Posts tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

Graves at Civil War cemetery face being exhumed after 50ft-long sinkhole forces 25 residents to flee their homes

The cemetery holds 20,000 graves including 714 Civil War veterans


A sinkhole that forced the evacuation of 25 residents from their homes has spread to an historic cemetery, threatening dozens of graves.

Officials in Allentown, Pennsylvania, have been given the go-ahead by a judge to exhume remains buried during the Civil War.

The hole, measuring 50ft long and 30ft wide, was thought to have collapsed when a water main burst and flooded under a road.

About 60 graves in Union and West End Cemetery are threatened have been roped off after several headstones tilted.

The cemetery holds about 20,000 graves, including 714 Civil War veterans. Among them is a Medal of Honor winner, Ignatz Gresser.

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said: ‘If any sites are in jeopardy, than we are going to have to make that decision to excavate.

‘It’s a very sensitive issue. You are dealing with a cemetery. You are laid to rest and now it is being disturbed.’

Everette Carr, president of the association which maintains the 157-year old non-profit burial ground, revealed there were are no detailed historical records beyond those whose graves have headstones.

Many of the dead were buried in wooden baskets as was the custom during that era.

A dozen homes half a block from the hole on 10th Street were evacuated yesterday after firemen found a basement flooded. Five properties have been declared structurally unsafe.

‘At this point, we don’t know if the homes will have to be condemned or not,’ said fire chief Robert C. Scheirer.

‘Once we get the street secured, we will get into these homes and determine whether any have to be razed.’

Emergency workers have cut off power supplies and are now filling in the hole in with concrete.

Ann Blacker was forced to leave the home where she has lived for nearly three decades.

She said: ‘We’re afraid we’ll lose our home and everything in it. With sinkholes, you never know how far they will spread. There is just a lot of uncertainty now.’

She plans to stay with her mother. A shelter has been set up at an elementary school to accommodate evacuees who need somewhere to stay.

For photos and video on this story, click here.


Historian: Civil War regiment endured much

By CHRIS SHOLLY, Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News

At the start of the Civil War, hundreds of Lebanon County men enlisted in the military, but many of them didn’t return, and many that did had the scars of battle to bear.

Local historian Greg Keller, dressed in a Union uniform, presented a history of some of these men during a program at the Lebanon County Historical Society on Sunday. Keller explained how the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers were formed and what role they played in the war.

Local historian Greg Keller, right, talks with Ronald and Patricia Kaullen of Harrisburg about the Civil War following a program at the Lebanon County Historical Society on Sunday. Keller, dressed in the uniform of a Union soldier, presented the history of the 93rd Regiment, formed in the county in 1861. Patricia Kaullen is a descendent of Dr. William Henry Stoy, a Revolutionary-era physician in Lebanon County and in whose home the historical society is located. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS CHRIS SHOLLY)

“They suffered quite a bit. They suffered numerous engagements, and we see many, many men wounded and killed. Some of these men suffered from their wounds the rest of their lives,” Keller said during his talk.

The 93rd Regiment was formed by the Rev. James M. McCarter, a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church who was stationed at Lebanon. He had been chaplain of the Fourteenth Regiment for three months prior to being discharged. Keller said McCarter and Capt. Eli Daugherty wanted to continue their service to country, and in the fall of 1861, McCarter sought approval from the secretary of war to raise a regiment of infantry.

They held meetings around the county, and within the first week enlisted 500 men, Keller said. By the end of the second week, McCarter had 700 men to form a regiment.

One of the recruits was a 12-year-old boy, who wanted to be a drummer. Keller said they enlisted him but later discovered the boy was really a girl. She was discharged from the service.

Once the regiment formed, it camped at what was then the fairgrounds. The encampment was located in what is today Monument Park on South Eighth Street in Lebanon. The men drilled daily, and often citizens would come out to watch them or bring them food and other items they might need.

Keller said the camp was “quite festive” at times. Most people then believed the war wouldn’t last very long.

“They thought they would go out, fire a few shots, and it would be over,” he said.

