusiastic supporters of the Union cause. "Claremont," a town historian later wrote, "was all on fire to do her share toward putting down the Rebellion."

 A  "most appropriate and impressive sermon" was given by Little's friend, Reverend Carlos Marston.  "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth," he preached, quoting from the 14th chapter and 13th verse of Revelations. "Yea saith the Spirit that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them."

After the service, Samuel body was borne to a nearby Pleasant Street Cemetery and laid to rest. There is no known record whether Moses' remains were also buried in New England. His final resting place may be among the 12,770 unknown Union dead in Fredericksburg National Cemetery.

Lacy House, also known as Chatham Manor, where Lieutenant Samuel Little died on Dec. 24, 1862.
(Timothy O'Sullivan/Library of Congress collection)
** Some accounts note Samuel Little died on Dec. 23, 1862.

SOURCES:

Moses Little widow's pension records, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C.

Samuel Little's widow's pension records, NARS

History of the Nineteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865, The Salem Press Co., Salem, Mass., 1906

Waite, Otis F.R., History of the Town of Claremont, N.H., for a Period of One Hundred and Thirty Years, John B. Clarke Co., Manchester, N.H., 1895

Waite, Otis F.R., Claremont, War History, April, 1861 to April, 1865, McFarland & Jenls Printers, Concord, N.H., 1868


Do you know of other brothers who died in service of the Union or Confederacy during the Civil War? If so, email me at jbankstx@comcast.net.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wanted: Info on Massachusetts brothers who died during war

A private in the 34th Massachusetts, George Adams was killed at the Battle of New Market (Va.)
William Adams, a private in the 15th Massachusetts, died of wounds suffered at Antietam.
Like this blog on Facebook.

William Levi Adams died of his Antietam
wounds nearly two months after the battle.
(Courtesy Susan L. Harnwell)
At least 40 sets of brothers from Connecticut who served in the Union army died during the war. It's not difficult to find others elsewhere in New England who suffered the same fate.

After a stop at a Civil War show in Sturbridge, Mass., on Saturday, I drove to nearby West Brookfield to visit Pine Grove Cemetery, where I found this old, tilted zinc memorial for brothers William and George Adams. They were two more young victims of the "wicked rebellion," two frequently used words of the era.  You may view an image of  George on the Find A Grave web site here.

A 22-year-old private in the 15th Massachusetts, William was wounded in the West Woods at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, and died at nearby Smoketown hospital nearly two months later. George, a 20-year-old private in the 34th Massachusetts, was killed at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. His remains are believed to have been buried in Pine Grove Cemetery; William is likely buried at Antietam National Cemetery in Sharpsburg, Md.

I'm hopeful to find more about the Adams brothers and other siblings who served in the Union and Confederate armies who died during the Civil War. If you know of others, e-mail me at jbankstx@comcast. Your story could be included in my latest book project.

A zinc memorial for the Adams brothers in West Brookfield, Mass.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Legacy in lead: What a 114th Pennsylvania Zouave left behind

114th Pennsylvania Private William Garner carved his initials and regiment into this bullet, 
relic hunter Richard Clem believes. Below: An image of the carved bullet next to a
 whole .58-caliber bullet. (Photos courtesy of  Clem unless noted)

Like this blog on Facebook.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I am a big fan of relic hunter Richard Clem, whose amazing tales have been posted here, here, here and here. For nearly 50 years, Clem and his brother have hunted for Civil War relics in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Here's another story from my friend Richard Clem about a relic hunting find:



By Richard E. Clem

Richard Clem
A murderous encounter the previous week at Gettysburg had thinned the ranks of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers. While glowing campfires slowly died, the boys from Philadelphia tried to erase from their minds and souls that bloody ordeal in the “Peach Orchard.” Today, not a sign remains to indicate these battle-weary warriors bivouacked on the ground in Maryland. However, one member of the 114th Pennsylvania left evidence underground that the camp did indeed exist. (1)

On a beautiful Indian summer afternoon in 1986, the author and his brother, Don, searched for Civil War relics with metal detectors. The farm we searched was camped on by units of the Union III Corps of the Army of the Potomac during their pursuit of the  Rebels after Gettysburg. In earlier years, the nearby intersection in this area of southern Washington County, Md., was called Jones’ Crossroads by locals. (2)

