Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things Never Really Change!

On Good Friday, 1865 a few hours before President Lincoln was assassinated, the Copperhead anti – administration newspaper the “Constitutional Advocate” of Ashland, Pa. printed a story blaming President Lincoln for the “slaughter of two millions of people, and the crushing of unborn generations beneath the mountain of his debts.” In its next issue, it piously observed that “President Lincoln died just when the nation needs the parental guidance of a moderate, unassuming, unambitious man.”

This story is so funny its as though I am reading the same type of reporting that is reported by the liberal press of today.
I guess things never really change.

Saturday, April 23, 2011



One of the most popular pastimes for people of the 1860's was music. Families sang around the fire place, concerts were held by local brass bands throughout the summer months in almost all the communities in the county. And with the news of the capture of Fort Sumter, and the southern states' talk of succeeding from the Union, bands were utilized by the captains of local militia units to entice men to join their ranks.
After the three months regiments fulfilled their tour of duty, and President Lincoln called for men to enlist for three years, two bands composed of men from Pottsville and the surrounding area played martial airs for the 96th P.V.I. and the 48th P.V.I.
According to letters written from soldiers and books concerning different regiments in the civil war, many of these army bands just made a lot of noise. But the two bands from Schuylkill County were composed of excellent musicians who had been playing together for years prior to the out break of the war.
From an article printed in the Pottsville Republican on April 18, 1900 entitled “Schuylkill County Bands with Some Famous Regiments", we take the following items.
The Forty - eighth Regiment Band with J.W. Souders as its leader and twenty three members known as the Citizens Band of Pottsville, were mustered in on September 2, 1861.

Wm. A. Maize, Staff Major. J.W. Souders, Leader.
Wm. J. Feger, Eb coronet. Daniel Kopp, Eb coronet.
John T. Hays, Eb coronet. Chas. Hemming, Alto.
Levi Nagle, Alto. Wm. Birt, Eb clarinet.
John Cruikshank, Alto. Thomas Severn, piccilo.
Chas. A. Glenn, Alto. John George, Tenor.
Wm. Lee, clarinet/cymbals. Edward L. Hass, baritone.
James Aikman, Eb bass. Fred'k Brown, tenor.
Nickolas McArthur, Eb bass. Albert Bowen,snare drum.
Jas. N. Garrett, snare drum. John Aikman, bas drum.
Wm. Hodgson, Tenor. Chas. Singluff, alto.
Wm. H. Gore, Tenor. C.T. McDaniel, cook.

The band soon got down to work playing for the different military movements in a style which called forth praise from commanding officers.
They were next called to duty at Fort Monroe, next to New Berne, then Newport News, where they were placed on transports several times to be taken to the seat of war, only to be recalled.
Their impatience was finally appeased by the regiment being ordered to Fredericksburg and later Culpepper Court House, from which place the band received the order to muster out.
During this year of service with the regiment they had played at receptions and gatherings of many distinguished army officers.
At one time a grand ovation was tendered by General Burnside, a corps commander of remarkable ability, at which the band held the place of honor in the musical department.
Many gatherings of Union officers were assisted by the 48th Regiment Band. At Brigader General Nagle's headquarters on numerous occasions the band did the honors for leading Generals of the U.S. Army.


The Ninety - Sixth Regt. Band, with N. J. Rehr, leader, left for Washington on Friday, November 8, 1861. The roster follows:

N.J. Rehr, Leader H.K. Downing, drum major.
Horace G. Walbridge, Eb coronet. Christian Ferg, Eb coronet.
Amos F. Walbridge, 1st coronet. Christ Rodman, 2d coronet.
H.M. Law, 2d clarinet. Henry Rodman, clarinet.
Henry Hoffman, clarinet. John W. Morgan , clarinet.
Fidel Fisher, piccolo. Adolphus Walbridge, alto.
W. McDaniel, cook Henry Walbridge, alto.
George W. Roehrig, alto. John Ward, teno.
Charles Oberlies, tenor. Andrew Smith, baritone. H. Curtis Shoener, 2d baritone. John Rodefield, Bass.
J.N. Lauer, 1st bass. Joseph Kepley, snare dr.
Augustus Pfaltzgraph, snare dr. Samuel H. Parker, bass dr.
Cornelius Trout, cymbals.

The freight car had its roof broken in, and it rained all day. The train went via Gordon, where the regiment got out and walked down the plane, and then on to Sunbury, Harrisburg, and arriving at Washington on Saturday, November 9th 1861 at 2 a.m. in anything but good condition.
They were immediately given quarters in an old stable, and Oh, how cold it was! Wet to the body, and with no covering, they shivered until daylight appeared, at which time they took up the march to new quarters through mud knee deep, for several miles, arriving at Camp Blatensburg Toll Gates, having gained in the meantime the knowledge that it was much better playing for the regiment on Lawton's Hill, Pottsville than through which they had just passed.
The band remained here with the regiment for sometime, until they received orders to go into winter quarters at Camp Northumberland. While the weather permitted, their duties were guard mount at 8 a.m. drills at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and dress parade at 5:30 p.m.
After almost a year's service, the band received its discharge August 14, 1862 all bands being mustered out, and the regiment having been given marching orders.

