Friday, September 19, 2008

Corp. Joseph Richards, Donaldson, Schuylkill County A Rebel in the Union Army.

The Rebel Works At Hatchers Run.



Company F of the 184th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was raised in Schuylkill County. The regiment was organized in May of 1864. This letter was written to the Miners Journal in 1865.
This is an interesting story about a boy from Donaldson, Schuylkill County.

Editors Miners Journal. On the 5th inst. We broke camp and took our line of march for the south side railroad. On the afternoon of the same day, we encountered the enemy. Slight skirmishing took place, we driving the enemy to the other side of Hatchers Run where we found that he had heavy works in which he took refuge. We then formed in line of battle and threw up works, but before we had them finished the enemy charged on us with four lines of battle, but were repulsed three different times. In the thickest of the fray, one form could be seen urging the men to deeds of bravery, by his actions and words. Many were the question’s asked by other regiments, who could it be that appeared to lead a charmed life, for it seemed that neither bullet or shell could hit him, but when he came along the line to his own regiment the shout went up from the boys of the 184th, “Welcome to Joe,” for he is a favorite of all. I enquired who he was, and was told it was Joseph Richards of Co. F a returned prisoner of war from Andersonville. His encouraging words will be remembered d by many, for there is not a man in the 184th but would follow him to death.
The strange thing is, he is a deserter from the Rebel Army. He deserted when Lee made his first raid into Pennsylvania, and lived in Donaldson until last spring when he enlisted under Lieut. William D. Williams from Tremont. On the 22 day of June he was taken prisoner and stayed in bondage for five months, but has returned to his company to revenge the wrongs which he experienced at the hands of the rebels.

Lt. Harrison Jones
184th P.V.V.

Lieut. William D. Williams from Tremont Died at White House , Va. On June 9, 1865 from wounds he received at Cold Harbor, Va.

184th Pennsylvania

7 companies of this regiment, recruited in various and widely separated sections of the Commonwealth, for a term of three years, rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, where, in May, 1864, they were organized, and on the 14th of that month, moved under command of Major Charles Kleckner, to join the Army of the Potomac, coming up with it as it was crossing the Pamunky River, on the 28th of May. It was immediately assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division, of the Second Corps, and on the day following its arrival, was led to battle at Tolopotomy Creek. It was engaged in skirmishing on the way to Cold Harbor, and on the second day of the battle, led the brigade in two desperate assaults upon the enemy's works, losing sixty-seven killed, and one hundred and thirteen wounded, and leaving some of its dead on the enemy's entrenchments. Lieutenants William D. Williams, and S. Hamilton Norman, were mortally, and Leonard F. Brahm, severely wounded. For its unflinching bravery, it was warmly commended by its brigade commander. For ten days it remained upon the front line, heavy skirmishing being constantly kept up. It then moved with the corps, and crossing the James, assaulted the enemy's works on the 16th, repeating the assault on the two following days, and losing in each very heavily. On the 22d the assault was renewed, and the brigade, after having charged and gained a position close upon the fortifications, was out-flanked, and a large number were taken prisoners. In this engagement, the regiment lost fifty-two in killed and wounded, and one hundred and fifteen taken prisoners. Captains Evans, Haines, Huff, and M'Keage, and Lieutenants Rahn, Stover, Bryan, and Adjutant Muffly, were among the prisoners. Out of five hundred men who stood in the ranks on the banks of the Tolopotomy, on the 29th of May, three hundred and fifty, including twelve officers, had been either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, in a period of twenty-five days-a loss unprecedented. Of the number taken prisoners on the 22d, sixty-seven died at Andersonville, and a number at Salisbury and Florence. The greater part of the -wounded prisoners died at Petersburg. Near the close of July, the handful which remained, joined in an expedition to Deep Bottom, where it was engaged in skirmishing for a day, returning on the 29th. On the 16th of August, the command again crossed the James, and in the neighborhood of Deep Bottom, after skirmishing during the entire forenoon, made a determined assault, in which it lost, out of ninety-seven 152 ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FOURTH REGIMIENT, engaged, twenty-seven in killed and wounded. Returning to the Petersburg front, the corps, with but little delay, moved out upon the Weldon Railroad, and commenced its destruction. On the afternoon of the 25th, the enemy attacked with terrible earnestness, but was three times repulsed, with fearful slaughter. In a fourth assault, which he delivered with fresh troops, and in overpowering numbers, the little brigade was overborne, and compelled to fall back. Lieutenant Colonel Kleckner, in command, while at the head of his regiment, cheering on his men, was severely wounded. On the same night, the fragment that remained marched back to Petersburg, and was placed in the trenches, where it was employed in fatigue duty, until near the close of October. In the meantime, three new companies, recruited for one year's service, were added to the regiment, completing its full number. On the 25th of October, the regiment marched with the corps to Hatcher's Run, where, on the 27th, it was hotly engaged, the corps being outflanked and roughly handled. The regiment lost fifteen in killed and wounded. After the battle, it returned and was placed in the trenches between forts Haskell and Steadman. It was here subjected to constant duty, in close proximity to the enemy's lines, where it lost a number in killed and wounded, from the unerring fire of his sharp-shooters, Captain Joseph S, Jenkins being instantly killed. In December, the regiment moved to the left flank of the army, and here it was joined on the 1st of January, 1865, by Colonel John H. Stover, who had been commissioned at its organization, and now assumed command. Colonel Stover had previously served as Captain in the Tenth, and Major of the One Hundred and Sixth. On the 5th of February, he led-his command to Hatcher's Run, where, on that and on the following day, it was warmly engaged. It encamped on the field, and remained there during the winter, the lines being extended to that point. On the 28th of March it broke camp, and on the 1st of April, took position in line of battle in front of the enemy. On the 2d, in common with nearly the entire army, it moved to the assault, breaking the enemy's lines, and capturing his works with but small loss. It then moved with the corps in pursuit, and skirmished as it went, until it reached Appomattox Court House, where the rebel army surrendered. It then marched back to the neighborhood of Washington, and participated in the grand review of the armies. On the 2d of June, the three companies last added to the command, were mustered out, and the remaining seven, which formed th

