Thursday, April 29, 2010


African American Soldiers in WW 1


African American people in Schuylkill County have a military history that they can be proud of. Black soldiers have served from this county during the Civil War, World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam and the current conflicts.
Most history buffs who study Schuylkill county military history are familiar with the famous Civil War story of the black man named Nicholas Biddle, a runaway slave who lived in Pottsville and was connected with the Washington Artillerists through their Captain, James Wren, one of the first five companies to come to the aid of the country in April of 1861. While on the march through Baltimore Biddle was struck on the head by a rock thrown by a rebel sympathizer and became the first man to shed blood during the Civil War.
When the United States declared war against Germany in April of 1917, the War Department planners quickly realized that the standing Army of 126,000 men would not be enough to ensure victory overseas. On 18 May 1917 Congress passed the Selective Service Act requiring all male citizens between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for the draft.
During this time period and before the actual calling of the draft African American men from all over the country tried to enlist.. They all believed the war was an opportunity to prove their loyalty, and patriotism to the country.
Many African American men were more than willing to serve in the country’s military, but blacks were still turned away from military service. During World War 1 America was still a segregated society and African Americans were considered, at best, second class citizens
Actually when the United States entered the war there were four all-black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. Within one week of Wilson’s declaration of war, the War Department had to stop accepting black volunteers because the quotas for African Americans were filled. At a later point during the war the Ninety-Second Division was formed completely made up of African Americans, to include the 365th , 366th , 367th, 368th Infantry regiments. As bad as this seems these fine soldiers didn’t serve with the U.S. Army as a unit they served under French command utilizing French equipment.

Note the French Equipment Helmets ets.

.When the draft was implemented it seems there was a reversal in this discriminatory policy toward African Americans primarily because there was nothing written in the legislation. Most draft boards required blacks to tear off one corner of their draft registration cards so they would be known and separated from white draftees. But when the draft was fully operational the draft boards were doing everything possible to get them into uniform. Although the Army was far more advanced in race relations than all the other branches of the United States military. African Americans could not serve in the Marines, and could only serve limited and menial positions in the Navy and the Coast Guard.
The following articles were written in the Pottsville Republican newspaper about how Schuylkill County sent off two drafted African American soldiers to the war.