A Civil War Band


After both bands had received their discharges from the service and returned to their respective duties at home, they formed a new musical organization called the Pottsville Coronet Band.
They received a three months engagement with the 48th regiment which was then stationed in Lexington Ky. with H.G. Walbridge as leader. During their stay with the regiment they gave many concerts which were highly appreciated in that section of the country.
A local entertainment at Cynthiana, Ky. had the band assist them at one time. At another time they were engaged for the High School commencement at Paris, the county seat of Bourbon. During the commencement someone cried out in the audience, play "The Bonnie Blue Flag." The boys refused and for a time it looked as though there would be trouble, so the Sheriff escorted the band to the county prison where he remained with them over night, and the following day they returned safely to the regimental headquarters, feeling that they had better remain nearer the Union lines in the future.
When the subject of a picnic at the Henry Clay homestead at Ashland, Ky. they jumped at the chance to play a concert and the banquet which followed has left a train of pleasant memories which can never fade.
Before the regiment broke camp to proceed on marching orders, two ladies residing near the camp, purchased a handsome silk flag and presented it to the band. They thought it a handsome and appropriate gift, and resolved to keep it in a safe place until they got home. Having a little money in their treasury, several hundred dollars, they decided to visit some of the principal cities of the United States before returning home. They started east, and among the places visited was Cincinnati and they say they will never forget it. They put up in the Galt House during the night, and when they got on the train the next day, discovered that their much beloved silk flag had taken wings during the night; someone had removed it from its accustomed place. Telegrams were immediately sent on to the hotel to hunt up the flag, but a gentleman on the train asked, "What house did you stop at?" "Why the Galt House," responded the boys, "Then you will never see the flag again,"
said he, "for that is the worst rebel house in the city of Cincinnati." And so it proved, they never saw their flag again, and secretly hold Cincinnati responsible for it.

The above stories were taken from the Pottsville Daily Republican. April 18, 1900. There were numerous stories in this issue pertaining to the 39th anniversary of the First Defenders that was being held in Pottsville.

The band would remain in active service to the community and the military for many years after the war and on August 2, 1881 Gen J. K. Sigfried would muster the men into the National Guard of Pennsylvania, as the Third Brigade Band of Pennsylvania. This Band is still in existence today, marching in many a parade and providing the county with many a pleasurable concert.

The Fighting Men of The Civil War. William C. Davis.
Pottsville Daily Republican. April 18, 1900.

Lt. Jacob A. Bonawitz, Company K, 6th Pa. Reserves Fights at The Battle Of Drainsville, December 20, 1861


One of the first engagements after the Union defeat at Bull Run was a small engagement by Federal and Confederate foraging parties, five days before Christmas of 1861, at the town of Dranesville, Va.

The confederate command consisted of a foraging party of infantry and cavalry of Joseph Johnston's command. With the foraging party was a 150 men of J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry, and 4 regiments of infantry. The Union forces consisted of 5 Pennsylvania infantry regiments and a battery of 4 cannons. Both commands moved out simultaneously and meet in combat near the farm lands of Dranesville, Va.
Serving with the 6th Pennsylvania Reserves was a Schuylkill countian, Lieut. Jacob A. Bonawitz, who wrote a descriptive account of the fight, which would become a big morale lifting victory for the Union forces.

Langlytown Camp, Pierpont January 8th, 1862.