Tuesday, September 16, 2008



This is a great letter written by a Schuylkill Haven Soldier during the campaign in Italy. While serving with the 82nd Airborne Division.


APRIL 1943

Sergeant John A. Haas Son of Mr. And Mrs. John Haas, of 733 Garfield Ave, Schuylkill Haven a paratrooper, who was wounded in action in Italy but now is fully recovered and back with his outfit wrote home telling about his experience in the battle.
Sgt. Haas is attached to the crack 505th Infantry Regt. Of the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers...

Dear Dad,
I just received your letters and enjoyed hearing from you once again. I am glad to hear everything is well at home and I pray it will continue to be that way. We are in good health over here now, too, and my wound is almost completely healed. I believe I will have a small scar between my shoulder blades where the slug came out but it will only be a small one. I imagine you would like to know how it felt to get hit, so I will tell you a little about it. Another fellow and I were in position together when the Krauts began their attack we never expected them because it was seven o’clock in the morning and at that time they usually lay low because it was flat terrain. Their usual tactics were to attack at night but this time they were mixing up the plays to try and catch us off guard. They never even laid down an artillery or mortar barrage before the attack. They simply crawled up close to our lines during the dark and when dawn came they began their assault.
“It was pure suicide for them because we have the Garand rifle and that really throws out the lead fast. My buddy and I were in a barn firing through a big window and really having a swell time. If we only saw one Kraut we would take turns shooting. It never took more than two shots because they were only a hundred yards away and as I said before, the Garand rifle is a good gun. I had just got my third Kraut and stepped back from the window when my legs just went numb and I hit the floor. My entire body was numb but there was no pain and I couldn’t even tell were I was hit until the medic came and pulled off my jacket. By that time the numbness left me and although I felt tired and my left arm was stiff, I did not have any pain. Just about that time the Krauts realized they were really stuck. They couldn’t advance through our fire and to retreat meant going back over about a thousand yards of open fields which we had covered with our machine guns and rifles. Then they made a dumb move and laid in shell holes out in the field and then our boys really had a time. They would take field glasses and locate a German in a hole. Then they would wait until he stuck his head up and everyone would take a shot. I wasn’t in on the fun because I was to weak to even stand up and I just had to lay on the floor and hope for darkness to come so I could get evacuated to the hospital. However this time the Germans did something that would help me a lot. It was about four in the afternoon and I had been laying there on my stomach for eight hours, so I was getting pretty tired. I had begun to think darkness would never come when I heard one of the fellows say that the Germans were coming over with a Red Cross flag. They wished to evacuate their dead and wounded and wanted us to hold our fire until they could do so. We agreed, and while they took care of their wounded, we were also taken away to our doctors. Perhaps this seems strange to you dad and perhaps you would say they would never do so much for us if our wounded was out there instead of theirs.
However, I was present at a time when our own medics raised a Red Cross flag under similar conditions. The Germans were shelling us with very accurate mortar and artillery fire but they stopped as soon as they saw the Red Cross flag and allowed our medics to work in the field unhindered. A very humors thing occurred in connection with this episode. At the time the medics raised the Red Cross flag, we had two German soldiers pinned down by our fire. We couldn’t get them out because they had a perfect position and they couldn’t harm us as long as we kept down. One of our men who was about twenty yards from the Germans could speak German and it’s good he could because he was a help. When the Red Cross flag was raised the Germans thought we were surrendering so they came out of their holes and asked our German kid if we gave up. He said “Hell No, and went back into their holes. Fifteen minutes later the battle was begun all over again. Some people hardly believe such things happen on a battlefield but they do, because I’ve seen them and been part of them.


