Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The Allison Brothers And The Monument In Port Carbon



During the Civil War their were many families who supplied sons to the Union cause. Here in Schuylkill County we had two families that supplied 4 members of the same family the Allison family from Port carbon and the Beaumont family from St. Clair. The first family is an interesting story. The Allison Brothers and Mrs. Allison.

Almost all Civil War Historians have heard the story of the letter President Lincoln wrote to the mother of supposed 5 sons slain in battle. Mrs Lydia Bixby.

In the fall of 1864, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew wrote to President Lincoln asking him to express condolences to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. Lincoln's letter to her was printed by the Boston Evening Transcript. Later it was revealed that only two of Mrs. Bixby's five sons died in battle (Charles and Oliver). One deserted the army, one was honorably discharged, and another deserted or died a prisoner of war.
The authorship of the letter has been debated by scholars, some of whom believe it was written instead by John Hay, one of Lincoln's White House secretaries. The original letter was destroyed by Mrs. Bixby, who was a Confederate sympathizer and disliked President Lincoln. Copies of an early forgery have been circulating for many years, causing many people to believe they have the original letter.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
Dear Madam,--
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln

By rights this letter should have been addressed to Mrs. Agnes Allison, because she did have four sons who were killed in battle. And they were all from Port Carbon.

Mother Allison and the Allison Brothers.

Agnes (Smart) Allison:
Born Scotland 1809
Married Andrew Allison, 1828 in Aragask, Scotland
Andrew died August 2, 1845
She lived in the U.S. for 30 years:
July 4, 1908 monument was erected in her honor at Port Carbon, Pa. For being the mother of
4 sons lost in battle during the Civil War, by her granddaughter Anna Starrett Brown.

Alexander Allison: 96th Pennsylvania Volunteers Company C.

1. 26yrs old
Occupation a blacksmith.

2. Member of the Marion Rifles, of Port Carbon. 1861

3. Enlisted on 7 Sept. 1861, 96th P.V.I. Co. C

4. Mustered in as a Sgt. on 23 Sept. 1861, 96th P.V.I. Co. C

5. 2nd Lieut. 1 May 1863. 96th P.V.I. Co. C

6. Alexander was promoted to 2nd Lieut. when Lt. Sam Russel took command of Company H., two days before he was wounded in action at Salem Church, whence he would die from the effects of a musket ball passing through his right side. He died in the Union Hospital at Potomac Creek Bridge on the 5th of May, 1863.

7. Never married, was responsible for the support of his widowed mother, Agnes, whom he sent $10. 00 a month to.

Obituary June 6, 1863
Miners Journal, Pottsville Pa.

We regret to learn of the death of Lieut. Alexander Allison, of Co, C, 96th Reg. P.V. which occurred May 5, at Acquia Creek hospital, from the effects of a wound received while in action, at Salem Heights, near Fredericksburg, on May, 3. Lieut. Allison served during the three months service in the 6th regiment, under Col. Nagle. After their return he enlisted in the 96th regiment, and was in all the engagements on the Peninsula and before Richmond. He was severely wounded at the storming of Cramptons Pass. In the late attack at Fredericksburg, while the regiment was in line and under a severe fire from the enemy’s batteries he received his commission as 2d Lieut. of his company. He was with the regiment for its gallant charge on the 3rd of May, by which an important position was gained, and on the same day, in the terrible encounter in the woods near Salem Church, he received a ball in his right side, causing a mortal wound. His brother, Corporal John Allison, of the same company, was killed in the same action. The company is commanded by Capt. I.E. Severn, and suffered severely in this engagement. Out of twenty-two men including officers, who went into action, one officer and three privates were killed and five wounded. The death of Lieut. Allison and his brother is deeply regretted. Their kind dispositions and fine soldiering qualities made many warm friends who mourn their loss. At the time they enlisted they both resided in Port Carbon with their mother, who has still two sons in the service.

John Allison, Corporal, 96th Pennsylvania Company C.

1. 23 years old

2. Enlisted on 4 September 1861, 96th P.V.I. Co. C

3. Mustered in as a Corporal 23 September 1861, 96th P.V.I. Co. C

4. Killed in action at Salem Church, Fredericksburg Virginia, May 3, 1863.

George Allison, Sgt. Co. K 56th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

1. 33 years old.

2. Enlisted 1861

3. Mustered in 1861

4. Died from the effects of wounds received at Spotsylvania Court House May 23, 1864.

James Allison. Pvt. 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company G.

1. 28 years old.

2. 5’6” Light complexion, blue eyes, sandy hair.

