Friday, November 27, 2009

Schuylkill County Civil War Heroes


Sergt. James Murray, formerly of Tamaqua late of Co. H. 81st Pennsylvania was killed in the Battle of Reams Station, on the Weldon Railroad, on the 25th of August 1864. He had served with his regiment for three years, says the Journal, participating in all the engagements of the Second Corps, and his time of service would have expired in about two weeks.
He was the Color Sergeant of the Regiment, and met his death while bravely trying to rally the men, who had just given under the terrible onslaught of overwhelming numbers of rebels. He was a most worthy young man, agreeable, kind and brave as a lion. He was about twenty one years of age. His father started last week to recover his body.
In the same engagement, James King, of Tamaqua, and two others were taken prisoners. These, together with Murray, were the last of the original Company H, 81st P.V. so that now the company is completely wiped out.


Private John Jones, Company B, 55th Regiment, P.V.V., died August 26th 1864 in White Hall Hospital, Bucks County. Mr. Jones was the son of Thomas J. Jones, of Minersville; and was born in Monmonthshire, South Wales; he came to this country about eighteen years ago, and settled in Minersville, where he and his relatives have been until now. At the breaking out of the rebellion, John Felt it his duty to defend his country, and enlisted in the above named regiment, under Captain John C. Shearer, and served most of his time at Beaufort,S.C. but went to Virginia when the eighteenth Corps was called to operate with the Army of The Potomac in the western Virginia Campaign. He was in many skirmished, but it appears there was no bullet cast by the rebels to hurt him, as he often said.
Death however came to him in another shape. About two months before he breathed his last, he was taken very sick and placed in a Virginia Hospital. Having been there for some time, he was removed to the hospital where he died. After his parents heard that he was so low, his mother went to him in order to have him brought home, if it was practicable; but he was too weak. In a few days afterwards his spirit took its flight to the spiritual world. John was only 25 years of age. His body was brought home and interred in the Welsh Congregational Cemetery. The departed was a highly respected by all his acquaintances, and was a brave soldier. Had he been spared he was determined to stay in the Army until the rebellion was crushed. When his three years were almost out, he re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer for another three years. May his remains rest undisturbed till the last trumpet shall blow, and those that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life.


Private Henry H. Bickley, of Company E 10th New Jersey Volunteers, a son of John Bickley, of Kendon County, N.J. died at the Summit House Hospital, Philadelphia, on the 23rd from exhaustion, the result of the loss of blood from a wound received in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 14th , 1864. Henry was formerly a resident of Pottsville. His remains were brought here, and interred from the residence of his brother, John Bickley Jr. in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, on Sunday last, with Military Honors. At the time of his death he was in the 22nd year of his age.
Surgeon G. W. Webb who attended Prvt. Bickley in his last hours writes under the date of August 27th, as follows.
“During my daily visits amongst my patients, I observed in the character of this young man, those fine qualities which go to make up the true and brave soldier, the conscientious and upright Christian, with the honorable and high minded gentleman.
“When it became necessary to amputate his limb, to save life, with calm, self procession, he remarked to me, that his life was now entirely in my hands, under the guidance of the almighty God, who could now give him spiritual fortitude. He progressed finely after the operation for a few days, when unforeseen complications in his case took place, secondary hemorrhage, beyond the control of the surgeons, resulting in his death.. He died happy in his mind, and without pain or struggle. Being an almost hourly attended upon him for several days after the fatal hemorrhage, I observed with in him Christian resignation, with a consciousness of his critical condition, disposed, as he said, to bow in obedience to the will of the creator.
“he died from exhaustion, the result of loss of blood, sleeping for some hours, apparently, almost unconscious, until death took place, noiselessly, scarcely at the moment attracting his attendant’s notice, that he had breathed his last.”


