Monday, November 24, 2008


The 96th P.V.I. In Full Regimental Dress Parade Camp Northumberland, Va. November 1861

On September 14, 1862 the 96th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, from Schuylkill County participated in the desperate engagement at Cramptons Pass, Md.. The 96th was in the thickest of the fight and some of the companies suffered heavily; the number in killed and wounded and missing was around 150. Among the officers killed was Major Lewis J. Martin, of Pottsville, and Captain John Dougherty of Palo Alto. Both of theses men were excellent officers. Following are some articles expressing the grief and the honor that was due both of these brave men. They are from the Pottsville Miners Journal

The Honored Dead
Oh! It was a glorious death for a patriot and soldier
Major Lewis J. Martin

Major Lewis J. Martin

The bitter fruits of this unholy rebellion was brought forcibly home to our very hearthstones on Wednesday last. The noon train from Philadelphia brought the dead bodies of Major Lewis J. Martin and Lieutenant John Dougherty, of the 96th Reg. Penna. Vol., killed in the battle at the pass of the Blue Ridge, on Sunday last. The news of their fall had not reached us before, and no words can describe the feeling of universal gloom throughout the Borough, as the word passed from mouth to mouth, that the mortal remains of these two brave soldiers, had reached our depot on their way to their bereaved families and friends.
Major Martin entered the service at the first call of the President, and was one of the Committee that offered the services of the National Light Infantry of this borough, to the Government, even before the rebels fired on the flag at Fort Sumter. He left as a corporal of the Infantry and was one of the members that entered the Capitol of the country on the 18th of April the day before the Massachusetts 6th was attacked in the streets of Baltimore. On the election of Lieut. Cake as Colonel of the Regt., Corporal Martin was promoted to First Lieutenant of the company, in which position he served during the three months. On the return of the tree month’s volunteers, he immediately recruited a company for the 96th, and was a leading spirit and acting superintendent of the regiment while forming on Lawton’s Hill, in this borough, and was selected as Major of the Regiment before departing for the field. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Gaines Hill, and after gallantly leading his men to the charge at Blue Ridge, on Sunday evening last, in which he was in the thickest of the fight, and just as victory had perched on our banner, Major Martin rushed to the brow of the hill, in company with others, to plant the colors, a ball pierced his head, about five minutes before six o’clock, and ten minutes after six, he breathed his last, remaining insensible during the whole period. Oh! It was a glorious death for a patriot and soldier thus to die, in the defense of the best Government on the face of the earth; and while we deeply sympathies with his near and dear relatives, for the heavy loss they have sustained, they have the consolation to know that he nobly performed his duty, a fell a martyr in the cause of freedom.
Major Martin was the son of the late John S. C. Martin of this Borough, He was a Civil Engineer by profession, and in the fall of 1859 had been elected County Surveyor, on the Republican Ticket. His manners were remarkably modest and unobtrusive-very quiet, of studious habits, attentive to business, and a hard worker at what ever he undertook. In point of morals, no better young man could be found anywhere.
We append a letter From Col. Cake, addressed to his wife, mother and sisters.

Colonel Henry L. Cake

Headquarters 96th Regiment P.V.
Camp in the field, Sept. 15, 1862.

My Dear Mrs Martin,
How shall I fulfill the harrowing duty that is mine? At the storming of the Blue Ridge, seven miles from Harper’s Ferry, I lost my brother, friend, constant companion-the bravest and most gallant soldier of the regiment-my Major.
The country has lost a soldier, I a friend, but oh! Who can describe your loss? He spoke of his mother continually, and of his little son, who must now be your consolation and your care. His disappointment at not meeting you was extreme. It was just at the moment of the complete victory. The 96th had again covered itself with what to me was horrid glory, when we felt the extreme danger was past, that he relieved his death wound. Adjt. George. G. Boyer was near him, and reports him hit at five minutes before six, and he ceased to breathe at ten minutes past six. He never spoke, was unconscious, and did not suffer. Mr. Boyer removed him from the field with his own hands. I have had a coffin made, and will send him to Washington to be embalmed, and thence to Pottsville, consigned to R.J.Weaver. Break the news to his poor wife. It breaks my heart to be compelled to communicate it to you.
The storming of the Blue Ridge will be memorable, and will render memorable Sunday, the 14th of September, 1862. It is seven miles to Harpers Ferry, near the village of Burkittsville, Md. It was here you laid your sacrifices upon the altar of your country. It was no widow’s mite, and all you give-a brave, good soldier.
The 96th suffered severely, losing, not less than a 150 in killed in wounded. I need not say how much I sympathize with you and your daughters. My own grief is extreme. Believe me dear madam.