Warm, sunny hours had proven favorable as our relic pouches bulged with bullets, buttons and various Civil War artifacts. With shadows lengthening, we decided to call it a day and take one final sweep across the old campsite. As we were about to finish, Don headed in my direction with an outstretched hand and a smile on his face. This could mean only one thing: He had dug a “keeper!” (3)

"At first, I thought it was just another bullet," Don explained. "But after a closer look, I could see something carved on it." Darkness was setting in too fast to figure out the tiny letters, so we headed for the pickup truck. That evening we soaked the bullet in water, and after a light cleaning with a soft toothbrush, letters and numbers surfaced: "H / W. L. G. / 114 P.V." (4)

Using imagination and common sense, we came to the conclusion what these small letters represented. First, the “H” at the top of the carving stood for “Company H.” Next, the letters “W.L.G.” were the initials of some soldier’s first, middle and last name. And finally, “114 P.V.” stood for the “114th Pennsylvania Volunteers.” Apparently, more than a century before a Civil War soldier had taken a pocket knife or some other sharp object and cut the nose and bottom ring off a standard .58-caliber bullet. He then continued to carve his company’s letter, his own initials and abbreviation of his regiment on the flattened remaining nose of the bullet. This was no easy task considering the surface being carved was the size of an aspirin. This veteran must have had better than 20-20 vision. (5)

An extreme close-up of the bullet shows the carved 
words "Zouaves D'Afrique."
In January 2011, after resting in my brother’s collection for 25 years, an amazing discovery was made while photographing the ID'd bullet. Under a strong, close-up magnification lens, the words “Zouaves D’Afrique” appeared on the base of the bullet. Perhaps this was why the bottom joint or ring was cut off, leaving a larger surface to inscribe. (6)

The month following the Battle of First Bull Run, a company known as Zouaves D’Afrique was organized in Philadelphia by an attorney, Charles Henry Tuckey Collis. The name “Zouave” comes from the French Army Zouaves of North Africa. Zouaves of the French army were originally recruited from native Algerian soldiers in North Africa after the French occupation of Algiers in 1830. Later, the African troops were replaced with Frenchmen. These soldiers earned respect for their fierceness in battle and were considered one of the best fighting forces in the world. (7)

Collis’ new unit served in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia under Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, who vainly tried to outfox the soon-to-become legendary Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. In August 1862, Collis returned to Pennsylvania to recruit men for an entire Zouave regiment. The Zouave D’Afrique company, now under the direction of Captain Severin A. Bartholot, engaged in battles of Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Chantilly and Antietam. Commissioned colonel, Collis organized nine companies in Philadelphia that became the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry -- his old Zouaves D’Afrique becoming Company A under Captain Bartholot. It seems the men of Company A were so admired and so proud of the name “Zouave D’Afrique” that it was used by the whole newly formed regiment. (8)

During the War Between the States, a small percentage of a soldier’s time was spent in battle or combat. What has escaped the writer’s pen for the most part is the miles of strenuous marching and daily routine of boring camp life. Many played checkers and cards to pass away the long hours. Some would write letters to sweethearts and folks back home. Another favorite pastime was the art of bullet carving. Because of its softness, a lead bullet could be easily carved or whittled into any shape that came to mind. Thousands of these small “messengers of death” have been dug using modern-day metal detectors. To the author’s knowledge, my brother’s ID’d bullet stands alone as one-of-a-kind. (9)

A war-time image of Charles Collis (left), who organized the 114th Pennsylvania.
(Library of Congress)
A recruiting poster for the 114th Pennsylvania, a Zouave regiment known for its colorful uniforms.
So let’s return to Nov. 22, 1986, when my brother and I stood scratching our heads and wondering about the soldier who carved the bullet. With two great clues to start our research -- the letter of the soldier’s company and name of his regiment --a trip to Gettysburg was planned. The library at the Gettysburg National Military Park produced a copy of  the History of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-5. The large volume contains in order every regiment from the Keystone State that served in the Civil War. Each regiment is broken down into companies listed in alphabetical order. Pages became blurred as we nervously, anxiously fumbled through the heavy book until a finger landed on the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers. In a matter of seconds, the only name listed in Company H that matched those carved on the bullet leaped from the page – “William L. Garner.” We had found our bullet carver from the past. (10)