Pottsville Republican April 30, 1918
Courteous in every particular and beautifully splendid was the farewell demonstration given by Pottsville district No. 5 people Tuesday morning at eight o’clock in honor of the departure for camp Meade, Md., of Charles Alfred Williams, the first colored embryo soldier of the U.S. national Army. Selected by this board and sent into training cantonments.
Young Williams, since his name was selected, passed the allotted age of 31 years, but he steadfastly abstained from making a claim for exemption, and was glad to answer the call of his country. He is a Pottsville boy, and spent all his life here with the exception of three years he was a waiter in Phila. And six months in Scranton at the same vocation. Monday night, at Thompson hall, he was tendered a magnificent reception by his fellow waiters of the Hotel Allan. Many friends and invited guests did him the honor there.
Tuesday morning he was up bright and early, and with filled suitcase reported to the local board at the court house on time. Preliminaries were attended and appropriate addresses delivered in the No. 1 court room. The large hall was filled with people who came to honor the first colored soldier sent from this district. After addresses were made the march to Reading Railway, station was taken up at 8:25 o’clock with standard bearers of the Boy Scouts, with flags of the U.S. and allies, County and city officers, Fourth Regiment, Drum and Bugle Corps, of Spanish American War, in khaki; Pottsville local board No. 5 eight colored men bearing a large flag; Charles Alfred Williams, National Army Recruit, on way to Camp Meade, Md. his father John Williams, and Sergt. William Tarr, colored veteran of the Civil War; colored young ladies escorting Mrs. John Williams, mother of the outgoing soldier. In the parade were several brothers of the Williams, and his fellow waiters of the Hotel Allan. Next came citizens several hundred strong, several hundred workmen of the Reading Company shops.
Most of the paraders carried on their shoulders national flags. It was one of the prettiest parades since these parades were instituted, both as to alignment and maintenance of distance between marching units, the delightful music and the respectful enthusiastic attitude of the on looking populace, who lined both sides of the street all the way to Penn Hall Hotel, Howard Ave, and Centre St. Applause was frequent and emphatic. Chas. Alfred waved his acknowledgment and smiled for he is well known and has a host of friends.
In front of the Hotel Allan, the van guard of the parade with the soldier halted on the east side of the street and he reviewed the remainder of the parade as it passed. Here and there along the route and impulsive onlooker rushed out and shook the hand of the departing soldier.
On the train, the Red Cross Canteen committee presented him with a sweater, smokes and other gifts, and when the train pulled out he was given three cheers.
At Port Clinton colored brother soldiers from Tamaqua, and Shenandoah joined, the Pottsville registrant, and at reading another delegation. In Philadelphia the recruits swelled to quite a number.
Charles A. Williams, the outgoing soldier, was the merriest man at the passenger station, before the train started, and kept his friends laughing with his jokes and droll sayings.
They arrived at camp Meade at 4 P.M.
Henry Scott, the only colored man in District No. 1 was sent to Camp Meade on Tuesday morning on the 7:08 train from Shenandoah, and was given a rousing send off. He was led to the depot by the First Lithuanian Band members of the Patriotic League, Public Safety Committee, High School pupils and citizens. The streets were crowded even more so than when the larger numbers left the town of Shenandoah. At the station he got on the train and at the rear platform delivered a short address, thanking the people of Shenandoah for the honor shown him and promised to do “his best”. He was tendered a testimonial banquet by a number of prominent residents of Shenandoah Monday night at the Graham CafĂ©.
The African American soldiers who enlisted from Schuylkill County
1. Benjamin T. Coles Pottsville: MEc 904 T.C. AEF France. Served overseas in France.
2. William Crabb, Tower City: PFC, 849 Co, T.C. AEF France. Served Overseas in France.
3. William Dampler, Auburn: Pvt. CK Company No. 9 ASC . Served overseas in France.
4. James Davis, Tamaqua: Pvt. 804 T.C., AEF. Served overseas in France.
5. Herman Enty, Pottsville: PFC. 803 Co. T.C. AEF. Served overseas in France.
6. Charles Williams, Pottsville Pvt. Co. M 368th Infantry Regiment. AEF Served overseas in France.
7. Henry Scott. Shenandoah: Camp Meade.

Two African American soldiers from Schuylkill County who died while in Service.
1. Jesse Emmerson: Delano: Pvt. 369 Infantry Regiment, AEF France. Died Oct. 1 1918
2. Thomas Wiggans: Pottsville: Trooper, 10th Cavalry. Died February 3rd, 1918

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Edward J. Doyle, Former Pottsville Maroon Grid Star Killed in Algiers.

Edward J. Doyle, Former Pottsville Maroon Grid Star Killed in Algiers.

In the December 12th, 1942 issue of the Pottsville Journal the following story was listed.
Word has been received in Pottsville of the death of Edward J. Doyle, officer, (Lt. Col.) in the U.S. Army; commander of the (168th Inf. Regt. 34th Division) was killed in action in Algiers. This was confirmed in an announcement which Mrs. Doyle received from the War department.
Mrs. Doyle will be remembered as the former Emily Belles, daughter of the late William Belles of thirteenth and Market St. Pottsville She had two sons, Ed, and Jimmy, are residing in Bridgeport Conn.
According to the War Department Doyle was killed leading a charge into Algiers, and fell mortally wounded by a sniper.
Although he was a graduate of West Point and a Lieutenant when he played here on the Pottsville Maroons Football team.
Doyle was killed in the Allied troop landings of the North African Campaign. He is believed to have been the first American killed in North Africa during the war.[2] Doyle's name is included in a football's wartime heroes display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Colonel George L. Brown, Minersville Hero Of The Civil War

Colonel George L. Brown

Minersville Hero Escapes Numerous Times from Rebel Prisons.
He escaped four times from Rebel camps and was recaptured as often, Twice by Bloodhounds.