On Nov. 20, 1861, the regiment of 1,020 soldiers headed to Washington, D.C., by train. When they arrived at the nation’s capital, the soldiers were put to work setting up fortifications.

Throughout the war, the regiment would see action in key battles, including Gettysburg, Yorktown, Antietam and Appomattox. In fact, there are two monuments at Gettysburg marking the participation of the regiment in battles at Little Roundtop between July 2 and July 4, 1863.

Keller related several stories about the soldiers who served in the regiment. One of the more famous tales is that of Capt. Eli Daugherty. In late May 1862, the 93rd regiment fought at Fair Oaks, Va. Daugherty narrowly escaped death when a bullet pierced his vest pocket, hitting a gold pocket watch and passing through 600 pages of the Bible he was carrying. The bullet wounded him, but the watch and the Bible had taken the brunt of the bullet’s force, saving his life.

The 93rd Regiment served until June 27, 1865. In total, the regiment lost 274 men, and hundreds more were wounded.

The Historical Society at 924 Cumberland St. has a number of items from the Civil War and the 93rd Regiment, including two of the original flags given by G. Dawson Coleman, the key sponsor of the regiment. Among other items are the Bible and pocket watch that saved Daugherty’s life.

The society’s next program will feature a talk on toys, trains and holiday trees at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. The free program is open to the public.; 272-5611, ext. 151


Gettysburg Address text

On this date 148 years ago, the final battle, forever known as Pickett’s Charge, occurred at Gettysburg, Pa. Even though the speech was not given until November 1863, it is still important, during this Civil War Sesquicentennial, to take a moment to reflect upon the meaning of these important words:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground.

Bronze statue of Grace Bedell and Abraham Lincoln, Westfield NY.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Remembering the 1,040-man West Michigan regiment who fought in Civil War 150 years ago

By Garret Ellison | The Grand Rapids Press  

GRAND RAPIDS — In the shadow of the old South High School on Hall Street SE, current home of the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center, sits a boulder steeped in history.

A Civil War memorial boulder is re-dedicated during a ceremony commemorating Cantonment Anderson Saturday outside the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center. The ceremony included several readings, and a speech from Mayor George Heartwell. (Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press)

The large rock, inscribed with the words “Cantonment Anderson,” is a tribute to the Third Michigan volunteer infantry regiment soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, and it rests on the site of the regiment’s original muster in May 1861.

The boulder, first dedicated in a reunion of surviving regiment members 100 years ago, was rededicated in a memorial ceremony on Saturday, two days shy of the regiment’s 150-year departure anniversary.

A new informational tablet also was unveiled that details the history of the spot and the men who left there to fight and die in the war.

“These were real people in a very real time,” said historian David Britten, superintendent of Godfrey-Lee schools and author of the book “Courage without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard.”

By horseback, stagecoach and train, scores of men from the surrounding counties arrived in Grand Rapids following the call by President Abraham Lincoln for troops to preserve the union following the April 12, 1861 attack on Fort Sumter by Confederate rebels.

They organized into companies on 40 acres at the Kent County Agricultural Fairgrounds along Kalamazoo Plank Road, or what’s now South Division Avenue. It was not a beautiful spot, said Britten, but rather a swampy area in need of proper barracks.

The name “Cantonment Anderson” is an apparent homage to Major Robert Anderson, former commander of South Carolina’s Fort Sumter, said Bruce Butgereit, executive director of History Remembered Inc.

Excerpts from soldier’s letters describe a race track that was used for camp drill and a semi-circular, two-story hall that lodged 700 men in shared ship-style bunks with a straw beds and blankets. The smell was apparently quite awful.

Meals were mostly beef, bread, butter and potatoes, with an “indescribable” soup for dinner and coffee in the morning. Camp was a rowdy place full of men who “soon found out what it was like to be in the south wearing wool in July,” said Britten.

The 1,040-man regiment left for the front via the rail depot at Leonard and Plainfield, marching through downtown to the waved handkerchiefs and tearful good byes of the city’s residents, said Butgereit.