William L. Garner was born in 1833, in Augusta County, Va. Augusta County archives give little information about Garner’s early years. In the early 1850s, he relocated for an unknown reason to Philadelphia, where he became a barber. In the City of Brotherly Love, William married on Jan. 15, 1854, and fathered a child, Ida, who was born March 6, 1859. (11)

In August 1862, war clouds drifted slowly northward, mainly in the form of the Army of Northern Virginia under the leadership of General Robert E. Lee. On Aug. 22,  29-year-old William L. Garner enlisted in Philadelphia in Company H, 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Signing up for three years, Private Garner was listed as 5-9, with a dark complexion and eyes and black hair. The 114th Pennsylvania Zouaves wore dark blue jackets with red trim and baggy red trousers, polished brass buttons and turbans or fezzes. The new recruits’ uniforms were made from material purchased from the French Government;  the U.S. government supplied new Springfield muskets.

Lt. Colonel Frederick Cavada commanded
the 114th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg.

He was captured  on the Sherfy farm.
(Library of Congress)
Nine days after enlistment, Garner and Collis’ Zouaves left for the seat of war. Entering the defenses around Washington, the regiment was attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, III Corps, Army of the Potomac. Why would a man volunteer for military service, leaving his wife and 3-year-old daughter? One incentive might have been the $40 bounty offered by the City of Philadelphia -- that was far more tempting than a barber’s charge of "two bits." Maybe it was just a matter of duty to preserve the Union. Also, word was spreading of the possibility of a Rebel invasion of Pennsylvania, so able-bodied men were called upon to defend their native state. (12)

Clad in its unique, flamboyant garb, Collis’ regiment experienced its baptism of fire at Fredericksburg, Va., on Dec. 13, 1862. At the town along the Rappahannock River, the 114th and 63rd Pennsylvania rushed to save several Union batteries from falling into hands of the enemy. And then on Jan. 20, 1863, during “Burnside’s Mud March” campaign, the Zouaves were called upon to construct a pontoon bridge across the Rappahannock in the face of Confederate fire from the opposite bank. (13)

Private Garner was on sick leave from January-April 1863, but recovered and was present at the Battle of Chancellorsville that May. Near the Chancellor house, the 114th and 105th Pennsylvania charged a fortified Rebel position but were driven back to the entrenchments with the loss of 173 killed and wounded. In the same engagement, Colonel Charles Collis was reported wounded, although some records claim he contracted typhoid fever. Whatever the case, Collis was recuperating and missed the Gettysburg Campaign. (14)

After General Lee’s brilliant success at Chancellorsville in spring 1863, the Confederacy decided once more to invade Union territory -- a campaign that reached its climax at a sleepy, crossroads village in Pennsylvania. Enduring heat and humidity on the trek north, the 114th Pennsylvania was under command of Lt. Colonel Frederick F. Cavada. Now the soldiers from Philadelphia would be defending their own home turf. (15)

Late on July 1, Major General Daniel E. Sickles’ III Corps reached Gettysburg; the aftermath of the first day’s fighting left a landscape northwest of town covered with bloated forms of blue and gray dead. The stage was set for the blood-letting to continue. On the morning July 2, the armies faced each other on rolling farm land near town. Newly appointed Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac was established on high ground. In the shape of a “fish hook,” Meade’s line extended from Culp’s Hill west to Cemetery Hill and bent south along Cemetery Ridge to the Round Tops – approximately two miles long. No action took place in the morning while both sides waited for remaining units to arrive on the field. (16)

Meade had placed Sickles’ Corps, which included the 114th Pennsylvania, to the left of the line on Cemetery Ridge, just north of the Round Tops. Early in the afternoon, acting on his own, Sickles advanced his III Corps to a slightly higher ground. The daring move, breaking the Union’s defensive line, placed the bulk of Brigadier General Charles K. Graham’s Brigade (63rd, 105th, 57th and 114th Pennsylvania) partially in a peach orchard along the east side of Emmitsburg Road. The 141st Pennsylvania of Graham’s Brigade formed at a right angle to the brigade facing south, with the 68th Pennsylvania in support. At the time of the battle, this orchard was owned by Joseph Sherfy, who operated a 50-acre farm bordering both sides of Emmitsburg Road. To strengthen Graham’s position at the Peach Orchard, four Federal batteries were deployed on the opposite side (west) of the road facing gathering enemy forces. (17)