George Brown on Right

On July 8, 1914 Col. George L. Brown died at his residence in Minersville. In 1870-1880 Col. Brown had the distinction of holding the office of Commander of the Garand Army of The Republic. (G.A.R.).Col. Brown died from the effects of uremia.
George L. Brown was born in Milton, on December 6, 1838 a son of Isaac and Mary (Lawrence Brown).
He was of a family of fighters who participated in the Civil War. When he was young he was united in marriage to Rachel Moore a daughter of Samuel Moore. Mr. Brown received his education in the academies of Milton, Pa.
In 1861 he moved to Minersville and continued in the mercantile business with G.J. Lawrence and J.S. Lawrence , his uncle’s with whom he was a clerk. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted as a private in Co. I, 101st Penna. Regiment. He was shortly afterwards commissioned as a 2nd Lieut. And in March 1863 was promoted to 1str Lieut.
During his term of service he took part in the siege of Yorktown, the battles of Williamsburg, Savage Station, Fair Oaks the Seven Days fight before Richmond, Charles City Crossroads, Long’s Bridge, Jones Ford, Harrison’s Landing. Goldsboro North Carolina, Southwest Creek, Wilmington Railroad bridge, Swan Quarters, Little Washington, Blunts Creek, Swift Creek, Foster’s Mill Jamestown and Plymouth.
On April 17th to the 20th, 1864, while resisting the final charge of Hokes, North Carolina brigade at Plymouth, N.C. He was wounded in the left arm and left breast, and was taken prisoner. Subsequently he was confined in the prisons at Plymouth, Weldon, Macon and in the jail yards at Charleston, S.C. where with other prisoners he was placed under a heavy artillery bombardment from the Union forces besieging the city. From here was removed to Columbia, camp Sorghum, charlotte, Raleigh and Goldsboro He escaped four times and was recaptured as often, Twice by Bloodhounds.
On November 3, 1864, he escaped from Camp Sorghum, N.C. and was out 17 days before being recaptured. He was finally paroled on February 27th 1865 and sent to Annapolis, Md. Where he was mustered out.
After his return from the war he engaged in the drug business with Jacob S. Lawrence, Under the name Lawrence and Brown. The partner ship continued until 1885 when he retired.
He was a charter member of the Capt. George J. Lawrence Past G.A.R. of Minersville named in honor of his uncle, who died from wounds suffered at Fredericksburg, Va. He served a past commander of the past.

Bio From The regimental History of the 101st P.V.I.
Lieutenant George L. Brown.
At the age of 23 George L. Brown enlisted as a private in Co. I., l01st Regiment, on the I4th day of September, 1861. He was promoted to second lieutenant of his company Jan. 1, 1862, and on March 1, 1863, he was commissioned first lieutenant. To write a history of the activities of Lieutenant Brown while in the service of Uncle Sam, is but to recapitulate the Regimental narrative, for he participated in every battle, skirmish and reconnaissance in which the Regiment was engaged, from the time it cast its fortunes with the Army of the Potomac, until it was finally compelled to lower its colors in the presence of an overwhelming force of the enemy. But even then, Lieut. Brown was saved the mortification of surrendering to the victorious foe in a normal condition. In the final charge made by the enemy and before he became a prisoner of war he had been made hors de combat by a severe wound in the left arm and breast.
After the capitulation of the garrison at Plymouth, on April 20, 1864, Lieut. Brown, owing to his severe wounds, was kept a prisoner at Plymouth until he was able to travel. After leaving Plymouth he was confined at Weldon, N. C.; Macon, Ga.; in jail yard at Charleston, S. C., and for a time in the Old Marine Hospital at Charleston, where he and his fellow prisoners were under the fire of the Federal batteries. From Charleston he was moved to Columbia, S. C., from where he escaped, and after eluding the enemy until he had reached east Tennessee, he had to undergo the chagrin of surrendering to blood-hounds. He was then confined in the jail at Columbia, and while there, was placed in irons, bucked and gagged, for the simple offense of communicating with a fellow prisoner of war, Maj. Teller, who was held as a hostage. From Columbia he was moved to Charlotte, N. C., thence to Raleigh, and finally Goldsboro. During his imprisonment he escaped four times, but was recaptured before he succeeded in reaching the Federal lines; however, he was only captured once by the bloodhounds. He was paroled for exchange, Feb. 27, 1865, and owing to the depleted ranks of the Regiment, the near termination of the war, which was then known to be practically at an end, and the fact that he was under parole, he was mustered out of the service at Washington, D. C., March 15, 1865.
Lieut. Brown was born at Milton, Penna., December 6, 1838. Patriotic blood flows in his veins, his paternal grandfather having served in the war of 1812. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was engaged in business as a merchant, but he did not rest until he was freed from it, and in the service of his country.
In January, 1863, when Wessells brigade was encamped at New Bern, N. C., it was rumored that the Regiment was to go to Charleston, S. C. Among a batch of papers, sent to the writer, by Lieut. Brown, some of which have been used in the Regimental narrative, one verbatim, the writer found a letter writ
ten by Lieut. Brown to his father. This letter explains how these papers came to be preserved, even when everything, pertaining to the Regiment and with it, was lost twice in battle. But it does more than this; it gives an insight into the character of the writer, and will recall to the mind of the comrades an event in the history of the Regiment that most of them had forgotten. The letter is as follows:
Head Quarters Co. I, 101st P. V., Encamped 2 miles from New Bern, N. C, Jan. 16, 1863.
Dear Father: Enclosed you will find copies of papers which I wish you to keep for me. I am well and expect to join this grand expedition of forty days' length. I presume it is to Charleston; but I dare not say where.
Remember me to all. I will win a bar on my shoulders this expedition or I will quit. Write me soon and direct to Co. I, 101st P. V., Wessell's Division, Hunt's Brigade, Washington, D. C. Your Son, GEORGE.