The Third Michigan saw action in a dozen campaigns before being disbanded mid-war, when the remaining men were rolled into the Fifth Michigan regiment, Britten said.

Men from the “Old Third” fought and died in storied battles like First and Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Appomattox and Gettysburg.

The regiment was originally commanded by Colonel Daniel McConnell, who resigned after six months. Stephen Champlin took over as colonel. He died in 1864 and is buried in Fulton Street Cemetery.

Saturday’s ceremony was presented by the Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The Schubert Male Chorus sang the national anthem and “America,” as color guard volunteers in period dress performed rededication rituals preceding the tablet unveiling.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell read an account from a book by acclaimed Civil War author Bruce Catton, describing the actions of the Third Michigan in a battle near Sharpsville, Pa., where the greenhorn regiment had a “baptism by fire.”

It’s easy to forget that 150 years ago, battles were fought hand-to-hand, said Heartwell.

More than half of the Third Michigan suffered some kind of casualty, said Britten, whether it be a battle injury, disease or the result of primitive field medical treatments that often did more harm than good.

More than 286 Third Michigan men died in service. Some were captured by the Confederacy. Two men received Congressional Medals of Honor; Benjamin K. Morse, buried in Lowell, and Walter L. Mundell, buried in St. Johns.

“This boulder and tablet ensures that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Butgereit. The original boulder was placed on site by the Sophie deMarsac Campau chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on June 13, 1911.

Press stories about the dedication in 1911 said about 130 members of the regiment survived at the time and 65 of them attended a banquet to mark the 50th anniversary of their deployment at the Morton House in downtown Grand Rapids.

“As the soldiers gathered the air of patriotism and the ardor for the flag and its meaning was so prevalent it seemed old Cantonment Anderson never would be forgotten,” the Press wrote of the original dedication of the boulder. “It will be remembered long after the passing of the men who immortalized the neighborhood. School children will see the boulder and oft be reminded of the men in whose honor it was placed.”

Britten said the 126th Army National Guard Cavalry Regiment stationed at the Grand Valley Armory in Wyoming traces its roots to the Third Michigan.

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Ceremony salutes Berks soldiers who served in Civil War

By Ron Devlin, Reading (Pa.) Eagle

Garrett Hyneman, 69, Muhlenberg Township, at the grave of his great-grandfather, Henry Hyneman, a Civil War veteran buried in Aulenbach's Cemetery. Reading Eagle photo by Jameson Sempey

Standing on hallowed ground Saturday in Reading’s Aulenbach’s Cemetery, Craig Breneiser invoked President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words to pay tribute to Berks County soldiers who died in the Civil War.

“They made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives at the altar of their country in order that – as Lincoln said at Gettysburg – a nation might live and a government of the people, by the people and for the people should not perish from the Earth,” Breneiser said.

Breneiser, an amateur Civil War historian, was the featured speaker at a ceremony observing the 150th anniversary of the start of the conflict that claimed the lives of 620,000 Americans.

While Aulenbach’s is the final resting place of 522 Civil War soldiers, Saturday’s tribute was dedicated to 15 who were wounded or killed during the war.

Cemetery manager Sandy Stief marked their graves with American flags and lanterns whose flames flickered in silent reverence as about 50 people gathered in their honor.

“It’s amazing how many Berks County residents served in the Civil War,” Stief said. “Berks County played a crucial role in the outcome of the war.”

Stief’s great-grandfather, George Burkhart of Reading, was a captain with the 55th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was wounded in battle. Stief’s husband, Donald, donned a Union Army uniform and portrayed Capt. Burkhart, whose unit was at Appomattox Court House when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered April 9, 1865.

The 45-minute ceremony began with Berks County Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach hoisting a Civil War-era flag with 33 stars in its field of blue.

Actually, there were 34 states at the start of the Civil War. Kansas had been admitted Jan. 1, 1861, about three months before the war started with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.

Eleven of the 34 states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America under President Jefferson Davis.

Re-enactors in Union blues snapped to attention as Garrett Hyneman, a member of the Ringgold Band, blew taps.