Your most devoted friend,
H.L. Cake

On Thursday Major Martin’s body was conveyed to the tomb. A great concourse of people accompanied his remains to their last resting place, in the Presbyterian cemetery. Stores and other business places throughout the town were closed, and the flags were lowered at half mast, in token of respect to the brave dead. Rev. Joseph McCool, in his remarks characterized with a sprit of stirring patriotism as well as of piety-paid a marked tribute to the memory of the deceased, whom he had known intimately from his youth.
Major Martin leaves an interesting family consisting of his widow and three children, besides his widowed mother.

In the Lonely St. Patricks Catholic Cemetery high up on the hill in Pottsville, is a grave by a tree. The grave of Captain John Dougherty, Co. F 96th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Captain John Dougherty's Grave at St. Patricks Catholic Cemetery Pottsville

When I visit the graves of these heroes, I can almost see the large funeral taking place.

Thou his grave stone is fading. His memory and what he stood for and fought for and died for will never fade.

Captain John Dougherty
While bravely leading his company to the final struggle at the road.

Of Captain Dougherty, we are sorry to have but little knowledge, or the means of information (at the time we write) prior to his engagement in the service of his country.
He had served, we are told, a term of enlistment in the regular army of the United States, and on his volunteering at the outbreak of the rebellion, in the spring of 1861, being recognized as a good soldier and an efficient drill master, he was chosen to the position of 2nd Lieutenant of Capt. Anthony’s company of the 25th regiment of the three months men. Having discharged the duties of this post with great credit to himself and entire satisfaction to his superior officers, he was made 1st Lieutenant of a company under the same Captain upon the organization of the 96th. And since the promotion of Capt. Anthony after the ever memorable Seven Days battles in front of Richmond, in which the 96th took a conspicuous and honorable part. Lieut. Dougherty has been acting Captain of the Company, and would have received his commission as such as soon as the War Department could had leisure to make it out.
He was an active and energetic officer, highly beloved and respected by his men, and died where he had always been found at his post!
Capt. Dougherty was a single man. He had been employed for some years and up to the time of his entering the military service, a conductor of the coal trains on the Reading Railroad residing at Palo Alto.
He is buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Pottsville, yesterday. The funeral cortege was immense. The stores were closed and the flags lowered at half mast as on the day previous.
Thus two more of Schuylkill’s brave sons have laid their lives upon the altar of our country’s liberties, noble martyrs in a glorious cause.
Peace to their ashes!

Following is a letter written by Samuel Russel Lieut. Of the 96th on the battle.

The Battle of South Mountain Pass.
Cramptons Gap.
September 14, 1862.

We are permitted to copy the following letter from Lieut. Russel of Company C, 96th Regt. P.V. to his father, Andrew Russel, Esq. of this place. It will prove interesting to those having friends in the 96th, as showing, in a very plain matter of fact way, (The letter was not intended for publication), the gallant part enacted by the regiment in this memorable engagement of Sunday, the 14th.
Lieut. Russel (we understand from another r source) was personally complimented by his Colonel, while on the field and midst of the action, for his behavior during the fight.
The 96th forms apart of Gen,. Franklin’s army corps, and occupied the extreme left of the movement referred to. It has seen much hard service, as it reduced numbers sufficiently attest, and through it all we feel proud to add, has borne itself nobly-worthy of high hopes Schuylkill County entertains for all of her many sons in the field.

Camp at Crampton’s Gap Blue Ridge, Md.
September 15, 1862

My Dear Father: Yesterday we advanced from this side of Buckeyeville. Our regiment was in the advance some two miles. We found the enemy strongly posted on the mountain at Crampton’s Gap; the main body of our troops (Slocum’s Division) soon arrived and we made preparations to storm the mountain pass. The enemy had every advantage and we every disadvantage we were finally ordered forward and after advancing about a half of mile the rebels poured a tremendous fire of shell and grape upon us, still we kept on until we met the infantry at the bottom of the hill strongly posted behind a stone fence. It was perfectly useless to stand and fire at them. So there was but one thing left for us to do, and that was to charge and drive them at the point of the bayonet. Col. Bartlett rode in front of our regiment and said, “Now Pennsylvanians do you duty.” Oh! If 50,000 young men of Pennsylvania, who are now still at home, could have seen our regiment (very little over 400 strong) make the charge they would remain at home no longer. We were determined to take that place. Just before we reached the fence, we received a terrible fire; our men fell fast. Here our two color bearers were shot down. Two others immediately grasped the colors and were bearing them gallantly forward, when they too were shot down. Lieut. John Dougherty of Co. F was killed here, and I believe Major Martin also, but we were not too be kept back. On we went and took the fence, but that did not satisfy us, we kept on and drove the enemy to the top of the mountain with terrible loss, completely routing them. We could not use our artillery, but the bravery of our men made up for that. On reaching the top of the mountain we formed our lines again, but it was to dark to follow further. He we halted for about three quarters of hour., when we came down some distance and halted for the night. We had no blankets and it was quite cold. Among the killed of our regiment are Saul McMinze, color bearer, and Martin Sipe. Wounded are Sergt. Allison, Corporal Hilton, Pvts. Arthur Branigan, C. Bast, D. Thomas, H. Lynch, J. Frazlers and Thomas Oliver, color Bearer. None are very badly wounded. The loss in the regiment is 19 killed and 74 wounded. The loss to the rebels, five to our one and about 6 to 3 in prisoners. I eascaped without a scratch and was in the thickest of the fight. I found an opportunity of firing my pistol fourteen shots. It is now getting dark. Col Cake behaved most bravely, I will give you further description of the battle at the first opportunity.
Your affectionate son,