Dear --- We had a little fun on the 20th of December last in Dranesville with the rebels. I shall not enter into details, as I suppose you have seen the particulars of the fight in the papers.
We left our camp a little before daybreak on the morning of the 20th and started for Dranesville on a foraging expedition. We got as far as Difficult Creek when began throwing skirmishers out in front of our regiment. As company A, and our company K, are the two flank companies, we were thrown out on the left of the pike. Company A near the road, and my company on the left of the former. We started through the woods on quick time. I was the only officer in our company that day. The Capt. was in Washington, and the other Lieut. was at home on leave of absence. As I said before we started through the woods on quick time for some three miles, when we came out into a large clearing. I was about one mile from the regiments on a double quick. I started my skirmishers on a full run in order to keep in advance of the regiments, and we kept this up for four miles. Some of my men gave out, and fell back on the reserve that was coming on. It was pretty severe but we had to do it. After getting within a half a mile of Dranesville, there were some twenty shots fired at us, doing no damage, we kept on. I was now in an open field and just about to enter a pine thicket, when I discovered something wrong in there. I passed the word along the line of skirmishers to halt, which was done immediately. I then looked in the woods again, and saw one regiment of infantry, and one of Cavalry laying there not more than five rods from left hand man, while a Sergeant was not more than 20 paces from myself. I then passed the word along the line again, to rally on the road, and on the Regiment. When the Rebels observed this, they opened fire on us with muskets, and shot one of the men through the arm, this however did not frighten him much. He followed us. We got on the road and meet the Regiment. We were then ordered across the hill to support the left-our Battery. The balls were now flying like hail from the rebel infantry. When they saw us try to cross the hill, they opened their large guns on us. The shells and canister poured upon us. After getting near half way across, two of my men fell. One was shot through the side, and the other in the leg. They crawled behind a small bank near the pike, as we had no time to lose going over there. When I got a little further a piece of shell struck me on the leg tearing off one of my pantaloon legs, and scratching my leg slightly. We got a little further, when two more dropped, that had got in my company (strangers) They died in a few minutes: but we got across and now came our time for operation. Our Battery opened on them and the Rebels were soon laying in all kinds of shapes. Some with no heads on; some with no arms, no legs, and some you could not tell what they were. We soon silenced their battery. We then made a charge on them through the woods. I must admit they can run faster than we can by a good deal, but they could not run out of sight of our balls. The woods were full of them. There was one spot were we could scarcely get over the dead and wounded rebels. Our loss was 10 killed and 30 or 40 wounded. The Rebel loss was severe. There were 170 rebels buried the day after the fight and we brought in some 40 of them wounded and 14 prisoners. All in all, it was a complete victory for Uncle Sam. Our wounded are doing well in the hospital; are in good spirits, and express themselves anxious to have another chance at the rebels soon. In our Regiment their were three killed, and thirteen wounded, of which three belong to our company. The Bucktail Regiment; our Regiment, and the 9th suffered the most. The 10th and the 12th I believe, did not lose a man, as they were not in the hottest of the fire.
Yours &c.
Lieut. J.A.B.

Miners Journal February 15, 1862.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011



This is one of the greatest photo’s of a Schuylkill County soldier in action that I have ever seen.

Pfc. John J. Allen of Company E in the 25th Infantry Division leads his men in attack on the west central front in Korea, March 30, 1951. (AP Photo/Cpl. Don Doucette/U.S. Army)
A Frackville boy whose dramatic battle action photo recently appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper advertisement and in other periodicals throughout the U.S.

Allen, who served a 21 month hitch in the U.S. Army several years ago, was recalled to active duty last October and trained at Camp Campbell Ky. And Camp Stoneman, Calif. Before going to Japan and then on to Korea.


May 07, 2000 - by Tony Nauroth, The Express-Times
Lehigh Valley veteran John J. Allen is to be immortalized in bronze on June 25. That's when a Cape Cod, Mass., veterans group will dedicate a statue modeled from a famous photograph of Allen shot near Suwon, Korea, in 1951.
The only thing that might be missing at the June ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of "America's forgotten victory" is Allen himself. Despite a search through a thicket of people with the last name of Allen gleaned from Lehigh Valley telephone books, Internet searches, and contacts with local veterans organizations, little information on the man or his relatives, has been found. Several potential contacts actually named John J. Allen have denied any connection to the Korean vet.
Stan Jones, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association of Cape Cod & Islands Chapter I, said he has exhausted his resources. He turned to The Express-Times several months ago for help. "We would like very much for Mr. Allen, or his surviving relatives, to attend the unveiling," Jones said.
It seems Allen has dropped off the face of the Earth. The photographer who snapped the famous photo last saw Allen on a railroad platform somewhere in a small town in California at a newsstand where they both peered at a magazine cover featuring Don Duquette's photo.
"It was a coincidence," former Army combat photographer Duquette, now of Massachusetts, said last week. Both men were on their way home from the war. That was the second and last time they saw each other, although Duquette said he did write to Allen once afterward. "But it turned out we had little in common," Duquette said. Asked if he still had Allen's address, Duquette said, "I did have it in an old address book, but I threw it out a long time ago ... I wish I
Duquette said his photo was on the cover of "Look" or "See" magazine. It also appeared in several books on the Korean War, such as "In Mortal Combat -- Korea, 1950-1953," by John Tolland. "I wish I was collecting royalties," Duquette said.

The photo remains an icon of the spirit demonstrated by the infantryman in Korea. With rifle at the ready and bayonet fixed, the heavily shadowed Allen climbs a scrubby Korean hillside. He seems to be saying, "Follow me, boys!" It has been compared to the much more famous photo of Marines raising the American flag at the peak of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima near the end of World War II.

In February and March 1951, the U.S. Eighth Army was recovering from the Chinese onslaught that had driven United Nations forces from the Yalu River down to the midpoint of the Korean peninsula. Duquette took the photo near the town of Suwon. Duquette said he was assigned by the Army to document the actions of the 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning" Division, which included Allen's unit, the 35th Infantry Regiment. "My job was to go anywhere in the division to take photos," Duquette said. "I don't remember too many specifics of the photo. I talked with him for maybe a half hour."