Lee’s plan of attack on July 2 was to strike the Round Tops with Lt. General James “Old Pete” Longstreet’s 1st Corps and gradually sweep in echelon up Emmitsburg Road, rolling up the Union left flank on Cemetery Ridge. As a diversionary strategy, at the same time of Longstreet’s assault, Major General Richard S. Ewell’s II Corps was to attack the Union’s right flank on Culp’s Hill. Around 4:30 p.m,. Major General John Bell Hood’s Division (Longstreet’s Corps) attacked Little Round Top. While Hood’s Texas troops had more than they could handle advancing up the rocky hill, the Confederate advance unfolded in the direction of the Peach Orchard; a deafening Rebel yell split the battle smoke-filled atmosphere. (18)

As the Southern assault launched in a northeast direction, facing the 114th and 57th Pennsylvania stood the Mississippi Brigade (21st, 17th, 13th and 18th Mississippi) of Brigadier General William Barksdale. An attorney and former U.S. Congressman, Barksdale had what one of his men called "a thirst for battle glory.” We must wonder what went through Garner’s mind as he gazed toward Pitzer’s Woods, where “Stars & Bars” led Barksdale’s massive force. (19)

Before Barksdale’s attack, Confederate artillery unmercifully shelled Sherfy’s orchards, forcing Cavada to order the Pennsylvania Zouaves to hug the ground. Longstreet’s artillery chief, Col. E. Porter Alexander, wrote later, “About 4 p.m., I placed about five batteries in action against a heavy artillery & infantry force of the enemy about 500 yards distance in a peach orchard on the Emmitsburg Pike.” As cannon smoke cleared at about 6:30 p.m., the Mississippi Brigade of 1,600 emerged from Pitzer’s Woods and rushed straight toward the Peach Orchard 600 yards ahead in what a Federal officer described as "the greatest charge that was ever made by mortal man.” (20)

As the gray columns approached, orders were given to the 114th and 57th Pennsylvania regiments to move across the Emmitsburg Road to rescue two of the advanced Union batteries. In a matter of five minutes after leaving cover of the timber, Barksdale drove his veterans into Graham’s vastly outnumbered brigade, slowed only by rail fences lining both sides of the Emmitsburg Road. (21)

The Mississippians tore through the Philadelphia Zouaves positioned between Sherfy’s house and barn, sending the entire Union brigade streaming to the rear. Suffering from complete exhaustion and unable to run, Cavada was captured with General Graham, who was wounded. The fragmented 114th, now under Captain Edward R. Bowen, was pushed back almost to its original location. The retreating elements of III Corps left a tremendous gap in Meade’s position on Cemetery Ridge. (22)

At Gettysburg, the 114th Pennsylvania showed 296 men available on its roster. The clash in the Peach Orchard resulted in 19 killed, 76 wounded and an unknown number missing. With the exception of supporting Cowan’s Battery during “Picket’s Charge,” the 114th saw little action on July 3, the last day of the battle. (23)

A post-war image of the Joseph Sherfy Farm, where the 114th Pennsylvania was routed.
Joseph Sherfy farmhouse on Emmittsburg Road at Gettysburg.
Bullet marks in the brickwork of the Sherfy farmhouse.
On July 6, a member of the 20th Maine Infantry wrote to a brother about what he witnessed at the Sherfy Farm: “There is where the hottest of the fight took place and the Barn was filled of dead and wounded, which had been set on fire and burned, and there was the skeletons of men, some all burned up others half burned some with only their clothes burned off. On the same ground that our Regt. camped was the 114th Penn. Zouave, red Breeches as we called them ... There was as many as 30 or 40 lay dead there of that Regt. They had laid there 3 days in hot July weather. And I wish I never could see another such sight.” (24)

On July 20, 1863, The Gettysburg Compiler reported, “In the Joseph Sherfy barn and around the hay stack were about twenty wounded Philadelphia Zouaves (the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry) who perished in the conflagration.” Another Federal soldier noticed in Sherfy’s smoldering barn the uniforms of  “... blue and gray and scattered among them were the bright red hats and trousers of the fallen Zouaves.” Private William L. Garner was not one who “perished in the conflagration” nor were his “red trousers” found in the ashes of Sherfy’s barn. By the grace of the Ruler of All Battles, he would be one of the fortunate blessed to walk from the blood-stained fields of Gettysburg.