One of the soldiers being honored was Hyneman’s great-grandfather, Henry Hyneman of Reading, who fought in 24 battles with the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry. Henry survived the war, but suffered a stroke while attending the 50th anniversary of the battle in Gettysburg.

He died a few days later.

“To me, the Civil War is a very personal thing,” said Hyneman, 69, Muhlenberg Township, a retired elementary school principal.

Munching on hardtack, a crackerlike staple fed to the troops, participants got a taste of battlefield fare Civil War-style.

Biting into a hard crusted wafer, Leinbach observed: “It’s like saltines without the salt, but a lot harder. Then again, if you’re hungry, I guess it did just fine.”

Breneiser, whose great-great grandfather survived the infamous Andersonville prison camp, characterized the war in eloquent terms.

“In the end, the Civil War was the crucible that forged the country we know today,” he said. “It was personal, and the men who went to war, North and South, instinctively knew they were doing more than just fighting; they were building a future.”

Contact Ron Devlin: 610-371-5030 or


Fairfield opens local Civil War 150th anniversary events

BEFORE THE BATTLE – Bill Summers, left, of Orrtanna, and John Wright, from Winchester, Tenn., sit by the campfire Friday evening as they clean and check their revolvers in preparation for re-enactment in Fairfield today. Events begin at 10 a.m. with living history demonstrations throughout the town and a Battle of Fairfield re-enactment starting at 2 p.m. at the Landis Farm on North Miller Road. The event marks the start of 150th anniversary observances in Adams County. (Darryl Wheeler/ Gettysburg Times)


Gettysburg Times Staff Writer

It is officially American Civil War Commemoration weekend in Fairfield, with events slated throughout the town today.

The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” played loudly Friday night while re-enactors, local residents and dignitaries alike converged on the Historic Fairfield Inn to begin “Fairfield Civil War Days,” the third in a series of local kickoff events marking the 150th anniversary of the nation’s deadliest war.

“After 150 years, the voices of the fallen still echo and speak to us as we shape our tomorrow,” said Dr. Brad Hoke, chairman of the Pa. Civil War 150th Anniversary planning committee. “Many have fought and died here to preserve our liberty and many of them are still lying here today.”

Rain moved Friday’s ceremony indoors, where the names of 170 Civil War soldiers from Fairfield and Hamiltonban and Liberty townships were read followed by a bell toll in their honor.

The festivities pick up in earnest on Saturday, rain or shine.

Living history demonstrations and re-enactor encampments will be scattered throughout Fairfield.

At 11 a.m., local historian Tim Smith will discuss Fairfield’s role in the Civil War, specifically the 1862 raid by Confederate  Gen. James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart, in Borough Hall, 108 W. Main St.

With 1,800 cavalrymen under his command, Stuart rode through Cashtown to Fairfield and Emmitsburg, taking hundreds of horses from local farmers and kidnapping many Adams Countians including the Fairfield postmaster.

State Rep. Dan Moul, R-91, referenced on Friday another Fairfield event and the focus of Saturday’s re-enactment.

“Gettysburg is so well known but I think it is wonderful that we will have an influx of people coming here this weekend and throughout the 150th celebration that will realize it wasn’t just Gettysburg,” Moul said. “There were so many other areas, like Fairfield, that were affected and played a part in the Civil War. They will see where Robert E. Lee spent some time and learn about Hagerstown Road, which was held open so he could flee back to safety in Virginia.”

The July 3, 1863, event that secured Hagerstown Road for the Confederates, “The Battle of Fairfield,” will be re-enacted on the Landis Farm, North Miller Street, Saturday at 2 p.m.

One hour later, at 3 p.m., a re-enactment of Stuart’s raid and the kidnapping of Fairfield ‘s postmaster is scheduled for 11 W. Main St.

Other events scheduled for Saturday include Civil War Era House Tours (11 a.m. and noon) at 118 W. Main St., a Taste of History (noon) at the Fairfield Inn, Civil War High Tea and Magic (2 to 4 p.m.) at the Fairfield Inn, and closing ceremonies (4 p.m.) at the Fairfield Inn.