Duquette says Allen came from Allentown and would be between 68 and 70 years old now. A check with William Allen High School yearbooks from 1945 to 1952 -- the time frame when Allen is likely to have graduated --reveals that no one by that name was in any of the senior classes at the city's only public high school at the time. He could have graduated from a parochial school, from another school somewhere else in the Lehigh Valley, or perhaps he did not graduate at all.
The mystery of the whereabouts of Allen or of his surviving family members comes at a time when Lehigh and Northampton county officials are searching for additional yet-to-be-identified Korean War veterans so they may be honored locally. On Friday, veterans and government officials kicked off the search near the women's Korean War memorial in front of the Lehigh County Courthouse. John J. Allen is only one among the missing.
The 8-foot-tall bronze statue will rest atop a 3-foot tall pedestal next to the memorial to John F. Kennedy overlooking Hyannis Harbor. Sculptor Robert Shure, whose work includes the Irish Famine in Boston, is casting the statue.
No longer missing in discharge
John Allen, whose photo is a model for a Korean War memorial, died in 1985.
By Tony Nauroth
The Express-Times
They called him "Jack" back where he went to high school in Frackville, Pa., about 50 miles northeast of Allentown. John J. Allen, whose famous photo is being used as a model for the Massachusetts Korean War memorial, was tracked down Tuesday to the Pennsylvania coal region in Schuylkill County where those who knew him say he was a nice guy. But his final destination is most likely under a plot of ground in Lantana, near Palm Beach, Fla. According to a Palm Beach Post obituary, Allen died Jan. 6, 1985. He was 58.
Elsie McHale of Kintnersville read of the search for Allen in a story Monday in The Express-Times. She read of the Cape Cod memorial organizers' unsuccessful efforts to find Allen in Allentown, where he was believed to have grown up. McHale knew better as soon as she saw the photo accompanying the story.
"That's Jack," she said. "He's not from Allentown. He's from Frackville." McHale remembers her mother shopping for stockings at Allen's mother's hosiery shop not far from where the Allen family lived at 9 Frack St. "I remember passing their house as a child and seeing them sitting on their porch all the time," she said. McHale e-mailed The Express-Times to steer the search in the right direction. She included the name of Roy Mengel, who is in charge of annual high school alumni reunions.
"I graduated in 1950," Mengel said Tuesday. "Jack graduated in 1946. I didn't know him that well, but I remember him as a real nice boy." Frackville historian Lorraine Stanton is the author of two books on Frackville history and included chapters about Allen in both of them. "We all called him Jack," said Stanton, who was one year behind Allen in high school.
When contacted by phone Tuesday, she flew to her Allen files, pulled out a "New York Times Magazine" article that was published in 1951, and insisted on reading from it. She said the photo was used with the story. The article said Allen was climbing a ridge near the present-day border
between North and South Korea when Don Duquette of Massachusetts, assigned as an Army combat photographer to cover the 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning" Division, took the picture. The dramatic photo, compared in its power to the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima in World War II, is actually named "The 38th Parallel," according to the article.
Allen was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism May 20, 1951. He was an only child and he never married. Allen attended the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater under the GI Bill and moved to New York City where he performed with the Lighthouse Theater for the Blind, according to his obituary. He appeared in several productions including, "Picnic," "The Glass Menagerie" and "Brigadoon."
Stanton's books, "Images of America: Frackville Book I" and "Book II" feature the photo. "I wanted to honor him because of the famous photo," Stanton said, "and because he was from Frackville. We only have 4,000 people. I'm really excited about it." Asked if she ever dated Allen, Stanton said, "Oh no, he was older. It just wasn't done but he was a great dancer."
Stan Jones is spearheading the June 25 dedication of the 8-foot bronze statue that will be placed next to the Kennedy Memorial in Hyannis looking out over Cape Cod Bay. Jones is a member of the Korean War Veterans Association of Cape Cod & Islands Chapter I. "The picture was chosen because of the dramatic action it portrays, and Don (Duquette) was a local guy who took the picture," Jones said Tuesday. "Basically it was nameless, and the statue is dedicated to the missing and killed in action, so we wouldn't want to individualize it. But it does make it more special now that we know what happened to him."

Despite the purposeful anonymity of the memorial, Jones originally wanted to find either Allen or a relative to attend as guests of honor. He now realizes chances of that are slim. With Allen dead, and with no siblings or offspring to represent him, only distant relations might still be found. So far, none has turned up. But Jones opened the door to anyone who might want to represent Frackville at the dedication.

Pottsville Was The First Town In The North To Receive The News Of Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter

“The Ball Is Opened.Fort Sumter Fired On, Fighting Like Hell!”

On this day April 12, 1861 the Civil War started, and Schuylkill County had another first in the history of this country.