Two gallant young men, brothers, named David Miller and John Miller, natives of Lanarkshire, Scotland, landed in New York on the 6th of September last, and in a few days after arrived in Pottsville. They soon made up their minds to assist in suppressing this unholy Slaveholders’ Rebellion against the best Government in the world. On the 12th of September 1864 they enlisted in the 48th Regt. P.V.V., left Pottsville on the 14th, arriving before Petersburg on the 20th of September. On the 30th of the same month David received a severe gunshot wound in the right knee, was taken prisoner and sent to Richmond. On the 15th of October he was paroled by the rebels, and sent to General U.S. Hospital at Annapolis, Md. where he died on the 6th of November. He requested that his remains be brought to Pottsville for interment, and the funeral took place from the residence of his friend Mr. Hugh Allen, Market St., Pottsville, on the 17th of November. He was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery, and was 22 years of age.
John, brother of the deceased, is still with the regiment, fighting in defense of the liberties that he hopes in the future to enjoy peacefully. His age is 26 years. All honor to these patriotic young Scotchmen.


Pvt. John Bowler son of Mr. Samuel Bowler of Mt. Laffee, near Pottsville, died at the residence of his father on the 7th inst. Immediately after the traitors fired upon our glorious flag at Fort Sumter, young Bowler, like hundreds of our patriotic Coal Miners, exchanged the pick and shovel for the musket, and enrolled in Capt. Daniel Nagle’s company remarking, “We must now stop working in the mines and go and fight for our country. “After doing his duty manfully during the first three months of the war he joined Co. I of the 96th P.V.V. and of which he was appointed Orderly Sgt. At the Battle of Chancellorsville he was severely wounded and left on the battlefield and captured by the rebels. After remaining in their hands 10 days he was paroled and sent into our lines. After being some months in one of our hospitals he was honorably discharged. He served his country faithfully and was always at his post. He died from consumption contracted on the field; was in the 25th year of his ager and unmarried. On Thursday afternoon last his remains were interred with honors at Flowery Field, Peace be to his ashes.


John C. Hoskin was born in Minersville, this county, September 27th, 1839, and died in that Borough; March 27th, 1865 aged 25 years and 6 months. His funeral was one of the largest and most impressive ever witnessed in Minersville. The military, Odd Fellows, Sons of America, Firemen, and a large number of citizens attended it. Mr. Hoskin entered the service of the United States at the commencement of the Rebellion, in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania regiment in April, 1861 for three months. He was taken prisoner on the 2nd of July, 1861, near Haynesville, Va. And was sent through Martinsburg, to Charlottesville, where he remained a few days, and was then transfered to Libby Prison, Richmond. From there he was taken to New Orleans, and subsequently to Salisbury, North Carolina. While at the latter place he was paroled and entered our lines at New Bern, North Carolina in 1862, having been a prisoner for eleven months. He returned home as soon as his strength would permit. At the time of the nine month troops were being raised, he reenlisted in the services not withstanding his exchange had not been effected. He entered the 129th Regiment, Col. Jacob Frick, and was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg. After the battle he was promoted to First Sergeant of his company. He was a good soldier, and an admirable man in all the relations of life.


Henry clay Graeff, 1st Lieutenant Company D, 48th Regiment P.V.V. died in this borough on Wednesday last from disease contracted in rebel prisons. At the time of his death he was in the 21st year of age. He had been in the 48th Regiment since its organization and was known as a thoroughly good soldier. His father Franklin Graeff, is a member of the same Company, and is now with his command. Henry was taken prisoner at the fight on the Weldon Railroad in September last, and was an prisoner up to within a fort night of his death. At the time of his capture he was sergeant of his company, and was commissioned a lieutenant shortly after while he was in rebel hands. The remains of Lieutenant Graeff will be interred tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock, from the residence of Mr. Jacob Matthews, Port Carbon Road. Return soldiers will meet at the Union Hotel, Centre St. at 1 o’clock to proceed to the residence of Mr. Matthews.

Private Joseph Reed, son of Mr. Israel Reed of Barry Township, this county died at the residence of his father on the 18th , April, 1865, aged 30 years and 8 months. Mr. Reed died from the effects of Starvation experienced at Salisbury, N.C. prison. He was a good soldier, a faithful friend, and unselfish patriot. Though dead he will live in the memory and affection of his countrymen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009



Photo Courtesy of Mystic Seaport Library.