114th Pennsylvania monument at Gettysburg.
A civilian visitor to the Gettysburg battlefield just days after the conflict took note of the Sherfy property: "The Rebels had searched the home thoroughly turning everything in drawers etc. out and clothes, bonnets, towels, linen etc were found trampled in indistinguishable piles from the house out to the barnyard. Four feather beds never used were soaked with blood and bloody clothes and filth of every description was strewn over the house.” (25)

To escape the battle on the morning of July 2, Joseph and Mary Sherfy and their six children fled the farm, driving their livestock southeast of the Round Tops to a little community along the Baltimore Pike called Two Taverns. Joseph and his son returned on July 6 to find the barn burned and their home ransacked. The orchards and fences were destroyed, and the fields were covered with dead soldiers and horses. Joe Sherfy replanted his orchards, rebuilt the barn and continued the sale of fruit for many years. The original Sherfy farmhouse built in 1840s stands today along the Emmitsburg Road, still displaying numerous bullet holes from the 1863 battle in its brickwork. (26)

Under a torrential downpour on the evening of Independence Day, July 4, 1863, General Lee led his embattled Army of Northern Virginia from the killing ground of Gettysburg -- a vast sea of suffering humanity spattered with mud and blood. When the Rebel army reached the Potomac River at Williamsport , Md., some 40 miles south of Gettysburg, panic broke out. Because of record-setting rain, the Potomac was too swollen to cross. With a swollen river to his back and Meade’s army approaching in front, Lee quickly established entrenchment lines. A mutual stand-off developed as the two forces, still suffering battle fatique, nervously and impatiently waited for the raging river to recede. It was at this time (July 10-13, 1863) William Garner carved his miniature lead masterpiece. On the night of July 13 and the next morning, the Confederate army made good its escape across the still-receding Potomac to Southern soil, thus ending the Gettysburg Campaign. (27)

The 114th Pennsylvania regiment passed through its worst trials in spring and summer 1863 at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. In 1864, with Collis back commanding the battle-tested brigade, the Zouaves continued reducing their numbers in action at Wapping Heights, Kelley’s Ford, Auburn, Mine Run, Guiney’s Station and Rappahannock Station. Private Garner survived those engagements, but luck ran out for the red-legged veteran from Philadelphia. (28)

On a clear, warm Sunday in the final month of hostilities, Garner made his last charge during General Ulysses Grant’s assault against the enemy’s strong works at Petersburg, Va. A surgeon’s report listed his condition as, “ . . . disabled resulting from a gun shot wound in the right foot received in action at Petersburg, Virginia, April 2, 1865.” Just seven days after Garner fell in battle, Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, officially ending the war. With the Confederates' surrender, the 114th Pennsylvania marched to Arlington Heights, opposite Washington, where it was mustered out of service May 29, 1865. The War Between the States was over, but for William Garner the battle for life was just beginning. (29)

Private William Garner's name on a plaque on the massive Pennsylvania monument at Gettysburg.
On April 10, 1865, the day after Lee’s surrender, Garner was admitted to U.S. General Hospital in Philadelphia. Later that month, he was transferred to McClellan U.S. Hospital in the same city. His health continued to deteriorate after being shuttled from one hospital to another. To make matters worse, in 1868, while still in the hospital, his wife died. Four years later, on Aug.  7, 1872, William L. Garner died in Belleme Hospital in New York. He was 39.  The cause of death was  “… disease of lungs and wounds contracted in the service.” Without mother or father, what would happen to Ida, the Garner’s 12-year-old daughter? (30)

Exactly 24 years to the day -- April 2, 1889 -- that Garner was wounded at Petersburg, Ida Garner Klinck applied for a military pension as the daughter of  William L. Garner. The 30-year-old woman who appeared before the deputy clerk of the Supreme Court of New York gave her address as Brooklyn, Kings County, N.Y. Seventeen years later, she applied again for a pension, writing the following:

Torrington, July 22, 1906
Mr. Warner

          i thought I would Write to you to tell you That my mother died Before
          my father. My mother died when I was 9 years old. My father died
          because of a Wound in the foot and I know that my father never
          Married But one time. I feel that I Should have sum thing come to me.
          i am a lone in This World. I was 12 years old When my father died. My
          father was William L. Garner.