Pottsville Was The First Town In The North TO Receive The News Of Fort Sumter

Several years before the opening of the rebellion, Mr. John C. Beck of Pottsville, recently deceased accepted a position as foreman on the Wilmington N.C. Herald. As the time drew near when it was apparent that war must come. Mr. Beck quietly began to make arraignments to return north. There was a strong Union sentiment in Wilmington, but not enough to secure absolute protection to advocates. The editor of the paper fervently was apposed to secession but there were controlling interests in the papers directorate that loved him to its course of supporting the south. On the day on which Fort Sumter was fired on, April 12, 1861 Mr. Beck was in consultation with the editor of the Herald. When the assistant entered the editorial room entering under extreme excitement. As Mr. Beck turned to the stairs leading to the copy room he overheard the editor say, “Tell Beck.” Mr. Beck was recalled into the office and he was there informed that the Herald was just in receipt of a telegram announcing the firing on Fort Sumter. He was advised to consider his sentiments and to remain with the paper and denied further inducements being offered.
But there he refused. He asked a special favor permission to telegraph the news to the Miners Journal, but was told that all communications north had been stopped, and that it might be impassible to gratify his request.

However, he was advised that if it was at all possible to get the news through it might be done for him. He then completed the message as received by the Herald. “The Ball Is Opened. Fort Sumter Fired On, Fighting Like Hell!”. The message did get through to the Journal. On its receipt Mr. Benjamin Bannan, was greatly excited took the telegram up to the Miners National Bank, and showed it to Mr. Isaac Beck, saying, “I have just received this message from John, I can near believe it!”
Whatever John has said must be true, try to have it confirmed,” was the reply. Mr. Bannan immediately got a communication with Philadelphia, and then New York and they had heard nothing, saying it was very difficult to hear from the south. But that if there was any thing within the message they would have immediately heard... But they did not until they had the actual message. So Pottsville was the first place in the north to hear of the opening of hostilities, and a fellow townsman Mr. John C. Beck, had the distinction of being the sender of the message.

John S. Beck

This letter is in the files of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


This is a letter written to Mrs Wolfe, of Port Carbon. The letter is written by her son Joseph who is a member of the 9th Infantry Regiment. The 9th was serving in China at this time. Private Wolfe participated with his regiment which was in advance in the battles that occurred during the march to Peking and its capture. The letter though brief is one of the only letters I’ve found during the Boxer War. This letter was written after the 9th had participated in the Battle of Tientsin
Tien Tsin
July 21, 1900

Dear Mother: Today I find time to write to let you know I am well, hoping you are all in as good of health as I am. We left Manila 27th of June, stayed three days in Magaska Japan, and then sailed for China. We had a good hard fight for a start, lousing 10 officers, killed and wounded among them our Colonel and Acting Brigadier General Liscum killed. and about 30 enlisted men. It is reported the 17th Infantry will reach here shortly. We were brigaded with it and the 12th in the Philippines. We live good here. As there are lots of Chinese farms to draw supplies from. I am felling first rate. The climate is about the same as our own part of the world. There is a rumor we will be sent to the U.S. before the year is out. Well we won’t be sorry. I must close with love to all.
Joe Wolfe 9th Inf.

9th Infantry in China

The fight in which Wolfe mentions is the battle of Tientsin:

Tientsin, 13 July 1900. The so-called "Boxers" were fanatical members of a Chinese secret society who wished to drive all foreigners from China and eradicate foreign influences. The Boxer movement gained momentum in the final years of the nineteenth century. By early June of 1900 the foreigners in China, especially those in Peking, found themselves in grave danger.
An international column of sailors and marines, including 112 Americans, made a hurried attempt to go to the relief of Peking, but met with severe resistance after it left Tientsin and failed to get through (10-26 June). The movement against Westerners in Peking reached a climax on 20 June 1900 when the German minister was murdered. About 3,500 foreigners and Chinese Christians, fearing for their safety, took refuge in the foreign legation compound, where they were besieged by thousands of Chinese. A composite military force of 407 men (including 56 Americans) plus about 200 civilians defended the compound. The Great Powers took immediate steps to organize a large relief expedition for Peking, to stamp out what came to be known as the Boxer Rebellion.
Using Manila as a main base, the United States promptly dispatched to China Regulars intended for use in the Philippine Insurrection. The 9th Infantry and a Marine battalion landed at Taku on 7 July 1900. Two battalions of the 9th joined contingents of other powers in an attack on Tientsin, which fell on 13 July, the Americans suffering 95 casualties.

How the soldiers looked during the Boxer Rebellion

Pekin China,
October 13.