Colonel Richard B. Mason took his time filling out a carefully detailed report of his observations in the gold fields. He completing the report on August 17, 1848, and dispatched a courier, Lieutenant Lucien Loeser, on a roundabout route back to Washington with Mason's official report, along with a tea-caddy crammed with over 230 ounces of gold. On August 30, 1848, Loeser sailed from Monterey by schooner to Payta, Peru, where he caught a British steamer to Panama. After crossing the Isthmus, Loeser booked passage to Jamaica, and from there to New Orleans where news of the official confirmation of the gold discovery created much excitement. Loeser telegraphed his report to the War Department and resumed his journey to the capital.

It is interesting what you can find while doing historical research. Recently while looking at The Memorial To Patriotism for Schuylkill County 1861-1865, while on a quest of looking for all the U.S. Regulars who served from Schuylkill County during the Civil War I came across a soldier listed as a Lt. Col. Lucien Loeser, of the 8th Virginia! Ok, was this a Rebel from the local area? This certainly got my interest. But it wasn’t to be. Actually, his regiment should have read the 8th West Virginia Cavalry. Ok, well that is still pretty interesting, Now, who is Lt. Col. Lucien Loeser of the 8th West Virginia Cavalry?
I found this very interesting bio of Loeser in the West Point Military academy Reunion book of 1896. How great was this, he is from my town of Orwigsburg. Here is his story.

No. 26. CLASS OF 1842.
Died, March 6th, 1897, at Brooklyn, N. Y., aged 79.
The name of LUCIEN LOESER will suggest pleasurable reminiscences of their cadet or subaltern days to a large proportion of the older of the remaining officers of the "Old Army." Of his cotemporaries at West Point not many are left, and of his class of 56 members, I believe only four, Generals James Longstreet, N. J. T. Dana, and Chas. L. Kilburn, and Colonel Joseph Stewart.
Colonel Loeser was born July 10th, 1818, in Orwigsburg, Pa., and died in Brooklyn, N. Y., March 6th, 1897, in his 79th year. He was of "Pennsylvania Dutch" ancestry, and possessed many of the characteristics of that race, among them that of pride in belonging to it. His father was a prominent lawyer in Schuylkill County, in the days when the coal lands began to be developed. His youthful education was obtained principally at the famous old Moravian school at Lititz. He entered the .Military Academy in 1838, and graduated in 1842, and was assigned as Brevet Second Lieutenant to the Second Artillery.
He served. With this regiment at Forts Adams, Hamilton, and Trumbull in succession until his promotion to Second Lieutenant. Third Artillery, in 1845, which carried him to Fort McHenry. In July, 1846, his company, "F," Captain C. O. Tompkins and First Lieutenants E. O. C. Ord and W. T. Sherman, with Lieutenant W. F. Halleck, Engineers, accompanying, sailed for California via Cape Horn in the U. S. Store ship Lexington. The voyage was long and tedious, and it was more than six months after sailing when they entered-the Bay of Monterey and took station at the old Spanish settlement of that name.. Those were unsettled times in California, and though the country had already been wrested from Mexican control, there was plenty of police duty for the troops of occupation.
In 1848 came the discovery of gold, and as soon as its importance was recognized it became necessary to inform the government at Washington. Lieutenant Loeser, who had been promoted the previous year, was selected to bear the dispatches, and set out with them, and a quart or so of specimens, about the end of August in a chartered sailing vessel. He reached Payta, Peru, in time to take the October steamer for Panama and connected at Aspinwall with the steamer for Jamaica. There he secured passage on a small sailing vessel to New Orleans, and finally arrived in Washington in December with the big news, which was immediately announced to the country by a Presidential message to Congress, and gave rise to the great immigration of'"49."
Editors Note:
John Marshall was superintending the construction of a sawmill for Col. John Sutter on the morning of January 25, 1848, on the South Fork of the American River at Coloma, California, when he saw something glittering in the water of the mill's tailrace. According to Sutter's diary, Marshall stooped down to pick it up and "found that it was a thin scale of what appeared to be pure gold." Marshall bit the metal as a test for gold.

In June of 1848, Colonel Sutter presented Marshall's first-find scale of gold to Capt. Joseph L. Folsom, U.S. Army Assistant Quartermaster at Monterey. Folsom had journeyed to Northern California to verify the gold claim for the U.S. Government.

In August of that year, as evidence of the find, this piece and other samples of California gold to Washington, D.C., for delivery to President James K. Polk and for preservation at the National Institute. Within weeks, President Polk formally declared to Congress that gold had been discovered in California.