Saml. L. Russel

Battle of South Mountain

Report of Col. Henry L. Cake, Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, of the
Battle of Crampton’s Pass
Camp near Williamsport, Md., September 2 3, 1862.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the
engagements of the 14th and 17th instant so far as participated in by this regiment:
After marching through Jefferson on Sunday morning, I was ordered out upon the road to Burkittsville, the regiment having been indicated as the advance guard. When within 2 miles of the latter village, the cavalry advance came in and reported a skirmish with a superior force of the enemy’s cavalry. Companies A and F were deployed at once as
skirmishers, and moved forward, the balance of the regiment steadily moving on within easy supporting distance. The enemy retired to the South Mountain through Burkittsville, our two companies of skirmishers penetrating to within 1,000 yards of the base, the balance of the regiment halting at the entrance of the village a little after 1
o’clock p. m. As the skirmishers entered the village they drew the fire of the artillery posted on the heights, which was kept up during the day, the shot being divided between the skirmishers and the main body of the Ninety-sixth, drawn up in line on the Knoxville road, the enemy revealing the position of at least five of their pieces.
At about 4 o’clock I was ordered to draw in the skirmishers and rejoin the brigade with the regiment. Having posted a picket down the Knoxville road, this required some time, and the brigade had commenced to move, as had also the other two brigades of the division. Receiving an order from Major-General Slocum to move on in the rear of the New Jersey brigade, I did so, forming g where they formed and moving on the
field to their right. At about 5.30 o’clock the Ninety-sixth had marched to the line of skirmishers, and I was ordered by Colonel Bartlett, commanding the brigade, to take my position on the extreme right. The base of the mountain was now about 1,000 yards distant. At that point the road ran parallel to the mountain. On one or the other side
of this road a substantial stone fence furnished good cover for the enemy’s infantry, to say nothing of the wood on the side of the mountain. Brisk musketry firing was in progress on our left, but the good cover in possession of the enemy and the distance at which we stood rendered it quite certain that we could gain nothing at a stand-off fight,
while the artillery posted in the mountain was punishing us severely.
It was evident that nothing but a rush forward would win. The order to charge came at last, and with a shout the entire line started. The fields through which the Ninety-sixth charged presented many obstacles, and, in order not to meet the enemy with broken lines, I twice halted momentarily, with a stone fence for a cover, for a great portion
of my regiment to form. The last of the series of fields through which we had to charge was meadow and standing corn. As we emerged from the corn the enemy met us with a murderous fire.
We were within 20 paces of the road, at the base of the mountain, the stronghold of the enemy. It was here we met our great loss. Shocked, but not repulsed, the men bounded forward, determined to end it with the bayonet. The road was gained in a twinkling, 1 he
enemy leaving for the mountain. Those of the enemy who were not hurt, and who seemed too much surprised to get away, begged lustily for mercy. I had seen Lient. John Dougherty, one of my best officers, fall, but without waiting to see who were down or who were up, I hastily formed my line, Major Mcginnis, of the Eighteenth New York,
promising to form on my left and follow, and dashed on up the hill, keeping the line formed as well as possible, to guard against a probable stand of the enemy at the crest of the hill. I let the men advance nearly as fast as they could and wanted to.
It was a most exhausting charge. By the time we had ascended half way the cannon had ceased firing on our left, and the enemy seldom replied to our fire with their muskets. We made captures at every step. After passing the crest of the mountain, a lieutenant of the
Fifteenth North Carolina delivered himself up. I sent, during the charge, 42 prisoners to the rear, including the captain of Company G, Sixteenth Georgia, wounded, and other officers and men, most of them
unhurt. Sergeant Anderson, of Company K, shot the color-bearer of
the Sixteenth Georgia, but did not stop to secure the colors, which were
secured by some of our forces afterward.
After advancing beyond the crest of the hill, I formed my line for the purpose of resting the men, who were much exhausted by the march of the day and the furious dash up the mountain. It is with much gratification that l can report my companies all present inline,
fully and fairly represented.
Colonel Seaver, of the Sixteenth, as also the officers commanding portions of the Eighteenth and Thirty-second New York, joined their lines to the Ninety-sixth, and reported to me for orders. Having thrown our skirmishers to the right and front, I rested until the reception of orders to return to the foot of the mountain and go into camp,