Dear father:
I take pleasure in penning you a few lines. Hoping they will find you alive and well as I am. We reached this place on the 14th of August. And yesterday I had my first chance of getting outside of our walls to see the sights, and visited the British legation compound. And let me tell you it is a sight to see. To look at it you would think it impossible for five or six hundred men to hold it against the attack of thousands of thousand bloodthirsty devils that were howling about it for weeks. There is scarcely a square foot of surface that was not bored with bullet and shell. It is a sight I shall never forget. Most people had the idea that the Chinese were armed with clubs and knives, but they have modern arms and plenty of them. And any number of up to date Krupp guns, the same as the German Army uses today. We did not have much of a scrap taking the city. We reached here the evening of the 14th f August, and started marching through an open gate. The Chinese were waiting for us on top of a wall about 250 yards to the front. About a company of us got through when they gave us a volley that came like a big wind. We did not have any time to fire a shot in return before our Colonel gave the order. FOUR RIGHT, ABOUT MARCH.
And we slid out without a man hurt. Early next morning we carried the walls with the lost of one killed and four wounded. The Russians were expected to take the sacred city, but their commander said his men were to tired. They were always too tired when there was fighting to be done. And before they go into a fight they start singing and praying for fair play. You ought to see them you would think it was a crazy house broke loose. Well we pitched in and took four gates of the sacred city that day. The English over here seem to be very jealous of the Americans and the Hindu troops they sent here are good for nothing but looting. But the Japs, the brace little Japs, are just the finest soldiers in the world and much good friends of the Americans. Why you would think like an American. Their commander said: Put the Americans behind them they would storm a wall on top of a hill. I am in the best of health and never felt better, and I’ve got so tall you would hardly know me. I weigh 20 pounds heavier than when I left home.
Your Loving Son
Company I 9th Infantry Regiment.

The other story during the Boxer Rebellion is”
My Post of November 27, 2007 …..A Marines Marine MOH Holder Alexander Foley In Boxer Rebellion

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Schuylkill County Marine, Private Amous T. Biesel onboard the U.S.S. Benton During the Civil War.

Island No. 10

Schuylkill County Private Amous Biesel U.S. Marine Corps was a marine on board the U.S.S. Flagship Benton. He was on a 9 inch Dahlgren gun. Biesel fought at the famous 1862 battle of Island No. 10.

On March 15th , the U.S.S. Benton and other Federal naval units commenced daily bombardment of Island No. 10 and the Tennessee shore, but without too much effect. Attempts to pass westward through a chute to the north of the island were thwarted by the
sinking of the CSS Winchester there. The Confederate defenders suffered more from high water, particularly in the area around Battery No. 1. Magazine storage of ammunition was almost impossible, due to water. Some effective force came from Federal batteries along the west bank of the river south of New Madrid.

The Confederate defenses received heavy bombardment on March 18 and 19, but effective counter-battery fire caused a slackening of this fire by March 20. But, by Apr. 2, flood waters had forced the virtual abandonment of Battery No. 1. That night, a Federal landing party from USS Benton rushed the position and spiked the guns.

On Apr. 5, USS Benton, Cincinnati and Pittsburg each with a mortar boat in tow, shelled Confederate positions on both sides of the river, cutting adrift the floating battery.

On the night of Apr. 4-5, Commander Henry Walke took the Carondelet downstream past the island, anchoring at New Madrid at dawn. The Pittsburg duplicated the maneuver the following night.

On Apr. 7, these two vessels steamed downstream and attacked and silenced Confederate batteries along the river as far south as Tiptonville.

This is an excellent letter written by Biesel to his cousin Erasmus Seitzinger, from Fountain Springs.

U.S.S. Benton

It’s a Beautiful Thing To See the Shells Thrown At Night

U.S.S. Flagship Benton
Pvt. Amous Biesel U.S.Marine Corps
Off Island No. 10
Friday March 21, 1862

Dear Erasmus:
I suppose you have heard through he papers of our attack on the first battery of the enemy on the main land above Island No. 10. We commenced fire at one o’clock and continued till dark, when it was necessary for us to retire; which I believe they now boast of as driving the Yankee Gun Boats back. I was on a nine inch Dahlgren that throws an eighty-pound ball. You better think we were tired when night came, as we loaded and fired as fast as we could during the whole engagement. Their first shot all 64 and 125-pound balls fell short. Then they began to throw over us. Now I tell you when the big fellows came whizzing over our heads it was enough to make a fellow juke, which I did until I got used to them. We received three shots, which made things crack. The first a 66 pounder struck midway on the upper deck came through and struck on a heavy timber on the main deck glanced upward against one of the cross timbers falling down on a deck of the Commodore breaking through into the drawer were it still lies. The next one struck almost directly in front of my head aside of the porthole for our gun. It made a big hole in the 2 ½ in. iron. Had it been three inches more to the right it would have come through. We have kept up a continual fire on them every day since. They only return at intervals. We have sixteen mortar boats which thrown shells across the point at them. It is astonishing how things can throw so much iron. It is a beautiful thing to see the shells thrown at night and bursting over the rebels. We cannot make another attack until we get land forces. We could easily take their batteries, but have no troops to hold them. We are expecting forces every day and then we will give them fits with Yankee Gun boats. You may expect to hear a good account from us. I think we will bag their whole forces , as Polk has procession of the river below us. I have no doubt they would like to get out if they possibly could. They have a large encampment right in our sight. And a great many large steamboats which we consider as good as ours. It is rumored that Beauregard is there if its only true. We will settle wise bills for him and Polk.
I will give you a short description of our own and there positions. Their first battery, which mounted seven guns, we have dismounted all but two. I anticipate some hard fighting to conquer them at this point. Pope is a short distance below them but cannot assist us so he has no way to get his troops across the river. We tried to get a tug and some mortars down through the Bayou but could not do it. We can hear them at their gunboats almost every day. They are trying to open the way, I think, to get men out of this place.