from
Mrs. Ida G. Klinck  (31)

The letter carried the return address: “283 Oak Ave., Torrington, Litchfield County, Connecticut.” Records show Ida Garner Klinck was rejected for a pension the second time. Ida Garner had married William Klinck in 1882. A 1900 Census revealed the couple, who lived in Torrington, were parents of four daughters and two sons. (32)

William Garner never accomplished anything the world would consider great, but he fought to preserve the Union for three years. Reward for his faithful service was a foot wound and a form of tuberculosis that caused his early death. As of this writing, no image or photograph, not even a gravestone, are known to exist for Private Garner. Still, days following the Battle of Gettysburg, near a small country crossroads, this Zouave soldier carved letters on a piece of lead smaller than a sewing thimble -- a simple act that made it possible for his name to be printed on pages of Civil War history. (33)

Click here for notes and sources for this story.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

'Shell and be damned': An officer's bravery at Shepherdstown

A 118th Pennsylvania lieutenant, Lemuel Crocker disobeyed orders forbidding him to cross the 
Potomac to recover  dead and aid wounded in his regiment after the Battle of Shepherdstown.
  (Image courtesy Ronn Palm/Museum of Civil War Images in Gettysburg)
The route the 118th Pennsylvania took to the bluffs above the Potomac River at Shepherdstown, Va.
Like this blog on Facebook.

On Sept. 20, 1862, the 118th Pennsylvania was routed on the bluffs near Shepherdstown, Va., some soldiers falling to their deaths from the rocky crags high above the Potomac River during their disorganized retreat. "Intensifying the dreadful scene," an officer in the regiment recalled, shells fired by Federal artillery from the Maryland side of the river fell short, killing or wounding some in the rookie regiment as they sought cover in or near the arches of lime kilns on the Virginia side.

"A cry of horror went up from our men, heard across the river," Captain Frank Donaldson wrote about the awful effect of the friendly fire during the Battle of Shepherdstown.

A day later, casualties of the 118th Pennsylvania, mostly solders from Philadelphia, were scattered across the Virginia side of the Potomac. "The silent forms of the dead, killed in the fight, were in plain view," a regimental historian wrote. "It was a sorrowful sight."

Lemuel Crocker, a tall, muscular 33-year-old lieutenant in the 118th Pennsylvania, aimed to do something about it.

Disobeying an order from Union V Corps commander Fitz John Porter forbidding his mercy mission, Crocker crossed the dam breast from Maryland to the Virginia side of the Potomac to aid the wounded and retrieve the dead. In the army less than a month, Crocker, "absolutely covered with blood and dirt," was carrying a soldier to the river bank when he was approached by an orderly for Porter.

Return at once to Maryland, he told the captain, or a battery would open fire to persuade him.

"Shell and be damned," replied Crocker, who continued his work.

In a detailed account published decades later, the 118th Pennsylvania's regimental historian recalled Crocker's heroism -- and naivete  -- on Sept. 21, 1862:

Lemuel Crocker crossed from the Maryland side of the Potomac in the distance to aid 
comrades in the 118th Pennsylvania on the opposite shore.

In their hasty retreat, some 118th Pennsylvania soldiers
were severely injured -- and some were killed --
scrambling down these bluffs (above and below).
The sensibilities of Lieutenant Lemuel L Crocker had been aroused by the necessary abandonment of the dead and wounded, left uncared for and unattended in the precipitate withdrawal. He entreated Colonel [James] Barnes so earnestly for permission to go and care for the forsaken ones that the colonel fully comprehending the impropriety of the request at last reluctantly consented to present it to General Fitz John Porter, the corps commander. It met with a flat, emphatic refusal. There was no communication with the enemy and it was not proposed to open any. War was war, and this was neither the time nor the occasion for sentiment or sympathy. But Crocker was not to be deterred in his errand of mercy, and in positive disregard of instructions, proceeded deliberately, fully accoutred with sword belt and pistol, to cross the river at the breast of the dam. It was a novel spectacle for an officer armed with all he was entitled to carry to thus commence a lonesome advance against a whole army corps. Bound upon an unauthorized mission of peace and humanity, a little experience might have taught him his reception would have been 
more cordial if he had left his weapons at  home. Still, it was Crocker's heart at work, and its honest manly beats bade him.