which order was promptly obeyed, the brigade going into camp on the western side of the pass.
During the charge, and just at the moment when a splendid victory was opened, Maj. Lewis J. Martin was mortally wounded by a musket- ball in the head, and died while being carried off the field. He was an accomplished and brave soldier; an unassuming and perfect gentleman, beloved by all the regiment, and regretted beyond expression.
One of the first to volunteer in this war, he has at last laid down his life while gallantly and bravely fighting for his country.—the. only son of his mother, and she a widow. A minute before, First Lieut. John Dougherty, commanding Company F, was shot through the breast, at my side, while bravely leading his company to the final struggle at the road. Sergeant Casey, seizing his sword as he fell, valiantly raised it over his head and dashed forward at the head of his company, which never faltered. There was no better or braver soldier than Lieut. John Dougherty. The loss of these two officers falls heavily upon the regiment. During the charge I had 2 color-bearers killed and 3 wounded. Casualties: 20 killed, 71 wounded; total, 91.
The conduct of the regiment was excellent, my orders under fire being obeyed promptly and with great cheerfulness. Captain Lessig, Company C, deserves especial mention for brave conduct. •The prospect of a fight in the wood and among the rocks on the side of the mountain stimulated him to great exertions to gain that point, and he cheered on
his fine company most bravely. Captain Hay, Company A, also preserved his excellent reputation as a fighting officer, holding his company well in hand, always cool. and in line. His services were invaluable in the fight, as they always are on the march, on picket, or in command of skirmishers. Captain Budd, Company K, also fought gallantly,
leading his men bravely in the fight, capturing prisoners with his own hands. Captain Haas, Company G, also fought with coolness and courage, leading his men into the fire with promptness. Captains Filbert, Boyle, and Royer, of B, D, and H, also did their duty. I must also make special mention of Lieut. George G. Boyer, acting regimental adjutant, who bravely encouraged the men throughout the lines up to the time the road was gained. Upon the fall of Major Martin, Lieutenant Boyer was charged with his removal, hoping that prompt attention might save his valuable life.
The conduct of Lieutenant Byrnes, commanding Company I, and Lieutenant Oberrender, commanding Company E, was most praise-worthy. At the head of their companies their courageous example was most conspicuous. Upon the fall of Lieut. John Dougherty, Sergeant Casey assumed command of Company F, and conducted it through
the balance of the day with the coolness of a veteran officer. Lieutenant Sailor, Company A; Lieutenant Hannum, Company D; Lieutenant Russell, Company C, and Lieutenant Huber; Company B, rendered marked services on the field. Lieutenant Russell, Company C, dispatched to bring Company B forward to the regimental line on the side
of the mountain, displayed promptness, courage, and zeal in the discharge of his duty. Sergt. Maj. John Harlan deserves especial mention for the great coolness he displayed in the fight. In forming the lines to renew the charge after the enemy had been routed at the foot of the bill his services were invaluable. It is truly gratifying to be able to
make this truthful statement. Companies A, F, I, C, K, and 0- were the first in the road, Companies C, A, and K first and simultaneously. in taking the road we lost 2 color-beavers killed and 3 wounded, The names of those killed with the colors in their hands are Solomon M. Minzi, Company C, color-bearer, and Charles B. Zeiglei-, Company
H. The wounded are Thomas Oliver, Company C, color-bearer; Sergeant Johnson, Company II, and William Ortner, Company II.
I regret being compelled to report that our surgeons invariably leave upon the bursting of the first shell near the regiment. This has always heretofore deprived us of their services on the field, though I believe it is the custom to report for duty at the hospitals after engagements. This regiment would be quite as well off if its surgeons were left at
hospitals, Dr. Kugent having been promoted to the One hundred and twenty-sixth.
Very respectfully, lieutenant, your obedient servant,
Lient. H. P. WILSON, Colonel, Commanding.
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General.

On the 17th the regiment moved from camp at daylight and crossed the Antietam at 11 o’clock. With the balance of the brigade, it was sent to the front to support batteries. While lying in position, a round shot struck in Company G, killing Private Frank Treon and wounding Private McCoy Sargent. Ii have, happily, no other casualties to record.

Colonel, Commanding

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