Amous T. Biesel

Expecting Every Moment To Be Blown Out Of The Water

U.S.S. Flagship Benton
Marine Pvt. Amous Biesel
Above Fort Pillow,
Mississippi, Flotilla
April 27th, 1862

Cousin Erasmus:
Instead of being at Fort Wright as the Philadelphia papers have it, we are at Fort Pillow, which is eighty-five miles above Memphis, on the first line of Chickasaw Bluffs, which strikes the Mississippi River at the mouth of Hatchen River. Island No. 10 was surrounded on Wednesday night at twelve o’clock, the 7th of April, of which you have read the whole account of the surrender and fortifications.
Previous to giving you the particulars of our trip from Island No. 10 here. I wish to correct one of the most exaggerated engravings in Harpers Weekly, of the spiking of the guns of No. 1 battery. It represents a terrible storm raging, and many of our men on the ramparts firing at the fleeing rebels. All the firing that was done was by rebel sentries. One volley was fired so high it did no damage. After which they made tracks for parts unknown, leaving the fort entirely at the mercy of the Yankees to accomplish their object with the hammer and axe. As for the raging storm, all the boats had returned to the Benton, and reported their successful trip to the flag officer and it was not until after all the boats had returned to their respective gunboats that the storm commenced raging. I was on watch during the whole work, saw the fire of musketry and was just about turning in when the expedition returned. I must say for Col. Roberts a braver man the Western Army cannot produce. After the surrender we remained at anchorage until Friday afternoon at three o’clock when the word was given to up anchor. You can imagine how that order was received after staying in one position in the middle of the river for four weeks. We were all in hopes of getting on the island and main land to get trophies of some kind to send our friends. After many hard days of fighting and patience we were sadly disappointed. As we passed their fortifications, it appeared almost impossible that such formidable defenses were easily overcome, but the Yankee boys were too much for them. We arrived at General Pope’s headquarters about sundown, when once more we cast anchor, and awaited until the following day and twelve o’clock for Pope’s forces to be ready to follow on the transports.
We came down so far as the Obyne River, when the fleet moored for the night. About twelve o’clock one of the rebel gunboats rounded the point below us, but on the discovery of the black iron monsters, it came to a halt, and remained until morning. About eight o’clock four more made their appearance. As soon as the flag officer heard of the arrival of the distinguished Commodore Hollins he came upon the spar deck looked down and smiled at them showing their bravery, keeping a distance of seven miles. He then gave Captain Phelps orders to signal the fleet to get under headway, the Benton taking the advance. They kept their position until we got within two miles of them, when we opened on them with our rifled Dahlgren’s, which made them get up and dust. They fired quite a number of shot at us. One shrapnel shell bursted over the boat, the contents fell on the forecastle of the boat. The men gathered them up after the firing was over. Instead of being leaden bullets, they were filled with marbles. It was a grand chase as we passed by the plantations on the Tennessee shore. We were cheered on with the waving of many white handkerchiefs. About 10 o’clock all hands were ordered to muster on the spar deck, when we had a short sermon form the Commodore for the first Sunday in four weeks, without being disturbed from shots fired by the enemy. We proceeded on our way giving them chase until we run them under the guns of Fort Pillow above which place they have not shown themselves since. We ran under the guns before we were aware of being close to the fort. We were running very fast, anxiously watching what was to make its appearance around the next point which we were approaching when almost in an instant we passed the point, in full view of their works and escarpments on the heights of the bluff. Expecting every moment to be blown out of the water, but they never fired a shot. We took a good view of the place and saw that the whole side of the hill was thrown up into fortifications. We returned two miles up the river, moored the ship and still remain in the same position. On Monday the mortar boats were put into position. They have ever since put up continual fire both night and day. The bushwhackers call the mortar shells, flower barrels. I do not know the cause of our delay here, unless it is for the purpose of waiting to know how they are going to make at Corinth.. twenty five thousand of General Pope’s men have been taken from here to Pittsburgh Landing, which leaves us but five thousand troops, they are as much service to us as fifty thousand would be as we cannot effect a landing on this side of Pillow. Since we have been here there have been many deserters from them. They give a gloomy account of their army. They have become perfectly demoralized since they met with so many defeats. There was one deserter from the 21st Louisiana regiment, his name was George Hurter; he learned his trade in Pottsville, with Daniel Hill and was working there during Elias’ apprenticeship. He had a fifty-dollar bill on the Confederate States of America payable at Richmond six months after peace is declared with the United States. If ever there was a happy man he was when he got aboard of the much-dreaded Benton. They do not appear to fear any boat in the fleet, but this one. After the passage of the conscription law, there were six very intelligent young men left Memphis on last Sunday night, in a skiff with provisions, blankets and a change of clothing. They came up across the overflowed land, to escape being pressed into service. They say that when our men in Pittsburgh, passed through Memphis southward the ladies gave them more than they could store away. They would go into the confectioners; buy them all kinds of delicacies, and cigars and then get them to sing the Happy Land of Canaan, the Star Spangled Banner, Hail Columbia. During all of this General Prentis went out on the platform and told them to have a little patience; that it would not be long until they would be at liberty to sing those National Songs under the protection of the Stars and Stripes.
After General Prentis made that remark, one of the rankest secessionists in the city, went into a store, bought a box of the finest cigars, took them out and presented them to General Prentis. They also say that whenever they hear of a Union victory, you can see the majority of the people going around laughing in their sleeves. Every morning when they rise they stretch their eyes wide open to see if there are the Federal Gunboats in sight. after this place is taken there are no more fortifications this side of Baton Rouge. They say we cannot form how many loyal men there are in the rebel army. I am anxious that we can get down there to relive the poor fellows from tyranny.
There were three deserters came up this morning from Fort Pillow. Two of them are from Jersey Shore, Clinton County, Penna. They have been living here almost six years. They are brothers. Their names Brady first cousin to Samuel Brady. Hartman’s brother in law. They are very fine intelligent fine looking men. They have accumulated considerable property since they have been here. The Commodore is going to give them passes tomorrow to go north to visit their friends.
Well Erasmus, I could write a great deal more, had I the paper to write on. Much that would be of great interest to you, but owing to the scarcity of paper and the troublesome mosquitoes, I will have to close. I am what the sailors call a lazy Marine. When we are not in action we do nothing but stand guard. I will give you an account of a conversation between myself and a Mr. Secesh, previous to the water overflowing the bank at this point. The day after our arrival. I was standing out on the bank, when Mr. Secesh approached the subject on mosquitoes; I remarked, “How are you my friend?”
Secesh. “Well, I can’t complain.”
“You have plenty of mosquitoes here”
Secesh, “Well; no we have a krap of Buffalo nats just now, but after the water goes down, we will have a large krap of mosquitoes.”
Think I, can it be possible this is but a small Krap? I thought it was doing pretty well for a commencement. If such be the case, they are more plenty here, than they were on the lower Mississippi.