The gold samples then traveled with U.S. Army Lt. Lucien Loeser by ship to Panama, across the isthmus by horseback, by ship to New Orleans, and overland to Washington. A letter of transmittal from Folsom that accompanied the packet lists Specimen #1 as "the first piece of gold ever discovered in this Northern part of Upper California found by J. W. Marshall at the Saw Mill of John A. Sutter."

In 1861, the National Institute and its geological specimens, including this gold and the letter, entered the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. The Marshall Nugget remains in the collections as evidence of the discovery of gold in California.

Lieutenant Loeser then served in garrison at Fort Sullivan, Me., and from 1850 to 1852 at Jefferson Barracks with Light Battery "C," Ringold's famous battery, when it resumed its guns after its tour of service as cavalry after the Mexican war. Then back to Fort Sullivan and thence to Fort Constitution, N. H., and Fort Wood, N. Y., till the main body of the regiment sailed for California in December, 1853.
It was on this voyage that the memorable and tragic shipwreck of the San Francisco occurred. Headquarters, band and six companies, about 500 men in all, had embarked on this steamer for San Francisco, via Cape Horn, but off the Delaware Capes they met a severe storm which soon reduced the vessel to an unmanageable wreck and washed overboard the deck houses with four officers and 150 men. They drifted thus for four days, keeping the vessel afloat only by the greatest exertions, during which a number of the men died from exposure and fatigue. Finally the bark Kilby hove in sight, and running a hawser to the wreck, took off about 100 of the survivors, including Lieutenant Loeser and his family, which were subsequently transferred to the packet Lucy Thompson and landed in New York. The remainder were taken off later by other vessels and carried to Liverpool.
Lieutenant Loeser served as Adjutant of the regiment while it was being gotten into shape again, and in April a second start was made. Part of them went in the steamer Illinois, and the remainder in a chartered steamer, the Falcon. There was much suspicion and controversy respecting the seaworthiness of this
vessel, and as a result Lieutenant Loeser found himself the senior
Officer present when they went aboard, and sailed in command of
the band and four companies. Before they had been long out the suspicions were fully realized. The machinery gave out, but, fortunately, they were able to make Hampton Roads without being caught in a storm, and there they awaited the Illinois which took them off in May and they finally reached Benicia in safety.
He then served at Fort Miller, Cal., for three years, being promoted to Captain in 1856, and then at San Diego, San Barnardino, and Fort Yuma, where he resigned from the service in 1858 and returned to the East.
He served in Virginia early in the war as Lieutenant-Colonel Seventh West Virginia Cavalry, but being unable to remain in the field, he returned to New York, and from 1862 served as Chief Clerk in the Quartermaster's office in that city through the remained of the war and until 1873. He was then appointed a clerk in the Custom House at New York and served there 24 years, the greater part of the time as Chief of the Record Division, which position he held at the time of his death.

Photo Courtesy of Mystic Seaport Library.

Mrs. Sara Loeser

He married, in 1849, Miss Sarah Eaton, daughter of Dr. Joseph Eaton, U. S. A. They had no children and Mrs. Loeser died in 1882. During his long service in public position in New York he formed a wide circle of acquaintance, by whom he was respected for his honorable demeanor and strict performance of duty and liked for the courtesy and genial good heartedness which he brought into all his relations. During these 35 years he, particularly after the death of his wife, whom he keenly mourned, lived a very retired life and his intimacy was shared by few outside of his family. He found the simple pleasures he desired in a home life of the most exemplary and devoted character. He was a good raconteur and had a large fund of anecdotes and reminiscences of the "Old Army."
Colonel Lucien Loeser had an able mind, a generous and engaging disposition, an honorable character and a true heart. In his death our Alma Mater loses from the ranks of her sons a
"good man and true."