This weekend’s events in Fairfield were preceded by kickoff celebrations  in Greencastle and Chambersburg. Gettysburg will wrap up the four-town series on April 29 and 30 with a multitude of events including a skirmish on Baltimore Street at 6 p.m. On April 29, a “Luminary on the Diamond,” will be held on Lincoln Square at 8:30 p.m.

The following day will feature a Gettysburg kickoff ceremony at the Pennsylvania Memorial. Matthew Pinsker, author of “Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home,” will be the keynote speaker for the 7 p.m. event.

At 7:30 p.m., 150 cannon shots will be fired to pay tribute to the men and women who fought in the American Civil War.

Living history camps will also be located throughout Gettysburg.

Other events include Gettysburg: Red Zone for the Underground Railroad, Candlelight Remembrance Tours, Meet the Generals at the Diamond, Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital, a military recruitment and demonstration, as well as an African-American Experience.  There will be historic church walking tours and a musical performance by the 2nd South Carolina String Band.

The weekend activities will culminate with the playing of “Taps” on Lincoln Square Friday and Saturday night at 10 p.m.

“All of these events have really been awesome,” said State Sen. Rich Alloway, R-33, who presented members of the Pa. Civil War 150th Anniversary kickoff committee with a Senate proclamation on Friday.

“The re-enactment of the 1864 Burning of Chambersburg was so phenomenal and lifelike. The events here in Fairfield are also a great way to commemorate what happened here.

It is a big deal for this area.”

Pa. museum displays Civil War-era medicine

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Nothing like the sight of a bone saw to cut the romance from your Civil War dreams. After all, the last full measure of devotion takes on a new shade of meaning when you imagine a soldier enduring a battlefield amputation, then dying of infection.

Such was the state of medicine when the Union and Confederacy clashed in the nation’s deadliest conflict. As Bethlehem marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the war, a modest exhibit at the 1810 Goundie House hints at the horrors that awaited the sick and injured of those days.

The exhibit, which runs through January, is tellingly called “Kill or Cure: Medicine in the 19th Century.” It centers largely on the apothecary talents of Bethlehem’s Moravians, but includes a few chilling reminders that we are lucky to live now and not then, at least from a medical perspective.

“What’s not well known is that two-thirds of the casualties in the Civil War were not due to combat,” said Jeffrey Jahre, chief of the department of medicine and infectious disease specialist at St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network. “Two-thirds of the mortality was due to disease … Infection played an enormous role in the war.”

Jahre, who frequently lectures on the topic, said germ theory — the idea that disease spreads through microorganisms — was still more than a decade away from development when the war broke out. So it wasn’t uncommon for a battlefield surgeon to clean his scalpel on his boot before moving on to the next patient, or to reuse soiled bandages.

The war also coincided with advances in weaponry. Armies were equipped with more accurate and powerful rifles capable of extraordinary damage to flesh and bone.

“The only real (medical) advance doctors in the Civil War could take advantage of was anesthesia,” Jahre said.

Soldiers were also stricken down far from battle, victim to diarrheic illnesses, measles and other conditions exacerbated by poor nutrition and filthy camp conditions.

The war, as wars tend to do, propelled some advances in medical treatment. It led to the development of the triage system — in which casualties are addressed in order of severity — and of ambulance and nursing corps. And even without the germ theory, doctors recognized that disease outbreaks were worse in dirty conditions, so efforts were made to clean camps and improve nutrition.

Within 20 years of the war, the germ theory had been widely accepted. One of the exhibits at the Goundie House is a container of Vapo-Cresolene, a whooping cough remedy from 1880. One side of the box bears a brief explanation of the idea that diseases are generated “by the agency of bacteria and other low forms of life.”

That nod to science is absent from some of the other remedies. Advertisements for Burdock’s Blood Bitters (“Invalid ladies, this is for you”) and Perry Davis’ Vegetable Pain Killer exude more snake-oil dubiousness than nostalgic charm.

“Some of it was pretty scary stuff,” curator Amy Frey said. “Opium was in pretty much everything.”

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