Amous Biesel

USS Benton "Largest Of The Union River Fleet" January 15, 1862 - November 1865
The USS Benton began its life on the water as a snag boat pulling up trees and sunken ships that made navigable waters dangerous. Civilian contractor James B. Eads was contracted to convert the sturdily built catamaran into the the largest and most powerful ironclad of the Union's River Fleet. The craft originally had two hulls braced 20 feet apart, but Eads planked them to make one strong hull 72 feet wide and 202 feet long. Space was left in the stern of the hull to allow for a central wheel to be propelled by the two original powerful engines. The sides and how they were protected by a slanting casemate with an armor 3.5 inches thick. The wheelhouse and stern were built with casemates covered with 2.5 inch thick iron. The Benton carried 16 cannon and a crew of 176 men.
Adm. Andrew H. Foote received his powerful flagship on January 15, 1862, from Eads's shipyard in Carondelet, MO. On February 6, 1862, the Benton led the attack on Fort Henry, TN. Realizing defeat was imminent, the Rebels at that point had the fort manned only by a company of Tennessee artillerymen. The flagship opened fire on the fort from 1,700 yards away and closed to within 600 yards. As the seven ironclads and gunboats bombarded the fort, the nine Rebel gun crews returned fire, striking the Benton 32 times. The Rebel fire disabled two of the Benton's guns and riddled her after-cabin, stacks, and boats with shots. But the sturdy Benton moved in without hesitation until the fort commander struck the flag and surrendered.
The Benton aided the Union in its victory at Fort Donelson in February 1862, in the Battle of Island No. 10 in April of the same year, and in the final operations against Vicksburg and the Red River campaign. In December 1862, while securing a landing for General Sherman's troops on the Yazoo River, the Benton was severely damaged by Confederate fire. Her captain, Lt. William Gwin, was killed and nine others were wounded or killed. The ship was repaired and returned to service.
Fascinating Fact: In service to the Union until the end of the Civil War, the Benton was stripped of her plating and sold for scrap in November 1865.
Displacement: 1033 tons
Length: 202 ft (62 m)
Beam: 72 ft (22 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: steam engine

Speed: 5.5 knots
Complement: 176 officers and enlisted
Armament: two 9” smoothbores
seven 32-pounder smoothbores
seven 42-pounder rifles
Armor: ironclad