Loeser’s famous class mates at West Point Military Academy. He graduated Number 26 in the class.
Class of 1842 - 56 graduated
EUSTIS, Henry Lawrence 1
NEWTON, John 2
ROSECRANS, William Starke 5
SMITH, Gustavus Woodson 8
LOVELL, Mansfield 9
STEWART, Alexander Peter 12
SMITH, Martin Luther 16
POPE, John 17
HILL, Daniel Harvey 28
DANA, Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh 29
SYKES, George 39
ANDERSON, Richard Heron 40
MCLAWS, Lafayette 48
VAN DORN, Earl 52

The obituary of Col. Lucien Loeser, From the New York Times March 8th, 1897.
Lucien Loeser, who was for many years in the Government service died at his home, 401 Pacific Street, Brooklyn, Saturday morning, in the seventy ninth year of age. His death was caused by acute nephritis. He had been confined to hi home for two weeks.
Mr. Loeser was born in Orwigsburg, Penn. And was graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1842. Many distinguished men were his class mates, including Gen. Simon B. Buckner, General Longstreet, General Hill, and And General Dana. Mr. L:oeser’s service was with the artillery.
He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, New York.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day November 11, 2009

Below are scenes from Veterans Day programs at Orwigsburg, Penn State Schuylkill, And the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Schuylkill Haven.

Just a note to thank the people who came out for the programs. You know, I sometimes wonder how many people really care, when you see so little support for the Veterans of America. But I thamk all the veterans and the people who took the time to honor our veterans today. THANK YOU!

Center Square Orwigsburg Presented by my VFW POST 2198

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Schuylkill Haven

Lieut. Richard Baker Speaker at the Penn State Schuylkill Ceremony

Many Thanks Go out to the students at Penn State Schuylkill For presenting this ceremony.

A hardy THANK YOU goes out to Rep. Tim Seip. Since he has been in office I have seen him at all our Veteran Day programs .. Keep supporting the Veteran Rep. Seip, it is very much appreciated!

Ceremony by the Vietnam Veterans of Schuylkill County at the Vietnam Memorial

Guy Weiderhold Vietnam Veteran Speaks on behalf of the Veterans of all wars. Guy gave a great speech on the needs of the veterans of this country. Well done Guy!

A wonderful ceremony put on by the Schuylkill County Vietnam Veterans! Well Done my brothers!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The 105th Pennsylvania Monument Gettysburg


Lieutenant Isaac A. Dunsten, Middleport, Schuylkill County was seriously wounded while fighting with Company C of the 105th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg on July 2nd, 1863. For 55 days he suffered fearfully in the hospital at Camp Letterman.

In the book “Killed in Action “ By Gregory A. Coco is a story about Lieut. Dunsten. During his stay in the hospital ward he was administered by a Mrs. Holstein who wrote this little article.
“In the officer’s row lay, for some weeks, a young Lieut., from Schuylkill County, Penn., with both thighs shattered, suffering fearfully. A few hours before his death, at his request the Holy Communion was administered to him; after joining in the solemn services, he remained perfectly still, unconsciously “Passing away, “as those present thought, until a glee club from Gettysburg, going through the hospital, singing as they walked, paused at his tent and sung-without knowing anything of what was passing within “Rally round the Flag.” The words and the music seemed to call back the spirit to earth, and forgetting his crushed limbs and intense suffering, sprang up, exclaiming: “Yes boys, we did “Rally round the Flag.” “And you will rally oft again.!” Then sank back exhausted, and soon was at rest.
Lieut. Dunsten was buried the next day at Letterman Hospital. On August 31st, 1863 family members brought Lieut. Dunsten home to Middleport. He was only 23 years old and single at the time of his death.
The remains were brought to Middleport his late residence, from which the funeral took place. His body was brought to Pottsville and interred with military and civil honors, in Odd Fellows Cemetery. Major Oliphant of the Invalid Corps stationed in Pottsville sent a company of soldiers to the railroad depot to receive the body where he was conveyed to the cemetery, the soldiers marching with arms reversed, and the music playing a dirge. After the military and body came the Middleport, Lodge No. 474, I.O. of O.F., and a large concourse of citizens. At the grave the last sad honors were paid by the Corps, in three volleys of musketry.
Lieut. Dunsten was in the service for two years. He entered his company as a private, but through merit and bravery, had at the time of his death reached the position of Lieut. He was in fourteen engagements, in all which he escaped injury, except the last, At the Battle of Gettysburg, in which he received his death wound. He was highly esteemed in Middleport, and in fact by all who knew him for his moral excellence and worth.