505th Patch

Editors note:
In April 1943, the 82nd departed Fort Bragg and eventually arrived at Casablanca, Morocco, on 10 May. Shortly, the Division moved to Oujda where intense training was conducted for the invasion of Sicily -- Operation HUSKY. The 505th, commanded by Colonel James Gavin, was chosen to spearhead the assault. The 505th was reinforced with the 3rd Battalion, 504th. On 9 July 1943, Gavin's 505th Combat Team conducted the first American regimental combat parachute assault in the vicinity of Gela, Sicily. The paratroopers were widely scattered, but were able to gather into small groups to harass the enemy. Colonel Gavin formed one group on Biazza Ridge where the Herman Goering Division was stopped before reaching the newly established American beachhead at Gela. On the evening of 11 July, the remainder of the 504th parachuted into Sicily. Passing over the American fleet, the transports were mistaken for enemy bombers and 23 were shot down. Eighty-one troopers were killed, including the assistant division commander, Brigadier General Charles Keerans. The 82nd continued its fighting in Sicily by leading Patton's westward drive to Trapani and Castellmare. In five days, the Division moved 150 miles and took 23,000 prisoners.

On 9 September 1943, General Clark's Fifth Army launched Operation AVALANCHE with an amphibious landing at Salerno, Italy. Several operations had been planned for the 82nd, including a drop on Rome, but were cancelled. Within four days the Allied beachhead was in trouble. General Clark sent an urgent request to General Ridgway who was in Sicily with the 82nd. On 13 September 1943, Colonel Reuben Tucker led his 504th combat team (minus 3rd battalion) on a parachute assault at Paestum, south of Salerno. On the 14th, the 505th jumped. The paratroopers were rushed to the front line where they engaged the enemy in the rugged hills and drove them back. On the 15th, the 25th and 3/504th conducted an amphibious landing near Salerno. Throughout September and October the 82nd conducted operations in the Salerno/Naples area. The 82nd was the first unit to enter Naples. The Division advanced north to the Volturno River, cleared the area of the enemy, and became the first unit to set sail for England, via Ireland, to prepare for the invasion of Normandy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Deserting Drafted Men 1864-1865 Schuylkill County

Tag picture to enlarge
The Posted Bill For Drafted Deserters.
This is an interesting find from the Schuylkill County Historical Society it is a listing of the Drafted men from the county who are listed as deserters in May of 1865 If you take notice there are some interesting names listed here.
This is certainly a list I would'nt want to find my relatives on!
Schuylkill County had a problem during the Civil War with the draft from early on. If you are interested contact me and I will email you the info.