3. Member of the Keystone Rifles of Port Carbon April, 1861 3 month volunteer.

4. Occupation a boatman.

First enlistment:
1. 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company M: Enlisted Jan. 1, 1862
2. Discharged January 15, 1863 by reason of being thrown against the pommel of his
saddle very hard, causing the retention of urine requiring the use if a catheter for 4
3. Enlisted in 48th, P.V.I. Company G February 1864.
4. Killed in Action Grove Church, Va. June 3, 1864


Salem Church, May 3, 1863
On May 3, 1863 after a short rest the 96th P.V.I. received orders to attack confederate positions along the wooded ridge west of Fredericksburg near the old Salem Church. The 96th was placed to the left of the Orange plank road leading west out of Fredericksburg. On their left was the 5th Maine and on their right was the 121st N.Y. along with the 23 N.J. just touching the road. Also on the right of the road consisted of the 1st N.J. and 3rd N.J with the 16th N.Y, 95th Pa. and 119th Pa in reserve. 6 companies of skirmishers advanced in there front. Leading the ten companies of the 96th was Lt. Col Lessig. This fight would prove to be one of the most costly the 96th would engage in. Advancing in line of battle the 96th entered a heavy wooded area. Concealed in trenches beyond the woods were soldiers of Gen. Cadmus Wilcox’s Alabamians. As the 96th exited the woods a heavy volume of musket fire erupted from the trenches as men of the 8th Alabama stood in two ranks and opened fire on the advancing 96th. Capt. Jacob Haas company commander of G Company described the fight:
As we got in the edge of the woods I saw a few rebels
Skirmishers popping at our skirmishers. I told my men
to take plenty of room and leave a pace between each
file. We passed on and within 30 paces of the field on
the other side of the woods, suddenly I saw two lines of
battle of the “Rebs” rise to their feet. I ordered my men
to put a volley which they did with fine effect. And then
the circus commenced. We fired as fast as we could and
Johnny reb done the same.
Volley after volley was fired but the 96th could not break the rebel position, during this fight Lieut. Alexander Allison was ordering his men to load and fire, at some time a rebel soldier fired his musket and a musket ball entered his right side knocking him down with a painful wound that would cause his death two days later. Its not known whether John Allison was killed before Alex was wounded. But during this heavy fire fight with Minnie balls flying in every direction John was dropped and instantly killed. William Madara another Corporal of Company C was hit squarely between the eyes and instantly killed.
The fight was very costly to the 96th having 16 men killed and 54 wounded, and 9 men listed as missing or captured. Retreating back through the woods the 96th would fire a final volley at the rebels in defiance. Alex was probably carried back to the hospital at Acquia Creek were he was laid out with the rest of the wounded from fighting in and around Fredericksburg. He would die two days later on the 5th of May with the grief in his heart at the fact of knowing that his younger brother was also killed. In all probability William Madara and John Allison were left on the field of battle and buried by the rebels. Sometime in May Mrs. Allison would receive the news that two of her sons were killed in battle.

George Allison
Spotsylvania Court House
May, 1864

George Allison served for three years with the 56th P.V.I., he served in all the campaigns that the 5th Corps was involved in, George was also a Gettysburg veteran. In the Spotsylvania campaign of 8-21 May, 1864 George would be severely wounded and die in hospital on the 23rd of May, 1864 the third son of Mrs. Allison to die in combat.

James Allison
Company G, 48th P.V.I.
Killed in Action at Grove Church, Va.
June 3, 1864

After serving over 2 years in the military, and being seriously injured, what made James Allison re enlist will never be known. Although one can speculate that it had something to due with the death of his three brothers. James had spent his first enlistment as a cavalry man with the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry, being severely injured in 1863. In February 1864 he would march off to battle as an infantry man with Company G, of the 48th P.V.I. and his career with this regiment would be short lived. On March 12, 1864 the 48th left Pottsville and rendezvoused with the 9th Corps in Annapolis Md. On May 3rd 1864, the Army of The Potomac crossed the Rapidan and began a series of battles in the Wilderness and around Spotsylvania were his brother George had been killed. On May 5, the Battle of the Wilderness would begin and last throughout the month, James would be engaged in many fights with the 48th throughout this time period. Then on June 3rd James and Company G would be involved in a very severe engagement with the rebels near a place called Grove Church, Va. were the regiment would suffer 10 men killed and over 60 men wounded. Robert Reid a member of James’s company wrote a brief narrative of the fight that took the life of the final Allison brother:
“ Skirmishing and artillery firing took place daily, and
on the 3rd of June we were very actively engaged at
Shady Grove Church. It rained a little the night before
and after breakfast of coffee and hardtack we dried our
blankets at the fire, and at seven o’clock in the morning
had formed line of battle, company “E” being deployed
as skirmishers to the front. The Ground over which we
were ordered to advance was a clear field, and at once
we were ordered to advance, guide center, the skirmishers
in our front. They crossed the gully which intervened
between us and the enemy; we followed closely after;
and, as the skirmishers arose on the high ground again,
they meet those of the enemy, drove them back on their
entrenched line of battle and took a few prisoners out
of an old log house, who had not had time to get
away. Before we got into action we could see the
skirmishers, dropping fast from the destructive fire
of the enemy. We were ordered to halt and commence
firing, the enemy being about eighty yards to our front,
behind a line of breastworks, with a battery. Things
soon became lively for all hands.
“In addition to heavy infantry firing from the enemy,
we were subjected to a galling fire of grape and canister.”

While crossing that open field on the morning of June 3rd, James was struck by either a musket ball or piece of canister and instantly killed. He would become the last and final Allison killed in the line of duty, and bring grief and sorrow to his mother for the last time during this Civil War.

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