I saw the page that you had done on Col. George Lawrence Brown. I noticed that you didn't have a picture of his grave or mention where he is buried. I thought maybe you would like the attached pictures. he and his wife and children are buried in the Union Cemetery, Minersville, Schuylkill County, Pa. Right by his two uncles Capt. George J. Lawrence and Jacob S. Lawrence

Thank you Debbie for the photo's

Another Member of the Brown Family
Sibmitted by Art

Below is an obituary on George Brown's , my great uncle, brother Webster Casing brown

Col. Geo. L Brown’s Brother
Dies in Iowa
“Web” Brown Was Only a Boy in the
Civil War but He Stood Up Heroically
And came out With Great Honor

Died at Fort Dodge, Iowa, Dec 31, 1898, of Bright’s disease *, Webster C. Brown, late Co. E, 9th Pa. Cav. and brother of Col. Geo. L. Brown, of this place. “Web” as he was called, joined the army when a little over sixteen years old, joining company at Murfreesboro, Tenn. He was a gallant soldier boy. Though only a private, Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, who commanded the division in the service to which he belonged, often visited him at his farm in Iowa after his discharge. He fought at Murfreesboro, Tenn., Readyville, Tenn., joined in Sherman’s grand march to the sea in First Brigade, Third Calvary Division, and was one of the boys that helped force and take the roads to Macon and Milledgeville in Georgia. He was in the charge that captured Lovejoy station, Sept. 17, 1864, and came away unscathed. He fought at Buckhead Creek, Bear Creek, Waynesboro, and arrived with his company and regiment at Savannah, GA., Dec 21. –Then participated in all of the cavalry movements made toward the rebel prison pens, Florence, Milan and Columbia. He was in the fights of Blackville and Aiken, at Columbia, S.C. and a third soldier in the charge over Columbia Bridge, forcing his way amid fire and flame trying to rescue his brother George, whom he knew was confined in Columbia, S.C. stockade as a prisoner of war. But alas, his disappointment. The rebels had loaded the prisoners of war a few hours before and shipped them to Charlotte, N.C. He was engaged at Brier Creek Fayetteville, N.C. , Mar. 11, 1865; Aurerysboro, N.C. , Mar16; Bentonville, N.C. , Mar 17, and whilst in the great charge on McLaw’s rebel division between Bentonville and Raleigh was badly wounded and sent to Willets Point Hospital, N.Y. In April 1865, he was sent to his home in Milton, Pa., a cripple for life. He was buried at Fort Dodge, Iowa, his late home, Jan. 2, 1889, by his Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. But two brothers of the Brown boys are left --- George L., late 101st P.V.V., of Minersville, and I.W., late 28th P.V., of Chicago.