He found the bodies of [Courtland] Saunders, [Joseph] Ricketts and [J. Mora] Moss, and Private [Edward] Mishaw, badly wounded but still alive. He was bearing them one by one upon his shoulders to the river bank when he was suddenly interrupted by an orderly from General Porter, who informed him that he was instructed to direct him to return at once or he would order a battery to shell him out. His reply was: 'Shell and be damned.' He didn't propose to return until the full purpose of his undertaking had been accomplished.

The orderly thus abruptly disposed of, he continued his operations, when he was again interrupted by an authority which, if it failed to command respect, could enforce obedience. He had carried all the bodies to the bank, and was returning for the wounded Mishaw, when a Confederate general -- whom Crocker always thought was Lee but in this he was mistaken -- accompanied by a numerous staff, came upon the ground. An aide de camp rode up, inquiring, with some asperity -- explaining that no flag of truce was in operation -- as to who and what was his purpose in being there and by whose authority.

Crocker's work, which he had conducted wholly himself, had put him in a sorry plight. He was of large frame, muscular and finely proportioned. He had carried the bodies over his left shoulder and was absolutely covered with blood and dirt, almost unrecognizable as a soldier, and his voice and form alone indicated his manhood. His reply was prompt and ingenuous: he had been refused permission to cross by his corps commander, to whom he had made his purpose known; the dead and wounded of the regiment that fought on that ground yesterday were of the blood of Philadelphia's best citizens and, regardless of the laws of war and the commands of his superiors, he was of opinion that humanity and decency demanded that they be properly cared for, which, no one else attempting, he had determined to risk the consequences and discharge the duty himself. The simplicity and earnestness of this reply prompted the further interrogation as to how long he had been in the service. "Twenty days," responded Crocker. The gentle "I thought so" from the lips of the veteran general showed that the ingenuousness and sincerity had wholly captured him. He bade him continue his labors until they were fully completed, pointed out a boat on the shore that he could utilize to ferry his precious freight across the stream, and surrounded the field with a cordon of cavalry patrols to protect him from further molestation or interruption.

                  A panoramic view of the Potomac and the Maryland side of the river.

But Crocker had a host of troubles to face upon his return. He had openly violated the positive commands of his superior; he had been shamefully insulting to the messenger who bore his superior's instructions; and had acted in utter disregard of well-known laws governing armies confronting each other. Still, there was something about the whole affair so honest, so earnest, and so true, that there was a disposition to temporize with the stern demands of discipline. And he had fully accomplished his purpose -- all the bodies and the wounded man were safely landed on the Maryland side. However , he was promptly arrested.
V Corps commander Fitz John Porter
reprimanded Lemuel Crocker but

 allowed him to return to duty.

Colonel Barnes, who had watched him through all his operations, was the first of his superiors who was prompted to leniency, and he accompanied him to corps headquarters to intercede in his behalf. They were ushered into the presence of General Porter, who, shocked at such a wholesale accumulation of improprieties and angered to a high tension by such positive disobediences, proceeded, in short and telling phrases, to explain the law and regulations -- all of which, if Crocker didn't know before he started, he had had full opportunity to gather in during his experiences.

Then followed moments of painful silence, and the general inquired whether he had seen a gun which the regulars had left upon the other side the day before and, if so, what was the likelihood of its recovery. Crocker replied that he had not, but had noticed a caisson, and that he did not consider it likely it would ever come back. Returning to the subject, the general continued his reproof; but considering his inexperience, unquestioned courage and evident good intentions, he finally yielded, concluding that the reprimand was sufficient punishment and released him from arrest and restored him to duty.

Crocker, who later fought with the 118th Pennsylvania at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, resigned his commission on Feb. 26, 1864, probably to care for his ill wife. After the war, he lived in Buffalo, where he was superintendent of the stock yards and worked in fertilizer and brewing businesses. "One of the most enterprising men in the city," Crocker died of a stroke at his home in Buffalo on March 27, 1885.

"He was a man of strict integrity, and great benevolence," The Buffalo Evening News wrote about the 56-year-old veteran, "and many a cattle dealer who has been at times pressed for funds will remember with gratitude his generous tenders of his assistance."

During the Battle of Shepherdstown, Federal artillery aimed at the Rebels from the 
Maryland side of the Potomac fell short, killing and wounding 118th Pennsylvania soldiers
 huddled in or near the arches of this lime kiln.